Dec 032014


It is my honor and distinct pleasure to welcome Syrie James, author of so many of my favorite Jane Austen Inspired reads, to Austenesque Reviews today! If you have not already heard, Syrie has a newly released novel about Jane Austen as a teenager, titled Jane Austen’s First Love.

Syrie, I am a big admirer of your work and I am very excited to have this opportunity to interview you!

Thank you so much for having me here today, Meredith. I love your blog, and I have so appreciated all the Syrie JamesAuthorPhoto-2012wonderful reviews you’ve written of my novels over the years!

Syrie, in my humble opinion, you are the “Queen of Jane Austen Biographical Fiction” – The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen, The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen, and now Jane Austen’s First Love! All magnificent creations where you blend fact and fiction and share some “unknown” secrets about Jane Austen’s life. What inspires you to continue to write about Jane Austen? Why write tales about Jane Austen and not her characters?

I have loved Jane Austen for many years, and consider her novels some of the finest in all of British literature. It is a tribute to Austen’s genius that so many people across the globe are fans of her work, and that her clever plots and brilliant characters are so memorable and evocative that they want those stories to continue. Although it’s great fun to see the different interpretations of what happens next to favorite Austen heroines and heroes such as Lizzie and Mr. Darcy, I haven’t felt compelled yet (unless you count my short story in Jane Austen Made Me Do It) to write about her characters. I’ve been more interested in the authoress herself.

I’m intrigued by the notion that a woman who lived in a tiny village in the countryside in an era when it was very rare for women to be writers, was educated primarily at home by her father, and had no connections whatsoever tThe Missing Manuscript of Jane Austeno the publishing world, still managed to write novels so splendid and witty that they are still popular 200 years later! For her to have written with such insight about courtship, romance, and matters of the heart, I believe she must have experienced a love affair (or two!) of her own. I couldn’t find any books featuring a grand romance for Jane Austen eight years ago, so I decided to write one myself—that became The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen. It was equally exciting to bring to life Jane Austen’s First Love, a romance that really happened, and which may have influenced Jane Austen’s future work as a novelist.

As for The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen, that came into being for a slightly different reason. Like so many other Austen fans, I bemoaned the fact that there were only six novels, and I wondered: what would happen if there was a seventh that was lost—and suddenly found? The notion both inspired and challenged me. Although it was a rather daunting task, I undertook it, and wrote the seventh novel myself as a tale-within-a-tale. Thankfully critics and readers seem to love it!

Absolutely!  You are giving us the stories and romances about Jane Austen we wish to really see come true one day!  Speaking about what is true, I was amazed when I read the Author’s Afterward at the end of Jane Austen’s First Love and learned how much of your story was inspired by real people and events from Jane Austen’s life. Can you tell us what specifically prompted you to pen Jane Austen’s First Love? What first planted the seed?

The idea for the novel was inspired by a letter Jane wrote to her sister Cassandra in 1796, when Jane was visiting Jane Austen's First Lovetheir brother Edward Austen in Kent. Jane wrote, “We went by Bifrons and I contemplated with a melancholy pleasure the abode of Him, on whom I once fondly doated.”

I learned that “Him” was a young man named Edward Taylor, and the “abode” was Bifrons Park, the estate in Kent he would one day inherit. But there was very little other information about Edward Taylor. Biographers mentioned him only briefly. I was so intrigued by that reference in Jane’s letter! The way she phrased it, it seems clear that she had once been crazy in love with this young man. I wanted to know: who was Edward Taylor? Why did Jane dote on him so fondly? I was determined to learn more about him and excited when, after months research, I uncovered a ton of new information that made it clear to me why he was Jane Austen’s First Love.

I never heard the name Edward Taylor until learning about your book.  It seems like Tom Lefroy has been more popularly recognized as Jane Austen’s first love.  Let’s talk a little about Edward Taylor – what a dynamic and captivating young man he is! *swoon* I very much understand how Jane Austen lost her heart to him. I know you did extensive research to learn all you can about Edward Taylor’s life, what were some of the challenges you faced in portraying this love interest for our dear author? What is the one thing you think Jane Austen loved most about Edward Taylor? What do you love most about Edward Taylor?

Douglas Booth

Douglas Booth, Syrie’s first pick to play Edward Taylor, should she get asked to adapt the novel into a movie!

I had such a wonderful time writing about the young, vivacious Jane Austen and the remarkable Edward Taylor! What a joy it was to imagine their romance and bring it to life on the page. At first, the biggest challenge was just to find information about Edward Taylor. I was worried for a while that I was going to have to invent a back story for him. Thankfully my research was astonishingly fruitful, enabling me bring him to life based on facts and truth. Almost all the other characters in the novel are also real people who Jane Austen would have met that summer. I research every single one, so that I could portray them as accurately as possible—that was another huge challenge.

