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Author Interview: Tash Jones

Author Tash JonesMy name is Natasha Jones, I’m from Portsmouth, Southern England and I’ve by the seaside my whole life. I love nature and travelling. I have a fondness for astronomy. I obsessively watch TV shows. I love a good musical. Period literature has, I think, the most fascinating language. I make silly jokes – ALL THE TIME.

When and why did you begin writing?

I used to parody pop songs and before that I used to make up my own magazine and write the articles for it (on lined paper – I still have the magazine). I took writing seriously when I was 18 and I started to pen this novel.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Does one ever? Don’t we all create stories in our minds on a regular basis? I can call myself an author soon though, which is pretty cool.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

It’s a tragedy with a little romance. It’s historical fiction set in London in the late 1800s. The story revolves around Alexander Vile and is retold through his Journal entries. There’s some ambiguity, so that hopefully different readers take different things from it.

What inspired you to write this book?

I read a lot of Gothic fiction and that spurred me on to conclude the novel. I mainly started out of boredom on my work lunch breaks – I didn’t know this would become such a passion for me.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I like a lot of imagery. It’s a very self-reflexive language style, declarative I’d also say. I’m trying different styles for my future novels though.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

We were studying Virginia Woolf’s ‘Mrs Dalloway‘ at University and my lecturer described Clarissa (the lead character) as having these Luminous moments, luminous thoughts – that phrase stuck with me.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

I would like people to not take things at face value and question more (even if silently). Too many people will read something on a social networking site, in a newspaper or on a celebrities blog and will just accept that as fact. In general I think people should think more before they start arguments and debates too.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Some of the thoughts expressed are my own ponderings. It is entirely fictional thought. I’ve started writing a second book which features a character who is very similar to me.

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

Jane Austen – she really opened my mind and made me interested in history – I was stuck in the modern world before I discovered her. Jeff Lindsay and Stieg Larrsson got me heavily into Crime Fiction – which is now my favourite genre of Television. Oscar Wilde is the main reason I wanted to write and release this book. His intellectual words were something I desired to be able to replicate. Edgar Allen Poe’s ‘The Raven’ fuelled my love of poetry and Jonathan Safran Foer first opened my eyes to intercultural fiction.

If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor? Why?

The two that are alive from that list – Lindsay and Safran Foer, I would love to meet them and quiz them on their novels.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

I initially approached two illustrators. The first design turned out to convey the wrong theme, it was a little dated. The second really took my instructions and made it his own. His name is Colin Strain.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

I don’t think advising on the writing process is entirely essential – if you love writing, you’ll write anyway! Editing (though can be repetitive and tedious) is probably more important than the execution of the writing. In this market, I think networking is equally, if not more important than the editing and writing put together. If you want to build as a writer, network – the more varied people you talk to, who advise, review your work, the better the product you release will be.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

I’m one of those annoying optimists – so – I think everyone should smile now, it’ll make you feel better.

The Luminious Memories of Alexander Vile Book CoverNatasha Jones
Portsmouth, England

I’m sucker for romance and metaphors. I like to leave things to the readers interpretation so an element of ambiguity features in my work. I like writing the nasty nasty characters the most.

The Luminous Memories of Alexander Vile
AMAZON

Cover Designer: Colin Strain

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Book Review: Pride and Prejudice

Book Name: Pride and Prejudice
Author: Jane Austen
First Published: 1813

Jane Austen was an English novelist who is one of the most widely read authors in English literature. The realism and witty social commentary of her times have garnered her historical importance in literature and her novels are the foundation of romantic novels as we know them. Jane Austen lived her entire life as part of a family on the outskirts of the English landed gentry. She and her close sister Cassandra, only received basic education outside the home due to limited family finances. To continue their education, their father allowed the girls access to his extensive private library and later provided them with expensive paper and pens so that the girls could write or paint as their talents moved them.

