Kara Louise: How She Came to Writing and Jane Austen and Where It Led


Kara Louise's novel Darcy's Voyage - program presentation at Jane Austen Society in St. Louis

Darcy’s Voyage – Kara Louise

On June 6, members of the St. Louis Region of JASNA and their guests congregated at the lovely home of member Bettye Dew to enjoy one of her delectable luncheons and then a delightful presentation by author Kara Louise. Ms. Louise (her pen name) recounted the story of her exploration of writing; from one line in fourth grade (as a reaction to a painting) to three pages of a story many years later to three chapters inspired by genealogy research even later. That was where it seemed to end.

Then in 2001 she discovered the writings of Jane Austen. Through the six-hour miniseries and the novel of Pride and Prejudice, Louise was finally inspired to really write. Soon she was reading the Penguin edition of Pride and Prejudice and reading more of Austen’s novels and watching the accompanying films. She also discovered online the many Pride and Prejudice sequels (of course, not by Austen).

Kara Louise also researched online sites and decided to write, not sequels, but as she calls them, variations on Pride and Prejudice. She is fascinated with the characters and wants to write stories from their points of view and to put them in different situations.

This has led to several Darcy and Elizabeth stories, several which begin with Elizabeth’s refusal of Darcy’s proposal during their meeting at Rosings. She states that her books have no order or sequence, instead they are independent stories. In Darcy’s Voyage the two meet crossing the ocean. That was inspired by the story of the Jeanie Johnston (a ship famous for no loss of lives in its voyages) and Two Years before the Mast by Richard Henry Dana, Jr. That research also inspired Pirates and Prejudice.

Even so, some research can lead to dead ends or closed doors, as when Kara Louise wanted to use deafness and sign language in a story but found that sign language had not yet been invented in England during the time period of her novel. This has not deterred Kara Louise who has used Pride and Prejudice: An Annotated Edition, Patricia Meyer Spacks, editor, and the novels of Georgette Heyer for further research. These have inspired stories involving other characters of Austen’s such as Anne de Bourgh and Harriet Smith.

What is ahead for Kara Louise? Well, she is certainly far from finished.   She has started an Emma – inspired story revolving around Harriet Smith and is very interested in one based on Persuasion. All this interested attendees who had read some of her novels while others were ready to do so. One such attendee, a librarian, could not believe she had no titles by Kara Louise at her library and was sure to remedy that situation.

Kara Louise shared several of her favorite research sites with attendees. And who knows, some may have suddenly become bitten by the writing bug. After all, as she pointed out, information leads to inspiration.

Kara Louise’s novels are mostly self-published with two that were picked up by Source books. You can find them at her website: http://www.karalouise.net/

 


 

Seventh Annual Louisville Jane Austen Festival July 18–20

Tea, Workshops, a Regency Dress Record, and More Tea: A Delightful Weekend in Louisville

By Mayme Bolt, Metropolitan St. Louis Region

Despite a little drizzle on Friday night, July 18, there was Twilight Shopping, which proved a lot of fun. Traditional Kentucky food was served, and the anniversary of Jane Austen’s death was observed with the playing of music from the Regency period. The tea company, Bingley’s Tea, was there, and the first 25 people who bought tea received a free tote bag. Yes, I got my bag. I love their Jane Austen tea series.

On Saturday, the fun started early at Locust Grove: dueling, archery, shuttlecock, and other activities ran throughout the day, including a Navy Encampment. There were workshops, such as how to tie a cravat, and my favorite afternoon tea. Four different Bingley Teas were available to choose from, along with Mini Hot Browns (a Kentucky specialty), scones, egg-salad sandwiches, and Benedictine sandwiches (also a Kentucky favorite). For dessert, we were able to choose from blackberry jam cake, lavender rum cake (amazing), bread pudding, and of course, Mr. Darcy’s lemon pound cake. The authors John Mullen (What Matters in Jane Austen) and Jo Baker (Longbourn) were guest speakers on Saturday, followed by a book signing.

The highlight of Saturday was trying to break the Guinness Book of World Records for the most people in Regency dress. Bath, England, held the record—409 people. Despite our efforts last year, we missed the mark by 50-plus people. But I’m happy to say we beat the record this year with around 491 people, who also walked in the Promenade. All of us who walked donated a dollar to the Jane Austen House, and JASNA Louisville is matching the donation. The day ended with a ball on Saturday night, which I am sorry to say, I could not attend.

On Sunday my mother and I were volunteers in the morning: checking people in for their teas and workshops. The navy Chaplin held services that morning, and later my cousin joined us for another tea! I can’t say no to tea!

Throughout the weekend there was shopping at the “Shoppe of Meryton.” Inside, Lydia Fast was selling her beautiful hats. (Lauren, my niece, bought one for her birthday last year and was wearing it with the riding habit she wore this year). A wig maker and a bookseller were present also.

