Hello Dear readers,
Stephanie Barron released a new book from the Jane Austen Mystery Series called Jane and the Waterloo Map. I was lucky enough to receive her at From Pemberley to Milton as part of the blog tour, and to place her a few questions. For me it was very interesting to hear what she had to say and I hope you also enjoy reading her answers.
Interview with Stephanie Barron
by From Pemberley to Milton
What captivates you about Jane Austen?
I would have to say, first and foremost, her wit. It is her clever appreciation of human foibles that is most apparent in her characterizations and the complex plots of misunderstanding and revelation that she constructs; and wit is the underpinning of both. As readers we experience it most forcibly in her dialogue—which is so rich that it operates on multiple and subtle levels. One of my favourite exchanges, for example, is in PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, during the scene where Eliza is playing the piano rather badly at Rosings. When she dares Darcy to criticize her, he simply says, “We neither of us perform to strangers.” It’s a brilliant line because of the multiple messages it conveys. He is saying, firstly, We are no longer strangers—we are intimate, and I understand you in a way I did not before. He is also saying: I want you to understand ME on an intimate level, too. And he is saying, finally, I am extending to you a privilege: because you are my intimate, I will perform for you as I never would for a stranger. And I want that privilege for myself, from you. When read this way, the single phrase, rather than a polite nothing, is immensely revealing. It makes a subsequent scene—in which Darcy proposes marriage—anything but a shock.
When most people think about Jane Austen, they think about romance. What made you think about mystery?
I am a lifelong reader of mysteries, particularly amateur-sleuth stories. It occurred to me that in a period in England when there was no organized police force, all criminal investigation was informal and amateur. In that circumstance, the chief skill a detective could claim would be an acute understanding of human motivation. Jane Austen’s novels are founded upon a keen perception of the human heart. I felt she could “penetrate”—a word she often used—the mind and motives of a murderer. She was the consummate observer who is rarely perceived as a threat because as a genteel spinster, she was part of her landscape. (Agatha Christie’s Miss Jane Marple comes to mind.) And she had access to the informal authority networks and systems of justice in her world, through her friends, relatives, and particularly her brothers who worked in every imaginable field, both in the country and London.
What was it like writing JAFF 10 years ago? How was the reception to this genre?
My first Jane Austen mystery, JANE AND THE UNPLEASANTNESS AT SCARGRAVE MANOR, was written 21 years ago, in fact. No one was writing what you term fan fiction then. The Colin Firth/Jennifer Ehle P&P came out around that time, as did the Amanda Root/Ciaran Hinds PERSUASION, and finally SENSE AND SENSIBILITY with Emma Thompson—all within months of each other. I hadn’t anticipated those productions when I wrote my first Jane novel. The timing of its publication looked suspiciously like an effort to capitalize on Austenmania. But as any writer knows, publication is just the end point of a two-year process and timing is always accidental. I considered the book an enormous risk, because I was trying to throw my voice as Jane Austen. Her voice is so distinctive that the possibility of failure was potentially great.
Did you plan to write an entire series when you published Jane and the Unpleasantness at Scargrave Manor?
Yes. At the time, series were valued in mystery publishing because readers liked to follow particular sleuths and their worlds over time. The fact that I was writing about Jane during a period in her life when she was an unpublished writer, and fairly itinerant—she did not settle in her final home at Chawton until the seventh book—meant that I could follow her around England during a scintillating period of political upheaval. There was a great deal of matter to use in successive stories. And her large cast of family characters made for a good series population.
Do you spend much time doing research for the Jane Austen mystery series?
I studied Napoleonic France and Regency England as a history major in college, but invariably I have to research specific topics within those periods for each book. Something as simple as the history of the Royal Academy of Art, for example, or the layout of Carlton House, or the details of the battle of Waterloo, or the properties of yew poisoning, come up in the course of writing a novel. But I regard the research as the fun part of any book.
What gives you most pleasure during the writing process?
Seriously, in writing the Jane books, I delight in her sense of humour. She could be viciously funny at other people’s expense—or her own—and when I speak for Jane I so enjoy being able to do the same. Like many of us who love her work, I believe she and I must be similar people. We would have enjoyed each other immensely.
What can we expect from Jane and the Waterloo Map?
I particularly like the fact that it charts an exciting moment in Jane’s personal life—her publication of EMMA with a bold new publisher, John Murray, and her visit to the Regent’s London home at Carlton house—with events that capture the imagination in the aftermath of the greatest battle in British history. There’s a treasure map. A picture vault. A lot of shopping expeditions in London. And a whiff of romance amid the bloodshed.
Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?
Just my thanks for walking along with me on this journey through Jane’s life. At this point in the series—November, 1815—she has only 18 months to live. Having followed her footsteps from the time she was 26, I find this a bittersweet reality. I do not know how many adventures Jane and I have left.
