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Wednesday, July 15

Book Give-away & Interview with Laurie Viera Rigler, Author of Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict

Gentle Readers: Austen-esque author Laurie Viera Rigler’s new book Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict was just released in June by Dutton. Please join us for an interview as Laurie chats about her highly anticipated new novel.

Thanks for joining us today Laurie. Your bestselling debut novel Confession of a Jane Austen Addict received rave reviews from critics and fans. Your second novel Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict is a mirror story to Confessions. What was your inspiration in developing Jane/Courtney’s story, and how were influenced by your first novel?

First may I say how happy I am to be here on Jane Austen Today, which is one of my favorite blogs? Thanks for inviting me!

When I was writing Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict, I knew that if my twenty-first-century protagonist, Courtney Stone, was taking over the life of Jane, a nineteenth-century gentleman's daughter in Regency England, then Jane had to be taking over Courtney's life in twenty-first-century L.A. I thought about including that mirror story in the first book, but it just didn't work—Jane's journey in the modern world was a very different journey, and I knew it had to be its own book.

As for how the first novel influenced me, I was pretty sure how Rude Awakenings would end (that is, who Jane would end up with), but I had absolutely no idea how she would get to that point. For me, not knowing is the most fun part of writing—I have no idea what's going to happen next, and how the story unfolds is a constant surprise.

Time travel is an important element in your story requiring readers to “suspend disbelief” and just go with the story as the two characters, Jane Mansfield from 1813 and Courtney Stone from 2009, swap bodies, and lives. Have you always been a fan of time travel, or did you embark on this writing journey because of your "vision" of that four poster bed as you stood in your kitchen? What plot elements of time travel did you use to make Jane's/Courtney's experiences more believable?

I've long been fascinated with the idea of time travel—is there anyone who hasn't fantasized about traveling to another time and place? And is there any Janeite who hasn't wished to go to Regency England?

What particularly fascinates me are the "many worlds" or "parallel worlds" theories of quantum physics in nonfiction works by such visionaries as physicists Brian Greene and Michio Kaku. And in fiction I love the work of novelist David Ambrose, who wrote "The Man Who Turned Into Himself" and "Superstition," two books that will definitely twist your mind into pretzels!
I think of my stories more as tales of parallel realities rather than time travel stories per se. But then again, that view is really a matter of reader's perspective. I didn't consciously make use of any of the conventions of time travel literature in my stories. For me what makes any story believable is my own willingness to believe in it—as the writer I make that leap of faith, and as the reader as well.

The bottom line is that it really was my vision of Courtney awakening in that four-poster bed in Regency England that started me on the journey of writing Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict, and consequently Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict.

When you wrote Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict did you also have the idea of writing a mirror story for Regency heroine Jane Mansfield time traveling into Courtney Stone’s technology infused world of 2009? How did you decide which plot elements were best to flesh out Jane's/Courtney's new life? Like dancing, modern courtship rituals, or taking a car vs. a carriage.

When I was writing Confessions I realized that Jane's mirror story had to be its own book. I had no idea how the plot was going to unfold, because I don't work from an outline, but I did make a list of what I thought would be most jarring about our twenty-first-century world to a gentleman's daughter from Regency England, and a lot of that list did find its way into the book. Certainly modern courtship rituals and so-called sexual freedom were high up on that list, because I thought these aspects of contemporary life would be even more challenging for Jane to adjust to than mere technology.

Research was obviously an important element in developing a believable and accurate experience for your heroines during both eras in each of the novels. What resources did you use to inspire your historical and modern interpretations? Did you unearth any surprise discoveries or revelations that inspired your plots or characters?

