* * *I want to thank you Jann for joining us for an interview at Babblings of a Bookworm.
I know you’ve been writing Jane Austen Fan Fiction for a few years now and you’ve been successful at publishing several variations. It’s always great fun to see what new and imaginative ways you can write a JAFF variation, especially since you’ve written so many unique variations. After reading your latest book, “Shadows Over Longbourn,” I knew other readers would love to hear about your new book and learn about your work as a writer.
First, can you share with us a bit of your own personal story, including how you decided to write JAFF stories?
I actually came to writing late. I hear all kinds of stories where authors talk about how they have written since they were old enough to read, but I didn’t start writing until I was in my twenties. I’ve always been a reader, but when I was young, I read fantasy fiction almost exclusively, with a bit of Ludlum, Clancy, and Sci-fi thrown into the mix. Writing never really occurred to me.
That all changed with a dream. I don’t often remember dreams, but when I do they tend to be vivid. Upon waking the morning after a particularly distinct dream, I discussed it with my sister, and through several weeks of talking about it, we decided to try to write something based on it. And thus my love for writing was born.
Not knowing anything about writing, that project has hit many snags over the years, and was largely mothballed for a long period of time. We’ve pulled it out of mothballs, and I hope to start really working on it sometime in the near future. Of course, it is currently competing with all the other projects I’ve got going on right now!
As for JAFF, I first read Pride and Prejudice while taking a university course some years after, and I watched the A&E miniseries. I loved the story, which led me to look into JAFF (I had already been following some other genres in the fan fiction space.) My first idea eventually became my first book, “Acting on Faith,” where I wondered what would happen if Mr. Darcy had to return to Hertfordshire and woo Elizabeth without the benefit of knowing she had softened toward him.
When I originally wrote the story, however, I did not really have any intention of publishing it. I wrote it within the space of a few months, printed it out, and gave it to my mother as a Christmas present. It was only when I started doing a bit of research, that I realized that it’s become much easier to self-publish. The rest, they say, is history! I now no longer work at my full time job, which I hated for 15 years, and I write full time. I’m hoping to make inroads into some other genres, but for now, JAFF is popular, and more importantly, it pays the bills!
“Shadows” was actually an idea that I had for some time before beginning to write it. Before I left my previous job, I had a number of future works outlined so I could dive into them without having to a bunch of work to get them ready for writing.
As with most of my works, “Shadows” started out with a simple concept: what would happen if the Bennet sisters became orphans and were taken in by the Darcys? The “Gigi” reference is funny—I saw a review on Amazon which referenced “Gigi”—because, to be honest, I have no knowledge whatsoever of Gigi, other than that it was made into a movie which I have never seen. So, no, “Gigi” has no influence at all on “Shadows.”
When I am writing in the JAFF space, I try to take care to introduce something which, even if it’s not new, at least it’s something not seen often. This often comes out in the villains I choose. It’s easy to make Wickham, Lady Catherine, or Caroline Bingley as villains, and I will often use them to a certain extent in my novels. Case in point, all three are in “Shadows” but none are the main antagonist. I have at times used original characters as villains, which give me greater leeway to build them as characters.
What does your work as a writer involve when you are researching new JAFF storylines for Austen’s characters?
Most of my actual ideas are kind of spur of the moment that pop into my head. The research comes when I’m writing about something I’ve never written about before. For example, the question about seating arrangements at Regency dinners came up some time ago when I was co-writing a novel with a partner, and subsequent research led to the discovery that seating plans were actually a Victorian phenomenon, and that seating in a Regency setting was more determined by ranking than a pre-arranged plan.
At various times I’ve need to research military (I’m doing some for an upcoming novel at present), how the Church of England works (writing Elizabeth’s annulment hearing in “Implacable Resentment” was quite the challenge!), entailment laws, etc. There’s also a certain amount of back reading that I’ll often do on Pride and Prejudice to recall certain aspects of Jane Austen’s work. The nice thing about JAFF, however, is you can completely remake the backstory as you go along, much like I did with “Shadows.”
Why do you think people are still so drawn to Jane Austen and her work over 200 years later?
I think it is because she wrote in such a timeless fashion. Yes, the language is easily identifiable as two centuries old, but the situations about which she wrote are easily to relate to, even if you are not a young woman, growing up in a Regency setting, or the owner of a large estate! Furthermore, in an age where erotica is becoming more and more common and society is often changing, it’s refreshing to go back to a simpler time in the pages of a book.
I understand that you have other writing talents as well. Would you care to share with us the other side of your professional writing life?
As I stated before, Fantasy Fiction was always my first love, and I would like to become successful writing in that genre. At present I have a jointly written novel available in the fantasy space, with the second book of the trilogy schedule to be released in the fall. I also have a list of about half a dozen projects which are in the idea/development stage of the process, so there will be more coming in the future.
