It is my pleasure to share a guest post from author Jeanette Watts, who shares her answer to my question...
JW: I am a Vintage Ballroom dancer. Vintage dancers are not the sort to go out in sparkly costumes and vaseline on our teeth in order to perform for judges: we dance for the pure joy of it. The joy of being in motion, to music, in the arms of a delightful partner. And we get to look at our partners while we dance! The competition dancers are denied that pleasure.
While I dance for the love of dancing, it is also a perpetual excuse to wear costumes! I'm an overgrown little girl, and I love hoopskirts. I love bustle dresses even more than hoopskirts. I have been accused of setting my first two novels during the Industrial Revolution so that I had an excuse to write about bustle dresses. I always answer, "No, I did it so that I could WEAR bustle dresses!" I always go to book fairs and other author appearance events in dresses that demonstrate women's fashions between 1875-1889; the years my first two books were set.
Owning hoopskirts and knowing how to do quadrilles and other dances from the 1870s is just the tip of the iceberg for Vintage dancers. A vintage ball is a re-enactment of what life was like "back in the day." Any vintage dancer can quote you rules of etiquette. A lady never crosses a ballroom unescorted. A gentleman dances the first and last dance with the lady he brought to the ball - and that is the ONLY time he will dance with her. There are other ladies present at the ball with whom it is his duty to dance, and the lady he escorted to the ball might like to dance with other gentlemen (who might step on her toes less often).
What this all adds up to is a whole lot of knowledge about what life was like in the 1800s. Just through my play, I acquired a huge body of knowledge about social practices. Some people would call that research...
Even my new book (which is a departure for me - it is set in modern times) has its roots in Vintage dance. A lot of Vintage dancers are Jane Austen fans, have memberships in the Jane Austen Society of North America, and go to the annual Jane Austen Festival. I was driving home from meeting Vintage dance friends at the Jane Austen Festival when I got the idea for the book. I never thought I'd be writing a modern satire, but that's the joy of being a writer; if you follow where your imagination takes you, the journeys will be spectacular and surprising.
by Jeanette Watts
What college girl doesn’t dream of meeting Mr. Darcy? Lizzie was certainly no exception. But when Darcy Fitzwilliam comes into her life, he turns out to be every bit as aggravating as Elizabeth Bennett’s Fitzwilliam Darcy. So what’s a modern girl to do?
Jeanette Watts’ satire pokes loving fun at Jane and all of us who worship the characters who shall forever be our romantic ideals.
I’ve been thinking about my conversation with Professor Jacobson over and over. The thing about formulas and people. It makes a certain kind of sense, but does it lack a romantic sensibility?
Ha! Sense and Sensibility!
This is the second time that Professor Jacobson has me thinking about S&S. Well, if I’m no Lizzie Bennett, there are worse things in life than being a Marianne Dashwood. She had youth and beauty and high spirits. She wasn’t good at the dating thing, either, and overlooked the better man at first. Why was that? Did Colonel Brandon seem unromantic at first impression?
Even though I’ve got an assignment due in Spanish, as well as the inevitable calc and chem homework, I grabbed Sense and Sensibility to take with me to read while I went to dinner. I wanted to read everything in the book about Colonel Brandon.
Anne spotted me in the dining hall while I was halfway through a tuna sandwich and a really big pile of potato chips. “Hey, Roomie.” She slid her cafeteria tray onto the table across from me and plopped her book bag down beside it. “You having a really bad day?”
“Um, no I don’t think so, why?” I asked.
“Usually, if you’re having a bad day, you pick up Jane Austen and read a little something before you start to study. Since instead of sitting here doing your homework, you’re sitting here reading Jane Austen, I take it you had an exceptionally bad day today.”
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Jeanette Watts had been writing historic fiction when the inspiration for Jane Austen Lied to Me hit her on the drive home from the Jane Austen Festival. The idea was simply irresistible, and she put aside other writing projects in order to focus on writing a satire, thinking it would be a "mental vacation." It turned out to take every bit as much research to write a modern story as it does to write a historical one.
She has written television commercials, marketing newspapers, stage melodramas, four screenplays, three novels, and a textbook on waltzing. When she isn’t writing, she teaches social ballroom dances, refinishes various parts of her house, and sews historical costumes and dance costumes for her Cancan troupe.
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