Austen & Aidan in Atlanta…well, close.

Reading from Young Master Darcy
at the Decatur Book Festival

It was “Welcome to HOTlanta” from more than one native as the Austen authors took shelter under tents that reflected the sun but little of the 98 degree heat. I am happy to report that we were well furnished with traditional Southern self-actuated cooling devices, otherwise known as hand fans, that we elegantly wafted back and forth to counter the “glow” that no real lady ever condescends to acknowledge. Yeah…  Well, we did have one such lady, the lovely Lady Rita, who dressed a la Regency in a beautiful dress, stunning hat, and lace parasol. *sigh*

The lovely Lady Rita

The fellowship of Austen authors was a wonderful experience and the organization of “Jane Then and Now” nothing short of phenomenal for a first time effort. The logistics were a bit daunting, but the lovely Jan and Barbara were up to every trick.

I met several long-time fans, some long-ago friends, and a goodly number of Austen aficionados who came to see what all the Austen-ruckus was about under the white tents. What a privilege to meet all of you and share our love of this incredible literary inspiration! Thank you Robin and Gayle for carting me about, Jan and Barbara for dreaming this and making it happen, and my fellow authors who came from all over the country to become the biggest gathering of Austen authors ever!

Signing my books for Jackie Leatherberry and Meredith Esparanza

~Pamela

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Readin’ and Writin’ at the Festival

     If you can get to the Decatur Book Festival, I’d love to meet you!
I’ll be in the JASNA tents, #101-103.

Reading from my books: Saturday at 2:45/Sunday between 1 & 2.

Writing my name in books and talking Austen: Saturday 11:15 – 12:30, 3:00 – 5:20/Sunday 12 – 1, 2 – 4

Meet Me in Decatur!

It’s less than a week until the Decatur Book Festival near my former home of Atlanta, Georgia. The festival sounds wonderfully exciting, and the good people of the Jane Austen Society of North America-Georgia chapter have gone to extraordinary lengths to bring Jane to the Festival. The even attracts 100,000 annually and, although not all are Austen lovers, I imagine that more readers will be exposed to Austen and her literary progeny at one time than ever before.

A book festival–what a wonderful thing in a time when “story” is making another leap in form, spreading further into lives as ebooks living in “clouds”! Whatever would Jane think? Even fifteen years ago when I first started writing An Assembly Such as This, such a thing was not on my horizon. I thought I was quite up on technology by writing by computer rather than with pen and paper, composing by the soft click of the keyboard rather than the explosive bang of the typewriter. So now the dream is to appear in e-ink and be drawn down from a cloud into people’s lives via such strange sounding devices as Nooks and Kindles that will read to you as well, rather than enshrined in bound paper packages.

What will be next? Book glasses, I suppose. Text will stream across the lenses and a tiny microphone will chirp the text to you in surround-sound realism, complete with a musical score. And Jane will make that leap as well: deftly , gracefully, compellingly. Technology nor shifting public taste will hinder her advance through cultures because she writes of the human heart in all its “follies and nonsense, whims and inconsistencies” that lead it into joy and sorrow in every culture, in every time. Although we are not early 19th century ladies and gentleman, we can still recognize ourselves and our neighbors in her words and, perhaps, understand and profit from that recognition to become the gracious ladies and gentlemen of our own times.

Hope to see you in Decatur!

Pamela

PS There’s a list of all the Austen authors at the festival and a give away contest  of An Assembly Such as This and Young Master Darcy at Darcyholicsdiversions.com. Scurry on over!

“Just an old, little man”

Andrew Davies

That was how screenwriter Andrew Davies described himself in response to the standing ovation that greeted his ascent to the stage podium at the jam-packed JASNA session so many were ecstatic to attend. I think the self-deprecation was genuine–for the most part, but the gimlet gleam in his eye as the applause continued may have revealed how welcome the audience’s denial of such a label truly was. Physically, Mr Davies IS little, not much taller  at all than myself at 5’2″ and he is a bonafide senior citizen, having been born in Wales in 1936. But the appearance of this “old, little man” necessitated the kind of security measures one would not expect to encounter at a Jane Austen conference. One’s JASNA credentials were checked at the door before entry was permitted. You see, there were real threats from the Elizabeth Gaskell (North and South/Wives and Daughters) crowd that they intended to crash the proceedings!

Davies talk was entirely delightful, just what one would hope in terms of inside stories and fond memories of his various film adaptations of the novels we love so well, delivered with an endearing modesty and continued love for each one. I especially appreciated his review of his Sense and Sensibility, which I had placed secondary to Emma Thompson’s version. But as he went through some of the difficulties in bringing that work to screen, illustrating them with clips from the movie, I came to a higher opinion about both his version and the actors in it. Although I will always love Thompson’s version, Davies’ version demands more from it’s actors in it’s subtlety of expression and faithfulness to a more restrained and circumspect portrayal that is likely closer to the manners and conduct of the time and the characters as Austen drew them.

Of the many tidbits of insider information that Mr Davies shared with the audience, here is the first of two I will pass on.

CONTEST!

A copy of Young Master Darcy will be awarded to the name drawn from a hat of the pool of correct answers. Enter by subscribing to my blog and then commenting on this post. Remember to include your email address in your comment/vote. Entries will be taken for two weeks (Nov 1 – 14th) and the winner announced on the 15th.

Which of the following three scenes from Davies’ dramatization of Pride and Prejudice is his personal favorite?  Good luck!

~~Pamela

Elizabeth reads and responds to the letter/Darcy's voice over

Darcy responds to Elizabeth & Georgiana in the Music room

Wet-shirted Darcy startled by Elizabeth's presence at Pemberley

200 Years and Counting

JASNA 2011

I confess that it’s been a few days since getting back from Texas and the General Meeting for 2011 of the Jane Austen Society of North America (JASNA). This year’s GM celebrated the 200th anniversary of the publishing of Sense & Sensibility, the first of Austen’s novels to be made available to the public. It did not do as well as the author had hoped, although it did come to the attention of some prominent individuals of the time. One of those was the ill-fated only child of the Prince Regent and Princess Caroline, the Princess Charlotte, who wrote to a friend that she very much admired and understood Marianne Dashwood, having herself a temperament very much like her.

For those new Janeites and those who have never been to a GM, it is  a total immersion into all things Jane, from the interesting talks on the taking of snuff and tying of cravats to the more scholarly investigations of the philosophy and psychology behind Austen’s characters.

The emporium’s vendors offer Regency clothes and accessories, Austen gifts and tea–yes, the lovely ladies from Bingely’s Teas were again at the Emporium with delightful new flavors and were singled out by a crew from the UK BBC for a video-taped interview as part of their coverage of the conference. Seems the UK is keen to discover more about the American Austen phenomenon.

And finally, the ball offered participants the opportunity to imagine themselves at Meryton’s assembly rooms or Neitherfield’s ball. Not content with only the ball to exhibit, this year many attendees wore their Regency finery during the entire weekend. My favorite presentation of the conference? I’m saving that for my next post!

~Pamela