Saturday, 3 July 2010


Laurie Viera Rigler is the best- selling author of Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict and Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict but I discovered she 's an exceptionally kind and pleasant person as well as a talented writer and JA expert. She accepted to be my guest and to answer my (many!) questions. The result is a very interesting discussion of our beloved Austenesque matters. Today I'm going to post the first part of this quite long interview. I hope you'll enjoy reading it as much as I did.
Comment this part I of Talking Jane Austen, leave your e-mail address and you'll get the chance to win a signed copy of Confessions or Rude Awakenings of  a Jane Austen Addict. Two lucky winners will get their copy directly from Laurie! One winner for Confessions and one for Rude Awakenings . Next week, Sunday 11th, the first two winners will be announced and I'll post the second part of this incredible interview + a new double giveaway!!!

First of all, Laurie, welcome on my JA cyber corner. After reading your Rude Awakenings and following you online for me it's an honour to have you here! I'd like to start talking about your love for JA and her work. When was your first meeting with her wit and her world? What do you most appreciate in her novels?
First I want to thank you for inviting me to your blogs, Maria Grazia, and for all these great questions!
It was fifteen years ago when I first read Austen ("Sense and Sensibility") and saw my first Austen-inspired film (also "Sense and Sensibility"), and it was love at first story. All I could think of was how did I not read this author before? I immediately read Austen's other five novels in quick succession and have been re-reading all of them ever since.
What I most appreciate about Austen is that each story feels new to me in some way no matter how many times I have read it. Her novels have sublime insight into the mysteries of human nature, and thus I learn something new about myself every time. They are also eminently re-readable books because they have all the elements of master storytelling and something for everyone: humor, social satire, suspense, and a deeply satisfying love story.

Your heroines, Courtney and Jane, swap their lives and travel in space and in time: Jane wakes up in Los Angeles in our days but is a well-mannered, Regency England’s young lady ; Courtney travels the opposite route from our time and Los Angeles to Regency and England. Can you tell us how this idea came to your mind?
I was doing some mundane chore in the kitchen of the house I lived in at the time, and suddenly I saw Courtney, a twenty-first-century Austen fan, waking up in that four-poster bed in Regency England in someone else's body. I guess it's no surprise that such an idea would pop into my head, being as obsessed with Jane Austen as I am. I couldn't stop thinking about Courtney, and I began to write down the scene. There was more to the story, and I kept writing (and rewriting), and eventually I had a book.

It’s great fun to follow the sensation of displacement and astonishment the two girls experience, the misunderstandings and the humorous situations resulting from their being in a different body, time and place. Who of the two experienced the greater shock? Which is the most disagreeable experience to Courtney and which one to Jane?
Jane's is the greater shock, because she has no frame of reference for the future, whereas Courtney at least has some idea of the past. Just imagine that you, like Jane, come from a proto-industrial world where the only man-made light is from candles, where transportation is on foot or by horse, and where your only way to communicate with someone not right in front of you is by letter. And that's just the technological side of things. Far more shocking than the technology of the twenty-first century are its manners and morals (or lack thereof).

I think that Jane's most disagreeable experience in the twenty-first century is the realization that she is inhabiting the body of a single woman who has had intimate relations with a man outside of marriage. She cannot for the life of her understand why Courtney would sleep with a man and then refuse to marry him, no matter how unfaithful he had been to her. The consequence for a woman of Jane's time was ruin and disgrace.

As for Courtney, even though she lands in Jane's life in 1813 England with some idea of Regency England (she is, after all, a Jane Austen addict), her idea of Jane Austen's world comes from a combination of reading Austen's novels and watching the movies. Jane Austen's work, though steeped in the morals and customs of the time, was quite spare of period detail. She did, after all, write for her contemporaries, who didn't need an explanation as to what an entail was or what a barouche looked like. As for the movies, what Courtney discovers is that while they may be pretty accurate as to gowns and hairstyles, they present a rose-colored and highly sanitized picture of a less hygienic reality. Besides, it's one thing to read a book or watch a movie and fantasize about living in Jane Austen's world. It's quite another to actually be there, especially if you are a single woman under the control of your parents. And thus Courtney's most disagreeable experience is her close encounter with healthcare, Regency style, complete with dirty knife and copious bloodletting. It's enough to make me fetch my smelling salts!

