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Monday, June 6, 2011

Jane Austen Inspired Miniatures, from Laurel Ann Natress + Giveaway

If you're a Janeite, chances are you're familiar with the name Laurel Ann and the blog Austenprose. Laurel Ann was unable to participate in Jane in June last year because she was working on something super secret and awesome - and this year, that labor of love is bearing fruits! This October will mark the release of Jane Austen Made Me Do It, an anthology of Jane-ness, slaved over and put together by Laurel Ann!
Today she has a special post for us about Jane as a "miniaturist" and writing short stories based on Jane's works, as well as a giveaway of Jane Austen Made Me Do It!

“There are some writers who wrote too much. There are others who wrote enough. There are yet others who wrote nothing like enough to satisfy their admirers, and Jane Austen is certainly one of these.” Margaret Drabble

With only six major works, a novella, a scattering of minor works and her juvenilia available to us, we can never have too much Jane Austen. It seems only natural to crave more of the unique world that she created inspiring new authors to write retellings, continuations, mashing-up’s or inspired by of her stories and characters. The first official Jane Austen sequel appeared in 1913. Old Friends and New Fancies by Sybil Brinton was the pioneer of the Austen sequel genre. Since then there have been hundreds of Austen-inspired novels, but very few published short stories. This was intriguing to me. The result of my passion to compile an Austen-inspired anthology is my first book, Jane Austen Made Me Do It, to be published in October by Ballantine Books.

So how does one write an Austen-inspired short story? “[O]n to the little bit (two Inches wide) of Ivory on which I work with so fine a Brush, as produces little effect after much labour?” That was how Jane Austen described her work to her nephew. She was a miniaturist – like those talented portrait painters of her era who created likenesses of Royalty and gentry on small oval disks. Her subjects and characters that populated her novels were particular and focused, and that it what one also needs to do to write a great short story. Choose one or two characters and place them in a context that is dense and quick moving. In the case of my anthology, in 5,000 words or less.

I had the great fortune of working with twenty-four very talented authors. They came from a variety of backgrounds: some were experienced bestselling fiction writers, others were specialist in the Austenesque genre and one was a complete unknown, and the lucky winner of our short story contest. As an editor I believe in the power of creativity. I gave them free reign and a light hand. From historical, to contemporary to fantastical, I was thrilled with their results. They are Jane Austen inspired miniatures. I hope she would approve.  

A Grand Giveaway!

In honor of Misty’s ‘Jane in June’ extravaganza, I am very happy to offer her readers the first chance of one bound galley copy of Jane Austen Made Me Do It: Original Stories Inspired by Literature’s Most Astute Observer of the Human Heart to one lucky winner. Just leave a comment stating why you think Jane Austen is a miniaturist, or which of her characters you would like to see in a short story by June 30, 2011. Winner will be announced here at Book Rat on July 5, 2011. Shipment to US or Canadian addresses only. Good luck to all.

Cheers, Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose      

Short fiction can be exciting – like little glistening jewels. I gravitate toward it when I need a quick and satisfying read. A Jane Austen short story anthology seemed liked and interesting notion. At that time there were none in print. I asked myself if that was because no one wanted to read one – or no one had thought of it yet?

Click to be taken to the Main Page & Schedule


  1. I would love to see a short story that gets inside the head and heart of Charlotte Lucas, going past her pragmatic side. It'd be really fun to read!

  2. I think Miss Austen is a miniaturist in her details. She can take the tiniest, most insignificant things and show them to you in new ways.
    I would love to see a short story from Col. Fitzwilliam's point of view. I have always wondered how much he knew of what was going on in Kent... :)


  3. Wow, I didn't know that Austen-inspired novels dated back that far!

    I think it would be fun to place Northanger Abbey in a contemporary setting - maybe in an old boarding high school, the perfect setting for a gothic story with overactive teenager imagination and drama.

    susanna DOT pyatt AT student DOT rcsnc DOT org

  4. Every scene is a perfect miniature, right down to where people are sitting...I'd love to see Emma's Jane Fairfax in a story of her own.

    teabird17 AT yahoodotcom

    Thank you!

  5. I would like to see whether Kitty Bennet is reformed and how it happened after Lydia is married and her giddy influence became to wane. Not staying in US or Canada so you can exclude me.

  6. I would personally like to see Caroline Bingley in her own story. Whether she can find a man who can keep up with her 'holier than thou' attitude or whether said attitude is simply a front because she can't find someone to love her.

  7. Who I would like to see in a short story of her own would be Georgiana Darcy (Mr. Darcy's younger sister in Pride and Prejudice)

    There is a lot about her unknown and her relationship with her brother. She is the closest person to him and I think from her point of view, it would give an insight to Mr. Darcy not seen. Also of course the "almost scandal" with Mr. Wickham we would perhaps gain some insight from her eyes.

    Thanks for this giveaway! This book is on my wishlist!


