Wednesday, September 29, 2010

At long last—Jane!

          I suppose it’s fitting that the tenth book in the Jane Austen Mystery Series should appear in the Year Ten, as one Austen hero might put it.  When I started writing these books—ahem, when I began editing Austen’s long-lost journals of her detective adventures—I was thirty-one years old and pregnant with my son Sam.  He’s now nearly sixteen and thinking about college, his little brother is twelve, and I’m forty-seven.  (I think often about the fact that Jane died at forty-one.)  During the intervening years, Colin Firth laid down a Darcy for the ages, and Zombies somehow ate their way through Regency England.  Austenmania is a full-blown publishing, blogging, cinematic and tweeting phenomenon.  The obsession with Jane’s intelligent women and satiric men has found its way to Bollywood and back.  I wonder, often, what that mordantly funny woman in Hampshire would have thought of it all.
In my parallel universe, it’s now 1813 and Jane has only four years to live.  She doesn’t know that, of course—she’s too busy publishing Pride and Prejudice and writing Mansfield Park to be aware of the insidious disease creeping through her body.  This is the year Jane seized at life: though still an anonymous author, she was beginning to be a successful one.  Her acute and independent voice empowered her, in a world that gave little room to women.  Jane’s determination to speak and be heard continues to inspire me.  
And so I’ve decided to start writing this blog.  It won’t be a daily posting, and it won’t deal solely with things Austen.  I like to think of it as a voice in the dark—a place where I can whisper my thoughts about life and writing, debate my direction, and perhaps enjoy a conversation or two.  Feel free to comment or question; feel free to lurk unawares.  I’ll do my best to answer.

Stephanie Barron