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Monday, August 21, 2017

5 Minutes with Jane Austen: a Janeite Roundtable discussion

A brand new year of AIA means a brand new round of roundtable questions! (See what I did there? Eh?) If you're unfamiliar, basically I round up a bunch of Austenesque authors (or even a group of you guys, as I did last year!), and ask 'em so half-serious/half-silly questions about Austen, and then I work those answers into one longer "conversation" piece. It's like we're all just sitting around, chattin' Austen, which you know is what we'd be doing if any of us got together IRL.

Our first question this year is one that — why did it take me so long to ask this? I mean, this should have been standard from day one.
If you had 5 minutes alone with Jane Austen, just you and her in a room, and you could ask or do anything, how would those five minutes play out?

ME: I'm gonna assume we're all perfect ladies, and that this "5 minutes alone in a room with Jane Austen" isn't going to turn into Seven Minutes in Heaven. But if it does. . . no judgement. *looks at you all judgmentally*
ALEXA: Oh! I can't even imagine.

ME: But it's fun to imagine, isn't it? Haha!

MELISSA: I would be way too nervous to ask her anything! I’d probably just hide behind the curtains.

ME: Valid reaction, tbh.

ALEXA: Assuming I didn't turn into a puddle of a fangirl, I like to think we would just enjoy a rather natural conversation, full of witty observations and snide remarks. I wouldn't have an agenda. I'd just want to bask in her company. The best company.

ME: With some fangirling. A little fangirling is fine.

NICOLE: I imagine she would have me in stitches. I would be helplessly wiping tears from my eyes, and she would be calmly sipping her tea and dropping side-splitters.

ME: Now that is a truth universally acknowledged.

MARIA: Hands down, I would have to ask her how she felt about Austen-inspired fiction. I think I’d be devastated to find she was horrified or offended by it.

ME: Right? I mean, how do you even begin to explain fan fiction to Jane Austen.

MARIA: I think it might take a little bit for her to get used to the notion, but I like to believe that she’d be flattered by it, or even be intrigued enough to read some of it…maybe something with dragons…

ME: I'd certainly be curious of her take on the steamier stuff, though of course, it wouldn't do to actually talk about it. Maybe I'd just leave a copy of something on a side table for her to discover. . . ;)

MARILYN: I know I'd want to ask her about that mysterious clergyman that she reportedly fell in love with on a seaside holiday.

ME: The whirlwind! The drama of it all!

MARILYN: Who was he? What really happened? Did he inform any of her story heroes or did she draw her writing inspiration from other sources altogether?

ME: I know! Don't you just want to pick absolutely every inch of her brain? *wistful sigh*

MARILYN: At least that what I think I'd ask her. More likely, I'd just stare at her in awe for the full five minutes and inquire if, perhaps, she'd like a scone or some tea, LOL.

NICOLE: I don’t think I would quiz her about who inspired Mr Darcy or Lady Catherine, but I would love to just enjoy her company.

ME: Fair. I mean, no matter what you do with your five minutes, I don't think you could really go wrong. Although I so would want to get the dirt on Lady Catherine's & Mrs. Norris' inspo. Do you think it's that same awful woman?

NICOLE: Wouldn’t it be fun to people watch with her?

ME: Looooord, yes!

KAREN: I’d spend three of my five babbling incoherently, and then I’d blurt out, “Why did Cassandra burn your letters?” and “Who was the inspiration for Mr. Darcy?” To which she’d roll her eyes and leave the room.

ME: This is probably the most realistic, to be honest. Bye, Jane! Love you! Call me!

LAURIE: My plan would be to arrive armed with written recipes for alternative/herbal remedies/preventive measures for Addison’s Disease, arsenic poisoning, and/or whatever else today’s medical professionals have theorized may have killed her. I would do whatever I could to convince her to take these remedies—quoting from her letters if I had to in order to prove a window into the future.

ME: Laurie. Have you never watched a single time travel movie. You never mess with the timeline. Although it would be funny to see her reaction to a crazy lady wearing some absurd version of men's trousers and a rather inappropriate tunic, bursting into the room where she's sitting quietly, trying to have just five minutes to herself, talking about the future and diseases she's never heard of... I mean, I guess it'd be worth it just for that.

LAURIE: And maybe, if we were all super fortunate, I’d return to a world in which there were six more Austen treasures to read!

ME: Ahh... one can dream...

So, my darlings -- what would YOU do with five minutes alone with Jane? Let us know in the comments!

This Janeite Chat featured the following fabulous ladies:

Alexa Adams — books  |  goodreads  |  website  | twitter
Marilyn Brant — books  |  goodreads  |  website  |  twitter
Nicole Clarkston — books  |  goodreads  |  website  |  twitter
Karen M. Cox — books  |  goodreads  |  website  |  twitter
Maria Grace — books  |  goodreads  |  website  |  twitter
Melissa Pimentel — books  |  goodreads  |  website  |  twitter
Laura Viera Rigler — books  |  goodreads  |  website  |  twitter

Go check out their books!

Click here to return to the Austen in August main page!


  1. LOL! I love these chats. Oh man, five with the authoress herself. I'd want to know where she was taking The Watsons and Sanditon, but yeah, mysterious clergyman, burnt letters, and who were the inspirations behind her characters would make my list.
    But in likelihood, I'd be all silent shock and awe. :)

  2. So fun to read everyone's responses to this question!
    Thanks, Misty ;)

  3. I would want to show her proof that her works are not only published past her death, but enjoyed and lauded worldwide. I'd love to grant her that moment of recognition. Assuming she wouldn't be, like, "Please talk about something NOT my writing- I am a full human being, you know". :D

  4. This informal chat is funny. I would just talk to her about how her reading her books has led me to so many different experiences such as getting to know Janeites from all over the world, participating in fun activities (like AIA), etc. That is besides asking if she would divulge who the mysterious man from the seaside is and what she thought about him.

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