  8. I would love a short story about Georgiana. Not only would it be interesting to see her thoughts and feelings on everything but also to see her and Elizabeth's relationship grow.
    wolfluvr420 at yahoo dot com

  9. Oh, I agree, Kitty Bennet would be wonderful. But I also think maybe a story about the older generations in P&P. Like how did Mr and Mrs Bennet meet? Mrs Bennet as a young girl around all those red coats. Lady Catherine growing up. Endless possibilities!


  10. I would love to read a book about Lady Catherine de Bourg's youth! I'll bet she had quite the adventures among the London and Bath elite!

  11. This is a tough one! I think I'd like to read a story about the courtship of Mr. and Mrs. Bennett! It would be so interesting to see how two such different people came to fall in love, and what they were like in their youth. Thank you for the opportunity to enter the giveaway!

    rachel.linquist at gmail dot com

  12. Can I say "everybody"? Haha just kidding. I've always thought Mary Bennett had a little more to her than it seems.

    mariahoverlock at gmail.com

  13. Jane Austen is definitely a miniaturist. She sketches her characters so finely. And they become more visable as the novel progresses. You might say it's like an artist painting a portrait.
    I would like to see Fanny Price attending a London season.

  14. I would also like to see more of Georgiana and get things from her point of view.

  15. I must agree that Georgiana would be so great to see. we hear of so much of Mr. Darcy but not his sister.

    sassysasha817 at gmail dot com

  16. I'd love to read more about Colonel Brandon. He seems to have an intriguing backstory that could easily be written about.

    Laura Hartness
    The Calico Critic
    CalicoCritic at gmail dot com

  17. Who wouldn't I like to see in a short story would be an easier question! I would love to see Elizabeth and Darcy, of course. But I would also like Charlote & Mr. Collins, Lydia & Wickham, Ann & Capt. Wentworth, and so on!

  18. Oh, I would also love to see a story about Georgiana Darcy! I think her story needs to be told!
    email charlawilson@me.com

  19. So much fun! I would love to read more about Mr. Bennett!

  20. It is interesting to get the different points of view of the characters who are somehow in the shadow in our beloved novels by Jane Austen. It would be very funny to get a glimpse at Mr and Mrs Elton while they are alone at their vicary lol Imagine what their conversations would be about! It is even hard to imagine :D

  21. I would very much love to read more about the inner thoughts and feelings of Charlotte Lucas. Once she'd made her bargain to secure her future, did she have any second thoughts? Did her husband realize he could be tiresome, thus his agreement that she should have her own room "for my particular use" (I love that phrase). How was that arrangement negotiated? I feel there is very much to know about Charlotte.


  22. I'd like to see more of Georgiana or Fanny's little sister, Susan. I think each could easily have had her own interesting story.

  23. Oh this is exciting!

    Cheers to Laurel Ann on a job well done!

    As far as characters:
    1. Mrs. Bennet in her youth and how she came to be the way she was.

    2. Did Mr. Bennet live with many regrets?

    3. The Lucas Family...wouldn't you love to know what they REALLY thought of the Bennet's? *LOL*

  24. I've always wondered what happened to Margaret Dashwood after watching the ups and downs of her sisters' courtships and eventual marriages. Plus, she seems spunky and I like spunky. So a short story about Margaret would be on my wish list.


  25. I'd be interested to know what happened to John and Isabella Thorpe? Or maybe the back story for Miss Tilney's romance?

    danae.kannely (at) gmail.com

  26. It would be SO interesting to see into Mr. Collin's head. He didn't know Lady Catherine his entire life, after all. And surely he couldn't have been raised to be servile on purpose. He annoys me greatly, but his story might be interesting to hear.

  27. I would like to see a short story on Catherine and Henry's life after Northanger Abbey..their wedded bliss and what did happen to Henry's father General Tilney?

    Oh there is so much that you can do several short stories on the characters from one of Jane Austen's books.

    jadeedrie at yahoo dot com

  28. Jane was a miniaturist, because she wrote of the lives of normal people. And we are all caught up in our own miniature worlds and the great tragedies and comedies that come when our worlds collide. As I tell the kids I work with - no one is thinking about you nearly as much as you think they are - they're all to busy thinking everyone is thinking about them.

    I'd love to see a story from the viewpoint of Mrs. Hill or one of the servants at Uppercross. When you are unobserved, you can often make the best observations.

  29. Jane was most certainly a miniaturist. She captured the important details that make up the essence of a village, a community, a family, a relationship, a person. Some authors choose to stand on top of a mountain and write from that perspective, which isn't always accessible to everyone. Jane chose to stay close to home, to the heart, where most of us spend our every day lives. That's why we relate so much to her work.

  30. Jane was a miniaturist because she had keen perception about people and an eye for the details of everyday life.

    I have always been fascinated by Colonel Brandon. I would love to know more about him.


  31. I'd love a short story about Captain Wentworth because I can't get enough of him, but I'd also like to get into the mind of Charlotte Lucas, specifically after she married the ridiculous Mr. Collins!


  32. what a Great idea!
    blstef1 at mts dot net
    i'd luv to see a short story on Cptn Wentworth's sister Sophia Croft !

