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Monday, June 29, 2009

AustenFest: Laurie Viera Rigler

Hope you all had a great weekend. (I got to go to a wedding. Quite an exciting event!) I wanted to start the day by saying "Congrats!" to our newest winner--Aimee--for winning the third of four $10 B&N giftcards. Yay! Aimee, please email me at marilynbrant AT gmail DOT com with your address so I can get that out to you!

Also, I have 2 mini prizes for commenters from Abigail Reynold's post. I just came across these this weekend and I love them already: Starbucks Via Ready Brew packets. Each one has 3 soluble, microground coffee servings inside. The nice Starbucks guy assured me they can be served hot or cold (I've only done it the hot way so far), but you simply open up a little pack, pour it in the water, stir or shake and...voila! I picked up a Colombian flavor and an Italian Roast. And...the Colombian brew goes to Bloggin BB ; the Italian Roast goes to Lois. (Hurray for you both! Please email me so I can mail them out.)

See? Aren't Monday mornings fabulous? For me, they're extra fun when when I get to give away prizes and when I've got a terrific guest here on Brant Flakes. So, without waiting a moment longer, let me introduce my final AustenFest author, Laurie Viera Rigler.

At the Chicago AGM, where I had the pleasure of hearing Laurie present a workshop, I asked her to autograph my copy of her wonderful debut novel, Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict (Dutton, 2007)--a book Publishers Weekly smartly called "a winner." When she told me a sequel would be coming this summer, I giggled in gleeful anticipation, hoping the months would pass quickly...

Well, the wait is now over! Just a few days ago, Dutton released Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict, and being that I was fortunate enough to get a sneak preview, I'm here to tell you all that it's as fantastic and fun as the first, and it earned 4 1/2 stars and a Top Pick from Romantic Times BOOKreviews!! Want a window into the world of Laurie's heroine? Take a look at her new book trailer (it's also up on AustenBlog, check out the June 12th post).

Welcome, Laurie! Can you tell us the basic premise of your new book? Yes, but first may I just say how excited I am to be participating in AustenFest? It's such an honor to be here. Thank you for inviting me, Marilyn! [My pleasure, Laurie!!]

Here is the premise of my new book: Imagine you are a 30-year-old gentleman's daughter in 1813 England named Jane Mansfield (no relation to the 1950s movie legend). You go riding, fall from your horse, and the next time you open your eyes you are in a strange bed in a strange room in a body that is not your own. On the wall is a calendar: It is no longer 1813, it is 2009. You're not in Kansas anymore, Dorothy. You're in a bewildering city called Los Angeles, a place of wondrous machines, questionable morals, and byzantine courtship rituals. Good thing you have the words of your favorite novelist, Jane Austen, to help you make sense of it all.

That's Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict. It is the parallel story to my first novel, Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict, in which a twenty-first-century Austen fan awakens as the nineteenth-century gentleman's daughter from Rude Awakenings.

What's one scene from this story you loved writing? In the very first chapter, Jane has her first close encounter with modern technology, i.e., a glass box in which tiny figures act out scenes from her favorite book, Pride and Prejudice. She is delighted to see Lizzy and Darcy come to life yet absolutely puzzled as to why they cannot hear her when she calls out to them and introduces herself. It was great fun to see my world through the eyes of my protagonist and imagine her reactions to all the things we take for granted, from electric lights and DVD players to computers, cars, and airplanes.

What's a personality trait you love about one of the characters in your novel? Adventurousness. Despite landing in a bewildering and potentially frightening world, my protagonist doesn't waste much time in fear. Instead, she finds pleasure in the miraculous conveniences and delicious freedoms of life in the twenty-first century while trying to come to terms with our curious mating rituals and other bizarre social customs.

Who was the first person you told when you got The Call announcing you'd sold your first novel? My husband. I couldn't quite wrap my mind around what was happening, and telling him made it all real. I had gone from sitting in a room, for years, unraveling the story in my head, to realizing that this story in my head was going to be an actual, tangible book, out there in the world, that other people were going to read. I'll never forget the sensation; it's how I imagine someone would feel who won the lottery. After all, isn't that what everyone tells us, how the odds are solidly against our ever getting our first novel published? Glad I didn't listen to the naysayers. And if anyone who's reading this is also writing a novel, don't you listen either. Because as my teacher reminded me, someone wins the jackpot every week! [Great advice...]

