Welcome back to History Undressed Janet! Can you tell readers more about your upcoming release, BLOOD PERSUASIAN?
Hi Eliza, thanks for having me back! JABP is my second book about Jane Austen as a (temporary) vampire, the first being JANE AND THE DAMNED (HarperCollins 2010). This one is set in 1810 in Chawton, the village where Austen did the majority of her writing, revising P&P, S&S, and Northanger Abbey, and writing Persuasion, Emma, and Mansfield Park. She believes her time as one of the Damned, the sexy vampires of Georgian England, is over, but then new neighbors move in, and they include her Creator William, with whom she shares a troubled, deep bond (but not a romantic one) and her former Bearleader and Consort, Luke, who is still holding a grudge. Their proximity threatens the return of her vampire characteristics, and she finds herself involved in a vampire civil war and family members misbehaving with the Damned, which upsets her writing schedule no end.
Polite society was so...well, uptight! I bet you had a lot of fun playing on their delicate sensibilities. In what ways do the Damned trample upon etiquette and acceptable manners?
The way I structured the Damned was to have them as a separate group within society—they’re “out,” in other words, although they can conceal their identity. In this book they’ve lost the patronage of the Prince of Wales (who became the Prince Regent) and they’re trying, rather unsuccessfully, to adapt to country life. Their main interest even in reduced circumstances remains unchanged--inviting people to dine, which is their term for feeding. The Damned themselves are pretty uptight in their own way, obsessed with manners and protocol as a mirror image of society, and I had a lot of fun coming up with terms that seemed historically correct—like “dining” for feeding, “en sanglant” for experiencing exposed fangs. Of course for Jane the major conflict is that the Damned are, literally, damned—they’re immortal but not indestructible and are destined for hell. What’s a vicar’s daughter to do?
What is she to do indeed? So tell us, what sort of research did you do for this book? Does you use of the word "persuasion" in the title have anything to do with Jane Austen's book Persuasion? If so, how?
I did a lot of research on reading Austen’s letters, visiting Chawton last year, and also Chawton Great House, which was owned by Jane’s brother Edward, the adopted heir of a local landowning family. He was the one who provided Jane, her sister and her mother their home in the village. In the book Chawton Great House is rented by the Damned. I think the title was chosen because it’s about a rekindling of a love affair, but mine has a lot more biting in it.
What is your favorite quote from the book?
Here’s Luke trying to seduce Jane. She resists because every time they have physical contact it brings her closer to turning back into a vampire (metamorphosis):
“Ah, you’re so close,” he murmured. “Your skin is like satin, Jane. I’d clothe you in satin, if I clothed you at all. I’d break strands of pearls to see them roll on your skin and warm. You smell like summer fruit, my love, ripe and sweet, and your heart beats so fast. Let me, Jane. I’ll bite here, just a little.” His breath scorched the skin of her arm. “You remember how it felt? That shock, and you can’t decide whether it’s pain or a wonderful violation, and then the tug and the shiver as you lose yourself.” His lips trailed down her arm, following the slide of the kid glove, pausing again at the wrist. “Or here? Yes, here where your pulse is strongest, and all anyone will see is that I kiss your wrist, but you and I, we both know it’s more. A close observer might wonder at the brightness of your eyes, and the way your lips part …”
No, this is the second and last one. What I intended to do was work some of the known facts about Austen’s life into the books, so the first one was set in 1797 when the family visited Bath, because I wanted to set the book in that city. This one is set around a specific period in Jane’s life, when her niece Anna visited the household for a few weeks in the spring of 1810. I didn’t want Jane to mysteriously fake her death in 1817 and become some sort of vampire socialite. One of the rules I set up in the first book was that she couldn’t write as a vamp and in this book, because the metamorphosis is different, she can write but it’s a very different sort of book, which explains Mansfield Park (originally all about vamps until her brothers made her change it!).
I have another Austen-related release this month, as a contributor to an anthology, JANE AUSTEN MADE ME DO IT, but it’s nothing to do with my books about Austen. I went out on a limb and wrote a story set in 1964 about the Beatles (Jane Austen, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah!).
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Janet Mullany was raised in England by half of an amateur string quartet and now lives near Washington, DC. Persecuted from an early age for reading too long in the bathroom, she still loves books and is an avid and eclectic reader. She has worked as an archaeologist, classical music radio announcer, arts administrator, and for a small press. Visit her at www.janetmullany.com