Hi readers! I am very excited to welcome Audrey Ryan, author of a recently released modern-day adaptation of Pride and Prejudice titled, All the Things I Know, to Austenesque Reviews today! All the Things I Know is Ms. Ryan’s debut release with Meryton Press and this post begins her blog tour! Today Audrey visits Austenesque Reviews to chat with you all about writing, her new release, and Jane Austen!
Welcome, Audrey! Thank you so much for visiting my blog! Since you are a new author to me and some of my readers, how about we start off with you telling us a little bit about yourself. How long have you been writing? When did you first encounter Jane Austen?
Thank you for the warm welcome — I’m very excited to start off my blog tour at Austenesque Reviews! I’ve been writing since I learned how to put pen to page. I’ve always loved telling stories. When I was a kid, one of my favorite things to do was make little story books and as I grew older, I kept writing short stories. I was an English major in college and took the writing track. I had thought I could be like J.K. Rowling or Stephen King and live off my novels, but I never actually finished any of the novels I started till now!
I first learned about Jane Austen when the 1995 P&P came out and all the older ladies in my life swooned over Colin Firth. I didn’t actually read Austen till I was in college, but I didn’t grow to love Austen till after. I lost my mom suddenly when I was 24. A few months later, my family took a roadtrip down to Los Angeles to see my dad’s family. We were hanging out with my great aunt and uncle, who were big readers, and my great aunt Naomi mentioned that whenever she felt like she needed cheering up, she would re-read Pride & Prejudice. When we got home, I took her advice. This also led me to read or re-read all of Austen’s novels. It was a great source of comfort.
I ‘m so sad to hear how you lost your mom so young! That is lovely that your aunt recommended reading Jane Austen. I love how reading Jane Austen, or just reading in general, can provides comfort and solace in our times of need. How about we discuss your debut novel, All the Things I Know. It sounds like it combines some pretty awesome elements – New Adult, art, Seattle, millennials… How did you come up with the idea for this story? What inspired the premise?
The seed of the novel was my desire to adapt Pride & Prejudice to the here and now without adjusting the ages of the characters. I have enjoyed a lot of P&P adaptations, but a lot of them end in marriage because that’s how the original ends. I wanted to exactly transplant Elizabeth Bennet to a 21st C millennial. A 20-year old now would not be encouraged to marry. She would, however, be expected to be headed in a smart direction for a stable life. I did bump her age up by 2-years so she could be a recent college grad (with that I bumped up Darcy’s age so he’s closer to 30 and the age gap is maintained). Before I even started writing, I spent months re-reading the novel, researching the era and rewriting the scenes in a way to shift the values to match the millennial generation. The story is set in Seattle because I am a Seattle native and I know this city best. Art History is the major I would have chosen had I not chosen English, so I decided to live a little vicariously through Lizzie. New Adult wasn’t the genre I chose from the outset, but after I had finished, I realized what I had written fit that genre perfectly.
I think that is such an interesting age to write about. As a recent college grad, Elizabeth has so many possible paths she can choose. Very different from Jane Austen’s time. I like how you adjusted the ages of Elizabeth and Darcy yet wanted to keep them the same distance from each other. I understand you are a fan of contemporary retellings, do you have some favorites – whether they be books or movies? I love retellings! As a teen, I was in love with “Clueless” and “Ten Things I Hate About You.” My guilty pleasure movie is “She’s the Man.” Bookwise, there are some great P&P retellings out there like The Muse or anything by Karen Cox. Outside the JAFF world, I really enjoyed Re Jane, a retelling of Jane Eyre and A Wife of Noble Character which is a retelling of The House of Mirth. There’s something about reading contemporary fiction with the backbone of a classic story — I love to see how new life can be breathed into a familiar story.
Ooh! I am right with you on loving “Clueless,” “Ten Things I Hate About You,”The Muse, and Karen Cox, I’ll have to check out the other retellings you mentioned. Speaking of retellings, which aspects of Pride and Prejudice did you find challenging to update?
I initially started my process by rewriting some of the most recognizable scenes. I would say that I had the most challenge with two aspects: Caroline Bingley’s needling Elizabeth during the “Netherfield” scenes and the Lydia/Wickham catastrophe.
With Caroline Bingley, Elizabeth never rebuffed her slights publically and for good reason. It would have been completely improper and unladylike. Elizabeth was clever and sly with her responses, but she was always polite and gracious. Now, if we were hanging out socially and someone was cutting, it wouldn’t take long to call them out. True, in “girl world”, there is often a lot of passive aggressive bullying from people like Caroline, but I couldn’t imagine a modern Elizabeth not telling her to STFU. I had to create a scene and situation where she would feel forced to be polite. Additionally, the topic of conversations changed because the ways Caroline (or Emmeline Bishop in my novel) would undermine Elizabeth are quite different now than 200 years ago.
