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Q&A with Laurel Ann Nattress

Pride & Prejudice Blog's Q&A with Laurel Ann Nattress

Jeane: How and when did you become a Jane Austen fan?

Laurel Ann: Hi Jeane, I am very happy to be here today at Pride and Prejudice 2005 blog on my Grand Tour of the blogosphere to celebrate the release of Jane Austen Made Me Do It. I love talking about my favorite author Jane Austen and my new short story anthology.

I was first introduced to Jane Austen as a pre-teen by my mother Carolyn. We had watched the 1940 MGM Pride and Prejudice together. I liked it, but I was not really hooked until 1980 when I saw the Masterpiece Theatre mini-series of Pride and Prejudice on television. It was a seminal moment. I read the novel and all of Jane’s works shortly after and have been a fan ever since.

J: Did you read all of her novels? If so, which one of her 6 novels is your favorite and why?

LA: It is difficult to pare it down to just one favorite, but of her six major works, I am most drawn to Mansfield Park. It is Austen’s dark horse. Many readers are mystified by it being so different than her light and bright and sparkling P&P. I like her more complex characterizations of Mary and Henry Crawford, Mrs. Norris, the dysfunctional Bertram family, and of course the quasi-heroine, the prudential Fanny Price. Austen gives us much to contemplate and I have found over the years that I am intrigued most by one of her novels that she wrote in a more mature phase of her life.

J: Being an Austen fan, have you seen all the Austen TV and film adaptations? If so, which one of her 6 adapted to the big and small screen is your favorite and why?

LA: Yes, I will readily admit that I have seen all the adaptations of the novels and anything that might be called related to Austen and her characters. Of her novels I like the 1995 Persuasion and the 1995 Pride and Prejudice. I also like Clueless which is a modern Emma, and You’ve Got Mail, which is really a modern P&P. I think each of these succeeds because, of the novel adaptations, they are faithful to Austen’s intent, and of the inspired-by’s, they capture her spirit in a positive and enjoyable way.

J: I love your Austenprose blog. It's very insightful and informative with all things Jane Austen. How did you get started with your blog?

LA: Austenprose was started totally on a whim. I just wanted a creative outlet for my lifelong obsession with Jane Austen. I had no grand intensions for it, nor did I think that it would eventually culminate into a book deal for me. The phrase “follow your bliss” is droned into us, but in my case, I am the poster girl for it.
J: What's your favorite part on blogging about Jane Austen?

LA: Meeting other Austen obsessives of course! It is also a thrill to introduce new readers to Austen and other authors that I enjoy.

J: What is it about Austen that fascinated you, made you admire her work and have been a lifelong fan of hers?

LA: Looking back on my first viewing of P&P 1980, the strong first impression that it made on me was definitely from the romantic tension and the fine resolution between Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy. I was of course a young woman keen for my own romance at the time, but I also remember laughing at the sharp dialogue and loving the Regency era and its civility and manners. When I read P&P for the first time, it was challenge to get through the language, but I soon got the hang of it, and have read the novel every year since. I think my continued attraction to Austen is her witty dialogue, being lost in the language and the Regency era.

J: Who is your favorite Darcy actor and Elizabeth actress?

LA: They say that one is bonded with the first Pride and Prejudice adaptation that you see. I must agree, because Elizabeth Garvie will always be the perfect Elizabeth Bennet for me, and David Rintoul actually plays Darcy closer to Austen’s intensions than anyone else. I do enjoy Colin Firth & Matthew Macfadyen’s interpretations, but Rintoul is just such an arrogant and mysterious Darcy, that I continue to be engrossed by his performance.

J: Your new novel, Jane Austen Made Me Do It is a great collection of 22 short stories from various Austen inspired and best-selling authors. How did you get this novel started? How did you get all those 24 authors to contribute on your first book?

LA: Over the years I had been working with many authors to help promote their new books on Austenprose. They were such an agreeable group, so passionate about Jane and enthusiastic about their work. I thought to myself “I want to work with these authors. Why couldn’t I be the editor of an Austen-inspired short story anthology and ask them to contribute?” At that time there were no Austen anthologies in print. I thought it is a grand idea, I just didn’t know how to get it published.

After I had my book deal with Random House, I compiled a list of my “dream team” of authors and my editor added a few authors that she thought might be interesting and I emailed them all one momentous day in January 2010. The first response came back in about 5 minutes from Lauren Willig with a profound yes. The rest followed shortly after and in about a month, we had the line-up set. It was surreal.

J: How did the title came about?

LA: I give full credit to the title to my brilliant agent Mitchell Waters. He is a Janeite and a gentleman in the true Darcy spirit. The subtitle was a combination of some writing that my editor liked from my blog and her own modification. I was very pleased with both.

J: How did you get it published, and what was your first reaction when you found out it was being published and you were the editor/author?

LA: I asked some the authors that I had been working with on my blog for advice, and before I could write up a book proposal, I was contacted by a literary agent thanking me for the work I had done with his client. I thought about it for about 10 seconds, then, I seized the opportunity at once, called him and pitched my idea. He loved it. So did Random House!

It all happened so quickly that it was like a dream. It took a while for the reality to sink in. It was all a big secret for almost six months. That was the hard part. Not being able to talk about it on my blog. The day I signed the publication contract and later posted the announcement on my blog were big milestones. Another was the day the editing was complete and the book was done. It has continued to be an exciting ride.

J: What's next for you after this novel?  Will there be another one and are you editing it again or will you be writing it?

LA: I have two projects in development. One is another anthology and the second is a new kind of annotated Austen edition. I can’t say much more, but I am quite excited about both of them.

Thanks for hosting me here today Jeane. It was a pleasure.

Cheers, Laurel Ann Nattress


Want to win a copy of Jane Austen Made Me Do It novel? If so, check out the previous post...
Pride and Prejudice’s Indelible Influence by Laurel Ann Nattress (with a Book Giveaway!)


  1. Hi Laurel Ann. I was one of those authors who you helped promote, and I thank you for that. I'm with you on Elizabeth Garvie for the perfect Elizabeth. It's too bad more people don't know of that particular adaptation.

  2. You are most welcome for the promotion Mary. I loved your Searching for Pemberley and I am so glad you appreciate Elizabeth Garvie as Elizabeth Bennet too.

    Thanks for hosting me here today Jeane. It was such a thrill.

  3. I enjoyed the interview and particularly was struck by the fact that Laurel Ann prefers 'Mansfield Park'. That is my second favorite and I am glad to know there is someone else out there who likes it.

    Thanks for the post!

  4. Hi Sophia Rose - well heck. I finally found you. The only other person in the world that likes Mansfield Park! Huzzah. Shall we start a club? ;-)

  5. Laurel Ann - you're very welcome. It's a pleasure having you here. Thanks again for doing this interview with me here on this blog. Great to be a part of your debut novel's grand tour in the blogosphere. :-)

  6. What's so great about My Little Pony? Check out this Q&A. It's funny. http://youtu.be/-Ad6yOCoY90


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