Love is, of course, one of the main features in your stories but there are also other important aspects you deal with. What about social criticism? Do you use your story-telling to get to a social commentary like JA did?
My wish is that my stories inspire people to look at their own world with new eyes; in this case, through the eyes of someone from another time and culture. Jane, who comes from 1813 England in "Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict," really allowed me to look at my world anew. All the things I take for granted, from the lamp and the laptop on my desk to the freedom I have to walk down my street and talk to whomever I want whenever I want, would be unimaginable to Jane. Most especially, I wanted Jane to shine a light on the potential cost as well as the benefits of all the freedom we have, especially for women. I for one would never want to trade all the choices and mobility I have for the restrictions placed on women in Jane Austen's time. How we use those choices and freedom, however, is not always in our own best interests, and I wanted to take a look at those choices through Jane's eyes.

It's also my wish that we take a look at Austen's world through the light of social realism as well as romance. After all, didn't Jane Austen always want us to temper our romantic sensibilities? And so Courtney, my twenty-first-century protagonist who is absolutely in love with everything she thinks she knows about Jane Austen's world, gets a bit of a rude awakening of her own in "Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict." Nevertheless, she also gets that grand love story she always dreamed of. As does Jane.

What do you think of the many Austen adaptations? As much as I love watching them, I feel they’ve quite distorted the satirical, witty, humoristic spirit of JA ‘s major novels, turning them into just romances. What’s your opinion on this issue?

I love most of the films, but I agree that it's really difficult to capture the comedy and social satire of Austen on film. A film, after all, not only is restricted to two hours or so, as a visual medium it also must show the story a lot more than tell the story. And much of Jane Austen's comedy is in the language, especially in the voice of the narrator. Emma Thompson's screenplay for "Sense and Sensibility," along with Ang Lee's direction, did the best job, in my opinion, of bringing Austen's wit, social satire, and hilarious commentary on human nature to the screen. And that was a particularly difficult task to do, as there is so much tragedy in that story. As for turning the stories into just romances, I think that this is probably the easiest element to bring to the screen and certainly the one that will sell the most tickets. And I can't blame the filmmakers for making Edward Ferrars and Colonel Brandon, for example, sexier and more attractive than they were in the book. Or for giving the audience more explicit proposal scenes than were in almost all of the novels.

 I think both your novels could become delightful comedy on screen. Would you accept if they asked you to adapt them ?
In a heartbeat! Thank you for that lovely thought. Now that my books have inspired the new comedy web series SEX AND THE AUSTEN GIRL  I can see the books even more clearly as a movie or long-form TV series. Especially because the actresses in the web series, Arabella Field and Fay Masterson, are doing such a brilliant job of bringing Courtney and Jane to life. And there are few things more exciting for an author than that!

Before we end this week lovely chat I’d like to remind you that Laurie’s site Jane Austen Addict,  has been nominated for a 2010 Jane Austen Award, an annual award event sponsored by the Jane Austen Centre in Bath.  Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict has also been nominated this year. Follow the link and vote !

(End of Part I )

Now...  Don’t forget to leave your comments and e-mail address. The giveaway is OPEN WORLDWIDE. One of  you will have the chance to win a signed copy of Confessions and another one a signed copy of Rude Awakenings. Good luck! Remember, next week Talking Jane Austen II. Laurie Viera Rigler will answer to other questions and will giveaway other two signed copies of her awesome novels! The names of the first two winners will be announced next Sunday July 11th.

Laurie and I will be waiting for you next Sunday!


Felicia said...

Wonderful interview! I'm re-reading Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict right now. I'd love a chance to win Rude Awakenings!

Jonnie (JB) said...

Great interview! Rude Awakenings looks so good!


Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing your thoughts Laurie.
I would love to enter into the giveaway:


Look forward to part ii! :)

Darlyn said...

if it is open to international, please sign me in!

darlyn225 at gmail dot com

buddyt said...

I haven't read the book but I think Laurie makes a good point about how things were in those times.

One often sees people say they wish they had lived in Jane Austen's time but I think very few of realise just how things actually were in those days. That is something that makes Jane's books even more amazing , considering the era in which they were written.

Perhaps this will bring those starry eyed Jane lovers back a bit into reality.

If the giveaway is open worldwide, then please enter me.

Thanks and I look forward to the next part.

Carol T

buddytho {at} gmail DOT com

Unknown said...

First of all I must say wonderful interview as always.

I haven't come across any of those books, but they seem as an interesting reading. I did see the modern remake of P&P series Lost in Austen and from the interview I think that it has a lot of similarities with Rude awakenings of a JA addict. Did any of those (book&series) had any influence on each other or were they made completly unaware of each other?


Meredith said...

It's wonderful to learn more about Laurie! Each time I read Austen it feels new to me too! I would love it if they made a mini series off of your books! Can't wait to see part two!

