Yesterday I interviewed Sarah Holman with regards to her book in the Vintage Jane Austen series. What is that series, exactly? Well…
What would it be like to see Elizabeth Bennet in 1930’s clothes? What if Emma Woodhouse was the daughter of a car dealership owner? What if Marianne Dashwood was seeking to become a movie star in the golden age of film? The Vintage Jane Austen series explores the world of Jane Austen, set in 1930’s America. Five authors took on Jane Austen’s five most popular novels and retold them set in the depression era, remaining faithful to the original plots. As an extra bonus to the series, there is a collection of short stories that were inspired by Jane Austen. At the bottom of this post, you’ll find links and synopses to each of these books!
Today, I’ll be doing another interview–my friend and colleague Kelsey Bryant, author of Suit and Suitability! I’ve been reading this particular book myself and will have a review of it in the near future. So far I’m really enjoying it!
Hello Kelsey! Thank you for joining me today. So, why did you choose this book to rewrite?
Sense and Sensibility is one of my favorite novels, so I was thrilled that this book was available for me to take on in the Vintage Jane Austen project. I adore Elinor Dashwood (she’s my ideal heroine) and writing my own version of her and her story was a dream come true. Her courage, capability, unselfishness, and strong moral character combined with her heartache and vulnerability created a plot that enthralls me. So far, my favorite relationship to explore in fiction is the one between sisters or sisterly friends, and Elinor and Marianne have one of the most compelling. As opposites, they have their dissensions, but they’re also best friends and would die for each other. So although Elinor alone would have been enough to make me choose the book, her relationship with Marianne cinched it.
What was the most difficult part of doing an adaptation like this?
Well, besides the normal challenge of writing a retelling that was different enough from the original to still be unique and page-turning, I would say Marion’s character was the most challenging. (Which is quite appropriate, as she is the most challenging person that her family knows, too.) I wanted her to be liked by at least some readers, but I also didn’t want to diminish her personality. Writing her was a tricky balancing act. Also, some of her interests, such as the way Broadway worked in the 1930s, were rather difficult to research. But she and I made it through okay, and I love her as much as I love Ellen, even if I still don’t relate to her as well.
What other projects are you currently working on?
I’m working on a third novel for my Six Cousins series—contemporary Christian YA books featuring a homeschooled protagonist, as well as a fairy-tale retelling for children.
What is your advice to authors who are interested in doing retellings?
Hmm . . . I haven’t done too many retellings, so I’m not experienced at this, but I’ll relate what worked for me. First, find the underlying themes of the original story and use them as the theme for your retelling, but internalize them so much that your retelling is its own story straight from your heart. From Sense and Sensibility I pulled out, for example, persevering through hardship, finding your way, and loving your family; for Suit and Suitability I added an overt spiritual theme of trusting God that really means a lot to me. Also, if you are retelling a novel, don’t try to include every single character or scene, and put in plenty of variations to keep your readers interested in turning pages to find out what happens next.
And just for fun, favorite writing snack?
Haha, eating distracts me, so I’ll have to go with a beverage. I’m always sipping water, but for a treat, I like herb or spice tea (such as those from Celestial Seasonings) enriched with French vanilla or hazelnut coconut milk creamer and liquid Stevia drops, coming in flavors like English toffee or dark chocolate. It beats anything from a coffee place, in my opinion!
Thanks for having me, Grace!
Thank you for visiting with me, Kelsey! I can’t wait to finish reading the book!
And now, some more information about the series, and a giveaway!
Emmeline by Sarah Holman (Emma): The talk of stock market crashes and depression isn’t going to keep Emmeline Wellington down. Born to wealth and privilege, Emmeline wants nothing more than to help her new friend, Catarina, find a husband. Emmeline sets her sights on one of the town’s most eligible bachelors, but nothing seems to go right. Even her friend and neighbor Fredrick Knight seems to question her at every turn.