I think Jane Austen loved many things about Edward Taylor! He was so highly accomplished. He was well-read, well-educated, and well-informed on such a wide variety of topics—and he was a great conversationalist. Austen valued education, adored reading, and as she famously said, “My idea of good company…is the company of clever, well-informed people, who have a great deal of conversation.” That describes Edward Taylor to a “T.” I can see why he impressed her so much. He was about to turn seventeen when Jane met him, and already spoke four or five languages—that certainly impressed me!

What do I love most about Edward Taylor? That’s easy: I love his ambitious nature and his sense of individuality. He wasn’t prepared to settle for what society expected of him. He thought for himself—the scene at the ball where everyone else has powdered hair being just one example. As he says to Jane, ““One should not, must not, be swayed by popular opinion or the ideas of others, to think or act against his or her own convictions. It is not always easy…but if possible, we must be true to ourselves, for I believe the only route to happiness is to follow our own hearts.”

Edward was very wise for such a young man!  I loved how you grounded your story with a good deal of realism – this wasn’t a romantic fairy tale of falling in love and being happily ever after. You illustrated how poor the Austen family really was, how frustrating it can be to not control your own destiny, and how often people in Jane Austen’s time weren’t allowed to follow their heart. Did you consciously set out to illustrate these points or did they just occur naturally? What aspect of Jane Austen’s life was most important for you to illustrate in this tale?

I wrote the previous reply before reading this question—I’m glad that you seized on the same point, about controlling one’s destiny/following one’s heart. I didn’t set out with that theme in mind when I began the novel. But as the book progressed, everything I’d learned about Edward Taylor made him truly came alive for me; he made that particular point to Jane without me planning it—it was if I was just listening to their conversation and taking dictation.

With regard to Jane’s life, I wanted to show what she might have been like as a teenager. Based on the woman she became, and the liveliness of her letters, I see Jane at fifteen as vibrant, clever, smart, ambitious, deeply romantic, and full of excitement to learn and experience everything in life—but also, in some ways, a tiny bit naïve. It was thrilling to write about her falling in love for the first time, and important to me that along the way, she learns some important life lessons that not only affect her as a person, but influence her writing as well. I am so glad you enjoyed the result!

I loved how you portrayed young Jane – she had so much exuberance and her head full of romance!  I liked how she had some flaws and made mistakes as well!  What is next for you Syrie? You have gifted us with so many wonderful and riveting novels – three of them about Jane Austen, do you have plans to write anymore?

I don’t yet know if and when I’ll write another Austen novel—time will tell! At the moment I’m co-writing (with my son Ryan) the sequel to Forbidden, a novel we wrote a few years ago—readers have been clamoring for a second book and we are having a great time working on it. I’m also hard at work trying to spread the word about Jane Austen’s First Love, which I hope everyone will enjoy reading as much as you did!

Thank you so much for so thoughtfully answering my questions!  It has been such a pleasure to have you visit Austenesque Reviews today!  And thank you to Laurel Ann, for including me on this lovely blog tour!  I wish you both much success in this blog tour and all your future endeavors!

Thank you again, Meredith, for having me here today. It’s been a pleasure to answer your questions. Readers, do you have any questions for me?



Syrie James, hailed as “the queen of nineteenth century re-imaginings” by Los Angeles Magazine, is the bestselling author of nine critically acclaimed novels that have been translated into 18 languages. Her books have been awarded the Audio Book Association Audie, designated as Editor’s Picks by Library Journal, named a Discover Great New Writer’s Selection by Barnes and Noble, a Great Group Read by the Women’s National Book Association, and Best Book of the Year by The Romance Reviews and Suspense Magazine. Syrie is a member of the WGA and lives in Los Angeles. Please visit her at, Facebook or say hello on Twitter @SyrieJames.

MY REVIEW of Jane Austen’s First Love


Win 1 of 5 Fabulous Jane Austen-inspired Prize Packages

To celebrate the holidays and the release of Jane Austen’s First Love, Syrie is giving away five prize packages filled with an amazing selection of Jane Austen-inspired gifts and books!

To enter the giveaway contest, simply leave a comment on this post. Syrie invites you to ask her more questions!

To increase your chances of winning, visit any of the other blog stops on the Jane Austen’s First Love Holiday Blog Tour and  check out Syrie’s unique guest posts will be featured on a variety of subjects, along with fun interviews, spotlights, excerpts, and reviews of the novel.

  • This giveaway is open worldwide.  Thank you, Syrie!
  • This giveaway ends December 21st!


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  75 Responses to “Interview + Giveaway with Author Syrie James!!!”


    Oh my gosh, this sounds like an amazing read! I’ve always been curious about Jane’s life when she was younger. My question for Syrie: If you lived in Jane’s time, would you have turned down a wealthy suitor if it meant stability for your family but you didn’t care for him?