What's one piece of writing advice you've found valuable on your journey to publication? My teacher very wisely encouraged me to think of myself as a "storyteller" rather than a "writer," because the word "writer" has all sorts of baggage attached to it. (You know, the kind that starts with "You're not a writer unless you…" Or worse, "You're not a REAL writer unless you…") Storytellers get to sit around the fire and weave tales and mesmerize their listeners, unburdened by all those cumbersome expectations.

What’s the most surprising thing that has happened to you on your publishing journey? Have you learned things about the industry you never knew before? I've learned that I should treasure every moment I have with every one of the remarkable people assigned to work on my books and realize that they may not always be there, because there is a great deal of turnaround in this industry. I had assumed that my original editor and I would be immune to the impermanence of working relationships, as she was editor-in-chief of the imprint and not likely to leave. Less than two years later, she left to become an agent. Three of the publicists assigned to my books and two directors of marketing and publicity have also moved on. I am fortunate that every person who has been assigned to work on my books has been stellar. Moreover, my angel of an agent has been a stable, consistent force throughout.

Do you pay attention to book reviews? If so, has there been any particular review that made your heart do a little dance? I'd like to be one of those authors who says, "I never pay attention to reviews." But I'm not there yet. I had the jitters—big time—right before my first novel, Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict, came out in North America. I was hugely relieved that the very first print review it received, in Publishers Weekly, was a positive one. Recently Confessions debuted in the UK, and I had the jitters all over again. These days to get reviewed at all in print media is a stroke of good fortune, what with all the cutbacks in that industry, so when a reviewer at The Observer said that she "spent a blissful day" with my book, my heart definitely did the happy dance!

Writers are usually big readers too. How do you make time for reading and what are you reading at the moment? I cannot imagine a day without reading, and aside from the pure enjoyment of immersing myself in a good book, I find reading to be a great writing teacher. No matter how busy I am, I always find time for reading, even if it's just a few pages before I drop off to sleep at night. I read during breaks, when I'm standing in line at the post office, wherever I can squeeze it in!

At the moment I'm re-reading a mind-blowing novel by David Ambrose called Superstition.

Any favorite movies you've seen? Ones you've watched over and over again? I'm a movie fanatic, and not surprisingly, many of my favorite movies are Austen adaptations. I love, own, and have watched these films multiple times: "Sense and Sensibility"(Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet), "Emma" (Gwyneth Paltrow and Jeremy Northam), "Bride and Prejudice" (the Bollywood-meets-Hollywood delight starring Aishwarya Rai and Martin Henderson), "Persuasion" (Amanda Root and Ciaran Hinds), "Pride and Prejudice"(Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle), and "Bridget Jones's Diary." I own and enjoy almost all the others as well. My favorite of the more recent adaptations is the "Sense and Sensibility" mini, penned by Andrew Davies. And I loved "Becoming Jane," which, while not strictly factual, I see as delightfully true to the spirit of the feisty, trailblazing author I love so well.

On the non-Austen side, my favorites include "Love Actually," "Notting Hill," "Bend It Like Beckham," "Sliding Doors," "Groundhog Day," "Still Crazy," "The Winslow Boy," and, more recently, "Duplicity," which I loved so much I saw it in a movie theater two nights in a row. [I've seen and enjoyed several of these films, especially "Groundhog Day" and "Bend It Like Beckham." You've convinced me to watched "Duplicity" now!]

Laurie is giving away two signed copies of her books--one of each title! So, for a chance to win a copy of either Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict or Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict, all you have to do is leave a message in the comment section of this post by July 7th, the day we'll be having our big book giveaway. Good luck! The fourth and final $10 B&N giftcard will go to someone who comments on Laurie's post between now and July 3rd. I'll draw the winning name that morning and do a little AustenFest wrap up then, too, so please check back :).

One last note, voting for the Regency World Awards ends tomorrow, June 30th, and Laurie is up for one! If you haven't yet cast your votes for her first novel, Confessions, and you want to show your support--go here now!!

28 comments:

Tiffany said...

I love the concept of the reciprocal -- Austen Era heroine in modern times. We see a lot of the girl back in time, falls in love with guy from that time, never felt right in her own time things. (Which, coincidentally I could never do. The "Lost in Austen" choose your own adventure book had me die a few times, marry unhappily, and go to jail (I would be lost)) But I digress. I don't see a lot of the reverse. Which is very refreshing.

I need to go add these books to my wishlist.

Eliza said...

Oh! I love this concept, especially seeing a heroine come forward in time -- I definitely don't see that very often.

I'll be looking for both of these books. Thanks again for the interview, Marilyn!