Suit and Suitability by Kelsey Bryant (Sense and Sensibility): Canton, Ohio, 1935. Ellen and Marion Dashiell’s world crumbles when their father is sent to prison. Forced to relocate to a small town, what is left of their family faces a new reality where survival overshadows dreams. Sensible Ellen, struggling to hold the family together, is parted from the man she’s just learning to love, while headstrong Marion fears she will never be the actress she aspires to be. When a dashing hero enters the scene, things only grow more complicated. But could a third man hold the key to the restoration and happiness of the Dashiell family?
Bellevere House by Sarah Scheele (Mansfield Park): It’s March, 1937 and Faye Powell couldn’t be happier. After moving to live with her uncle, a wealthy banker, she’s fallen into the swing of life with his exuberant children–including Ed. The one she’ll never admit she’s in love with. But she hadn’t reckoned on the swanky Carters getting mixed up in that vow. Ed seems to be falling for charming, sweet Helene Carter. And when Faye’s cousin BeBe trusts her with a secret about Horace Carter, Faye is in over her head. Will she betray the confidence BeBe’s given her? Will she lose Ed to Helene? The days at Bellevere House are crowded with surprises and only time will tell how God plans to unravel Faye and Ed’s hearts.
Perception by Emily Benedict (Persuasion): Upstate New York, 1930. Thirteen years ago, Abbey Evans was persuaded to break off her engagement to a penniless soldier headed to the front lines of the Great War. A daughter of one of America’s wealthiest families could never be allowed to marry so far beneath herself. But Black Tuesday changed everything. With her family’s prominence now little more than a facade, Abbey faces the loss of her childhood home. As if that weren’t enough, the only man she ever loved has returned after making his fortune – and he wants nothing to do with the young woman he courted before the war. With the past forever out of reach, the time has come for Abbey decide her own fate, before it is too late…
Presumption and Partiality by Rebekah Jones (Pride and Prejudice): Coming soon…A retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice… set in 1930s Arizona.
Second Impressions: Jane Austen’s stories have inspired writers for generations…in this collection they inspire fiction across the genres!
From the English Regency to the American 1950s, in Houston or a space freighter, fairytale land or a retirement center…Austen’s timeless characters come to life again.
Visit these blogs during this week to find interviews, book reviews, and much more!
Review of Emmeline – Once Upon the Ordinary
Review of Bellevere House – Kaylee’s Kind Of Writes
Series Spotlight – A Real Writer’s Life
Interview with Kelsey Bryant – Resting Life
Series Spotlight – Kelsey’s Notebook
Interview with Sarah Holman – J. Grace Pennington
Review of Emmeline – Kaylee’s Kind Of Writes
Mini-Reviews and interview with Sarah Scheele – Deborah O’Carroll
Interview with Rebekah Jones – Livy Lynn Blog
Review Suit and Suitability – Resting Life
Interview with Kelsey Bryant – J. Grace Pennington
Review of Perception – Kaylee’s Kind Of Writes
Review and Interview of Perception – Purely by Faith Reviews
Review of Second Impressions – The Page Dreamer
Series Spotlight – Finding the True Fairytale
Series Spotlight – God’s Peculiar Treasure
Review of Second Impressions and Suit and Suitability – Ordinary Girl, Extraordinary Father
Interview with Rebekah Jones – Kaylee’s Kind Of Writes
Series Spotlight – Christian Bookshelf Reviews
Review of Suit and Suitability – With a Joyful Noise
Series Spotlight – Liv K. Fisher
Review of Second Impressions- Kaylee’s Kind Of Writes
Review of Perception – She Hearts Fiction
Interview with Sarah Holman – Rebekah Ashleigh
Series Spotlight – Reveries Reviews
Review of Suit and Suitability – Faith Blum
Interview with Sarah Holman – Kaylee’s Kind Of Writes
Interview with Hannah Scheele – Peculiar on Purpose
Review of Bellevere House – Seasons of Humility
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