Even before I started writing my first novel, Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict, I was an avid reader and collector of books and articles about Jane Austen's world. Although Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict is almost wholly set in twenty-first-century Los Angeles, it's written from the first-person point of view of a lady from 1813 England, and thus my research of her time had to be extensive. All the work I put into researching the first book, which takes place almost entirely in Regency England, really paid off, but the research didn't end there. One of my most frequently consulted resources in writing Rude Awakenings, aside from Jane Austen's own texts, was my online subscription to the Oxford English Dictionary, because my protagonist's language, both spoken and inner monologue, had to be authentic to the period. It also had to have an arc as she becomes more familiar with, and indeed begins to access from Courtney's memories, the modern lexicon. I got so deeply immersed in the language that I created my own mini-glossary of words that I used in the novel, along with a notation as to whether they had the same meaning then as they do now, and if not, what they did mean. What surprised me was how many commonplace words we use in our modern world that either were not used at all in Jane Austen's day, or had a different shade of meaning.

Jane Austen has obviously inspired your writing life. She chose to write about what she knew, “two or three families in a country village.” Were you influenced by her simple scope and emphasis on character development? Aside from inspiring two books, how has she influenced your own world? Are you indeed the biggest Austen addict of us all?

I could never presume to be the biggest Austen addict of us all, but I can say that I don't see myself giving up Jane Austen any time soon. She is an endless source of wisdom, comfort, and entertainment in my life, which is why being an Austen addict is one of the healthiest addictions I can think of. I get something new out of reading Austen every time I close one of her books. I learn something new about myself, about the people in my life, about human nature and all its beauty and flaws and potential for greatness, about the human heart and its capacity for love and growth and change. That is how Jane Austen has influenced my world, aside from inspiring me to write both of my novels. For that, and for all of her delightfully entertaining stories and enduring words of wisdom, I will always be grateful.

In conclusion, now that you have charmed us with Jane and Courtney’s stories, can you share any future plans for books? Will you stay with the Jane Austen theme, or venture abroad?

Although plans for my next novel are in too early a stage to talk about just yet, I hope that what I love best about Jane Austen will always inform and inspire my writing.

Thank you again Laurie for joining us today. Both Vic & I had a great time reading Rude Awakenings, and wish you all the best with your new novel.

Contest Now Closed: Win a signed copy of Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict personally inscribed to you by author Laurie Viera Rigler. Just post a comment asking Laurie about her writing experience or tell us what you think would be the biggest challenge for a Regency era woman in our 21st-century world. The contest is open to continental US residents only and will end on midnight eastern time Tuesday, July 21st. A winner will be drawn and announced on Wednesday, July 22nd.

Read Vic’s review of Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict at Jane Austen’s World
Read Laurel Ann’s review of Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict at Austenprose
Purchase Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict, by Laurie Viera Rigler

68 comments:

Ann said...

The biggest challenge? You mean I can only pick one? Gosh...

I'm going to go with the clothes. The rather scanty amount of clothes that we wear today compared to what a woman wore in the Regency period (especially bathing suits!) would be a very difficult adjustment, I think.

Thank you for the opportunity to enter the contest.

morgan said...

I think that one of the biggest challenges for a Regency woman in the 21st century would be the amount of "loud" images that she would see. We live in a world of colorful advertisements and electronics galore. I think that she would experience a sensory overload.

sequesterednooks said...

I think in both directions the way we communicate would be a big difference. In Regency times letter writing was huge, but it seems to be more equivalent to blogging than emailing, with it's daily play-by-play. The global scope of the Internet would be a huge adjustment to someone whose circle of acquaintances was quite small!

Julia Ergane said...

I believe that just the fact that unmarried women now live separately from their parents would be extremely difficult to understand from the point-of-view of a gentleman's daughter. Why in the world would she have to make her own living!?

Aranel said...

I just finished reading the novel and loved it! The biggest challenge for a regency lady would be adjusting to and understanding how all our technology of today works.

abookinhand said...

Hi...were you ever a Twilight Zone fan? Anytime I see time travel and dealing with something unexpected like that it makes me think of that show. Being thrust into an experience that could never have been imagined. Looks like fun!

writemeg said...

No need to enter me -- I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed reading the interview! I finished Rude Awakenings... a few nights ago and absolutely loved it -- even more than Confessions. Write on, Laurie! :)

Meredith said...

