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/

 


 

Austen lovers to celebrate 200th birthday of ‘Mansfield Park’

 

“The following appeared online at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (www.stltoday.com) on St. Patrick’s Day. Jane Henderson is the book editor for the Post-Dispatch and writes about books and publishing at her “Book Blog.”

 

Readers from the local chapter of the Jane Austen Society of North America will gather March 29 at the Tavern of Fine Arts.

Last year the group had a good crowd for its celebration of “P&P.” But as member Jim Heine notes, Fanny Price is no Elizabeth Bennet:

“After being dazzled by the incandescent Elizabeth Bennet, encountering Fanny Price is something of a shock. Elizabeth is brilliant and witty; Fanny, reserved, reticent, occasionally fearful (with good reason), and even, at times, priggish. And as the nexus of the story, Mansfield Park itself is far different, for example, from Longbourn, Netherfield, Rosings, or Pemberley. You find no comic relief at Mansfield Park, as there is in the various homes of Pride and Prejudice—no Mrs. Bennet or Mr. Collins to laugh at, no Mary Bennet to amuse you, no incisive retorts to make you smile. Where Pride and Prejudice offers joy, Mansfield Park reminds the reader on almost every page that Fanny’s fate is held by people whose moral compasses are in doubt, and who seem bent on using Fanny to serve their selfish ends. It probably takes a second reading of Mansfield Park to appreciate Fanny’s character and plight, and to appreciate Austen’s construction of the novel.”

Toward the end of “Mansfield Park,” Fanny does receive some good news — which almost sends the meek one searching for a “cordial.” In honor of Fanny, the Tavern will create its own drink for the event.

In a press release, the JASNA chapter says

“JASNA members and friends will read favorite scenes from ‘Mansfield Park’, first published in London by Thomas Egerton on May 9, 1814, and offer insights on its themes and relevance for today. For more information, e-mail or call Rose Marie Nester, JASNA St. Louis regional coordinator, at 104voce@att.net or 314-752-3752. Lunch will be available after 11 a.m. and throughout the afternoon from the Tavern of Fine Arts menu. The event is free and open to the public.”

The event is from 1-3 p.m. March 29. The Tavern of Fine Arts is at 313 Belt Avenue.

 


Jane Henderson is book editor of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Follow her online at stltoday.com/books and on Twitter @stlbooks.

http://www.stltoday.com/entertainment/books-and-literature/book-blog/austen-lovers-to-celebrate-th-birthday-of-mansfield-park/article_a6249ac3-fab0-5013-ab27-49425ab2f93d.html


 

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.