Sep 102014
 

Author Guest Post

Hello readers!  I’m so excited welcome back Shannon Winslow to Austenesque Reviews!  I’ve had “known” Shannon  for several years now online, but it was only a little over a year ago that I got to meet her in person when we traveled to Seattle, Washington!  I greatly admire Shannon previous novels, Return to Longbourn, her sequel about Mary and Kitty Bennet is definitely one of my favorite minor character stories!  And I’m so happy to have Shannon here celebrating her brilliant new release, The Persuasion of Miss Jane Austen.  Image-3

I’m sure many a literary purist has from the moral high ground cried, “Don’t mess with Jane Austen!” I might have been inclined to say the same at one time… but no more. Now, I’ve not only tampered with her stories by writing sequels. In my recently released novel, The Persuasion of Miss Jane Austen, I’ve meddled with her life as well.

My goal at the outset was to write a plausible alternative for my favorite authoress. I wanted to give her the same kind of romance she provided for all her heroines – and possibly the happy ending as well – all without contradicting any of the known facts.

That’s a tall order. First, for me to learn everything that is supposedly “know-able” about Jane Austen would take years. At the same time, hard facts and specifics about her are in limited supply. I’d barely begun when I came up against a question none of the expert sources I consulted could answer. It was simply this. Did Jane Austen attend her brother Henry’s wedding to their cousin Eliza in London on December 31, 1797? No one seemed to know. Instead of an obstacle, however, this “blank” in the record became the first of many opportunities – things left open to my interpretation.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000037_00034]In case you’re wondering, I decided that Jane did indeed attend the wedding and, furthermore, that’s where she met the man who became the one true love of her life: Captain Philippe Devereaux. Their rocky romance actually became Jane’s inspiration for Persuasion, according to my theory. So, using that novel as my guide, I was off and running with a story of lost love and second chances fit within the framework set by the timeline of Jane’s own life.

It all came together beautifully in the end, achieving (imho) the plausible and preferable alternative outcome I sought. In fact, I think it’s theoretically possible it really happened the way I’ve written it.

Consider this. Much of the pieced-together information about Austen’s life comes to us via family remembrances and the surviving letters Jane wrote herself. These sources are incomplete, open to interpretation, and potentially biased. It occurred to me that if Jane Austen, for whatever reason, wanted certain facts expunged from the record or carefully constructed falsehoods added, she would likely have found ready co-conspirators in her own family members, as I suggest in the story line. What we are told about Jane, therefore, is only what they wanted us to know or believe, not necessarily the whole truth. More creative opportunities!

If, however, some are so disobliging as to reject my conspiracy theory, I can always take refuge in my other inspiration (or justification) for rewriting history.

In Atonement by Ian McEwan, an adolescent girl’s false testimony divides her older sister from the young man she loves, leading to every kind of disaster. Later, as an adult, that adolescent girl writes their love story as a novel, only providing the ill-fated pair a better ending this time. She saw it as her gift to them, her way of making atonement for the wrong she’d done all those years before. In the last chapter, she explains:

Who would want to believe that they never met again, never fulfilled their love? Who would wantshannon-winslow-2013-x-150 to believe that, except in the service of the bleakest realism? I could not do it to them… No one will care what events and which individuals were misrepresented to make a novel. I know there is a certain kind of reader who will be compelled to ask, “But what really happened?” The answer is simple: the lovers survive and flourish… I like to think that it isn’t weakness or evasion, but a final act of kindness, a stand against oblivion and despair, to let my lovers live and to unite them at the end.

In that spirit, I hope The Persuasion of Miss Jane Austen stands as a compliment – an act of kindness – to her, to the authoress who has given me and thousands of others so much enjoyment.

But what is your opinion? Do my theories hold any water? Do our efforts (modern-day authors) add something of value to Jane Austen’s legacy, or would it be better to simply let her rest in peace? Are all sequels, variations, tie-ins, and mash-ups legit, or do some to go too far? How are we to judge? What do you suppose Jane Austen herself would think of all this?

Having read The Persuasion of Miss Jane Austen I’m so happy to know what parts of the story fact and which are fiction.  Thank you for sharing this with us today.  You ask a great question – I love stories like yours that fill in the holes of Jane Austen’s life and create a romance that we readers all feel she deserved. 🙂

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 GIVEAWAY TIME!!!