In Laurie's interview she mentions not writing an outline and not knowing how the plot will unfold. I was curious as to what method and process does she use when writing a story. I am excited to hear that she is writing another book and it may have something to do with Jane Austen! I enjoyed reading the interview and thank you for the opportunity.

Jenn said...

I would hazard to say that the relationships between people may be the hardest to grasp - more touching between men and women (gasp, far beyond hand holding).

Though should such a lady encounter some of our feminine hygiene products, that might take the cake.

Marlyn said...

I think the biggest challenge would be the difference in personal hygiene. These days we shower at least once/day, and back then perhaps a weekly bath was considered necessary.

Laura's Reviews said...

I really would like to read this novel - I really enjoyed Confessions of a Jane Austen addict.

I think there would be MANY challenges for a regency woman duirng our time period. Having the entire "rules" of society being up ended and completely different would be hard to deal with. Meeting men at a bar is so different than the regency courtship. The clothes, the language, the technology, the smells there are so many things!

Thank-you for this great contest!!

Laurie Viera Rigler said...

Wow--what thoughful and fascinating comments!

Yes, abookinhand, I loved Twilight Zone. Now that you bring it up, I can hear Rod Serling's voice in my head saying "submitted for your approval..." and see him holding a cigarette in his hand. Oh how times have changed, but not as much as they have for poor Jane!

And Meredith, I am happy to explain my process, though you may think me mad. :) I sit quietly, and I clear my mind, and I ask my character to show me what happens next. Because if I try to second-guess the story with my own mental machinations, it doesn't work.

So I clear my mind and wait. And then I see the scene unfold in my head. And then I start writing it down.

If nothing's coming, a/k/a the infamous case of writer's block, I work on clearing my mind. Many things help: meditation, taking a drive (or going for an airing, as Jane would say), folding laundry, doing dishes, taking a shower, anything that involves a brain vacation.

And what is most important of all is that I embrace the place of "I don't know." I don't know what's going to happen next, and that is exactly where I'm supposed to be. If I get excited about being in that place, if I allow myself to be in a receptive state of anticipation, then the story flows quickly and smoothly.

So there you have it!

Felicia said...

Can you imagine the SHOCK if a Regency era woman transported to the 21st Century?

I don't know where to start...the clothes (or lack of it), manners (again, or lack of), technology and the fast pace, women working....There is a never ending story right there.

Lit and Life said...

Thanks for the opportunity to enter the contest.

Beside Jane Austen, I'm wondering what other authors Ms. Rigler enjoys reading. Does she continue to read while she's in the middle of writing a book? I know some authors don't so they aren't influenced at that point by other writers.

Kristen said...

Very exciting to be able to enter the contest for this one!

The biggest challenge for Regency-era women in today's world? As others have mentioned, I think the list of challenges could go on and on but I suppose the biggest would relate to the freedoms we enjoy now compared to then (even if some of them turn out not to be freedoms after all).

Christine said...

I think the challenge would be the language. I think our regency era heroine would be appalled, frustrated, and saddened by the lack of nuance and depth of emotion in our current era expressions. Back then emotion was heartfelt and conversing with one another reflected that. Now we don't have nearly that range or desire when we speak with each other, for the most part.

Tobie said...

I think sensory overload is the biggest challenge a woman coming from 1813 would face in the 21st century. I think the social class structure would be very shocking for someone who was used to very proper ways of people addressing and treating each other, depending on their station in life. The value of women in today's society is undeniably much higher than it used to be. I was thinking of how Jane Mansfield would feel on her way to the voting booth! Thank you so much for 2 fantastic books!

OreAnnie said...

Laura, what a fabulous book!! I truly enjoyed the "voice" of Jane. My question about writing, as you have already stated that you let the character tell you what happens, is - Do you have the character completely "fleshed" out before you then begin, so that she can tell you what is happening? Thank you again for writing two of my favorite books!

rachel ex-smoker said...

I think one of the biggest challenges would be the noise. Can you imagine going from peaceful, quietness to the never ending sounds of the 21st century?

