The next Holidays with Jane writer on the blog is Jessica Grey. Jess wrote “North by Northanger,” the story based on Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey, and it’s got everything: adorable Henry Tilney, a kickass heroine, and lots of references to Investigation Discovery.
Jennifer says: Hi, Jess, and welcome! Aside: Your author picture is adorable too! All my co-writers are so cute.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
Hi! My name is Jessica (Jess) Grey and I write Young Adult novels and short stories as well as Austen inspired fiction. I am a mom of two (shout out to Maddie and James!) and live above the clouds in the Rocky Mountains where it snows way, way too much but is pretty enough to (almost) make up for it.
What is your favorite Jane Austen book to read?
I am torn between Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion. I love both. I would say P&P is probably what I grab most when I need a comfort read (#basicAustenfan)
What is your least favorite Austen book to read?
Mansfield Park. The end.
What is the most unexpected revelation from delving into the Austen canon?
I have had a few revelations while digging into the Austen cannon so far…they are:
a) I’m way more Marianne than Elinor no matter what lies I have told myself previously.
b) Catherine Morland is basically my twin.
c) Mansfield Park is probably not supposed to be a romance and Austen was doing more with it then I give her credit for (but I still hate it).
d) I have a really hard time not writing magic into stories (and I do not regret putting it into my Mansfield Park story).
Jennifer says: Some stories need magic. Mansfield Park is one of them. There’s a magical dog in my story based on MP.
Did your opinions of any novels or characters change?
See above…but I still hate MP!
Which Austen novel was your favorite/easiest-to-write HwJ story based on?
This is going to sound weird after all of my Mansfield Park hate, but my story “It’s a Wonderful Latte” based on MP was the easiest to write. I don’t know why I find this stories so tricky to write–probably because I am overthinking them–but for the Christmas story I just let myself be as ridiculous as possible because everyone already knew my feelings on the original. In the end, it was the easiest to write.
Jennifer says: My Mansfield Park story was the easiest to write too and for the same reason. I felt free to go crazy with my plot since there are few people who LOVE MP the way they love P&P.
Which Austen novel was your least favorite/most difficult-to-write story based on?
Emma was so hard to adapt! When we divided up the stories, the only one I insisted on having was Emma for Summer of Love because I was convinced Emma should be set in summer camp. Then when it came time to write it, I regretted my decision. I wanted to do Emma justice, and I agonized over how to translate her into a modern character that wasn’t perceived as a total witch…and Clueless had already done teen Emma SO well I felt like I’d painted myself into a corner.
Jennifer says: As if!
Outline: yes or no? Planner or pantser?
Vague, vague outlining done entirely in my head. Pantser, ftw.
Where and when do you do the majority of your writing?
At my desk at home while my kids are asleep or watching tv.
Jennifer says: I am amazed at how productive parents can be while the kids are in bed. You have my respect.
What is the most difficult part of the writing process for you? The easiest?
STARTING is always the hardest. I tend to freak myself out about the story for a few weeks first. Once I start, the ball usually just rolls on down the hill. I have two fantastic story editors that hold my hand A LOT.
What is your favorite writing beverage?
Tequila. Also chili mochas. Mostly tequila.
Tell us about your the Holidays with Jane: Thankful Hearts story.
In Thankful Hearts, I am adapting Northanger Abbey. My story is called “North by Northanger,” and yes, there are a few reference with to Alfred Hitchcock/Cary Grant movie. Rebecca M. Fleming had set her Northanger story at the fictional Abbey College in Northanger, GA, so I stole her location (with permission), but sent my heroine Kate and her boyfriend Henry home to his family’s in Brooklyn for Thanksgiving.
Kate was fun to write because she has no internal monologue and just says whatever comes to mind–except for all the important stuff like how she really feels about her boyfriend!
What was your favorite scene to write in your current story?
My favorite scene to write in “North by Northanger” is the one where Kate and Henry meet. I just absolutely love their chemistry together. I probably could have written an entire novella of just Kate and Henry banter.
Jennifer says: I’ve had the opportunity to read your story, and I’m catching up on the last two this week. I loved this scene too. Henry is one of my favorites.
If your story were becoming a movie or TV show, whom would you cast as the main characters?
I am always SO bad at these questions…I had to recruit help from my editor, Kimberly Truesdale. Her first casting choice was Shailene Woodley because she has that casual, not really caring about style but able to dress up when she wants to, vibe that Kate has going on. And then Andrew Garfield would be cast as Henry because a) hot, b) dapper, and c) definitely looks like he came from money. I think these casting choices are SPOT ON for Kate and Henry.
Visit Jess online. You won’t be sorry.
My home on the interwebs is www.authorjessicagrey.com
Twitter is my favorite: @_JessicaGrey
I also Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/authorjessicagrey
Lastly, you can check out all my books (Austen and YA) on Amazon.