Pride and Prejudice was Austen’s second novel, after she had completed Elinor and Marianne, the precursor to Sense and Sensibility. Originally, Pride and Prejudice was called First Impressions. She completed the first draft in 1797 when she was 21 years old. As with all her novels, Austen read the work out loud to her family, who served as an informal writer’s critique group for her work, and it became an “established favourite” of the family. At this time, perhaps unknown to Miss Austen, her father made the first attempt to publish one of her novels. George Austen wrote to Thomas Cadell, a publisher in London, to ask if he would publish “a manuscript novel, comprised in three vols. About the length of Miss Burney’s Evelina at the author’s financial risk”. Unfortunately, Mr. Cadell declined the honor. Miss Austen would remain an aspiring and unpublished author at this early stage in her life.

In 1805, George Austen passed and Jane, her sister Cassandra, both unmarried, along with their mother, were left without the protection of their father. They had no place to call home and were forced to accept whatever charity George’s sons had to offer. At first they visited among their various family members, never settling anywhere in particular until Jane’s brother Edward offered them a cottage on his estate of Chawton House. There, the three women lived quietly. There was little entertaining except for family and they spent much time reading books, teaching children their letters and doing charity work.

This became a time when Austen began to turn to writing in earnest and managed to publish four of her novels, one after another with the help of her brother Henry Austen. Sense and Sensibility was first in 1811. Pride and Prejudice was the second book to publish in 1813. Mansfield Park was third in 1814. Finally, Emma was published in 1815. The money that came in from her four novels gave Jane Austen a measure of financial independence and personal satisfaction, although none of the books were published in her own name. Instead, they were published anomalously by “A Lady”.

In 1817, Jane Austen succumbed to a fatal illness and died at the tender age of 41. Posthumously, her final two novels were published together in a single volume. Persuasion and Northanger Abby in 1817. For the first time, her work was published under her name. After this limited printing of her final novels, her work remained out of print for twelve years.

In 1832, Richard Bentley purchased the rights to all six of Jane Austen’s novels and published them in five illustrated volumes as part of a Standard Novels series. Since then, Miss Austen’s novels have not gone out of print and grow in popularity. It is now the 200th anniversary of the publishing of Pride and Prejudice and it is a global sensation, having been adapted into film, television and even graphic novel form.

Pride and Prejudice begins when the wealthy and unattached Mr. Bingley decides to rent the nearby estate of Netherfield Park, it causes a considerable commotion among the residents of the village of Meryton and in the household of the Bennet family known as Longbourn. Mrs. Bennet, the mother of five marriageable daughters, Jane, Elizabeth, Mary, Kitty, and Lydia, is determined that one of her daughters will marry the man. When Bingley meets Jane Bennet at a ball, he becomes immediately smitten with her. Yet, at the same ball, Bingley’s snobby friend Darcy is rude to her sister Elizabeth. “She is not handsome enough to tempt me,” he informs his friend in Lizzy’s hearing. Through the next few social gatherings, Jane and Bingley grow closer, while Darcy, despite his misgivings, finds himself attracted to Elizabeth’s beauty and intelligence.

Lizzy has other worries when her cousin, the heir to her father’s estate, decides that he wants to be charitable to his family and declares his intention to marry one of Mr. Bennet’s daughters. Thus, Mr. Collins would secure the estate back into Mr. Bennet’s direct family line and gain himself a wife as he was bid to do by his patron, Lady Catherine de Bourgh. Lizzy refuses Mr. Collins suit. Lizzy meets another gentleman, an officer in the army that is stationed in Meryton and a romance between them forms. She learns from this officer that Darcy, the man that had insulted her, had caused Wickham’s ruin.

Bingley suddenly departs for London on business, but it soon becomes clear that he is breaking things off with Jane, just when the family was sure that he was going to offer marriage to her. Jane is invited to London by her Aunt and Uncle and attempts to discover the reason for his cooling ardor. Jane’s search for Bingley in London proves fruitless and Jane gives in to melancholy.

