Much Ado About JASNA…

On August 7th, I joined the Jane Austen Society of North America. I’ve been an acolyte of my favorite author for decades, but now I guess you could say it’s legit.

I’ve admired Jane Austen’s writing since I first read Pride and Prejudice in my early 20’s. I wasn’t an avid reader when I was younger, so Austen’s novel was significant to me in the sense that it was the first “love” story that I’d ever read. Like the impact of a first impression when you meet someone, you never forget it—and I’ve never forgotten that love story.

A summer college program in England gave me the chance to experience the life of Jane Austen when I visited her home in Chawton, Hampshire. Of course, all those mini-series I watched on PBS made an impression on me, too.

But the catalyst that got me started as a writer wasn’t all about Austen’s literary genius. It was “quite the opposite,” as Elizabeth Bennett once said.

I had to read the science fiction novel, Earth Abides, as a homework assignment. Writer, George R. Stewart, created an end-of-humanity story where only a few people survived and had to start all over again—a kind of rebirth of the earth. What really moved me was the perception the children had of their new civilization which to them was normal since they didn’t know how the old civilization lived before it was wiped out. But their parents did as they tried to teach them the “old ways.” Reading that book was surreal.

Two novels at polar opposites of the genre spectrum, yet they both filled my imagination with powerful images of places and the emotional connections we have with those places and each other. If that little voice in your head keeps telling you to write a book, well, start writing!

What I love most about writing historical romance is creating characters so real, they’re the ones who are really telling the story—and bringing the past back to life.

“Think only of the past as its remembrance gives you pleasure.”  ~Pride and Prejudice

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