I know some of you out there are a bit...insatiable in your appetites for Darcy (and Wentworth. And Knightley. And Tilney. And...), so what would Austen in August be without some mention of sexytimes? Today, Austen sexytimes-writer Ayr Bray has stopped by to tell us a bit about how she became a Janeite, and what place it has had in her life... and what led her to write her own erotic P&P retellings. Enjoy!
I have been a Janeite since first reading Pride and Prejudice 23 years ago; I was 12. I think my grandmother was also a Janeite, back before a Janeite could find other Janeites online and share their love of Austen’s works. It was she who introduced me to the literary masterpiece one summer when I stayed with her and grandpa on their ranch. The complete works of Jane Austen sat, for years, on the little table next to her rocking chair. She would read a few pages each and every night. In fact I cannot remember a single day that I spent at her home where she didn't read from the book. I remember her finishing the final page, in the final novel, of the collection, and then she would lovingly move her cross-stitched bookmark back to page one and start all over again. Finally I asked her about the book and she encouraged me to read it. She recommended that I read Emma since my personality was most like her’s. I read it and although I enjoyed the novel I wasn't hooked.
My dear grandmother then recommended Pride and Prejudice. I dove in and did not immerse from the book for 2 days, until I was done. That was it, I was hooked. For years I would read Pride and Prejudice at least twice a year.
Then I went to college. Between boys, classes, work, and more boys, I was slothful in my P&P reading. Dare I admit that 5-years later my husband and I were enjoying dinner with some friends and the woman asked if I loved the new Pride and Prejudice mini-series or not. I had to admit that we did not watch television and that I didn't even know it existed. Oh the shame!
May I throw in one side note … despite being away from Pride and Prejudice for a few years, I must admit that when I met and married my own Mr. Darcy that our initial meeting was very Pride and Prejudice-esque. It took me a few weeks to notice the similarities, but when I was explaining to my sister how we met, including his own variation of the slight she laughed at me and said “I could turn any situation into Pride and Prejudice”. I figured at that point the outcome would be the same … yep, I married him. I too was not one and twenty. *Wink* Alright, back to my post.
Well, apparently I had long missed the mini-series, because it was already out on VHS … yes I am dating myself a little, or proving how poor I was just out of college that I did not yet have a DVD player though they were new to existence.
My husband and I borrowed her coveted 6 VHS collection and went home. My husband, bless his soul, asked what Pride and Prejudice was. My jaw dropped and an hour later he was begging me to put the movie in so that I would shut-up rehashing the entire book chapter by chapter. We figured that we would watch just an hour or two (1 VHS) to get us started, and finish the movie(s) over the following days.
Three hours later we were popping popcorn and anxiously putting in the 4th VHS. My husband was as enthralled as me.
Ever since, he indulges my Mr. Darcy fetishes and is not afraid to admit that he can quote excerpts as well as any other well-read Janeite.
It wasn't until 2007 that I started penning my own stories though. I've written a few and shared them on various Jane Austen fan-fiction website, but it was not until I was introduced to Scotch and Sirens that I realized there was a market for the … ahem … lost love scenes of Pride and Prejudice. That is when I started writing erotic Pride and Prejudice sequels.
The funny thing is that the fans are much harsher. My novels that are tame, to use Misty’s own words, receive rave reviews, but I have noticed as a general rule, people are hard-pressed to admit that they read and enjoyed the ‘lost love scenes’, so to speak. Or they just flat out admit they want to read longer stories, which I assure my dear readers that I am working on.
As a writer, there are a variety of impressions I like to make sure I get across in my writing. I think many of these impressions are emulated from Jane Austen’s own works. First of all, be honest and have open communication. There’s no need to be Isabella Thorpe, but you can’t be too shy either. As we all know, Jane Bennet almost lost Mr. Bingley by being too reserved. I try to portray my characters and confident individuals that communicate with one another.
I also love that Austen’s heroines are true ladies, in the best sense of the word. They have femininity and graceful appeal, and her gentlemen are true gentlemen, in every sense of the word. A lady need not fear when they are near for they would lay down their lives to protect the women they love. I portray those same virtues in my hero and heroines.
Remember, first impressions are not always right, whether positive or negative. Elizabeth Bennet thought the handsome Mr. Wickham was charming when she first met him, and as we all know, neither she nor Mr. Darcy were too fond of each other at first meeting. Same goes for Marianne Dashwood and Colonel Brandon. It is my impression that Jane Austen felt that love came not only from the heart, but from the mind also. I believe that it was her impression that you could not fall in love with someone until you knew them. You needed to know their character, their flaws, and their strengths.
With the above set forth, I love that in Jane Austen’s novels, the heroines always get the man in the end, and is it just me or don’t you agree that they get the RIGHT man?
Jane Austen cautions us not to settle. There are countless examples of Austen ladies ending up with men they are settling for because of wealth or circumstance. Mansfield Park‘s Maria Bertram marries Mr. Rushworth because of his fortune, not because she loves him, and what happens to her? She ends up divorced and living with her Aunt Norris in some other country. Who could forget Charlotte Lucas in Pride and Prejudice? She marries the insolent Mr. Collins because she doesn't think she’ll get another offer.
Next, think for yourself. If you learn nothing from Jane Austen, learn this. Go with your gut instinct. Poor Anne Elliot in Persuasion broke off her engagement with Captain Wentworth because of the advice and persuasion of her friend Lady Russel. What did she gain from it? Years of sorrow. Poor Harriet Smith is into Robert Martain until Emma sticks her nose into her business. Make your own decisions and stand up for yourself in the process.
I love the humor in Jane Austen. You have to admit, she is wickedly funny. She never takes cheap shots at people, but to those who deserve it, she mocks with clarity.
Reading Jane Austen the majority of my life has given me confidence to stand up for myself when otherwise I may not have been able too.
What has reading Jane Austen done for you?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR AND HER BOOKS:
Ayr Bray is the author of Felicity in Marriage; An Erotic Pride and Prejudice Continuation, Conjugal Obligation; An Erotic Pride and Prejudice Continuation, and Not Handsome Enough; Mr. Darcy’s Erotic Dream’s.
Ayr Bray was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. She and her husband spend their time sailing the world with their two boys. Ayr loves to lie on the fly deck with her laptop writing from exotic locations. Then they sail off into the sunset to their next destination where her next book comes to life. Right now, Ayr is at anchor in the Gulf of Mexico.
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