They are hoping to put on the festival again next year. Right now they are trying to balance having the AGM next October and the festival next July. It’s a lot of work for Bonny to organize.

Below is a link to events held at this year’s Louisville festival:

http://jasnalouisville.com/festival-schedule

Also, here is a link to a blog that describes Lydia Fast’s beautiful hats:

http://thebohemianbelle1800.blogspot.com/2012/11/lydia-fast-regency-bonnet-workshop.html

 


 

The following pictures and legends from the Louisville Jane Austen Festival July 18-20 have been provided by JASNA StL member Mayme Bolt. Mayme attended the festival this year with her mother, Mary Raybourn, and her niece, Lauren Bolt. Thank you Mayme.  All photos copyright © Mayme Bolt.  All rights reserved.

 


 

JASNA Clippings

 

The following are among the links we’ve received from Kerri Spennicchia the past few weeks:


 

 

• “Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice: Six Things You Never Knew” (Anna Moeslein, Glamour.com)

• “Written in Threads”: Austen-inspired dresses at Belsay Hall (Nicole Robo)

• “Seven Jane Austen-Inspired Items You Can Wear without Looking Crazy” (Candace Bryan, Styleite.com)

• “Fear of Jane Austen” (Rebecca Mead, The New Yorker)

• “Jane, Plain No More: A Year of Austen Glamour” (Mary Jo Murphy and Jennifer Schluessler, The New York Times—includes an Austen-related quiz)

Longbourn by Jo Baker, review by Holly Kyte, The Telegraph

• “How BBC Executives Initially Rejected Colin Firth for the Role of Mr. Darcy” (Simon Cable, The Daily Mail)

• “Sansoucie Wins Honor in Jane Austen Essay Contest” (Missourian.com):

 

Finally, also from Kerri, a YouTube link she purloined from the Jane Austen Centre’s summer newsletter. It’s a recap of Emma Thompson’s 1995 acceptance speech at the Golden Globe awards, for her Sense and Sensibility screenplay.

 

NewsNotes Summer 2013: From Our Regional Coordinator

 

Happy summer! As I write this column in late April, it seems as though summer will never come. Our spring has been a wet and cold one, but that has not dampened our spirits. Much has been happening in the world of Jane Austen.

In February, members of our local region attended a dramatization of Sense and Sensibility at the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis – and our reactions were mixed. As always, many of us were amazed that anyone could distill a full novel into Continue reading

Pride & Prejudice on the Today Show

In honor of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice’s 200th Anniversary, NBC’s Today Show aired a very nice piece on Jane, marriage, and her time to which she lived.

Enjoy!

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Jane Austen on Parade: the 2012 Brooklyn AGM

 

When I asked Bettye Dew what the AGM was like, she told me it was hard to describe.  “You’ll see,” she said, mysteriously.  And I did:  the rousing plenary speakers, excellent breakout sessions, and dozens of women (plus a few men), dressed as Austen characters.  An Elizabeth Bennet lookalike sat next to me, and I admired her dress.  “I’ve got 34 more at home,” she confided.

The convention unfolded like clockwork.  At Brooklyn’s Marriott Hotel, meeting rooms hosted reticule workshops, quilling sessions (I took one, and it has nothing to do with quills), and the astonishing Emporium.  There, vendors from all over the world sold Austen-related fans, jewelry, books, clothing, tea sets, stationery, and fascinators.  One did a brisk business in baseball shirts with numbers on the back and names like Darcy or Knightley, instead of Jeter or Rodriguez.

My favorite moments?   I was enthralled by Cornel West’s high-energy riff on Jane Austen.  A Vassar College concert, held at Henry Ward Beecher’s historic Plymouth Church, was truly glorious, with some Austen-related poems set to music for the occasion.  I loved a walking tour of Brooklyn Heights, led by an architectural historian, on which we saw early 19th-century homes and some only-in-New York oddities, such as a group of Japanese tourists, dressed as wolves.

With such sights a part of their daily diet, jaded New Yorkers scarcely blinked at the lovely “promenade” of costumed Janeites.  Another highlight for me was a play — the “Austen Assizes,” written by Syrie James and Diana Birchall — in which a series of Austen defendants square off against their rivals in an 1816-era courtroom.  It was hilarious.  Mrs. Bennet accused Lady Catherine of defamation; Col. Brandon berated Willoughby for stalking his wife; Fanny insisted that Lucy Steele had entrapped her brothers – and then, in a surprise ending, Robert took the stand to accuse Lucy of attempted murder!

For this first-timer, the conference was a hoot, with lots of entertainment and dozens of friendly people.  Next year is Minneapolis!  I urge you to give it a try, costumed or not.  Believe me, you’ll see…

 


The 2013 Annual General Meeting (AGM) will be held in Minneapolis, MN, September 27th-29th.  Please visit JASNA for further information.