Shannon kindly brings with her 2 LOVELY ebook and 1 signed paperback copy of The Persuasion of Miss Jane Austen for me to randomly give away to THREE lucky readers.  Woot Woot!!!

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000037_00034]  Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000037_00034]  Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000037_00034]

To enter this giveaway, answer Shannon’s questions, leave a comment, a question of your own, or some love for Shannon!!

  • This giveaway is open worldwide (for the ebooks) and to US residents (for the paperback).  Thank you, Shannon!
  • This giveaway ends September 17th!
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  70 Responses to “Guest Post + Giveaway with Author Shannon Winslow!!!”

  1.  

    My initial opinion re: Austen spinoffs wasn’t overly negative, in fact, I was intrigued with the concept. However, when titles began to divert into explicit premarital sex, zombies, vampires, etc., I had to draw the line there. I think authors and readers have to a right to our individual opinions, but I’d rather stay closer to the spirit of Austen than divert wildly away. A rare exception to that for me was Monica Fairview’s Steampunk Darcy.

    Thanks for the chance to win– I love the cover art on this and am glad that Persuasion is getting some attention.

  2.  

    Great questions, especially what Jane Austen would think about “Jane’s Fame” and Jane Inc.! Lol, I like to point out that she was perhaps one of the 1st to adapt a novel. She and niece Anna Austen(late Lefroy!) adapted “Sir Charles Grandison” from a 1000’s of pages tome into a 50 pg play. Granted, that wasn’t probably for public consumption but still….lol also she did once jokingly write to Cassandra about writing for fame only…and what writer won’t want to be written about/talked about/adapted/parodied/etc more than any other writer except (perhaps) Will of Stratford-upon-Avon????

    •  

      Excellent point, Kirk. So we know she didn’t consider tinkering with another writer’s work as taboo. I have a feeling she didn’t take herself so seriously as to consider her own work untouchable either.

  3.  

    I think Jane would appreciate the clean romances.

  4.  

    I second ‘Kirk Companion’ – his last sentence especially…

  5.  

    I would like to think that JA wouldn’t mind others tinkering with her work so long as you remember that it is fictional. I hope she will be pleased that it inspired countless people to pick up reading and prolong the hours of enjoying her characters in imaginative circumstances saved for the gory parts like zombies, dragons and other horrible creatures.

    Please enter me for the e-book versions, Meredith.

  6.  

    Hello Shannon, I’m sort of a neighbor of yours, as I am a transplant to the Pacific NW from Central Valley, California. I would love to meet you someday. I too planned to meet Meredith, when she traveled to Seattle, but family matters got in the way. I’ve read two of your books–Darcy’s of Pemberley and Return to Longbourn–and just ordered For Myself Alone.
    I used to be somewhat of a “purist;” however, I’ve since changed my view to try to “keep to JA’s characterization as much as possible” and “make me believe the characters would do or say what you write.”
    I would really love to win the signed paperback, but would take the ebooks, since I’ve started using my Kindle, which Ireceived it as a b-day gift. Thank you so much for the giveaway! Keep writing!
    Thank you, Meredith, for introducing your audience to so many great writers of the austenesque genre.

    •  

      Thank you for your past support, Catherine, and good luck with the giveaway!

      •  

        I just reread my comments and I sound as if I were criticizing your writing. I was just getting carried away with my ideas from your interviewing. I was backwardly agreeing with you. I love your writing. I’m looking forward to “For Myself Alone” when it arrives and later to The Persuasion of Miss Jane Austen!! I sure it will be great!

    •  

      Hi Catherine! Hopefully I will travel to the west coast again someday! Would love to meet you in person!! 🙂 Let me know what you think of For Myself Alone, that is the only one of Shannon’s I’ve yet to read.

  7.  

    First of all, I want to thank you and all the P & P variations for keeping Jane Austen’s dreams alive by doing what you are doing as she would have kept writing had she lived. Second of all, I have enjoyed so many great novels and vignettes and I still keep buying the books.
    I have spent the last two days going through them all and putting them in order by author and I am running out of book shelves. I think I need another bookcase. Amazon appreciates me as a book buyer and I just love reading all the books that are available.
    Looking forward to your next book. My order is soon to be placed. I know this one will be as good as the others you have written.
    Thanks for your hard work.