After Lizzy had refused him, Lizzy’s friend Charlotte Lucas accepts Mr. Collin’s offer of marriage. Once she is settled into her new home, Charlotte invites Lizzy to visit. It is at the home of Lady Cathrine, Rosings Park, that Lizzy learns that Darcy is fated to marry the lady’s daughter. Much to her surprise, Darcy instead announces his love for her and offers his hand in marriage. Stunned by his offer and angry at him over his treatment of Wickham, she also learns that Darcy had manipulated Bingley into leaving her sister, calling the match unsuitable. Lizzy refuses his offer.

In a letter to her after the proposal, Darcy comes clean to Lizzy and explains that he intervened between her sister and Bingley because he felt Jane did not truly love his best friend. Wickham, he writes, is a liar and a scoundrel. Lizzy begins to wonder if she had been hasty in turning Darcy down and that in her blind prejudice, she might have misjudged him.

While traveling with her aunt and uncle, the Gardiners, Lizzy learns that her youngest sister, Lydia, has run off with Wickham and is living in sin with him in London. Crushed, she returns home to Longbourn, but not before she admits to Darcy what has happened. In doing so, she feels that she has lost his regard for good, along with her own reputation. She must wait at home with her despairing mother and sisters as the men search London for Wickham and Lydia. In the end, Lydia is found and marries Wickham, removing the scandal to their family. Lizzy learns who it is that has saved her family. In the end, when Darcy proposes to her again, she accepts his hand, having gained a true understanding of his character.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen., 1895 book cover
1895 Book Cover, Illustrated by Hugh Thomson for Macmillan’s Edition of Illustrated Standard Novels
My favorite novel hook of all time comes from Pride and Prejudice. Elizabeth Bennet is making a witty comment about her mother’s need to marry her daughters off and says: “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.” This statement sums up not only the theme of the novel, but is a commentary on English society at the time. It drew me into Austen’s work and I fell under her spell. It is a draw with me as to which Austen novel is my favorite, Pride and Prejudice or Persuasion, but this wonderful quote has stayed with me. I came to reading Austen late in my life, sometime in my late thirties. I had been a hardcore science fiction and fantasy reader and had avoided the classics except for those that had been required reading in school. For some reason, Austen was not on the required reading list. I decided to expand my knowledge of the classics in my mid-thirties and picked up a copy of Pride and Prejudice at my local public library. Needless to say, I was complete enchanted by Miss Austen’s novels. Why her work is not a part of the American school system is a mystery to me for Austen has inspired my writing like few authors have in the past. If you have only seen the movies about this novel, but have not read the book, do yourself a favor and either download it at PROJECT GUTENBERG for free or check it out at your local library.

Author Interview: Patrice Sarath

There are times when you meet a fellow author and things just click. I had that experience when I met this author. Like Patrice, I am a fan of Jane Austen fan fiction and of fantasy, so I was tickled to see that she has published in both of these genres. Please give a welcome to Patrice Sarath here on No Wasted Ink.

Author Patrice SarathMy name is Patrice Sarath. I am a writer from Austin, Texas. My fantasy series, Books of the Gordath, includes Gordath Wood, Red Gold Bridge, and The Crow God’s Girl. My sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice, called The Unexpected Miss Bennet, came out of my great fondness for Austen’s works. I also write short stories, which have appeared in Weird Tales, Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, Black Gate, and Realms of Fantasy, and other magazines and anthologies. When I’m not writing I’m mucking around with horses or riding my bike or playing with my dogs.

When and why did you begin writing?

I was five years old when I wrote my first book. Maybe younger, because I couldn’t actually write. But I wrote the best monster story ever and then threw it dramatically into the fire, because it didn’t measure up to the ideas and images in my head.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

The Crow God’s Girl is the third book in my Gordath cycle, but it is not the conclusion of the trilogy; in fact, it can be read as the starting point. In The Crow God’s Girl, Kate Mossland, a 21st century teenager from North Salem, New York, is trapped in an alternate fantasy world. Everything is going to be okay, though, because she is betrothed to a noble young man and she is going to be quite wealthy and well-protected and respected. Of course, the best laid plans are the ones that an author loves to gleefully upturn, so naturally things happen to upset that apple cart. Kate discovers that she has hidden strengths that carry her through to a new life far from the one she originally thought she was destined for.