    I remember being a teenager and falling in love fir the first time… Really intruiged how Jane is/would be at that age with Edward 🙂


      I hope you enjoy Jane at fifteen, in Jane Austen’s First Love! The novel isn’t part of the giveaway packages (although other awesome items are) so I hope you’ll find a chance to treat yourself to a copy!


    I love the impetus of giving voice to dear Jane’s life that none of us have heard. Just love it. My head at 15 was full of everything BUT romance and love. I had great dreams and goals that did not involve love. LOL Those are the things I look back on and smile. My first love wasn’t until I was almost 18. I think one of the reasons that I fell in love with Jane Austen when I was so young was because she wrote love as imperfect and that life involved great choices that sometimes work and sometimes don’t. I also took away from her writing that though I would be effected by my surroundings, my future was in my own hands and that changed the way I lived my life.

    Thanks for your writing and the giveaways!


      Stephanie, I love your thoughts about why you fell in love with Jane Austen–they perfectly reflect the theme of Jane Austen’s First Love, and lessons that Jane takes away from her unforgettable summer with Edward Taylor. 🙂


      Great analysis, Stephanie! I couldn’t agree more, I especially love the realistic flaws, missteps, misunderstandings her characters have.


    I enjoyed seeing who you would cast as Edward.


    I though you portrayed Jane as a teenager very well. I also enjoyed Edward.


    Edward sounds like a fabulous character, he and Jane sound like they would be wonderful together.


    I have “Jane Austen’s First Love” on my “I must read this book next” shelf. It’s keeping all of Syrie’s other novels company – and I’m grateful to own each and every one of them.

    Thank you, Syrie, for your wonderful stories and for this giveaway.

    Happy Holidays!



    Thank you Syrie James for this delightful interview! And for the opportunity to win such a fun giveaway! I have read “The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen” as well as “The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen” and I couldn’t put them down. They were both such beautifully crafted stories, original without losing the Austen-ness we all love so much. “Jane Austen’s First Love” is definitely on my must-read-over-the-holidays list!


    I wonder what really happened between them, he sounds an intelligent and sensible young man


    I’m a huge fan of Syrie James! This book was another home run in the world of Austen lit. Love love loved it. Thank you so much for the giveaway. Best of luck on the next “Forbidden”, but PLEASE come back to Austen when you’re finished!


    It really speaks to your dedication to the concept that you did such exhaustive research on all of the people/characters! I love when an author fully commits like that. If you ever progress to writing more about Jane as an older woman, I’d love to read that as well- in her position, being a keen observer of human nature, and having 1 or 2 failed romances but being considered a failure in the marriage market, I often wonder how she came to peace with that without becoming bitter.


      I have written a novel about a more mature Jane– “The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen,” in which Jane, in her thirties, meets the love of her life. Or have you already read that one?


    I’ve learned even more on this tour stop. Great interview, and I agree that this book is one of my favorite Jane Austen Inspired reads as well. So well researched and written. I’m loving it!!


    Syrie, how do you balance your life with ALL that you do? 🙂


      Caryl, that’s a question you could ask of every single woman you meet! LOL! It’s always a challenge to balance work and personal life, isn’t it? But one of the difficulties of being a writer, I think, is that the “work” is always there, at every hour of the day and night. And not just the creative part of writing, which I love–the promotional/social media element is never-ending, and has lately become so essential to staying afloat in this very crowded book market place.

      That’s why I so value this kind of opportunity to meet with readers like you all, and so dearly appreciate your support of my work. When you purchase one of my novels, gift one to a friend, or post a review on Amazon, it can make all the difference as to whether or not I will be able to continue in this work that I love–writing books.


    Oh my it sounds like a wonderful read! Need to add it to my list!
    Love this style of writing!


    This would be amazing! I have long loved Jane Austen, and I think my niece is old enough to convert!


    A most enjoyable post with interesting details and a wonderful book that is memorable. Your talent and creativity is admirable and special.


    I so enjoy your books. I’ve long been a fan of Jane but have mostly read her books or that genre. I haven’t read a lot of biographies and things about her. Where do you find most of your Jane material for these books and what would you recommend for me in that area?


    Loved, loved, loved Missing Manuscript & Lost Memoirs! Haven’t read First Love yet! YET! But Christmas is coming! How about your next novel giving Cassandra a chance to find love again…


      That would be interesting!


      Thank you Miss Betsy for your comment. I’m delighted that you enjoyed my first two Jane Austen novels, and hope that you adore Jane Austen’s First Love! Is it on your Christmas wish list? I’d love to write about Cassandra’s love story some day…


    I really cant wait to get my hands on this book. It keeps calling to me with every blog I visit.


