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Thursday, August 9, 2018

The Perfect Pairing | guest post from Nancy Kelley!

Today’s guest post comes from Nancy Kelley, author of His Good Opinion, Holidays with Janeand other Austenesque works – and you may recall seeing her around these parts before! Today she’s giving us a behind-the-scenes look at her next Austenesque book, and what goes into writing one – and this one is quite the undertaking! Check it out below, and then keep an eye out for Nancy’s answers in this year’s Janeite Conversations!
The Perfect Pairing
Take a moment and pick two Austen characters who would be unlikely friends. Do you have a couple in mind? Good--now hold that thought.

For the last few months, I’ve been working on the outline for my next, possibly over ambitious, Austenesque project. I’m going to take all six of Jane’s novels and set them in a single town in modern day America. Each novel will be transformed into a 30,000 word novella… which is going to take at least as much work as modernising the stories.

And then I added a layer of complexity to the plan. What if I took the six novels and paired them up into three duets? From a practical standpoint, three 60,000 word paperbacks is more appealing than six of only 30,000 words. But from a story perspective… Imagine taking the mashup one step farther and letting two stories really be entwined.

Which leads me back to my opening question--which Austen characters would be unlikely friends?

Catherine Morland and Fanny Price jumped out at me right away. They have different interests, but they’re similar enough in age and temperament to complement each other well. And if Fanny were invited to travel with Catherine, instead of being sent back to her family… How would that change her story?

I’ve spent the summer listening to the novels and deciding which stories work together best. Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice are a natural pairing, and not just because of the rhythm of their titles or because they’re the first two novels published. They both focus on sisters, and we learn almost as much about the sibling relationships as we do about the love matches.

That leaves Persuasion and Emma. An odd pairing? Perhaps, but I’m mulling over two possible twists that would bring the stories together. I’m not sure yet which I’ll settle on. I’d love to hear your thoughts on which characters would play well together and which would butt heads. What story elements do you think are essential in each novel? What kind of twists would you like to see in a project like this?

Nancy Kelley is a Janeite, author, and chocoholic. An indie author, she has published two Jane Austen sequels--His Good Opinion and Loving Miss Darcy--and is working on a third. When she’s not writing, you can find Nancy on Twitter where she will gladly talk about books, chocolate, or Doctor Who.

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  1. I can't say that I envy you, Nancy. My mind went to Emma Woodhouse and Lydia Bennet when you first asked the question.

    I think Emma's propensity to need a project like matchmaking and Anne's regrets would be important to me to see, the romances of course, but also the funny elements like their quirky families and neighbors to make me laugh.

    1. Yep, you've followed my train of thought re: Anne and Emma. I have an idea, and it might sound crazy but hear me out. (I mean, I don't think it's crazier than Fanny and Catherine being friends, so...)

      One of the challenges of condensing a novel down to a novella is trimming the characters. You just don't have room for the whole cast in a shorter story. That means a huge benefit of combining the stories like this is that I can merge characters. If there's someone whose personality fits multiple roles, there's no need to have all the individual characters when one would do.

      Well. If I put Persuasion before Emma, why couldn't Emma open with Anne and Wentworth's wedding? Why couldn't that be the wedding she felt she'd played such an important role in? I proved in Cupid's Secret that the relationship between Frank and the Westons is flexible, depending on the need of the adaptation. He can still be someone known to everyone who only visits occasionally without having parents in town.

      Speaking as an Emma, I guarantee she would be thrilled to help her friend become reunited with her long-lost lover. And of course, that kind of success would give her all the confidence *cough*arrogance*cough* she needs to meddle in Harriet's life.

    2. I like your idea of trailing Emma from the end of the Persuasion marriage and the thought about Frank's secret being different to fit a new combined story. I don't think this is nuts at all. :)

  2. My mind went to Mr Palmer from S&S and Mrs Bennet, which gave me a laugh but seems too unlikely to work!

  3. This sounds brilliant, and I can't wait to read it! I think Emma and Persuasion would work brilliantly together- what if Emma was the protege of Lady Russell? What if the Woodhouses were neighbors of Kellynch Hall? Certainly Mr. Woodhouse and Mary Musgrove have an affliction in common. I can see Knightley rolling his eyes at all of them (except Anne, whose exceeding good taste would be admired).

    1. Oh my word. A shudder just went down my spine at the idea of Mr. Woodhouse and Mary Musgrove having a hypochondriacs society.

  4. When you mentioned two unlikely characters that could be friends, my first thought was Elizabeth Bennet and Fanny Price. I was hoping Elizabeth's lively nature would bring a positive influence to Fanny. Both are intelligent and quite well read for a lady of their age.

    I also thought Anne Elliot and Elizabeth Bennet would be a good pairing. Both are my favourite characters and I would like to see them become friends. But that's not the question you are asking, Nancy.


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