  33. Maria Lucas has watched Charlotte and Elizabeth find husbands. What has been going on in her silent little head? I would like to read about a "strong" Maria Lucuas with a happy ending:) Also, I would love to win "Jane Austen made me do it" book.

  34. I'd love to read more about Henry Crawford. I think there's a good story to explore there.


  35. I would love to see a story from Emma. Maybe about Jane Fairfax.

  36. I would like to see a short story from the perspective of Eleanor Tilney.

  37. Jane Austen's attention to detail, character and social relationships is legendary. As well as her witty jabs at even the smallest things. She sees all.

    I would love to see more of Lady Susan...there is so little and yet I really do enjoy the epistolary form and her character.

    Thanks and congrats again Laurel Ann!


  38. Sophie Croft or Col. Fitzwilliam

  39. I would love to read more about Colonel Brandon. It seems to me there is a lot to be explored in his past. Thanks for the giveaway.

  40. I would love a short story about Maria Lucas finding love. (I'm such a romantic!)

  41. I'd like to see Mary Bennet in a short story--I feel so sorry for her!!

  42. I always wanted Mary Bennett to have her own HEA.

  43. The Eltons, Mr and Mrs Bennet, Jane Fairfax and Miss Bates. There have to be some great stories there.

  44. Georgiana or Charlotte would make a good short story.

    meredithfl at gmail dot com

  45. Jane has so many wonderful characters, it's hard to narrow it down. On top of the list are Henry Tilney, Elinor Tilney, Col Brandon, even the bad boy Henry Crawford.


    felicialso @gmail. com

  46. Mr. Bennet for sure.... I don't know why, but it's curious to me.

    lisagoneaussie (at) gmail.com

    Would LOVE to win it... thanks for the chance! :-)

  47. There are several characters I'd like to see short stories written about.
    I'd like to see how Mary Bennet turned out so different from her sisters. What influenced her in her childhood?
    I'd like to see Charles Musgrove courting Anne Elliot and how he felt on turning his attentions to Mary after Anne refused him.
    And I'd like to see why Mr Palmer married Charlotte.

  48. Ooh so many good choices for stories! I'd like to read about Darcy's parents (I always hope it was a love-match, or that it became one in time) and what Darcy was like when he was growing up. I also like stories about Georgiana, Kitty, Charlotte and Col Fitzwilliam as well.


  49. I always thought that I'd like to read about Colonel Brandon's life before he met the Dashwoods.

  50. I would love a short story about Anne Elliott. Maybe even Frederick and Anne what they did for those 8 years they were separated.

  51. Wow, what an incredible response so far! I love all of your suggestions for possible short stories and can fulfill some of them from Jane Austen Made Me Do It:

    @SusieBookworm - you will be happy to learn that there are two Northanger Abbey inspired contemporary stories in JAMMDI: "A Night at Northanger" by Lauren Willig & "The Mysterious Closet" by Myretta Robens. Both are Gothic and very fun.

    @Christy, @Miss Eliza, @Rachel, @Jane, @Banker Chick - you will learn all about M/M Bennet's courtship in "Mr. Bennet Meets His Match" by Amanda Grange. The young Mrs. Bennet was quite the enchantress!

    @Jakki L, @Beverly @athomethinkingwoman - in "Letters to Lydia" by Maya Slater - Maria Lucas writes to her BFF Lydia about her stay at Hunsford Parsonage with her sister Charlotte and her odious new husband Mr. Collins!

    @Jakki L., @Faith, Hope Cherrytea, @Mel - We learn more about Captain Wentworth and Anne Elliot's back story in "Waiting" by Jane Odiwe, & in "Heard of You" by Margaret Sullivan we meet Captain Wentworth as a young lieutenant who introduces his sister Sophie to her future husband Captain Croft.

    There are many other incredibly creative and insightful stories to discover too.

    Good luck to all who enter the giveaway contest.

    Cheers, Laurel Ann

  52. I think that Anne de Bourgh deserves her own story. I think there is more to her than being her mothers quiet sickly puppet.

    I would also like to hear more about Charles Bingley's winter and spring away from Jane and Netherfield.

    Colleen L

  53. Admiral and Mrs. Croft are such a lovely couple. They deserve a story of their own. I'd like to know how they met, how Sophy decided to go to sea and the adventures they had together. I can't wait to see who the contest winner is and read the finished book.

  54. Believe it or not, I think I'd choose Mary Bennet. I'm just so curious as to whether she was completely misunderstood.

    Thanks for the chance--sounds like excellent reading! And congratulations!

  55. Great post! I am inspired to write my own Jane Austen fiction all of a sudden: Choose one or two characters and place them in a context that is dense and quick moving. In the case of my anthology, in 5,000 words or less.

    There are so many characters I would love to see a short story about... how about ALL OF THEM!! Seriously!


  56. I'd love to see a short story about Emma!


  57. I would love a short story about Colonel Fitzwilliam and what he is doing when he isn't with Darcy.

  58. Mrs Bennet. I never can get enough of her!


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