Has this interview enticed your curiosity? Well, fear not dear reader, you can find out more about the book and the author below 🙂
Jane Austen turns sleuth in this delightful Regency-era mystery
November, 1815. The Battle of Waterloo has come and gone, leaving the British economy in shreds; Henry Austen, high-flying banker, is about to declare bankruptcy—dragging several of his brothers down with him. The crisis destroys Henry’s health, and Jane flies to his London bedside, believing him to be dying. While she’s there, the chaplain to His Royal Highness the Prince Regent invites Jane to tour Carlton House, the Prince’s fabulous London home. The chaplain is a fan of Jane’s books, and during the tour he suggests she dedicate her next novel—Emma—to HRH, whom she despises. However, before she can speak to HRH, Jane stumbles upon a body—sprawled on the carpet in the Regent’s library. The dying man, Colonel MacFarland, was a cavalry hero and a friend of Wellington’s. He utters a single failing phrase: “Waterloo map” . . . and Jane is on the hunt for a treasure of incalculable value and a killer of considerable cunning.
“A well-crafted narrative with multiple subplots drives Barron’s splendid 13th Jane Austen mystery. Series fans will be happy to see more of Jane’s extended family and friends, and Austenites will enjoy the imaginative power with which Barron spins another riveting mystery around a writer generally assumed to have led a quiet and uneventful life.” — Publishers Weekly, Starred Review “Writing in the form of Jane’s diaries, Barron has spun a credible tale from a true encounter, enhanced with meticulous research and use of period vocabulary.” — Booklist
“Barron, who’s picked up the pace since Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas, portrays an even more seasoned and unflinching heroine in the face of nasty death and her own peril.” — Kirkus Reviews
“Barron deftly imitates Austen’s voice, wit, and occasional melancholy while spinning a well-researched plot that will please historical mystery readers and Janeites everywhere. Jane Austen died two years after the events of Waterloo; one hopes that Barron conjures a few more adventures for her beloved protagonist before historical fact suspends her fiction.” — Library Journal
If like me, you are already looking forward to read this book you buy it in the below links:
Stephanie Barron was born in Binghamton, New York, the last of six girls. She attended Princeton and Stanford Universities, where she studied history, before going on to work as an intelligence analyst at the CIA. She wrote her first book in 1992 and left the Agency a year later. Since then, she has written fifteen books. She lives and works in Denver, Colorado. Learn more about Stephanie and her books at her website, visit her on Facebook and Goodreads.
- Stephanie Barron’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Stephanie-Barron-170406529715164/?fref=ts
- Stephanie Barron’s Goodreads page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17764.Stephanie_Barron?from_search=true&search_version=service
- Twitter handles: @SBarronAuthor; @Soho_Press
- Twitter hashtags: #WaterlooBlogTour, #JaneAusten, #HistoricalMystery, #RegencyMystery, #Reading, #AustenesqueMystery #Austenesque #Giveaway
***It’s Giveaway time!***
In celebration of the release of Jane and the Waterloo Map, Stephanie is offering a chance to win one of three prize packages filled with an amazing selection of Jane Austen-inspired gifts and books!
To enter the giveaway contest, simply leave a comment on any or all of the blog stops on Jane and the Waterloo Map Blog Tour starting February 02, 2016 through 11:59 pm PT, February 29, 2016. Winners will be drawn at random from all of the comments and announced on Stephanie’s website on March 3, 2016. Winners have until March 10, 2016 to claim their prize. Shipment is to US addresses. Good luck to all!
Jane and the Waterloo Map Blog Tour Schedule:
February 02 My Jane Austen Book Club (Guest Blog)
February 03 Laura’s Reviews (Excerpt)
February 04 A Bookish Way of Life (Review)
February 05 The Calico Critic (Review)
February 06 So Little Time…So Much to Read (Excerpt)
February 07 Reflections of a Book Addict (Spotlight)
February 08 Mimi Matthews Blog (Guest Blog)
February 09 Jane Austen’s World (Interview)
February 10 Just Jane 1813 (Review)
February 11 Confessions of a Book Addict (Excerpt)
February 12 History of the 18th and 19th Centuries (Guest Blog)
February 13 My Jane Austen Book Club (Interview)
February 14 Living Read Girl (Review)
February 14 Austenprose (Review)
February 15 Mystery Fanfare (Guest Blog)
February 16 Laura’s Reviews (Review)
February 17 Jane Austen in Vermont (Excerpt)
February 18 From Pemberley to Milton (Interview)
February 19 More Agreeably Engaged (Review)
February 20 Babblings of a Bookworm (Review)
February 21 A Covent Garden Gilflurt’s Guide to Life (Guest Blog)
February 22 Diary of an Eccentric (Review)