Dina said...

I look forward to reading Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict as I have her other book.

Melanie said...

The premise of these books sounds intriguing! I'd love that to happen to me one of these days. :D

Kwana said...

What a concept! This sounds fun and exciting. It seems I'm a fan of all her favorite movies.

Sara Daniel said...

Marilyn, I love your AustenFest. What fun! Laurie, your book sounds fabulous. I am so in awe of people who can mix historical fact and fiction into something new. All that research scares me to death!! Can't wait to read both your books!

Hugs!

Brett said...

Sounds like a great book, Laurie! Thanks for providing another fascinating interview, Marilyn!

Nadine said...

I'm kicking myself for getting in on all this Austen madness late and missing the chance to win some of these awesome books! This one sounds great - I think I'd like to pick up a copy of the first one too! Great interview!

L.A. Mitchell said...

Loving the time-bending concept here. Many congrats, Laurie, on a sucessful series. I enjoyed your story to publication:)

Simone Elkeles said...

Great interview! I'm loving reading about the authors who are also writing about Jane Austen like you, Marilyn. And congrats on all the great reviews, Laurie. I know they're nerve-wracking before you read them. I love the idea of "fish out of water" books, so I'm excited to read this.

Bloggin BB said...

I'm excited to read your new book, Laurie! I bet there will be some great scenes similar to the "Lost in Austen" TV series. Really liked your first book until the end. It kind of faded for me--as in I wasn't sure what to make of it, what happened, what the outcome was. Was that on purpose? Or did I miss something?

Marlyn said...

I loved "Confessions", and I can hardly wait for "Rude Awakenings"!

Debra St. John said...

Hi Laurie and Marilyn: AustenFest continues to be fun! Laurie, both of your books sound fabulous. Congrats on the new release!

Robin said...

Hi Marilyn and Laurie! Congrats on your newest release, Laurie. Your books sound awesome! I loved the trailer and really enjoyed your interview! Best of luck!

hoppytoad79 said...

I was jazzed when I found out we'd get to read about Jane's experiences in contemporary times. Like Tiffany said, we usually see girls going back in time but no so much girls going forward and what their experiences are. I'm very much looking forward to seeing how Jane copes with our strange (to her) world.

Michelle D. said...

I loved Confessions and am so thrilled about your new release.

Deb said...

I adored Confessions so can't wait to read Laurie's newest title!

Anonymous said...

As soon as I finish this I am heading to the bookstore to pick -up, or at least order, your new book Laurie. I did enjoy your first book. It was amazing to me to picture a quiet world without all those modern gizmos calling for our attention.
Your heroines and their can do attitudes would make Jane Austen proud.
I will look forward to a quiet summer afternoon when I can pull out the deck chair and read your latest book. Judy K

celi.a said...

All things Austen = amazing (well, I'm a bit of an addict, but still...). Can't wait to read both of these books. Thanks for the interview!

celialarsen(at)gmail(dot)com

Luthien84 said...

Hi Laurie, thanks a lot for sharing your thoughts and make your 2 books a reality. I really enjoyed Confessions and am looking forward to reading Rude Awakenings when the books come to my country. Sad to say, here in Malaysia we always get it much later than those in US.

Lois said...

Great posting here, and the idea of the books sound lots of fun! :) I'm adding then to my wishlist too! :)

Lois

Marilyn Brant said...

Hi, everyone! Just wanted to say thanks to you all for welcoming Laurie and for your many wonderful comments so far. I really love this reciprocal story she's written and I'm so glad it's finally out for the public to enjoy!

Looking forward to more "festing" and to all the upcoming giveaways :).

Ruth said...

Great interview and a great idea to hold an AustenFest...

Maria Geraci said...

What a fun idea for a series of books! Will have to go chack those out:)

sequesterednooks said...

I can't wait to find out Jane's side of the story! Especially what she thought of Austen's novels as a contemporary.

Marilyn, thanks for sharing the interview and for hosting Austenfest!

stephsteph said...

Oh wow!! This AustinFest is AMAZING!! So much fun stuff to read about - my book list is growing by the minute!!! :) Look forward to more!!

Stargazer said...

I love the time traveling characters! This book sounds like one I will definitely pick up!

Yv said...

I would love to participate in this give away.
Please count me in.
I don't own either of the books (yet) so the first adventure would be as welcome as the second.
And a signed copy ♥ would be so wonderfull to ad to my Austen challenge list.
*Ü*
Thanks for all the fun in advance.
:o)