Now that the Vintage Jane Austen has been announced, I can talk about it as much as any other work-in-progress in the past. Which thrills me! I look forward to getting back to those fun questionnaires, interviews, and snippets (though I haven’t noticed the official Snippets of Story posts, I can come up with my own version) that are so enjoyable to share!
Hopefully you got a chance to see all the covers for this series via the links on my announcement post. (The cover for Northanger Abbey is forthcoming.) I want to specially mention the person responsible for those stunning works of art dripping with vintage appeal: the lovely and talented Hannah Scheele!
One advantage of working on this project is that you have six other people motivating you (including Hannah, the cover designer); you’re not on your own here. We can cheer each other on, help out with research, brainstorm one another’s story problems, and gush over 1930s memorabilia like movies, cars, and clothes. We’re each other’s fans.
This is my first time to write a retelling, and my first time to write historical fiction designated for publication. What better story to retell than Sense and Sensibility, the first book I read by Jane Austen (one of my favorite authors) and one of my all-time favorite novels? Retelling it makes me love and obsess over the story even more. I’ve read it three times and will most likely do so once more before I finish my retelling.
As for writing historical fiction, I have plans for stories set in all sorts of eras gone by. But the 1930s is a propitious beginning. People will always be intrigued by it because of the Great Depression. It was a story the whole nation went through, therefore stories are easy to find, the challenges painfully real, and memories readily at hand. Mention “The Great Depression” and you get a vision of heroism, as if you were to say “World War II” or “The Civil War” or “The Wild West.” People expect great stories from the era. Tons of analyses and studies have been written about it. Primary sources, including my grandparents, are at my fingertips. Photos, videos, movies, recordings, bring it to life. People spoke differently enough to make dialogue interesting (including all those great expressions) but not too different to need modernizing or translating.
I thought I’d one day like to write a Great Depression story, so when this opportunity emerged, I jumped for it. It’s been such fun to research, climb into the time period, and write as if I lived there. Believe it or not, novels—those written in the ’30s by Grace Livingston Hill—have been some of the most helpful, flavorful resources.
I am really truly blessed to be a part of this project. I started Suit and Suitability in January and am closing in on the finish page (a month, two months away? Here’s hoping and working hard!), so the pace has been invigorating, just what I needed after two slow-in-coming novels. I’ve learned some tricks I hope to apply to future novels to accelerate their process, too. (They won’t be retellings, but perhaps that won’t matter.) The camaraderie of my fellow authors is reassuring. Certain issues and ponderings are cropping up in S&S (like they always do) that make me pause, then proceed carefully and prayerfully … such as why bad things happen and how we should respond and trust God because of them. I thank God for leading me to be a part of this series!
Like many other writers, I’m the happiest with my craft when I’m in the middle of a work-in-progress.
Have you written a retelling before? If not, what story or novel would you write a retelling of? Also, what part of the creative process is your favorite (it doesn’t have to be writing)?