Thrilled to be part of this month’s Austenesque Extravaganza, put together by bloggers Meredith Esparza and Jakki Leatherberry. For my part in this month-long celebration of everything Austen, I got to meet Austen authors Alyssa Goodnight and Karalynne Mackrory and chat via Skype about (gasp!) Our Jane Austen Pet Peeves. (Sacrilege!) Hope you enjoy!
Alyssa Goodnight: I’m Alyssa Goodnight, and my Austen-inspired novels are modern-day homages that make the assumption that Jane Austen’s spirit is alive and well, offering up romantic advice from a journal.
Lori Smith: Sounds like fun! I’ve written Austen-related non-fiction, most recently The Jane Austen Guide to Life, which takes practical lessons from both Austen’s fiction and her life stories. If she could give us advice today, what would she tell us? Similar to yours a bit, Alyssa.
KaraLynne Mackrory: I am KaraLynne Mackrory and I live in a fantasy world where I believe Mr. Darcy is real. Well, real enough to invade my thoughts and make me produce giggle-fest stories of him.
Alyssa Goodnight: So…I assume Mr. Darcy is your favorite Austen hero?
KaraLynne Mackrory: Hmm… that’s a good question. And the answer might not even be yes. I liked him a lot – though probably because P & P is my favorite of Jane Austen’s books, but I almost liked Edmund Bertram or the charming Mr. Tilney as much. How about you guys?
Alyssa Goodnight: I’m a Mr. Knightley girl.
Lori Smith: Really, how would one choose? I might take Knightley. Though I wouldn’t be choosy.
KaraLynne Mackrory: Oh I like him too. Maybe I’m just a sucker for all the Austen men.
KaraLynne Mackrory: I think his name sounds romantic
Lori Smith: Many think Austen fashioned him after her brother Edward Austen Knight, thus the name. (Her brother was adopted by the Knight family.)
Alyssa Goodnight: It absolutely sounds romantic! (And that’s interesting, Lori. I didn’t know that.)
KaraLynne Mackrory: Me neither.
Lori Smith: A question for you: What are your pet peeves about Austen’s writing? (Our beloved Jane, it seems almost sacrilegious to ask…) Are there things that bother you? Things you wish she hadn’t done, or done differently?
KaraLynne Mackrory: I have one I could submit. And I think it’s because I like happy feelings in stories but I always was bothered that her “happily ever afters” only occurred like in the last 3 paragraphs of the books.
Everything wrapped up quickly (although satisfying) I was still left wishing to hear more of their happy lives together.
Alyssa Goodnight: Triggering the advent of Jane Austen Fan Fiction… You are not alone!
KaraLynne Mackrory: haha probably.
Lori Smith: She told her family bits and pieces of the “after” stories, but never felt compelled to revisit them in books…
Lori Smith: Some of them are recorded — like, Mary Bennet married a clerk from her Uncle Gardiner’s law office, and Emma’s father didn’t live long after Emma and Knightley were married.
Alyssa Goodnight: Ohh, poor Mr. Woodhouse! I liked him!
Alyssa Goodnight: I have one too, and it didn’t totally strike me until I watched the 1995 BBC production of Pride & Prejudice just a few months ago. The Bennet family–they’re so very disjointed. I can’t imagine how five daughters with such differing temperaments could have emerged from the same family.
Not to mention Mr. and Mrs. Bennet! Their parenting skills were a bit horrific!
Lori Smith: I hear you on that, Alyssa. Although it does amaze me looking at families sometimes how children with such differing personalities share the same genes. You wonder, though, how Elizabeth and Jane ever became the respectable women they were.
Alyssa Goodnight: Agreed! I wonder if perhaps Mrs. Bennet was able to manage with only two daughters, but after five, she just gave up on them all!
Lori Smith: I think she simply didn’t have much good sense. Her husband had it in abundance, but chose not to exert himself. Sad, really.
KaraLynne Mackrory: I have wondered that too, Alyssa. But then I come from a big family where we have very different personalities. One thing we have in common though is that we are usually all extroverted. I would think that there are some similarities in the Bennets that are not noted as easily.
Alyssa Goodnight: Perhaps, but even small things, like kindness, don’t seem to extend to all of them. Lydia is a bit nasty at times.
Lori Smith: Yes, Lydia can be wicked. I think Austen seems to forgive her for this, largely because she had no training, very little guidance from her parents.
KaraLynne Mackrory: I have two kids who are old enough to read. My oldest reads reluctantly, the younger reads with delight. I may have been a matter of tastes – which Bennet girl decided to improve herself.
KaraLynne Mackrory: I think Mr. Bennet is fascinating in this sense. He was a good father to Elizabeth and Jane – but you are right, he didn’t really do much for anyone else.
Lori Smith: Question for you, KaraLynne — in your P&P rewrite, did you end with the “happy ending” or did you extend the story?
KaraLynne Mackrory: Ohh, you got me there. I ended with the happily ever after. Wow, I didn’t realize it until you pointed it out. Hmmmm.
Lori Smith: I thought for sure you would have written more!
KaraLynne Mackrory: I have in my second book. There is an epilogue there. But I think I justify mine a bit more because the happily ever after starts way before the end. In Austen’s, it seems like all the things become sorted out and it basically ends with “they married and were happy.”
Alyssa Goodnight: I ended with the HEA too. Although I’ve read writing advice that said you have to end once things are tied up or risk losing reader interest. I can see that.
Lori Smith: That makes sense, Alyssa.
Lori Smith: One of my pet peeves is that I think Mr. Collins in P&P married the wrong woman. Any guesses as to who he really *should* have married?
KaraLynne Mackrory: Mary
KaraLynne Mackrory: MARY MARY MARY
Lori Smith: YES!!! Why didn’t Austen write it that way??
KaraLynne Mackrory: But I wonder if we are influenced by the movie adaptations that always make Mary look so interested and eager for Collins. ? Does the book actually have much evidence of this? Other than that she was known to be quite “religious”
Alyssa Goodnight: I don’t know. I think Charlotte was a pretty good choice. She went into the marriage with her eyes WIDE open, and I think she probably dealt tolerably well with him. I think Mr. Collins and Mary might have clashed big time.
Lori Smith: Mary was so pedantic, so similar to Mr. Collins in her intellectual quest for spirituality without much heart…
KaraLynne Mackrory: That’s a good point Alyssa. And I waffle a bit with that. I just like her and wish she wasn’t shackled with such a stupid man.
Alyssa Goodnight: I thought it was his good manners and utter properness that appealed to her…
KaraLynne Mackrory: I think she thought he was sexy.
Lori Smith: HA! I can’t imagine Charlotte being anything other than miserable, and the fact that she’s expecting a child by the end of the book makes me a bit queasy.
KaraLynne Mackrory: Oh me too! I just try to hide in my happy place when that part of their story is revealed. But I also wonder if what I picture him looking like is influenced by the movies too. The book doesn’t describe him as greasy and ugly. Only plain.
Alyssa Goodnight: I admired how Charlotte arranged that Mr. Collins go off to see Lady Catherine, and work in his garden, etc so that she could be away from him.
KaraLynne Mackrory: Yes, Charlotte is brilliant.
KaraLynne Mackrory: Though I don’t understand her character well – maybe it was the day and age but I don’t know how a girl cannot have romantic ideals.
Lori Smith: Charlotte probably couldn’t afford to be romantic. She didn’t have the money or the beauty to tempt a guy she might want, so she probably always knew she would have to be satisfied with what came her way.