    •  

      Yes, MaryAnn, if JA had left 50 novels for us instead of 6, there might have been no need. But as it is, there’s not enough Jane Austen and fan fiction fills helps to fill the void. I started writing what I most wanted for myself – a faithful sequel to P&P and more stories of the kind JA wrote.

  8.  

    I shifted my opinion from the moment I read an Austenesque novel to the point where I’ve read several. I didn’t think I would like them, but I do. There have been a few that had little to do with the author or characters or story they are based on, but even then, if written well enough, I enjoyed for that. My favorites are still the ones that managed to give me a new aspect of the story while making me believe that the story, characters and background descriptions could have been done by Austen.

    I look forward to reading your latest, Shannon. Thanks for the giveaway opportunity.

  9.  

    Very interesting questions you pose, Shannon.

    Personally, I don’t think there is anything wrong with derivative fiction — Jane Austen’s or otherwise. At the beginning of the English novel, back in the Richardson and Fielding days, authors commented on, criticized, and expanded each other’s work on a regular basis. The idea that intellectual property exists in a sort of vacuum is rather contemporary and, as the legions of readers and writers of such material can attest, not universally acknowledged. Austen herself was known to play with other authors work — and let’s not forget the resemblance that P&P shares with Much Ado About Nothing. The best selling book of all time, the Bible, is nothing if not a collection of stories and poems that has been continually updated, revised, translated, and edited for eons. I think it’s fine to build on another author’s work. In some ways, it’s sort of like a collaboration across time. Art does not get put away into a little box and filed away forever once it is complete. It is shown to the world. It influenced the world and the world interacts with it, in turn. It is a natural and exciting part of the artistic process.

    And yes, sign me up for the drawing, please!

    •  

      Thank you for your contribution to the discussion, Amanda! Good thoughts. It’s true that art doesn’t exist in a vacuum; we have all been inspired and influenced by what others have created before us to one extent or another. And as they say, there are no new stories, only new ways of telling them. 🙂

  10.  

    I think Jane would be thrilled to know that the characters she has created have endeared themselves to so many. I for one am delighted that I can keep on reading about her characters in sequels, variations and mysteries however, I can’t seem to get into zombies and vampires. I too agree with Meredith. Return to Longbourn is a favourite of mine! Thank you for the giveaway. I’ll be reading your ‘For Myself Alone’ while on vacation next week!

    •  

      Yay for RTL, and I’m glad you’re going to FMA a try as well!
      I trust you’re right, Carole, that JA would be pleased to know that her stories and characters live on long after her death in the hearts of so many of us. Along those lines, she “writes” in my new book:

      “I have not been given the gift of marriage and the gratification of bringing up my own physical children. Instead, I have been gifted with time to nurture a communion of a different sort – one of the mind – and with the raising up of my small clutch of literary offspring, who, I dare to hope, will long outlive me.”

  11.  

    Shannon, it was great to hear more about your book & the facts that you’ve incorporated into it. It keeps sounding better & better. You know I’ve loved your other books & am looking forward to reading this one soon. Thanks to you & Meredith for the giveaway opportunity!

  12.  

    I think Jane Austin would be overwhelmed by all the different variations and thoughts on her work. I love reading them. It would be very fun to sit down to tea with her, and ask her to fill in the holes. I look forward to reading your new work!
    Becky

    •  

      Would LOVE that, Becky – sitting down to tea with Jane Austen!

    •  

      Tea with Jane! What a lovely idea.

      I often find myself wondering what Jane would think or say or do if she and I were hanging out one day. The day I discovered the genre of Austen-related fiction, I had Jane on the brain. It was a lovely summer day and I was walking down to the local library. Birds were singing. The sun was shining. People had the tops of their convertibles down and everyone wore shorts. There was some sort of festival in the nearby park, so I passed by a band performing classic rock and a clutch of observers dancing and drinking. I thought, “Hmm… I would like to show Jane this world. What would she make of it?” I imagined how pleasant it would be to take a walk to the library with Jane and how surprised she’d be by some of the sights along the way. The library, I imagined, and the easy and free availability of so many books for so many people, would have had her in raptures.

