My Friday Read this week, The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen, was co-authored by dynamic duo Ada Bright and Cass Grafton is set in the historic city of Bath.
Rose Wallace, Bath resident and avid Jane Austen fan, is looking forward to the annual Jane Austen Festival hosted by the city.
Her anticipation isn’t just for the events she will enjoy, though. Also attending this year will be one of her best friends, an American called Morgan, and this will be the first time in their 7-year online friendship they will meet in person! To add a further frisson of excitement, it’s the one time a year she gets to see her secret crush, an eminent archaeologist who often comes to the Festival to deliver a presentation.
What Rose doesn’t know is that one person attending the Festival has a stronger connection to it than anyone else; someone who will turn Rose’s orderly life upside down by sharing an astonishing secret with her, after which the entire legacy of Jane Austen’s work fades into oblivion.
With the happy melody of her life in tatters, Rose has to face up to a new one; a life devoid of her favourite books, characters, her beloved job and home and even some of her friends.
With the support of a displaced two hundred year old author and a charmed necklace, can Rose help to bring back some of the most beloved stories of all time and turn her own life around in the process?
Read an excerpt from the book here:
Links to Buy
Amazon.co.uk (paperback and ebook)
Amazon.com (paperback and ebook)
Barnes & Noble (paperback)
Barnes & Noble Nook Store (eBook)
iBook Store (eBook)
Smashwords (all eBook formats, including Kindle, Nook, Kobo, iStore, PDF and more)
Meet the Authors
Cass Grafton is an author and explorer who loves travel, words, and wine. She is a British ex-pat living in Switzerland with her patient and lovely husband.
Ada Bright is an author, wife, mother, friend and all around lover of stories. She grew up in Southern California, where she maintains a fun household and yearns for rain once in awhile.
I asked Ava and Cass to tell us more about themselves
Have you always wanted to be a writer?
Ada: I definitely have always written. There was not really an option for me not to write, but as far as publishing something, that desire has been more of a recent thing. I think that so many of the contemporary authors that I loved to read growing up have slowed down or stopped writing and I'd rather write what I want to read than struggle to find someone who fits as well with my sensibilities!
Cass: Yes, definitely; I still have all the scribbled opening chapters of stories started from every phase of my life, including some appalling attempts done when babysitting as a teenager! I spent too many years, sadly, using the excuse of not having enough time, something I really regret with hindsight. I never dreamed of being published! If Ada and I hadn’t met on a Forum all those years ago and become friends, I don’t think I’d have ever completed a story, either!
Has any author inspired you?
Cass: I had two early influences: Enid Blyton as a child and Jane Austen as a teen. I read voraciously when young, completely lost in the stories and oblivious to anything going on around me - much to the annoyance of my elder sister! When I discovered Austen at the age of 15, I was completely smitten and couldn’t get enough of her. I even tried a few times to start writing a story (set in the 1940s) with her ‘tone’ and style - it fizzled out like all my stories did back then, but I still have that as well!
What do you like writing the most?
Ada: I love writing conversation - even better if it's snappy. While I like the poetry of description and innermost thoughts, I find writing things like this much less invigorating.
Cass: I enjoy it all! I can’t seem to help myself with the description. I find story telling very visual, and I fall into the trap (which Ada rescues me from) of describing things in the same way, so that the reader understands the character’s movements, placement in a scene etc. Sometimes it works really well; quite often it’s totally superfluous! I do love dialogue though, and in this new book, we had a lot of fun with it, especially with our leading ladies. Rose, our British character, was easy for me to write, but Morgan, who’s American, was just beyond me most of the time. Thankfully, Ada was there to take control of her! As for Jane Austen herself... well, she was a challenge, but we got there! Having the contrast of two distinct nationalities plus a character who needed to speak and behave with language and mannerisms befitting the era she came from made for an interesting mix!
Are you a pantster or plotter?
Ada: One of the fabulous advantages about co-writing is that we are both. Cass plots everything beautifully and stays true to that outline from beginning to end. When things don't quite want to get written true to their order that is where my flying by the seat of my pants really pays off. I can literally tangent off into space from any point in the story and Cass, once again with that nose to plot, has an innate sense of which tangent to hang onto and which to send back up into the atmosphere. Without Cass's plotting we wouldn't have finished because the plot would have taken so many detours we would have been hopelessly lost. Without my ‘pantstering’ we wouldn’t have finished because we would have gotten stuck on a minor plot point that both of us knew needed changing but neither of us had the instinct to decide in which way it should be changed!
Cass: I find this funny! Ada clearly thinks I was more in control of the plot than I felt! I’m normally a mix of both, if you can be one! I generally have a rough idea of a plot, but only the beginning, and then I proceed to fly by the seat of my pants once I start. Because this was a co-write (we’d written together before, but not a novel), the plot did need more structure and the plotting we did at the beginning was crucial to keeping us both on track.
It sounds like you make a great team!
Is your writing ever inspired by your family or real life incidents?
Ada: Our writing is very much inspired by real life events and the personalities of the people that we know. We have been storing up examples of the funny differences between us for years, knowing that we wanted our friendship to be the inspiration for a book friendship someday. We were careful to make our characters different enough from us that we could write them objectively, but our friends and family definitely noticed some consistencies between our characters and our reality.
What inspired you to write this book?
Cass: There were a couple of things. We’d spent many years talking about writing a book together. We’d even made a start once, about 8 years ago, but it fell by the wayside when we both had things crop up in our lives that took up all of our attention. The main inspiration was friendship and, more particularly, our own friendship. I think Ada would agree with me that it’s become one of the most important of our lives. We wanted to write about friends who meant a lot to each other!
The second thing arose two years ago. I stayed in a holiday apartment in the house in Bath that was once home to Jane Austen for a few years in the early 19th century. A couple of things happened during my stay that set off my imagination and, having discussed them with Ada, we found we had our story and Jane Austen was the key!
What time of day do you write best?
Ada: Once again, the idea that opposites attract worked in our favor in this way. I am a night owl where Cass works best in the early morning. Because of our 9-hour time difference, we had a couple of hours where both of our relative times were our best times, and it was those times that we would meet if needed over FaceTime. If we didn't need to meet, we would simply virtually hand over what we had worked on while the other person slept.
Our Blog, Tabby Cow
Ada – @missyadabright
Cass – @CassGrafton
Thanks for dropping by, both of you, to tell us about your intriguing book. Lots of luck with it!