What inspired you to write this book?

The entire Gordath cycle came out of my experiences growing up in Connecticut. I rode horses there — it’s some of the prettiest horse country in the world — and riding on the trails you could be a few miles away from the highway but it felt like the middle of nowhere. What would it be like if you could ride your horse straight into another world? I brought that idea into the Gordath cycle and it continues in The Crow God’s Girl.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I’m not sure how to describe my style — I think that’s best left up to my readers. However, when I was writing The Unexpected Miss Bennet, I adopted a modified Austenesque style. Austen was a busy writer but she can also be very modern and stripped down, even if we don’t always see that. My Miss Bennet tends toward Austen’s stripped down style with I hope something of her wit. It begins, “It is a comforting belief among much of society, that a plain girl with a small fortune has no more interest in matrimony than matrimony has in her.”

How did you come up with the title of this book?

That’s a great question! I have a wonderful writer’s group called Cryptopolis. I put several title ideas out to them — the working title of the book was Lady of Temia — and then one of my friends came up with something completely different. And it stuck. So if you need a title, call Patrick. He’s good at this kind of thing. My first book, Gordath Wood, was my title — Red Gold Bridge was suggested by my editor at Penguin, Susan Allison. And I am proud to say that I came up with The Unexpected Miss Bennet, which I think really suits my book.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

I don’t really do messages. That’s for readers to come up with. I want readers to enjoy my books, re-read them, find different nuances they missed the first time, etc. But messages should never be a writer’s mission. Well, that’s of course for every writer to decide. But messages are not my mission anyway.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

The inciting event in the Gordath cycle is getting lost in the woods. When I was 12 years old, I got lost in the woods and went missing for a very long day. I use some of that in the first book when Lynn Romano first disappears in Gordath Wood. It was a scary, exhausting day, and I know I put a lot of my experience into her experience. And of course, the opportunity to ride in some of the prettiest countryside also made it in the book.

What authors have most influenced your life?

Jane Austen and J.R.R. Tolkien. Stephen King. Robert Louis Stevenson. Georgette Heyer. The Brontes. Barbara Kingsolver. There are others, but these are the authors who come to mind first.

If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor?

I am friends with and fans of several writers, but none who I would consider a mentor. That said, I learn from all of them.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

Aleta Rafton did the cover art for The Crow God’s Girl. I selected her because I love the covers she did for Gordath Wood and Red Gold Bridge and it was important that this book to have the same look and feel. The cover designer is David Chang, who is in my writer’s group, Cryptopolis. He did a fantastic job.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

At this point, if you are a writer, aspiring or otherwise, you’ve heard it all. Everyone has said the same thing, and there are only so many ways to say, write every day, persevere, always learn, always seek to hone your craft, and develop a thick skin so you can withstand rejection but also learn from criticism. So there’s no point in saying it all again, really. That’s the only formula I have.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

If you like fantasy, romance, and adventure, you will like The Crow God’s Girl. So please, take a look and check it out. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Crow God's Girl Book CoverPatrice Sarath
Austin, Texas.

Covert art by Aleta Rafton

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Book Review: Persuasion

Book Name: Persuasion
Author: Jane Austen
First Published: 1818

Jane Austen was forty years old when she penned her last complete novel, Persuasion. Her health was failing as she wrote and she would die at the young age of 41 before this novel would see print. Persuasion was bundled together with an earlier novel, Northanger Abby, and would prove to be her biggest bestseller. It was also the first of her novels to be published under her real name. Previously, all her novels had been written by the pen name “a lady”. While Persuasion lacks some of the polish of her earlier works due to the little time she had left to revise it to perfection, there are many who claim that it is her finest novel and most mature work of all. Persuasion has not been out of print for at least 150 years and is considered in the public domain.