I also have an interest in historical fiction which does not originate in Jane Austen’s works. As historical fiction dovetails rather nicely with JAFF (which is, of course, a subset of historical fiction itself) I hope to be able to introduce works in the future which will appeal to those who read my works based on Elizabeth and Darcy. At present I have one idea, in the development phase, which features English characters and is centered around the Battle of Waterloo
What can JAFF readers expect from you in the future?
I will continue to write JAFF. I not only enjoy the genre, but they are a nice change of pace from writing in other genres. I’ve run through all the outlines I had when I left my previous career, so I’m in the process of getting several outlines ready for writing in the future.
My current project is actually a bit of a departure for me. It is focused primarily on Lydia as the protagonist, and more particularly, it takes place in my “Acting on Faith” universe. In the epilogue of that novel I mentioned how Lydia had remarried after Wickham was killed by an enraged husband who discovered him with his wife. I decided to write about Lydia’s experiences and how she arrived at that point. You won’t need to have read “Acting on Faith,” though there will be some references which will be more easily understood if you have.
In addition, I have a trilogy in planning. The first book will focus on Mr. Bennet and will serve as a prequel of sorts, while the second and third books will once again focus on Elizabeth. I won’t say what the basis of the story is about, as that would be telling, but they will all tie together with one character serving as the antagonist throughout the entire set.
As for other works to come after, that remains to be determined. Lelia Eye and I—I work closely with Lelia on several projects and in our joint blog—have several documents full of JAFF ideas. I doubt that I will run out of ideas for quite some time!
How can readers discover more about you and your work?
My publishing imprint—One Good Sonnet Publishing—now has its own website at onegoodsonnet.com. All my books are listed there, so if anyone wants more information on my writing they can go there. I have a joint blog with Lelia called rowlandandeye.com, however, that blog will be retired sometime in the next several months, to be replaced with another blog which will open up to a wider range of subjects. You can follow me for the time being on rowlandandeye.com, and when the new blog is ready, we’ll be posting a link to it.
Finally, I can be reached on my Facebook page, or on One Good Sonnet’s Facebook page!
* * *
Jann Rowland is a Canadian writer. He enjoys reading and sports, and he also dabbles a little in music, taking pleasure in singing and playing the piano.
Though Jann did not start writing until his mid-twenties, writing has grown from a hobby to an all-consuming passion. His interest in Jane Austen stems from his university days when he took a class in which Pride and Prejudice was required reading. However, his first love is fantasy fiction, which he hopes to pursue writing in the future.
He now lives in Alberta with his wife of more than twenty years and his three children.
To connect with Jann, check out the following links:
The approaching death of Mr. Bennet threatens to leave his five young daughters at the mercy of the vengeful Mr. Thaddeus Collins. But Mr. Bennet plays one final desperate card before he passes, calling on his distant relatives—the Darcys—to provide his children with a home.
Removing themselves to Pemberley after their father’s death, the girls are protected by the estate’s current master, Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy, who looks after them as conscientiously as he does his own sister.
When chance takes the Bennets and their Darcy relations to the estate leased by Mr. Bingley, little do they know that their father’s thwarting of Mr. Collins has only fanned the flames of his envy and hatred. He is determined to secure a Bennet daughter as a wife for his son, and he will stop at nothing to accomplish his goal.
Elizabeth has become consumed by love for Mr. Darcy, but since he remains oblivious to her feelings, Elizabeth’s desperation forces her to consider going into service as a governess, if only to obtain some distance from the object of her affection. But Mr. Collins has no intention of letting Elizabeth escape his grasp so easily, and everything finally comes to a head when he meets with her in an explosive showdown.
Jann Rowlands is kindly giving away an ebook of 'Shadows of Longbourn' to an international commenter here. To enter, just comment on this blog post before the end of the day on Wednesday 4 May, ensuring that you leave a way for me to contact you just in case you're the lucky winner.
Many thanks to Jann Rowlands for allowing me to take part in this blog tour and offering a giveaway and thanks too to Claudine from Just Jane 1813 for arranging the tour.
Please check out the other stops on the blog tour as they are posted!
Blog Tour Schedule
April 27 - Interview Post & Ebook Giveaway at Babblings of a Bookworm ← You are here!
May 1 - Journey to Longbourn Estate & Ebook Giveaway at Just Jane 1813
May 5 - Book Review & Ebook Giveaway at Half Agony, Half Hope
May 26 - Book Review & Ebook Giveaway at From Pemberley to Milton
May 30 - Book Review & Ebook Giveaway at Diary of an Eccentric
June 2 - Bringing Thaddeus Collins to Life & Ebook Giveaway at More Agreeably Engaged