I’m excited to be welcoming writing duo Ada Bright and Cass Grafton today. Ada and Cass are the authors behind The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen. Whether you’re a fan of all things Jane Austen or not, you’ll love not only the romance and mystery but the characters and settings too (and there’s time travel!).
I’ll let them introduce you to each other 🙂
Ada Bright by Cass
I’d like to introduce you to my friend, Ada. She likes Cheerios and bacon burnt beyond recognition (though not on the same plate), and she has an interesting sense of direction. This doesn’t just apply to getting from A to B, but also in reading – she read the third Harry Potter book first – and likes to read the end of every book before she starts.
She’s a talented artist, photographer and writer, but more than that, she’s one of the best friends I have ever made.
Since we met 14 years ago, she’s had three gorgeous children and moved house twice – from Pasadena in California to Pasadena to… wait for it – Pasadena!
Oh, and she’s so cool, her name reads the same backwards too – that can’t be just a coincidence, can it?
Cass Grafton by Ada
I am very lucky to be able to count Cass as a best friend and writing partner for over a decade. She likes cold wine, cats, and the written word. People are drawn to the beauty of how she strings words together to create a story, but I love the humour with which she does it.
She is a poet in her writing, an adventurer in her life, and the most generous host I’ve ever known.
Since we met, oh so long ago, she has lived in three countries and thrown more parties than I have washed dishes. She has also celebrated the joys in my life with the same love and attention as she has her own family. Though, at this point, I have to say that family is basically what we have become.
She deserves top billing here, but, being Cass, she would not hear of it. Alphabetically is simply how these things are done, and there is really no use doing anything if you’re not going to do it right.
Where to find Ada and Cass
Ada – @missyadabright
Cass – @CassGrafton
Hi Ada and Cass,
Welcome to Jera’s Jamboree.
Shaz, thank you so much for having us on your Blog! We’re delighted to be here and to be sharing our writing experiences by answering your questions.
Could you summarise The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen for my blog readers.
What would life be like if Jane Austen had never been published? Dedicated Janeite, Rose, is about to find out!
Please tell us about the characters in your novel.
Our heroine is Rose. Quiet and introverted by nature, Rose feels able to be different on the Internet, where she freely admits her adoration of all things Jane Austen. Through this medium she has met many like-minded people, not least Morgan Taylor, an American, who has become one of her best friends. Rose considers Morgan to be everything she is not: vibrant, outgoing, and never at a loss for words.
Rose’s love of the author and her works has influenced some of her decisions, including where she lives – the basement flat of No 4 Sydney Place in Bath (one of Jane Austen’s former homes) – and where she works. Luxury Lettings of Bath, a high-end holiday apartment company owned by her boss and friend, James Malcolm, just happens to be situated in another building with an Austen connection.
As the story opens, Morgan is traveling to Bath to meet Rose for the first time and to attend the annual Jane Austen Festival.
Fulfilled at work, recently released from a stagnant engagement and loved by her friends, the extent of Rose’s anxieties at this point in her life are whether or not Morgan and she will get along as well in person as they do online, and how many words can she get the gorgeous Dr Aiden Trevellyan – an archaeologist and regular presenter at the Festival – to say to her when she checks him into his holiday rental property.
And then, there’s Jane Austen, who needs no introduction, except to say that in this story, she is 27 years old, having travelled forward from 1803 (when she was living at No 4 Sydney Place), 8 years before she became a published author.
How did your characters come into existence?
Cass: In the spring of 2015, we spent 3 days in Bath, the one time we were in the same country and on the same time zone during the writing of the book (Ada lives in California and I live in Switzerland). Outlining the plot was fairly straight forward as we’d been talking online about it for a while. Then, we sat down to establish who our main characters were.
We decided on each of the leads’ backgrounds in terms of age, family, profession, key personality traits etc and what the connection would be between them. Of course, for Jane Austen, much of this was pre-determined.
Then, we had to agree on what they looked like physically. This felt massively important to us, because we didn’t each want to be picturing a different vision of them. The easiest option was to choose an actor whose appearance would represent the character to us both.
I had a pretty clear idea in my mind for Rose and Aiden from the start, and Ada was the same with regard to Morgan – and luckily, we liked each other’s choices! When it came to James, we spent an enjoyable few minutes – or possibly hours – on Google images looking at actors! We haven’t shared the choices we made other than with a couple of people who were particularly persuasive! Readers form their own image of a character, and the last thing we wanted to do was influence them or, even worse, spoil how they saw a character in their own mind.
With Jane Austen, we had to fall back on whatever we already knew, supplemented by any reference to her physical description in books about the author and by listening to the tone of her voice in her letters.
Finally, we spent a silly amount of time deciding on names. Again, Rose came to mind instantly for our leading lady, as did James for her boss. For Morgan and Aiden, we drew up quite a list and the names changed a few times before we settled on them. I can’t recall what Morgan’s original name was, but I do know Aiden was called Felix!
If you could have given your characters one piece of advice before the opening pages of the book, what would it be?
Ada: Take heart, we know what we’re doing!
Cass: Hold onto your hats; it’s going to be quite a ride!
What scene was the hardest to write? Why?