Claudia said...

I hope there will be a screen adaptation of both soon!

Thanks Laurie and Maria Grazia for this lovely insight, a presto!


Lúthien84 said...

Thanks for a lovely interview. I have read both books and I find it interesting and delightful. I love to be entered to the drawing and win Rude Awakenings as I already have Confessions.

Looking forward to next Sunday


samovar said...

andrea from france


Laurel Ann (Austenprose) said...

Hi Maria, no need to enter me in the giveaway since I own both of Laurie's fab novels, but I wanted to add that besides being so talented, she is one of the kindest and most generous authors I have worked with. I shall run wild and faint if we don't have another novel from her soon.

Cheers, Laurel Ann

PS, I love your blog re-design. Well done.

Jean | said...

Well, I definitely need both of these!

delightfulrepast {at{ aol {dot} com

PS If you're into Jane Austen food, check out my Sally Lunn buns.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for a wonderful interview.
I have Rude Awakenings in Italian in my wishlist but I'd like to read it in English first.

My e-mail: patti-wolit at

meeyeehere said...

I will just die if I do not win this giveaway! I love all things Jane!!! She is my favorite!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Please count me in and I will cross my fingers,that should work.

Marcie said...

I am a huge Jane fan. I would love to read these books!

Anonymous said...

Thanks to all for the wonderful comments! And Krist, Lost in Austen and my novels have nothing to do with one another and are actually quite different.

Isabel said...

I´m just waiting for a brazilian version...

My e-mail: isabel_ribeiro(at)

Patricia's Particularity said...

I am looking forward to reading these books - I have heard nothing but good things about them. I also really enjoy the Sex & Austen Girl Episodes.

Email: PelicanJL(at)hotmail(dot)com

lunarossa said...

Sounds very intriguing. I loved the Lost In Austen TV series very much and Laurie's novel reminds me a bit of that. Good luck to laurie for the JA Award. Ciao. A.

Julianna Steffens said...

Fantastic interview!

Happy to see this is a WORLDWIDE Giveway \o/
Come to BRazil little book's =)

Audra said...

Great interview! (I also loved the S&S film best, although Hinds in Persuasion is yum!) I'd love to be entered in the drawing for either/both books! Thank you!

thesibylqueen at

vvb32 reads said...

Congrats on the JA Award nominations!
I've enjoyed watching Sex and the Austen Girl. Great supplement!
I look forward to reading Laura's series soon.
vvb32 at

Amy C said...

I read Confessions and love it!

Misha said...

Thanks for the wonderful interview and for keeping this open worldwide!!! I would love to read Confessions.

Misha Mathew

Nazz Rai said...

Very enjoyable indeed. I wish to read Rude Awakenings (English), whenever I read or watch Miss Austen's, I always wish that my life were like one of the main witty characters, who goes through character adventure and beautiful romance. Hard to find that stuff now.
My first Jane Austen fever was when I first read NorthAnger Abbey, beautifully written.
Since then, well, there's no anti-Austen medications, don't want it either.
Well, Thank You Laurie for writing those wonderful books, I really want to read'em.
Regards from Dubai/ Nepal.
Thank You.

Maria Grazia said...

I must apologize with all the readers who commented in the last 12 hours and wanted to enter the giveaway. I moderated and published all the comments but blogspot is giving troubles at publishing. They result moderated and published but they are not THERE!!! They said it is just temporary and it will be solved but I hope all your comments won't get missing. If you do not see them published by tommorrow, please try again!
Sorry for the inconvenience. MG

Misha said...

Hello! I think I have entered before but I don't see my comment here.Please delete this entry if i have already entered. Thank you so much!! I would love to read both the books.

Misha Mathew

Amy C said...

I read Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict and loved it. Still have to read Rude Awakenings!

amichelle8 at

Diane said...

I have a friend I would love to win these for. They sound wonderful! thank you :O)

estrella8888 at roadrunner dot com

Karlinha said...

Fantastic interview!

I loveeeeeeeeeeee

Misha said...

This is my 2nd entry since my first 1 didn't show up.Anyways I would love to win both the books. Please enter me thanks.


Vic said...

i didn't even know there was a book before rude awakenings but now that i do i cant wait to get the first one and begin reading it. xD

Sam said...

i loved confessions, i still haven't read rude awakenings, i can't wait to get started on it. i didn't know about that series, i'm interest in watching that too:)


Katy said...

Confessions was such a fun read--looking forward to reading Rude Awakenings. :)


Jasmine1485 said...

Fingers crossed, I'd love to win these! :) Thanks for the giveaway.

Kate1485 at