      I arrived at the library and walked smack into a book called “Mr. Darcy’s Daughters.” Color me confused. “He didn’t have any daughters,” I thought. So I peeked. I spent the whole summer reading every variation or sequel I could find!

  13.  

    I love the premise of this. Persuasion has always been my favorite so I’m glad to see you’ve kind of incorporated it into this. It was great there was a blank spot with Henry’s wedding so you could draw some conclusions of your own. I think Jane Austen would be amused…perhaps as one other comment mentioned overwhelmed but since she was a bit ahead of her time in some ways I think she’d enjoy some of it. I agree with most other comments here also that I am just not into zombies, etc but do enjoy the sweeter romantic stories. I live in Puyallup so I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Shannon at a book signing event previously. I’d love to win a copy of one of these books. Congrats on another book release.

  14.  

    Dear Shannon,
    Thanks for the giveaway – your book sounds wonderful. I love that there are so many great authors out there who have kept Jane’s stories alive and thriving today 200 years later! Please keep writing! –LeslieGB

  15.  

    I believe that there are a lot of great sequels & variations out there and that it is a matter of each indivuals opinions or tastes as to whether a book has taken things to far because we all like different things. I would like to think that Jane Austen would be happy to see how much people love her works and the fact that we all want to see more of the lives of her characters.

    Thanks for the giveaway & congratulations on your new release!
    crystal_dark[at]att[dot]net

  16.  

    I have liked Shannon’s previous books and look forward to reading this one. I often do wonder if Jane Austen did experience unrequited love more than once. She gave her novels a perfect ending than what she experienced. I believe that Jane Austen would think: “Shannon, you got this one right!” or she would be laughing out loud as the foilbles of JAFF writings. Thank you for the giveaways.

  17.  

    I’m not a purist by any standard. I will take all comers in the JAFF arena (except the undead ones which is really out of my wheelhouse in any genre…LOL). I don’t think Jane would have a problem with it, I think she would be flattered that her dear children are so important to us all. IMHO.

    I’m looking forward to reading this one! One of the reasons I love JAFF so much is that I have such an attachment to the characters, I want to know what else happened to them and what happened to them tomorrow. The same thoughts apply to Jane herself. I want her to be happy and some of those blanks filled in. Thanks for the giveaway, and simply for writing this!

  18.  

    First, I’d like to thank you, Shannon, for sharing your thoughts about your writing on this website, I always appreciate an author taking time to do that. Your new book sounds wonderful, and I’m looking forward to reading it. Your previous books are at the top of my long JAFF wish list for my Kindle. Sigh…

    I’ve always been on the fence regarding your question posed above. Here’s one of my own: Are there now so many JAFF books out there because it became popular? because of the movie adaptations? because it’s now so much easier to self-publish? It is a pretty crazy phenomenon sometimes. Will it ever die down? I have scads of them on my Kindle, more on my shelf and many, many more in my wish list.

    Maybe Jane herself would have written more for Elizabeth and Darcy if she had lived. The book as we know it was sent to stores in 3 parts, almost like a serial. Or she might have said: ‘I’m on to the next tale.’ She also might have said ‘that’s private!’ Her sister DID destroy a lot of her letters….. Given the wit and humor we’ve read in her books and letters, would she have laughed at the ‘imitation being the sincerest form of flattery’ our generation’s JAFF has been? (She would have known that saying in a different form.) But she was also very private.

    Thank you so much Shannon.

    •  

      Thanks for your comments, Michelle. I hope one of my books makes it to the top of your tbr pile soon!

      As to your question, I’m sure the ease of independent publishing today has added to the number of books available. Publishers thought many years ago that JAFF had run its course, and they were reluctant to take on any new titles in the genre. Well, we’ve proved them wrong on that score! I can’t speak for anyone else, but I became obsessed with P&P, and subsequently all JA’s books, thanks to the ’95 miniseries with Colin Firth. And I started writing my first sequel, The Darcys of Pemberley, before I knew JAFF existed! So I didn’t write it because it was popular (or even thinking about publishing it at first). I wrote it primarily for myself, to satisfy my own curiosity as to what happened next and for an excuse to spend more time in that world.

