Guest Post: Why Rewrite Jane Austen?

Stephanie Wardrop, author of the Snark and Circumstances young adult novella series, stopped by Muggle-Born with a guest post on Jane Austen adaptations. I’m a sucker for a good Jane Austen adaptation. Stephanie Wardrop offers her insight on why rewriting Jane is so popular in the bookish world.

It’s the 200th anniversary of Pride and Prejudice and there may have been, in those two centuries, 200 rewritings of the novel.

Snark & CircumstanceWhy? Because readers are still fascinated by the development of the understanding between Elizabeth and Darcy, apparent opposites who are actually very much alike. As they come to appreciate one another and recognize those similarities, we’re encouraged to see connections between ourselves and others and the ways that our own prejudices often masquerade as principles.

This is the aspect of the novel that made me want to revisit Austen’s characters and take them into our present. (I also felt that as an academic who felt grad school had sucked all the creativity out of her, revisiting Jane Austen’s work would provide a great exercise for me to get back into fiction writing. And what better model than P & P?)

An equally valid question is Why Romance at all? In this cynical age, why do people still want to read and write about love relationships? Its’ not like anyone picks up a romance novel with any question about the ending: No one reads the back jacket blurbs in the romance section of the bookstore and wonders if these two kids will get together in the end despite the odds.

But for the reader, the pleasure is not in the surprise of the ending but in the anticipation of it. It’s learning how the two will get to their union, how they will overcome obstacles, overcome insurmountable odds, not the least of which is deciding another human being is worthy of your trust and devotion.

And for the writer, that’s the trick (and the fun): how to keep building enough believable tension to keep the reader thinking the couple might not get together while simultaneously making them feel secure that they really ought to be together. I found writing my young lovers, Georgia and Michael, to be both challenging and fun. Neither one of them would have foreseen being with the other, and sometimes their words and actions toward one another frustrated even me. But the whole time I was writing I felt like I had a little secret that I kept from them:

You two are perfect together.

You just don’t know it yet.

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