Ada: There is a scene in which we do a reveal both to the characters and the reader that we’re going to take this nice, sweet, modern fiction plot to a (still sweet,) fantastic, time travel plot. Trying to figure out the balance of that scene took us twice as long as any other scene in the novel.
Cass: Part of the difficulty for me was getting my head around the fantasy aspect. Ada is much more familiar with the concept than I am and found it easy to put things down to ‘the established rules of time travel’. Unfamiliar with these, I constantly questioned how something could ‘work’ in reality so that it sounded credible within the incredible situation we had set up. As a result, I found I struggled with any scene where it was relevant until I could come up with a plausible explanation for it.
… and what scene did you enjoy writing the most?
We’re afraid it’s top secret as it’s crucial to the plot and would reveal too much! All we will say is, it’s set in a library, and it was just one of those moments when lots of plot strands begin to properly intertwine.
What has been the best/worst part of your writing journey so far?
Ada: The best part was the time together with Cass. I know, I know, that’s such a cheesy answer, but it’s so true. We’re both writing on our own for months and the loneliness of having only myself to argue plot with is like plodding through muddy concrete that has already half hardened.
Cass: I would agree. Spending the best part of a year writing a book with someone who is such a long way away and living half of her daily life whilst you sleep was lonely at times. We managed to overcome this most of the time by using FaceTime, and there were periods of time when we would use it almost every day. This made it feel like we were just next door to each other, so I suppose you could say the worst part was overcome by one of the best parts! We did a lot of our scene brainstorming that way, but in amongst the writing and the groaning at whatever the other was suggesting or wanting, we laughed – a lot!
Do you have a most creative time of day?
Ada: My most creative time of day is definitely late at night, a couple hours after the kids are really truly settled in bed and my brain can finally vomit out all the word pictures I’ve been storing up throughout the day.
Cass: Mornings are best for me, the earlier the better. This is why our partnership worked so well, especially with FaceTime. With 9 hours between us, I would get up when it was late evening for Ada. This meant we both hit our most creative times at the exact same moment! It was also terrifying sometimes, as our brains would be so full of ideas for the plot we’d have our heads in our hands! Ada is a great note taker though, and within seconds of our FaceTime chat ending, an email would arrive listing everything we’d talked about. Some of these lists were very, very long!
Do you have a favourite place to go for inspiration/activity?
Ada: Yes! I do most of my outlining while in the car driving aimlessly. I tend to write to music and I work out most of my writing blocks or plot tangles by letting my mind wander while I’m driving.
Cass: If I need inspiration to outline a scene or conversation, then I walk. It’s what my husband and I call ‘doing a Bronte’, because I walk round and round the big dining room table (just as the Bronte sisters are alleged to have done). I place my notebook and pencil on there, and scribble anything that comes to mind as I circle round and round. Sometimes, I will go outdoors to walk, but it’s a lot easier to make notes if you are indoors and often I only need to do it for about ten minutes before I’m back at my desk and writing again.
I have two places that never fail to inspire me to write creatively. One is Cornwall and the other is Bath. As the book was set in the latter, it was the place I went to whenever I needed a ‘fix’. I also find I write my best scenes if there is ambient noise, so if I’m sitting in a cafe, or even a pub with my husband, and he’s busy reading the paper then I can scribble away to my heart’s content!
My last question … did you travel to any places?
Ada: Yes! I went to the UK twice. The first time to research and outline the book with Cass and the second for an amazing launch party. I cannot overstate the importance of that first trip. I was already writing in a strange tongue in a strange land (okay, not that strange), so the fact that I could literally see and experience the different walks our characters went on, eat the food, nod to the passersby that our characters would, was wonderful and huge for me.
Cass: I went to Bath… a lot!
Thank you for being interesting guests 🙂
Wishing you success with all your creative projects.
It’s September, and the city of Bath is playing host to the annual Jane Austen Festival, a celebration of the famous author and her works.
Rose Wallace, Bath resident and avid Jane Austen fan, isn’t only looking forward to the Festival, though. Her anticipation is at its height because also attending this year will be one of her best friends, an American called Morgan, and this will be the first time in their 7-year online friendship they will meet in person! To add a further frisson of excitement, it’s the one time a year she gets to see her secret crush, an eminent archaeologist who often comes to the Festival to deliver a presentation.
What Rose doesn’t know is that one person attending the Festival has a stronger connection to it than anyone else; someone who will turn Rose’s orderly life upside down by sharing an astonishing secret with her, after which the entire legacy of Jane Austen’s work fades into oblivion.
With the happy melody of her life in tatters, Rose has to face up to a new one; a life devoid of her favourite books, characters, her beloved job and home and even some of her friends.
With the support of a displaced two hundred year old author and a charmed necklace, can Rose help to bring back some of the most beloved stories of all time and turn her own life around in the process?
The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen is available to purchase from:
Amazon.co.uk (paperback and ebook)
Amazon.com (paperback and ebook)
Barnes & Noble (paperback)
Barnes & Noble Nook Store (eBook)
iBook Store (eBook)
Smashwords (all eBook formats, including Kindle, Nook, Kobo, iStore, PDF and more)
I always enjoy reading Christmas romantic reads but sometimes it can feel overwhelming this time of year. If you’re looking for something different, why not treat yourself to a copy of The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen!