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Monday, August 18, 2014

"What did Austen do in August?" — guest post from Shannon Winslow, author of The Persuasion of Miss Jane Austen

The first guest post of Austen in August this year was a case of the stars aligning — author Shannon Winslow was having a blog tour for her book The Persuasion of Miss Jane Austen, and needed someone to fill a spot on the 18th, and I was still trying to decide which guest post to put on the 18th, to open the show with. Boom: 2 proverbial birds, 1 proverbial stone, and a guest post about literal-Austen-in-literal-August was born. ;)
Check it out below, and let us know your thoughts in the comments!

What did Austen in do August?

It’s “Austen in August” time again! But as far as I know, we celebrate the author in this month only because the two names begin the same, which make is sound kind of catchy. It did start me wondering, however, if there were any significant events in Jane Austen’s life that took place this month a couple of hundred years ago.

August is pretty special to me, marked by big life events. Not only is it the month my husband and I were married (many moons ago), but the month two of my literary offspring were born into the world – including my first (The Darcys of Pemberley, 2011) and now, just a week ago, The Persuasion of Miss Jane Austen, both published in August.
So what about Jane? I knew she was born in December and died in July, but what happened to her in August. Well, I did a cursory search of the timeline of her life, and this is what I found: almost nothing for years and years. Oh, there is a dedication written in a juvenile work when she was 16, the completion of First Impressions (her first draft of what would become Pride and Prejudice) in 1797, summer visits here and there, but that’s about it… until we get near the end. Here at last August figures very prominently, for it was the month she both began her last novel Persuasion (in 1815) and finished it (1816).

I already knew this from my research for my new book, since it ties directly to Persuasion. Still, when I came across these facts again, it made a fresh impact.

You see, I had just reread a couple of my old blog posts the night before – ones relating to the inception of The Persuasion of Miss Jane Austen – noting by the dates how long this work had taken to come to fruition. The first post was from April 2011, over three years ago, when I had already been struck by the original idea and jotted down a prologue to capture it. The other was a post from August of last year, announcing that I had begun to work on the book in earnest. Now here we are in August again, and the novel is finally completed.

Hmm. A novel that parallels Persuasion begun in August and finished a year later in the same month – just like the original. I admit I got a few chills. I sometimes do feel as if I have a special connection to Jane Austen, but I had no idea we were tracking as closely together as that!

Anyway, although I had originally hoped the new book would debut in July, it now seems entirely fitting (even meant-to-be) that it wasn’t finished until a month later, just in time for “Austen in August.”

For every fan who has wished Jane Austen herself might have enjoyed the romance and happy ending she so carefully crafted for all her heroines…

By Shannon Winslow

What if the tale Jane Austen told in her last, most poignant novel was actually inspired by momentous events in her own life? Did she in fact intend Persuasion to stand forever in homage to her one true love?

While creating Persuasion, Jane Austen also kept a private journal in which she recorded the story behind the story – her real-life romance with a navy captain of her own. The parallel could only go so far, however. As author of her characters’ lives, but not her own, Jane Austen made sure to fashion a second chance and happy ending for Anne and Captain Wentworth. Then, with her novel complete and her health failing, Jane prepared her simple will and resigned herself to never seeing the love of her life again. Yet fate, it seems, wasn’t quite finished with her. Nor was Captain Devereaux.

The official record says that Jane Austen died at 41, having never been married. But what if that’s only what she wanted people to believe? It’s time she, through her own private journal, revealed the rest of her story.

Author Shannon Winslow specializes in fiction for fans of Jane Austen. Her popular debut novel, The Darcys of Pemberley, immediately established her place in the genre, being particularly praised for the author’s authentic Austenesque style and faithfulness to the original characters. For Myself Alone (a stand-alone Austen-inspired story) followed. Then last year Return to Longbourn wrapped up Winslow's Pride and Prejudice saga, forming a trilogy when added to the original novel and her previous sequel. Now she has given us a “what if” story starring Jane Austen herself. In The Persuasion of Miss Jane Austen, that famous author tells her own tale of lost love, second chances, and finding her happy ending.

Her two sons grown, Ms. Winslow lives with her husband in the log home they built in the countryside south of Seattle, where she writes and paints in her studio facing Mt. Rainier.

Learn more at Shannon’s website/blog (www.shannonwinslow.com). Follow her on Twitter (as JaneAustenSays..) and on Facebook.

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  1. The chilling parallels lead me to hope perhaps your book is closer to nonfiction than fiction??? Hmmm? Mebbe???? One can hope...

    1. Shannon Winslow says...
      I certainly like to think so, Cecilia! I'm never sure where the ideas come from when I'm writing, but perhaps this time they somehow came from her - to let us all know that things ended well for her after all. :)

  2. As August is also my birth month, I'll take this as a sign that I need to read The Persuasion of Miss Jane Austen. Thanks! :D

    1. Perfect! Happy birthday, Beth!

  3. Shannon Winslow says...
    I just realized I could have mentioned one more way August has been significant in my life. Since both my sons were born in May, I suppose that means they were both conceived in August! *blushing*

  4. Interesting parallels! Thanks for sharing, Shannon. I look forward to reading your new book.

  5. I loved the Persuasion of Jane Austen. It is a wonderful story.


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