      I doubt JA would have attempted a sequel to P&P herself. She is famous for never writing a scene of a type of which she could have had no personal knowledge. This is why you won’t find a conversation between two men with no ladies present in any of her books, since she could have no knowledge of how men would behave in such a case. The same is true of a married couple’s relationship viewed from the inside. Having never been married herself, she could not write about Darcy and Elizabeth’s post-wedding relationship with any authority.

      I suspect that if she’d lived, she would have given us more stand-alone stories like the ones she’d already written. Either way, JAFF authors have stepped in to fill the void. We’ll probably keep writing sequels/variations as long as readers keep buying them. There seems no end to people’s creative takes on the subject.

      •  

        I think this conscious decision on Austen’s part is what allows the genre to survive. There are “holes,” so to speak. There’s plenty to wonder about. Years ago, when I wrote Mrs. Darcy’s Lady’s Maid (which I never attempted to publish, and now WON’T because Longbourn is so good), I did it for exactly the same reasons you described — to satisfy my own curiosity. Servants were everywhere, like appliances today. As a late 20th/early 21st century reader, that concept is foreign to me. I kept wondering about the servants. What were their lives like? What were their opinions of the gentry? Etc. Austen didn’t really write about servants (unless you count Fanny Price, who was sometimes treated sort of like a servant), so I really don’t know.

        Now that I’m writing about Wickham, it’s because I have that same curiosity. We really see very little of him in the novel. Most of what we know of him we know second or third hand and is told by people who have a grudge. What was his life like? Is everything we think we know about him true? How do the characters of P&P appear from his perspective? Because Austen didn’t follow her men beyond the sphere of women, there is a lot we don’t know about the worldly George Wickham.

        Whether it’s servants, villains, Austen herself, life after marriage, the war, or any other aspect of her novels, Austen’s decision to limit her scope to what she knew best left a lot wide open for interpretation. I think that’s part of why her loyal readers are so eager to fill the gaps. She left us with only a handful of novels. She whetted our appetites, but left us wanting more. We rush headlong to fill in the tantalizing spaces in-between.

        •  

          The subjects of your stories sound interesting, Amanda! There have been many authors who have written sequels of Darcy’s and Elizabeth’s first year of marriage – there so many different takes on their lives as newlyweds and a lot of room to be unique. Don’t let Jo Baker’s Longbourn prevent you from publishing your own work. There are many who would love to read it!

      •  

        Oooo thank you for your reply. I not only learned something new, which I love, regarding the lack of conversations between two gentlemen….never thought that one through! But I love the knowledge that you started writing your homage to Jane’s works before even knowing about JAFF. That’s so…for lack of a more refined description….cool!

        Oh, I meant it when I said your books were on the top of my wish list, I just bought and will read next book one in the Darcys of Pemberly….can’t wait.

        Ahhh…what a thought…that she would have given us more novels like the ones we so love.

        Wishing you the absolute best in all your endeavors. Thank you again.

  19.  

    Hi! I think that the plot of your book is an original and a wonderful idea. I often feel so sad that there wasn’t an happy end for her, I think all of us deserve one, and especially who, like Jane Austen, gave us gifts like her books and her characters. And love the connection to Persuasion (my favourite book), and the reference to Atonement, that is at the same time a very sad and wonderful story.
    About all sequels, variations, etc., I think that if an author respects and loves so much Jane Austen and her stories and characters, to write books inspired to them, it is a way to remember and thank her, and to give a new life to her immortal characters.

  20.  

    Shannon, you are so creative, in a class of your own in Austen-inspired fiction. You set the bar far too high for the rest of use writers. I admire your imagination coupled with your research into the fascinating real-life history behind the story. Thanks for sharing, and congratulations on all your wonderful reviews.

  21.  

    I saw the movie, Atonement, but was very upset to view the “true” story at the end. I MUST have my HEA! I did not read the book and am not tempted to do so. I read mostly P&P variations as Darcy and Elizabeth are my favorite couple but I love Persuasion also. Captain Wentworth’s letter makes the whole book worth reading. I am anxious to read this new one by you, Shannon. Every review I have read raves about it. I am traveling to Seattle next summer. Tea, anyone? (Daughter and son-in-law live there.)