Thank you for the wonderful books!

Pepper Basham said...

Decrease in morals... or at least I hope that would be the most shocking adjustment. I guess that would include dress, language, what we watch and talk about. I'm certain she'd feel like she'd entered a novel of extreme proportions.

Laurie Viera Rigler said...

I love all of your fascinating comments about the challenges of being in the modern world!

Lit and Life, I do read while I'm wrting, with the exception that I avoid reading Austen-inspired novels when I'm writing my own Austen-inspired novels. Of course, Jane Austen's own works and nonfiction books on Austen and her world are definitely allowed!

And OreAnnie, I do know a lot about my protagonist when I embark upon writing the book. However, like anyone in my life (and as you can see these characters do become very real to me), there are layers that reveal themselves as the story progresses.

Pepper Basham said...

Laurie, Do you give interviews about your writing to aspiring writers? hint...hint...

Laurie Viera Rigler said...

Not sure I understand your hint, Pepper, but you may ask me whatever you like. And I may even answer. ;-)

Pepper Basham said...

Sorry for the vagueness - I didn't mean to be. I was wondering if you would allow me to interview you as a writer of Regency fiction...and the like? And then, of course, post your answers on my blog for others to glean from your experience and perhaps even help promote your work...

wendy said...

I think it would have to be modern cooking appliances like the microwave, electric stove, breadmaker, etc.

madamerkf at aol dot com

Kim said...

Wow!
Things a person would have to adjust to living in modern times would be the lack of manners and the change in courting/dating rules.
Our world is has lost the art of being polite. And, having sex on the first date is not uncommon.

Kim

jemscout425 said...

knowing that your an equal, amongst men & wealthier society.
pksanddancer(at)yahoo(dot)com

Laurie Viera Rigler said...

Pepper, why don't you email me at laurie AT janeaustenaddict.com and I'll see if I can accomodate you!

Thanks!

BUSY BEE said...

I think that the hardest thing for a Regency Era woman today would be standing on her own two feet without relying on men to help her make her way.

I have been dying to read this book. I hope I win!!
bsyb100 at gmail dot com

betsytacy said...

I loved Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict and am looking forward to reading Rude Awakenings.

My question for Laurie would be who are some of your favorite authors--other than Jane Austen, of course!

Everyone has had such great ideas about what would be a challenge for a Regency-era woman in the 21st century. It's hard to come up with something different. But I would add that it would probably be a shock to have more privacy and private space--although I think a Regency woman would grow to enjoy it fairly quickly! I also think it would be confusing for her to adjust to looser ideas of social classes.

Laurie Viera Rigler said...

Betsytacy, aside from Jane Austen, some of my favorite authors include Zadie Smith, Nick Hornby, Helen Fielding, Chitra Divakaruni, and David Ambrose.

Miranda said...

most definatly technology

Sheila DeChantal said...

What a great contest! As a writer, I would think it would be great fun to take the Original Austen work and twist it up a bit. You must have just had fun with it.... I can imagine this being exciting because really you are sharing your work with a master, Miss Austen herself.

Dina said...

So many great things already said.

I would imagine that just being able to start opening up and be yourself and not worrying if it's correct or not in public.

Erin said...

I think that it would be much harder for the 18th century woman to adjust to the 21st century because she has no "future knowledge" on what to expect-- just from what she has read in fiction books that would "suppose" what the future would be like. Whereas, someone from 21st century going to the past, knows what to expect, although the adjustments will be difficult--they are not a blind surprise. The first thing that comes to my mind is not the technology and advancements in transportation, nor the personal hygiene differences, but the changes in propriety and society. The biggest different will be adjusting to how it is to be a woman in the 21st century with freedoms not only in the family, but in dating and her career. A woman can exist and be successful as an individual, whereas she could never do that in the past. I think that would be the biggest shock--being able to do whatever she wants, whenever she wants--without being shunned by society.

Marie said...

The biggest challenge -- dealing with how fast everything moves and how rude people can be in todays society because they are often in such a rush!

marielay@gmail.com

Dana Huff said...

I read Vic's review and am really interested to read this book, as I love time-travel novels. I hope this doesn't sound like too much of a cop-out, but I think the biggest challenge would be the pure culture shock: cars move so fast, everything is so loud and fast, pollution is omnipresent, cities are so large. It would be so difficult to adjust; perhaps more difficult than a 21st century resident going back in time, although we'd have major adjustments, too. I'm not sure we're tough enough to endure what our ancestors had to endure.

Sue said...

I just started Confessions and I can't wait to read the sequel!

A Buckeye Girl Reads said...

I can't wait to read the sequel to see if some of the questions I had about the first book are answered. I also want to read it because so few time travel books go from the past-future.

Mary Louise said...

Hi, Laurie. I LOVED "Confessions" and can't wait to read your new one. Who was your inspiration for the eccentric woman from the secret society?

Ruth said...

Please enter me in the drawing! The first thing I think of would be the changing view of women - so many more freedoms, you know? And the changing morals, I guess you could say.

alison said...

I think a Regency gentlewoman would have difficulty in our modern world keeping her own home without the aid of servants. Cooking, cleaning and washing would have to be done by her and all with strange modern appliances. I'm curious to see how Laurie deals with this in the book!

J said...

I think one of the things that would be very difficult to adapt to would be the way that strangers have no problems with talking to people they don't know in terms that would be shockingly familiar to someone who was used to a world where introductions were required and strict bounds were placed on what should and should not be discussed in various situations.
The book sounds like great fun!

JaneGS said...

What triggers the time travelling in Rude Awakening, or does it just happen? I love time travel stories, but I also like to know the premise behind the phenomenon.

R said...

Hi, I think the biggest challenge for a young woman from Regency England in the 21st century would be the lack of protection she would have. In Regency England a young woman could not go out socially without a chaperone, and could not travel withount one either. Our young girls have to be taught to protect themselves and to be careful of lurking wolves!

Also, the rules of society were more clear cut, and the roles of men and women well known, now there appear to be no rules - how confusing!

The Dayley Fam said...

THe biggest challenge(s) would be the modesty issue--both in clothing and behavior. We're so far flung from Jane Austen's world of modesty and good behavior, that a woman from that era entering into ours wouldn't know what todo with herself. TIny amounts of clothing..people saying and doing vulgar things...I imagine a woman of Austen era dropping dead of shock after 5 minutes in the 21st century.

~Amanda

mumtojonah {at} gmail {dot} com

Christine said...

Noise...never silence in our world today. Constant voices: phones, tv, radio...can't hardly hear your own thoughts in your head!

yesterdaystuna said...

I'd like to ask Laurie how she initially got into novel writing. As someone who has always dreamed of writing one, I certainly have no idea where to start. How does one go from being a novice writer to someone who can organize a book-length plot?

Kim said...

I think the biggest challenge would be the culture shock that would come from seeing how men and women interact in our society. It would be unsettling to see the familiarity that the sexes treat each other with and if they went to she went to a college frat party, her head would probably explode.

Vickie said...

I think the biggest Challenge would be the hygine factor. It was such a pain to take a bath that people didn't take them that often and they had to share bathwater. I just don't think I could handle sharing bathwater. Plus having to use the "privy" UGH!! Gives me the shivers thinking about it.

Bluestocking said...

I think the biggest adjustment would be having to have a career.

Ashley said...

I think one of the biggest challenges would be adjusting to text speak - omg! <3 Darcy! btw c u 2nite!

sphinx63 said...

I think getting used to driving 60 MPH on the highways would be quite scary after sitting in a carriage that goes so slow.

sphinxcw at aol dot com

Barbara said...

When did the author become interested in Jane Austen? I would love to win this book! July 21st is my birthday.

j shillam said...

I think the worst thing to deal with from Regency era to 21st century would be dealing with modern day society...lack of politeness and courtesy. It's amazing to me how far we've come technologically speaking, and how far away we've gotten from basic manners.