    I am currently reading ‘The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen’ and I am thoroughly enjoying it. My favourite so far has been ‘The Diaries of Charlotte Bronte’. Is there another another author that has inspired you, that you would like to write about? I always loved Louisa May Alcott and her ‘Little Women’.


      I am always looking for another author to write about–I’ve been inspired by so many. I do love Alcott and she’s been on my mind for some time. Any others you’d like to read about?


        I agree, Carole! I adored The Diaries of Charlotte Bronte! Louisa May Alcott would definitely be my first choice. Or maybe Emily Bronte – she could maybe have a hidden romance… 😉


    Interesting person

    bn100candg at hotmail dot com


    Can’t think of a single question, Meredith did a wonderful interview. Just wanted to say I have read and LOVED all of your Jane stories. Thank you for the delightful looks into my favorite authors life.


    What happened to Edward Taylor later in life? Did he marry at all and have a family?Thank you for the giveaway.


    I’m floored with how much digging and research went into creating the characters in this book! And not just the main characters, but from the sounds of it, nearly all of them are based on real people. I’m impressed. Thanks for the chance to read this book and congrats on the new release!


      Thank you so much, Colleen! A lot of in depth research did go into this novel, and it was such fun to write. I hope you love the result–and that you’ll put Jane Austen’s First Love on your holiday wish list! It’s not one of the giveaways in the prize packages, but several of my other books are, along with lots of Austenesque goodies. 🙂


    Love Edward’s character more and more!


    Enjoyed the interview, ladies! I love the idea that Syrie tackled Jane’s life. I too was curious how she could produce those novels when I learned about her background and I’m glad Syrie explored it. I’m intrigued by the story of Jane as a young woman and meeting such an intriguing young man. Knowing where they both end up doesn’t take away from wanting to know the story of how they met and got on together.


    I loved The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen and am looking forward to reading this book as well. I agree the Douglas Booth would be ideal to play Edward Taylor.


    “He was so highly accomplished. He was well-read, well-educated, and well-informed on such a wide variety of topics—and he was a great conversationalist.” Edward Taylor would have made a wonderful partner!


    I really enjoyed reading your interview. I love reading about all you have learned. I feel I benefit greatly from all of your research!

    Do you enjoy the research? Do you have any more research that you would like to do on the horizon?


    Can’t wait to read this book!!!


    Lovely interview! It definitely inspires me to bump up these books on my reading list 🙂 They’d already caught my eye for their beautiful design and the exploration of Austen herself, but it’s fun to get this glimpse into the process behind the books!

    Echoing an earlier commenter, I’d love to see Ms. James tackle Charlotte Bronte, Louisa May Alcott, Emily Dickinson… So many authors, so little time!

    Thank you so much for the generous giveaway!


    I loved to know more about the researches on Edward Taylor with this interview, thank you !


    What a fantastc giveaway!!!! Thank you!!!!


    It ‘d be prefect if a movie is made of the book, love Douglas Booth.


    I thoroughly enjoyed the interview and want to thank you for such a generous give away. I was wondering if it’s hard to stop writing when you have an idea? Do you have a set time to write or do you continue past that time if you are on a roll?


    I was also wondering if you will be releasing this as an audio book? skamper25 (at) gmail (dot) com


    love your choice of Douglas Booth. 😉


    Haven’t read any of your books yet but I’d like to. I think it’s always nice for the author to do research to make the book more real and believable.


    That tote bag is so charming!


    I really want to read this book and would love to win!


    Sounds great. I love Jane and all her books. Such a strong women.


    my gf loves all her books


    I didn’t know anything about Edward! I’m looking forward to reading the book. Jane was such a fascinating and inspiring woman.


    This is all so charming 🙂


    Awesome giveaway! I love Jane Austen <3


      Hope you love Jane Austen’s First Love just as much! It was such a delight to research and write this story of the young Jane and her romance with the young man who stole her heart! 🙂


    This package looks amazing.


    A question for Syrie: If you are to choose one Austen novel that should be a required reading in school, which book would that be?


      Pride and Prejudice. As Jane Austen said, the book is “light, bright, and sparkling.” The characters are beautifully drawn; they capture our heart, and the hero and heroine go on a great learning curve, becoming more self-aware and admitting to their faults, before they earn their happy ending. (A great lesson for us all.) The plot is so well done that it’s been endlessly imitated for the past 200 years. The dialog is fun and witty. And once you start reading, you don’t want to put it down!


    I have not read any of Jane Austin’s books yet and I have to remedy that ASAP. Which book should I read first?


    I want to win 🙂


    This is amazing!


    This book seems wonderful & I’d love to read anything about dear Jane!


    This is amazing!!!!!!I love this literature!


    que amor que tiene con Jane Austen! el crece cada vez mas, eso anima a muchas personas a leer JAne Austen

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