Jane Austen Lied to Me
by Jeanette Watts
What college girl doesn’t dream of meeting Mr. Darcy? Lizzie was certainly no exception. But when Darcy Fitzwilliam comes into her life, he turns out to be every bit as aggravating as Elizabeth Bennett’s Fitzwilliam Darcy. So what’s a modern girl to do?
Jeanette Watts’ satire pokes loving fun at Jane and all of us who worship the characters who shall forever be our romantic ideals.
This afternoon I got further confirmation that I’ve been seeing an awful lot of Michael. I was wandering back to the apartment, when Lon hailed me from one of the couches inside the lobby doors.
“I have a message for you from your boyfriend,” he said, kind of stiffly.
I looked at him stupidly for a moment. “My what?”
“Your boyfriend was here. He said his phone was dead, so he couldn’t call or text you to tell you that he can’t stick around for dinner tonight. He has a late meeting with a new client and he had to rush back to the office.”
I was still having trouble with the boyfriend thing. “Wait – do you mean Michael?”
“If that’s the guy you’ve been seeing the last couple of months,” Lon said with a shrug. “The one you’re always having dinner with.”
“He’s not my boyfriend,” I protested. “He’s an old friend of the family. We grew up together.”
Lon’s head was back at his computer screen. “Boyfriend, friend. The guy who kisses you goodnight all the time after he takes you out for dinner. He’s not coming tonight. I’ve delivered my message, that’s all I’ve got.”
Right then Allie walked up. “Hey, Lizzie! Waiting for Michael?”
“No, he’s not coming tonight.” I headed to the elevator with her.
“That’s a shame. I know how much you enjoy having dinner with him, even if he does aggravate you a lot.”
“Yeah. It’s kind of a love-hate relationship,” I agreed.
Jeanette Watts: Why I write the kinds of books I do
Because I must be an undiagnosed ADHD, or bipolar, or something that makes me just a bit squirrely…
Let me elucidate…
So far, I’ve published 2 historic fiction novels, a textbook on waltzing, and now I am releasing a modern satire that Hollywood will want to turn into a romantic comedy. I’ve also written another historic fiction that isn’t “ripe” yet, screenplays for a romantic comedy and a costume drama, and I have two ideas for children’s books that I want to do. One is about the guardian angel who lives downstairs, the other is called “Secret Agent Bear.” It’s about my teddy bear. Because we all know that stuffed animals can move when we’re not looking.
While my brain won’t let me focus on only one sort of genre, I will say my first love is historic fiction. I love history. Biographies are my favorite reading material, I have spent the last 17 years learning and then teaching historic dance, when I travel one of the first things I seem to find in new places is the local historic mansion that gives home tours. I also have an extensive library of images on historic costume, since I am an avid costumer. Some people would call that research, but those are just my playgrounds.
I do love the research part. Part of it is because I want my books to feel real. As I explained to one friend about why I emphasize the historic as much as the fiction, “What does it smell like? What does it feel like? What does it taste like?” Until I can answer those questions, I don’t know enough. But it means that when I say something, you can trust my history. When I describe the railroad riots of 1877 in Wealth and Privilege, I am using the eyewitness accounts from the newspapers of 1877. If I say it’s December 3, 1883 and it’s snowing out, that’s because I read it in the almanac or newspaper.
There’s another fun part to the research; each question is like a mini mystery to solve. For example, in both Wealth and Privilege and Brains and Beauty there are cameos by Andrew Carnegie, his mother, his younger brother Tom, and Tom’s wife Lucy. Now, it’s common knowledge that Andy named his first blast furnace Lucy after his sister-in-law. This is interesting. He named the Edgar Thomson Steel Works for his former boss – and biggest client for his products. He was very shrewd, and he never did things without a reason. Why would he name the blast furnace after his sister-in-law? Was he appeasing her? Describing her – did she have a hot temper? He named things to curry favor with people. Why or how did he need to curry favor with his own sister-in-law?
There is not a lot of information on Lucy Carnegie. Or her husband Tom. I looked. I could tell you where her grandchildren ended up living, but I didn’t find much about her, personally. Finally, while reading my third or fourth or maybe fifth biography on Andrew Carnegie, I found the answer. One of his biographers knew it. Lucy has a blast furnace named after her because she was prolific. She and Tom had a lot of children, and Andy named his blast furnace after her for luck. He hoped to bless his furnace with as much productivity as Tom’s wife.
This entire search ends up being one or two sentences in one of the books. But it was worth all the work. I really wanted to know.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Jeanette Watts had been writing historic fiction when the inspiration for Jane Austen Lied to Me hit her on the drive home from the Jane Austen Festival. The idea was simply irresistible, and she put aside other writing projects in order to focus on writing a satire, thinking it would be a “mental vacation.” It turned out to take every bit as much research to write a modern story as it does to write a historical one.
She has written television commercials, marketing newspapers, stage melodramas, four screenplays, three novels, and a textbook on waltzing. When she isn’t writing, she teaches social ballroom dances, refinishes various parts of her house, and sews historical costumes and dance costumes for her Cancan troupe.
Jeanette Watts will be awarding a doll dressed in Regency clothing, handcrafted by the author (International Giveaway) to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.