Friday 18 March 2022

What Happened on Box Hill - Austen University Mysteries - Guest Post & Giveaway from Author Elizabeth Gilliland

Today I’m happy to be welcoming Elizabeth Gilliland to the blog. She has brought out a modern Austen-inspired murder mystery and she’s come here to talk to us about the book. What Happened on Box Hill is Book 1 of the Austen University Mysteries series. Read on to learn more, and have the opportunity to win an ebook of What Happened on Box Hill.

Book cover: What Happened on Box Hill by Elizabeth Gilliland
Book Description

What would happen if you combined all of Austen's characters into one modern-day novel?

Murder, of course.

When Caty Morland's roommate, Isabella, falls to her death on Initiation Night, Austen University is quick to cover up the scandal and call it a tragic accident. But avid true-crime lover Caty remains convinced that Isabella didn't fall; she was murdered. With the help of Pi Kappa Sigma President Emma Woodhouse, Caty organizes a dinner party with the most likely suspects, including familiar faces such as Darcy, Elizabeth Bennet, Knightley, and Marianne Dashwood. The theme of the night is murder, and Caty has three courses to find out what happened to Isabella—and to try to keep the killer from striking again.

What Happened on Box Hill is Book 1 of the Austen University Mysteries series. It can be read as a standalone novel but will be best enjoyed as part of the series.

Author Elizabeth Gilliland
Guest Post by Elizabeth Gilliland - 21st-Century Austen

What would Jane Austen’s characters be like if they lived in today’s world?

This question was one of the core ideas that prompted me to write What Happened on Box Hill. Many other talented authors have tackled this concept before in some of my favorite retellings and adaptations (Clueless, The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, etc.), so I decided to make the challenge even more complex and combine all of Austen’s characters together into one setting.

(And all of this while I was supposed to be writing my dissertation. What can I say–writing this book was so much more fun!)

What eventually became What Happened on Box Hill came to me in bits and pieces. Because so much of my life at the time of writing was spent on campus, I suppose it’s only natural that I eventually gravitated toward a university setting. Like Regency society, the university is a complex social system with fixed levels and tiers. Placing the fictional university in the American South and sorting the characters into various fraternities and sororities heightened this natural hierarchy and forced me to answer some important questions about my characters. Who would be the grownups in the novel (the professors and administration staff)? Who would hold the highest rank? Who would still be in school? Who would belong to the rich, popular sororities, and who might chafe against the Greek system? Who might not go to university but instead choose a different path altogether?

I anticipate that many readers might be surprised by the choices I made. There were some direct correlations that were a no-brainer (like making Emma the president of her sorority) and some choices that might not immediately make as much sense. I had to take into account not only the characters as they exist in the original novel, but also how those characters might change in a modern world with different advantages, struggles, and societal expectations.

For example, the Charlotte Lucas of Pride and Prejudice marries Mr. Collins not for love, but because she sees an opportunity to ensure her security through a prudent marriage. In the 21st century, there are other ways for women to forge the kind of life they want, without having to marry someone they don’t love. Thus, my Charlotte is a detective (note that book Charlotte is one of the first to sniff out that Darcy is interested in Elizabeth! Our girl is perceptive!), and she has other opportunities for love. (You’ll have to read the book to find out who catches Charlotte’s eye–sneaky, I know!)

The other most unusual choice I made? Adding in a murder. I’m certainly not the first to write a Jane Austen mystery, but I MAY be one of the only to rewrite one of Austen’s main characters as a murderer. (Again, to find out who, you’ll just have to read it!)

And if that isn’t enough to tempt you, bear in mind that I’ve written in one very obvious nod to the 1995 Pride and Prejudice: my Darcy is the captain of the swim team.

What Happened on Box Hill is the first of a cheeky, modern Austen series that invites you to re-examine all of Austen’s characters and ask yourself, just who among your favorites might be capable of murder?  

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I really enjoy a mystery and an Austen-inspired mystery sounds even better! I love to try and work out the mystery before it’s revealed, but I have mixed success in this! I’m looking forward to seeing if I can work this one out 😊

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Author Bio

Elizabeth Gilliland is a fan of all things Austen, as well as a scholar specializing in 19th-century British literature and adaptations. She is of the firm belief that adaptations enhance our experience with the original texts and give us more time to enjoy the worlds and characters that we love; there’s room for everyone at the table. She has lived in Arizona, Utah, New York, London, Louisiana, and currently lives with her husband and son in Alabama.

WebsiteBlogGoodreads / FacebookTwitter / Newsletter  

Read the prologue and first chapter here:

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Buy Links 

What Happened on Box Hill is available to buy now in Paperback, Kindle and Kindle Unlimited.

Amazon UKAmazon USAmazon CA • Add to Goodreads shelf

There’s also a prequel novella in the series, Sly Jane Fairfax, which is available in kindle format.

Giveaway Time!

Elizabeth is very kindly offering to give away an ebook of What Happened on Box Hill to a commenter on this post. To enter, please leave a comment by the end of the day worldwide on Friday 25 March. If you have any problems adding your comment please contact me and I will add your comment for you :)

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  1. I also love a good mystery! This sounds like a great book. Thanks for the opportunity to win a copy.

    1. Thanks, Cyndy! Good luck with the giveaway!

    2. It sounds good, doesn't it!

  2. I also enjoy mysteries. Thanks for a chance to win a copy.

    1. Thanks, Sheila - I hope you enjoy this one, too!

    2. Hope you enjoy this one when you read it, Sheila.

  3. Fun to see how the book came about. I enjoyed this one.

    Please don't enter me, Ceri. :)

    1. Thanks for the comment, Sophia Rose!

    2. Glad to hear you enjoyed it, Sophia.

  4. This sounds like a great story with a unique twist!


    1. Thanks, Denise! I hope you enjoy it. :)

    2. It's such a good premise isn't it.

  5. Intrigued with this modern P & P mystery, enticing read. Thank you for the giveaway

  6. I like it if the mystery is well written and adapting Jane Austen's characters into modern times makes perfect sense. I would love to win the e-book so thanks for the generous offer, Elizabeth.

  7. I selected a winner using a random number generator. That person was Buturot and I am dropping you an email now.

    Thanks so much to everybody who commented, and of course to Elizabeth for visiting and offering a giveaway.


If you're not logged in to Google please leave your name in your comment or it will post as anonymous. Thanks! - Ceri