I hope I'll get a chance to read your book! Thanks for the chance.

chattabox63@yahoo.com

Keira of LoveRomancePassion said...

I'm going to have to ditto everyone on the clothes or perhaps toothpaste and toothbrushes or a indoor toilet with plumbing... lol

reviewromancenovel@yahoo.com

Meredith said...

Thank you, Laurie, it was so nice to have my question answered and especially liked your answer because it makes writing sound approachable and not too technical or difficult. I sometimes toy with the idea of taking creative writing classes.

Thank you again!
Meredith

Laurie Viera Rigler said...

Yesterdaystuna (great name) asked how I got into novel writing. For me the key was having a character and idea that excited me enough to stick with. If you're writing a novel you're usually going to spend at least a couple of years with those characters and that story. Or more. I spent six years on Confessions and two years on Rude Awakenings, and I was never bored with either novel. If you approach it playfully and diligently, and if you have a clear vision in your head of what you want to accomplish (like a sign on your desk or inside your head that says, "This is a story of ___" or whatever your theme and/or mission is), you can see it through.

Also, like I tell my writing students in my workshops, it all starts with a sentence. Books are made up of lots of sentences strung together into paragraphs, and those paragraphs are strung together into scenes, and those into chapters, and so on. If you think of it that way, it doesn't feel like an insurmountable task.

And then the editing, cutting, and rewriting comes in... :))

And to answer your question, Barbara, about 15 years ago. I've been re-reading Austen's novels ever since.

lissyg6 said...

I think the challenges mentioned would all be overwhelming but perhaps most of all would be the opportunity to become whatever you want. Having as much education as you want to go into any profession without being looked upon as odd or unmarrigable because your own intellect is too advanced and so considered unfeminine. Just the fact that we can set our goals and still have a healthy relationship if we so choose without any influence from the male of the household.

Mishia said...

I think that clothing would be a huge deal, we might as well be wearing loin cloths compared to the many layers that they wore!

A C True said...

I think communication would be a big challenge. Can't you just see her in LA asking directions from a rapper? I imagine the slang would be pretty hard for her to understand!

Bells said...

What I'm wondering is if Laurie thinks she has any thoughts on trying this kind of novel with other authors. I'm imagining a Dickens time travel novel! No, really!

pgpalettepirate said...

As a bookstore employee, I help with many author signings. Has she ever had a conversation at one of her appearances that had a major impact on her writing?

Thanks!

Emily
pgpalettepirate

Katie said...

I LOVED "Confessions," so I am SO EXCITED to read "Rude Awakenings." I have a question for Laurie: What do you think would be the toughest aspect of Regency life to adhere to if YOU were sent back in time?

Rebecca said...

I'm sure we can all agree that modern technology would be quite a challenge for someone from the Regency period to deal with. I would think that phones, especially cell phones, would be an especially difficult thing for someone to encounter for the first time. Where does that voice come from? How did it get through that wire? :D

Amy said...

I think one of the most difficult things for a Regency era woman in our society today would be how different it is for women when speaking with men on a social level. We can speak about any subject we choose - business, books, movies, legal issues, finances, we can even tell jokes! But in the Regency period women didn't talk business or finances and were very careful about how they responded to men. I think it wasn't just what they said but how they said it. I think Regency era women would be shocked to see how different it is today!

Thank you for hosting this giveaway!
Amy
Aimala127@gmail.com

thebookaddict said...

Like Laurie said in the interview, I think the biggest challenge from Regency to now would be how open we are about sex. I mean they were pretty buttoned up in the Regency period. Propriety was expected and unmarried ladies were never supposed to be with men unchaperoned. For a gentleman's daughter to travel to our time and be confronted with virtually no constraints on her person...well that would be quite the shock to a person!

Laurie Viera Rigler said...

Katie, for me the toughest thing would be the restrictions on my personal freedom. I cannot imagine not being able to go where I want and do what I want when I want. If I had a husband or parents dictating to me I would end up having to create a scandal. :)