    •  

      Captain Wentworth’s letter. *Swoon* Imagine how excited I was to be able to incorporate it into this book! I have no idea what I’m doing next summer, Sheila, but get in touch with me then and we’ll see if we can arrange something. I live in the Puyallup area, if you know where that is. 🙂

      •  

        OK I pulled out my atlas. You are east of Tacoma and south of Seattle. That would not be too far. Anywhere between 45 minutes to 1.5 hrs. depending on traffic. Sounds doable.

  22.  

    Well, I couldn’t wait for the book giveaway! Had to buy the book with the 5 star rating! Can’t wait!

  23.  

    I really like the idea of Jane Ausen having a happy ending. She had too short a life we know it. AS for what Jane would think….she’d laugh….for as one of her characters said…”for I dearly love to laugh.” she’d think it was funny that we, 200 years later, still think about her. I also think she’d be flattered, but embarrassed. I already have the ebook, just haven’t had a chance to read it, but would like to be entered in the paperback giveaway, please.

  24.  

    Austen’s family, particularly Cassandra, edited what is known of Jane’s life which definitely leaves scope for the imagination! You’ve posed some really interesting questions here.

    With Austenesque books, at first I didn’t get the whole genre, the idea of using somebody else’s characters, but 99% of it is done with love and sincere admiration, to get a bit more time with characters we care about, and that is massively flattering to Austen. There are some books I’ve read where I haven’t felt the author’s love for Austen, and in those cases, where it comes across as a cynical ploy to make money from her genius, then I have a problem with it, I think it’s disrespectful to both her and to the reader, though thankfully I’ve only read a very few where I’ve had this feeling.

    At first, I found it easier to read modern versions because I was very purist about the historical ones. I have mellowed somewhat, though if a book is full of anachronisms it will drive me up the wall! I prefer the ones which stick closely to Austen’s characters, though I accept that a character change can be part of a variation. I think if Jane could see the huge amount of discussion, adaptations, books, sequels, variations, spin-offs, knick-knacks, clothes, pictures, plasters and other paraphernalia I think she’d think we were all mad!

    •  

      Haha! There may indeed be a bit of craziness in this obsessive behavior, Ceri.
      I appreciate what you said about being able to tell when the sincere love of Austen is or isn’t there. That’s what I’ve always hoped and believed – that my love and respect for her and her work will shine through in my own writing!

  25.  

    Looks very intriguing indeed! Would love to win this one : )

  26.  

    I think that there is more to our Jane Austen than we know about so I hope that there is some truth to your theories. I would like to think that she felt the joy of loving someone and feeling his love for her. I don’t think she could have written about it otherwise, not as well anyway. A man can write about giving birth but there will always be something missing because he has not experienced it, something that may go unnoticed except by mothers. The same holds true for love, until you have experienced it you cannot write about it with all the emotion and feeling involved.

    I used to be one of those purists who thought the spinoffs were a terrible idea but have come to see them as ways of seeing the originals in a new light, like putting on glasses, they give you a new view and way to see things. I think they add to it, most of the time. 🙂 Thankfully with websites like this I am able to find some good authors to read.

    I hope to win an eBook, I am living in the Dominican Republic right now.

    Danielle C

    •  

      Thank you for your comments, Danielle. I was talking to one lady at a book fair a couple years ago. When she said she liked Jane Austen, I proceeded to tell her about my books and why I’d written them. Her response was, “I only read the real thing; I’m not interested in your knock-offs.” Ouch! She’s absolutely entitled to her preferences, but I thought that was a little rude. Oh well. Can’t win them all! 😉

      •  

        WOW! I can not imagine being so rude. I never met followed blogs or met any authors of JAFF but if I did meet someone who tried to get me to read one I simply said no thank you. Of course now that I love the books and would want to meet others I live in another country. 🙂

      •  

        How rude! The lady is missing out. Fortunately for you, there are plenty of us who are “interested in your knock-offs.”

  27.  

    Hi Shannon. I have just bought three of your books today. I am a big Austen Fan and love reading books that carry on the Austen stories. I think most fans can’t get enough Austen . Thanks for feeding my addition to all things Jane.

  28.  

    I’d like to win the paperback. I can’t do e-books. I have one of her books. I also like Sherlock Holmes “knock offs.” Yeah, I wouldn’t really call them that but I just got that from the comment.

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