When reading a story, I often wonder how it all came about—the characters, plot, or the setting. Writers find inspiration in amazing places, but the muse for Austen in Austin was pretty remarkable. It was gifted to a group of friends, which is a pretty special beginning.
I belong to a group blog, Inkwell Inspirations. One day we were chatting about Jane Austen adaptations. At some point, Anita Mae Draper, who writes western romances, said she might like Mr. Darcy better if he wore a Stetson.
That was it: a few of us were inspired to write western-set novellas inspired by Austen novels, characters and plots. Eight of us joined the project. We talked titles, and I jokingly suggested Austen in Austin. It stuck! Now we’re thrilled to have two volumes of Austen in Austin releasing this year with White Fire Publishing: one this week, and another in the autumn.
Austen enthusiasts will know she didn’t publish eight novels, but we managed to find a way around that. Six of Austen’s well-loved published works are represented in the two collections, as is Lady Susan, an early novel which was not published until 1871. Sense and Sensibility has the honor of inspiring two novellas in our volumes: one with a “Marianne” story and one with an “Elinor” story, although the heroines in our versions are not sisters.
However, our stories are inspired retellings with a Texas twist, and the characters have different names and occupations than the iconic Austen characters that inspired them. Each of the stories is set in historical Austin, Texas around a fictional ladies’ finishing school, the Jeannette C. Austen Academy. The characters have a bit of overlap in each other’s stories, and even between the volumes.
I love Pride and Prejudice, so it was a treat to write a P&P-inspired novella. The title, One Word From You, is taken from a quote spoken by Mr. Darcy to Elizabeth Bennet. Like Mr. Darcy, my hero Will Delacourt has family money, but in the spirit of 1880’s Texas, he’s also the owner of a railroad. My heroine Eliza Branch is modeled after Elizabeth Bennet, but unlike her Regency-era counterpart, Eliza is able to earn a little money to help her family by writing for a newspaper.
To celebrate the release, I’m giving away a prize package on my website, which includes a copy of Austen in Austin, Volume I (paperback or e-book, winner’s choice); The Jane Austen Devotional by Steffany Woolsey, and a mini notebook. Please stop by www.susannedietze.com to enter the contest using Rafflecopter. It’s easy to enter! Contest runs through 11:59 pm PST, January 15, 2016.
Susanne Dietze began writing love stories in high school, casting her friends in the starring roles. Today, she writes in the hope that her historical romances will encourage and entertain others. A pastor’s wife and mom of two, she loves fancy-schmancy tea parties, travel, and curling up on the couch with a costume drama and a plate of nachos. Susanne is the author of six new and upcoming novellas.
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About the Austen in Austin stories:
Four Texas-Set Novellas Based on Jane Austen’s Novels. Discover four heroines in historical Austin, TX, as they find love–Jane Austen style. Volume 1 includes:
If I Loved You Less by Gina Welborn, based on Emma
A prideful matchmaker examines her own heart when her protégé falls for the wrong suitor.
Romantic Refinements by Anita Mae Draper, based on Sense and Sensibility
A misguided academy graduate spends the summer falling in love . . . twice.
One Word from You by Susanne Dietze, based on Pride and Prejudice
A down-on-her-luck journalist finds the story of her dreams, but her prejudice may cost her true love . . . and her career.
Alarmingly Charming by Debra E. Marvin, based on Northanger Abbey
A timid gothic dime-novel enthusiast tries to solve the mystery of a haunted cemetery and, even more shocking, why two equally charming suitors compete for her attentions.