I struggled a while to create a situation I felt was both accurate and sufficiently dramatic without being melodramatic with Lydia and Wickham (or Geoff Whitney in All the Things I Know). I didn’t want to make him a pedopile because that would have totally changed the direction of the story. I ended up making Lydia older and giving her epilepsy to make it work. That’s the most detail I will give on this plot point though — I don’t want to spoil anything!
I’ve heard several authors comment about the challenges of writing for Lydia/Wickham in their stories, I can only imagine the challenge is augmented when you write in present day. I’m looking forward to seeing how your situation plays out. Let’s talk about Seattle. Not only is it an awesome city to choose for the setting of your story, but it is where you lived in for some time, correct? What do you love most about living in Seattle?
It is! I am, in fact, a Seattle native. I’ve lived here the majority of my life with the exception of college, when I was Los Angeles. I know this city like the back of my hand. When I was 18 I was so excited to escape, but after spending 4 years away, I missed the chill atmosphere and weird hippies I was used to. I can’t say there’s any one thing I love the most about living here — it’s home. But I guess the reasons I would never leave is the weirdness, the music scene, the coffee and landscape (mountains and green everywhere!).
That is so great that you love where you live and could share that in your story. How about we switch it up with some Quick-Fire Questions?
- Which Jane Austen character do you best identify with? Catherine Moreland (I can be naive and gullible like her — and I was somuch like her when I was a teenager!)
- Which Jane Austen character do you intensely dislike? Mrs. Norris
- What is one of your favorite quotes from Pride and Prejudice? “I cannot fix on the hour, or the spot, or the look, or the words, which laid the foundation. It is too long ago. I was in the middle before I knew that I had begun.” Swoon!
- What is one of your favorite quotes from your novel? When Geoff Whitney is DJ’ing: “White girls with dreads dance badly in an open space near Geoff’s station. It’s humid and smells like BO and cultural appropriation.”
- What do you love most about Elizabeth Bennet? She is a magnetic character who learns from her misconceptions. Though she knows she’s witty and vivacious, her journey of self-discovery leads to an improved character. I love reading about personal growth!
- What are some of the things you know? Oh man, that’s a question! I would say that I know there’s always things about the world to learn and I know that in order to be productive member of society, it’s important to listen to others and act in kindness.
- What are some of the things you don’t know? So much! I really did think I had it all figured out when I was younger, but recently I’ve learned that there is always a lot to learn! Life is full of lessons and journeys, both small and large.
- What is one of your favorite works of art? I do love Mucha (like Lizzie) and would love to go to Prague. In fact, I have 2 Mucha inspired tattoos! I am pretty eclectic in my taste, but I love many classical artists like Gustav Klimt or Renoir. My husband and I are members of the Seattle Art Museum, so we like to check out the special exhibits there. We really liked the exhibit by Kehinde Wiley and started following him after that.
- If you were to meet Jane Austen, what would you like to hear her say? I would love to be a modern Jane Austen’s “aside person”. Any observation she would quietly make on the people around us would probably be awesome. I would enjoy the challenge of keeping my laughter to myself!
Great answers! How amazing would it be to have Jane Austen make all her aside comments to you! Thank you so much for participating in this interview, Audrey! It has been a real treat to have you answer my questions!! We wish you the best of luck with your lovely debut release of All the Things I Know!
Thanks for having me, Meredith!
Connect with Audrey
Meryton Press is generously giving away 8 ebook editions of All the Things I Know in conjunction with this blog tour!! Woot woot!
Commenting on this post and entering through the rafflecopter widget on this blog enters you in a chance to win!
- This giveaway is open worldwide. Thank you, Meryton Press!
- This giveaway ends December 18th!
~ All the Things I Know Blog Tour ~
** 12- 3 Austenesque Reviews; Author Interview, Giveaway **
12- 4 My Jane Austen Book Club; Guest Post, Excerpt, Giveaway
12- 5 Babblings of a Bookworm; Character Interview, Giveaway
12- 6 From Pemberley to Milton; Guest Post, Giveaway
12- 7 Night Owl Reader; Review, Excerpt
12- 8 Just Jane 1813; Review, Giveaway
12- 9 My Love for Jane Austen; Vignette, Giveaway
12-10 Darcyholic Diversions; Author Interview, Giveaway
12-11 Of Pens and Pages; Review, Excerpt, Giveaway
12-12 Margie’s Must Reads; Review, Excerpt, Giveaway
12-14 My Vices and Weaknesses; Character Interview, Giveaway
12-15 Diary of an Eccentric; Guest Post, Excerpt, Giveaway
12-16 More Agreeably Engaged; Vignette, Giveaway
A very big thank you to Janet Taylor, Meryton Press, and Audrey Ryan for making this blog tour possible! I’m so very happy to take part in this blog tour with them. Click the links above to check out the rest of the tour!