Until this novel, Austen had always taken as her heroine a young inexperienced woman, falling in love for the first time. In Persuasion, Anne Elliot is twenty-seven years old, a spinster with common sense and decency, but with a beaten spirit. For her, love is something that belongs to her past, not the present. Before the novel opens, Anne is briefly engaged to marry a young naval officer, Frederick Wentworth, but was persuaded to break off the understanding by her god-mother for reasons of prudence. She has spent the last eight years regretting this decision, and she does not expect to discover love again.

At the opening of the novel, Sir Walter Elliot, a vain and imprudent baronet, must rent his country house and move himself and his family to Bath to pay off his debts. Where once he and his three daughters were rich and respected, now they are poor and the subject of ridicule. His new tenants are Admiral Croft and his wife, Captain Wentworth’s sister. The pair move into Anne’s former home and invite Wentworth to join them. The tables have turned on the fortunes of Captain Wentworth, where once he was a poor navel officer with dubious prospects, now he is wealthy and an eligible bachelor. Being paid off by the navy, he is of a mind to settle down with the “first woman between 15 and 30” to catch his eye. Anyone, that is, except for Anne Elliot, the woman who had broken his heart.

Anne remains in the area to care for her ill sister, Mary Musgrove and tend to her nephews. Time has not been kind to Anne and she has become wane and thin, exhaustion taking its toll on her appearance. Anne and Captain Wentworth meet again due to proximity. The captain treats Anne with cool formality as he flirts with Mary’s two sister-in-laws. The younger women hero-worship Wentworth as they vie for his attentions, each hoping to capture his heart. At the same time, Anne notices small gestures of kindness in Wentworth’s behavior toward her, as if he can not bear to see her in discomfort, gestures that pull the spinster into a private mix of hopeless pleasure and pain, as Anne realizes that she still loves the captain.

During a two-day visit to the village of Lyme, the Musgroves and Anne meet the naval friends of Captain Wentworth and are charmed by their warmth and hospitality. Released from her obligations and refreshed by the sea air, Anne begins to regain some of her youthful complexion. This is noticed by not only Wentworth, but she is admired by other gentlemen in the village. The party’s visit is brought short by an accident on the Cobb and it is Anne’s common sense that saves the day.

After the visit to Lyme, Anne rejoins her father and elder sister in Bath, convinced that Captain Wentworth is to marry another woman. She takes the addresses of her cousin, William Elliot more seriously as she tries to move on with her life. Bath’s society paint the two as all but engaged. Then word comes that Wentworth and his intended have parted and she finds that the captain has suddenly arrived in Bath. Anne is overjoyed that this might mean she has a second chance at happiness with her captain, but how is she to let him know that he still is in her heart and that she has not accepted William Elliot’s offer of marriage? Would the captain risk making a second offer to her after she had refused him all those years ago?

Attempting to branch out my reading habits from a steady diet of science fiction and fantasy novels, I found a list of classic literature that I decided to use to guide my choice of novels from the local library. One of the authors on this list was Jane Austen. I could not decide which of her novels to begin with and because Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice were not available in the public library, I picked up Persuasion to be the first to cross off my list of recommended Austen classics. Opening the book, I found myself lost in a world of loneliness, sadness and of the hope of a second chance, not only by this quiet young woman, but by a dashing naval captain who was all to human in his hurt and memories of the past. I not only found myself in sympathy with Anne Elliot, but I was fascinated by the culture of the time. The breaking down of the tradition English class system, the elevation of men based on their merits instead of their birth, and the pride that the English people had in their navy. Persuasion reads today as a historical novel with contemporary overtones although it was penned during the Regency period itself. The characters are timeless and the situations as believable today as they were over 200 years ago. I’ve gone on to read all of Austen’s novels, but Persuasion remains my favorite of all her works and to my belief, is the most romantic of them all.

Persuasion Book CoverYou may find Persuasion at Project Gutenberg and in your local library.