Do you like to read with the seasons? Holiday tales in December, beach reads in the summer, and spooky stories around All Hallows’ Eve?
I’m thrilled to welcome Laurel Ann Nattress here today, to chat about Jane Austen-inspired Gothic fiction for Halloween.
More info about Laurel and her book, Jane Austen Made Me Do It - an Austen-inspired anthology with original stories by such contemporary writers as Adriana Trigiani, Laurie Viera Rigler, and Frank Delaney & Diane Meier – is included in the post.
And be sure to come back here tomorrow, for details on how you can enter to win one copy of Jane Austen Made Me Do It.
Now, let’s welcome Laurel Ann Nattress:
Hi Dawn! It’s great to be here today at She Is Too Fond of Books during my Grand Tour of the blogosphere in celebration of the release of my new Austen-inspired anthology, Jane Austen Made Me Do It.
Halloween will be upon us shortly. As a young girl it was one of my favorite holidays because of the spooky stories that I would read. I was a bit of a ghosts, goblins and supernatural tales obsessive and always looked forward to going to the library in October to discover new stories and re-read my favorite authors like Edgar Allen Poe, Daphne du Maurier and Oscar Wilde. Later in life, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Jane Austen had written a novel in this genre to add to my list.
In Austen’s day, these stories would have been called Gothic fiction; the wildly popular genre that originated with English author Horace Walpole’s 1764 novel, The Castle of Otranto, subtitled “A Gothic Story.” The novels combined elements of both horror and romance and usually involved sensational tales of virginal young ladies abducted by sinister villains locked up in a castle, an abbey, or a monastery dungeon being saved by a prodigal hero. Jane Austen’s first novel completed for publication was a parody of the Gothic genre. Entitled Susan, it was written between 1798-99 and later reworked and published in 1817 as Northanger Abbey. In the story, heroine Catherine Morland is obsessed with Gothic novels, especially Ann Radcliffe’s best-selling novel The Mysteries of Udolpho. Catherine is in awe of hero Henry Tilney because he has already finished reading it. Here is a famous quote by Henry and Catherine:
“The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid. I have read all Mrs. Radcliffe’s works, and most of them with great pleasure. The Mysteries of Udolpho, when I had once begun it, I could not lay down again; I remember finishing it in two days — my hair standing on end the whole time.” [Henry] …“I am very glad to hear it indeed, and now I shall never be ashamed of liking Udolpho myself. But I really thought before, young men despised novels amazingly.” [Catherine]
Gothic fiction is still incredibly popular today. The recent vampire craze fueled by the Twilight novels and the Sookie Stackhouse inspired True Blood television series are testament that we still love to be scared and shocked in our reading. My new anthology, Jane Austen Made Me Do It, contains twenty-two stories inspired by Jane Austen. There are no vampire in sight, but there are four stories with strong supernatural elements to get you in the mood for Halloween. Here are their descriptions:
“The Ghostwriter,” by Elizabeth Aston
Sara, obsessed with Pride and Prejudice, is jilted by Charles, who can’t compete with Mr. Darcy. His parting gift is a lock of Jane Austen’s hair. Sara wakes the next morning to find a strange woman sitting on the end of her bed. A figment of her imagination? No, it’s the astringent ghost of Jane Austen. On a mission to restore the reputation of forgotten Gothic author Clarissa Curstable, Jane Austen saves Sara’s career and brings Charles back before taking herself off into the ether, but there’s a price to pay, as the couple discover when they wake up to find another ghostly visitor at the end of the bed. It’s Jane’s friend, Clarissa – and she plans to stay.
“Me and Mr. Darcy, Again…,” by Alexandra Potter
Mr. Darcy is every woman’s fantasy. But what happens when he becomes one woman’s reality? In 2007 Emily traveled from New York to England to go on a Jane Austen-inspired literary tour. There she met and fell in love with Spike, an English journalist.
She also met Mr. Darcy… Or did she? She can never be sure if it really happened, or it was her over-active imagination. Now, four years later, she’s had a huge row with Spike and is back in London nursing a broken heart. And there’s only one person who can mend it. Mr. Darcy….
“The Mysterious Closet: A Tale,” by Myretta Robens
In the wake of her most recent failed relationship, Cathy Fullerton takes an extended vacation in a converted Abbey in Gloucestershire, England. Ensconced in the Radcliffe Suite, a jet-lagged Cathy mistakes a walk-in closet for a Vaulted Chamber, a clothing rack for an Instrument of Torture and an accumulation of cobwebs for her True Love.
“A Night at Northanger,” by Lauren Willig
Our heroine, Cate Cartwright, is part of the cast of “Ghost Trekkers”, currently filming at one of England’s most haunted homes, Northanger Abbey. Naturally, Cate knows there’s no such thing as ghosts. It’s all smoke and mirrors for the credulous who watch late night TV. At least, that’s what she thinks… until she meets the shade of one Miss Jane Austen during one fateful night at Northanger.
Happy hauntings to you all this season.
A life-long acolyte of Jane Austen, Laurel Ann Nattress is the author/editor of Austenprose.com a blog devoted to the oeuvre of her favorite author and the many books and movies that she has inspired. She is a life member of the Jane Austen Society of North America, a regular contributor to the PBS blog Remotely Connected and the Jane Austen Centre online magazine. An expatriate of southern California, Laurel Ann lives in a country cottage near Snohomish, Washington. Visit Laurel Ann at her blogs Austenprose.com and JaneAustenMadeMeDoIt.com, on Twitter as @Austenprose, and on Facebook as Laurel Ann Nattress.
Jane Austen Made Me Do It: Original Stories Inspired by Literature’s Most Astute Observer of the Human Heart, edited by Laurel Ann Nattress
Ballantine Books • ISBN: 978-0345524966