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!

Christmas at Pemberley 1797

Click to order your copy!

It’s Christmas 1797.  Darcy and his cousins Richard and D’Arcy Fitzwilliam have been given reluctant permission to stage a Christmas farce in hopes of cheering Lady Anne.
–An excerpt from Young Master Darcy: A Lesson in Honour.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!
–Pamela Aidan

~~~~~~~&~~~~~~~

“The doors are closed; they’re all inside!” Richard reported back from his post at the stairs. Earlier, they had raided the attic trunks for costumes, and Richard, as Lord Misrule, was tricked out in a coat from a much earlier time. Its hems almost swept the floor, but the unfashionably large brass buttons that adorned it and the voluminous pockets made it perfect for his part. An old-fashioned wig flowed almost to his waist to complete his costume, but his brother had not been satisfied.

“Where did you get those” Richard had looked suspiciously at the jars D’Arcy brought out.

“Something from school…never mind, just be still!” D’Arcy had commanded as he powdered his brother’s face white and painted red rouge circles on his cheeks, mouth, and the tip of his nose and then had finished him off with a black patch at the corner of his mouth.

D’Arcy adjusted the pillows strapped under the green cloak that proclaimed him Father Christmas, as did the “beard” fashioned from the stuff of an old mattress. Darcy joined Richard in the hall.  As befitted the character of Black Peter, Father Christmas’s assistant, Darcy was dressed in a mis-match of old clothes pinned all over with colourful ribbons. His face was smudged black with cork and he sported an old red stocking, bedecked at the end with sleigh bells, as a cap.

“Are we ready?” Lord Misrule waved the thin, gilded chair leg that served as his sceptre.

“Yes, and you both look perfectly ridiculous!” laughed Father Christmas as they glided down the stairs. Continue reading

Art and Life

Christmas at Pemberley 1797...a great Christmas 2011 gift, especially for the younger Austen fan!

I was reminded recently how funny life can be, especially the “writing life” as it intersects “real life.” I know I’m not the only author who ever scanned airports and their book stores hoping to see one’s books on shelves or, more so, in traveler’s hands. On the other hand, rarely do I say anything about being an author when making an acquaintance for fear of the blank stare at the mention of my pen name or the patronizing “And what is it that you write, again?” But this past summer in rather unexpected ways, two instances occurred of my two lives bumping into each other in wonderfully serendipitous ways.

The first was at my nephew-by-marriage’s wedding. I was seated next to a couple at the rehearsal dinner whom I’d never met. We were making  the usual polite conversation, discovering how we were related to the wedding party when one of my brothers-in-law leaned into the conversation and announced, “You know, Pamela’s a writer.”   Great!, I thought. Now I’m going to have to explain to polite disinterest what exactly I write. (None-Janeites, as you have undoubtedly discovered, are extremely uninterested in Austen-inspired anything) So I launched into an apologetic for my work, “Are you familiar with Jane Austen? Well, I wrote P&P from Darcy’s point of view. My pen name is Pamela Aidan.”

The woman turned to face me and looked at me with widening eyes, “Do you mean to tell me,” she stuttered, “that I’m sitting next to thee Pamela Aidan, Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman?”  Well, yeah, I admitted, amazed that she had actually heard of me. “I love your books,” she exclaimed. “They are on my bedside table at home. I’ve read and re-read them!” Wow, not only heard of me but liked my books–really liked them!  And she was a general public-type person not someone at an Austen conference or website! Wow!

The second incident occurred to one of my sons rather than myself, making it even more serendipity. A new adult fellowship leader at my son’s church introduced herself to the group and in the process recounted related the story of when she had been involved in a car accident and could do nothing but sit and wait for the police to arrive. To help keep herself calm during the wait, she pulled out the book she was reading and dove in, lessening her anxiety until help arrived. Later, as my son helped her put chairs away they talked about what they liked to read. “Have you ever read any Jane Austen?” she asked him.

“Funny, you should ask,” he replied. “My mom writes Austen-inspiried novels and I’ve edited books for her publishing business’s authors who write the same type of thing.”

“Who’s your mom; I may have read her.” He told her.

“Oh my…you won’t believe this,” she replied. “It was one of your mom’s books that I was reading while I waited for the police in my story.”

As an author, you never know what ripples may be stirred when you send your work out into the world. You hope they are good ones and pray they’ll be uplifting, comforting, or at least entertaining.  What a joy to have proof!

~Pamela

“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