HALLIE EPHRON: Carrie Bebris writes a mystery series featuring Mr. and Mrs. Darcy -- you know them. In each book they encounter characters from a different Jane Austen book.
Carrie's six series novels are delightful historical mysteries with that slightly edgy/acerbic edge, like Jane Austen herself. Today Carrie is giving away a copy of her latest Mr. and Mrs. Darcy mystery "The Deception at Lyme" (based on "Persuasion"), to a lucky commenter!
Carrie, what was your first encounter with Jane Austen's work?
CARRIE BEBRIS: It was an excerpt from "Sense and Sensibilty" in a high school anthology, the scene in which John Dashwood promises to "take care" of his stepsisters after his father dies. In the course of the scene, his greedy wife talks him down from providing them an income, to dropping by occasionally with gifts of game. Even as a teenager I recognized great writing and went looking for the book.
HALLIE: Jane Austen is credited with created her own genre which you, in turn, have adapted.
CARRIE: She developed a style of third-person narration—free indirect discourse— in which you're right there in character's head using words that sound like the character's speech. And you have a narrator's voice with wonderful irony. Some of humor is subtle and some is biting. And she captures human nature so well.
HALLIE: The characters seem so real.
CARRIE: (Laughing) So often I'll meet a person and think they remind me of someone I know, and then I realize it's a character out of a Jane Austen novel.
HALLIE: Now I'm laughing, because I'm sure I'm not the only one who notices a distinct resemblance between you and Ms. Austen! Do you think she enjoyed being an author?
CARRIE: Remember, she published anonymously. "Sense and Sensibility" was "By a lady." "Pride and Prejudice" was "By the author of Sense and Sensibility." She didn't want her acquaintances to know she was the author. But in those days people gathered together and read novels aloud, and sometimes when there were guests in the house her mother would read from her books—never revealing that the author was in the room—and she enjoyed seeing their reactions.
HALLIE: She left behind a last, unfinished novel.
CARRIE: Single, living with her sister and her mother, she was in the middle of "Sanditon" when she died at 41, possibly of Addison's disease.
HALLIE: You’re currently working on a seventh Mr. & Mrs. Darcy Mystery. When you write, do you feel you're channeling Austen's voice?
CARRIE: I made a decision NOT to try to replicate her voice because nobody can. I don't want to be a soprano that almost hits the high notes. I try to capture the flavor and tone of her writing, but I also have my own author's voice.
HALLIE: Do you have any references that help you capture that period tone?
CARRIE: There's a great Web site, "Write Like Austen" (writelikeausten.com). You type in a word and it tells you if she ever used it and how many times. It also gives you period synonyms that she used in her work and more that she never used.
HALLIE: I had to check this out, so I went there and entered JUNGLE.
Jane Austen never used this word.
In place of 'jungle' you could select one of the following words that was used by Jane Austen: (numbers in brackets tell you how often she used that word)I was a HUGE fan of Jane Austen and powered through all of her novels, starting with Pride and Prejudice when I was about sixteen. Then I ran out of them, to my dismay. I love the writing of Barbara Pym and Carrie Bebris because they capture the essence of Austen.
park (158), wood (26), woods (20), wilderness (10), forest (8), timber (7), mess (3), litter (3), scramble (2), bush (2), knot (1), chase (1), jumble (1), hanger (1)
You may wish to note that Jane Austen never used any of these related words:
shrubland, silviculture, skein, rummage, ravel, scrub, reforestation, scrubland, webwork, web, wildwood, woodland, timberland, snarl, tangle, snafu, dendrology, complex, forestry, afforestation, arboretum, bushveld, boondocks, greenwood, morass, mishmash, mesh, muddle, jungle, meander, maze, hugger-mugger, hash, jungles, mash, labyrinth, perplex
Did you love Austen as a kid or discover her as a grownup? And which of her characters have stayed with you?
Chime in! And win a copy of the brand new paperback edition of Carrie Bebris's latest Mr. and Mrs. Darcy mystery "The Deception at Lyme" (based on "Persuasion").