Above painting: Louis Jean Francois - Mars and Venus an Allegory of Peace
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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Interview with Janet Mullany

Today on History Undressed we have a special guest, Janet Mullany! Not only is Janet a fabulous author, but  she has a wicked sense of humor. Leave a comment for a chance to be entered in Janet's giveaway--a copy of her new release, JANE AUSTEN: BLOOD PERSUASIAN!

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 …”

Are there plans for you to write more Jane Austen books?

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!).

Do you have a question for readers?

Do you like books that have real historical characters in them? Tell us which books you’ve enjoyed.

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


Regina Mize w/a Rechelle Owens said...

It was only recently that I heard of Janet and her unique storyline starring Jane Austen as a vampire. How creative is that! Jane is my favorite author and I will be very excited to read Janet's books! I'd love to win a copy, but these are definitely going on my TBR list!

Laura said...

Hi, Janet,

What a fun posting - as always! What fun having a combination of Jane Austen and you.

To answer your question, I very much like real characters in novels. Such an interesting and entertaining way to learn more about people, places, and times. Favorites? So many! Yours and Philippa Gregory's, for starters.

All the best ~ Laura DT (MRW)

Kate Dolan said...

I like real characters in novels (and movies) if they're done well. I'm not so much interested in whether the character was in a particular place at a particular time (though I do watch that when I'm using real characters). What concerns me most is getting the character of the character right. Motivations, inhibitions, those are the things that need to ring true for me. Janet's obvious research into Jane Austen's character makes me even believe her as a vampire action hero, which I never thought I could.

Renee Vincent said...

Hello Janet! Great to see you here on this awesome site!!! (long time no see, huh?) haha

The more I read about your books, the more I'm convinced I must read them!

Janet Mullany said...

Hi everyone, thanks for dropping by and big smooches to Eliza for having me back! I was very surprised to learn recently that all of the characters in Georgette Heyer's Regency Buck, her first book, were real people except for the hero, heroine and her family and presumably the servants who are mostly invisible. But there's a lot about Beau Brummel and the Prince Regent in it and probably some others I can't remember since Heyer does tend to go in for the casts of thousands.

I think my basic laziness prevents me from writing about real people tho writing about Austen was interesting. Quite scary too.