Things are on track for a June 23rd release of my next novel! Yay! All four of my beta readers have reported back with very positive feedback and no major changes recommended. Now just a proof read, formatting, and the final touches to the cover remain!
“I have just finished Murder at Northanger and I really loved it. As I mentioned before, I re-read Northanger Abbey before starting Murder at Northanger, and it felt as if I was reading the same book. Both the writing style and the characters remained very close to Austen’s, so this was very well achieved in my opinion. I particularly loved to see what you did with Catherine’s character, I do not believe she is a very interesting character, but you made her interesting, and that is impressive…”
So says one of the lovely beta readers who previewed the book!
Yes, in case you hadn’t heard, this new book is a sequel to Northanger Abbey – Jane Austen’s spoof on the Gothic novel – entitled Murder at Northanger Abbey.
“What?” you say. “Isn’t a murder mystery a little out of your line?” Yes, but I like the challenge of attempting something new. I would get bored doing exactly the same type of book over and over again.
From the beginning, pretty much every book I’ve written has presented a new challenge. My first (The Darcys of Pemberley), well, it was the FIRST! I’d never written a novel of any kind before, and I wasn’t even sure I could do it. But I borrowed Jane Austen’s characters, which gave me a running start. With the next (For Myself Alone), I faced the challenge of creating my own characters as well as an original story, but still in a Jane Austen style. Since then, I’ve written a story about Jane Austen herself (The Persuasion of Miss Jane Austen); two time-travel books (Leap of Faith, Leap of Hope), one JAFF and one not; a non-fiction book (Prayer & Praise: a Jane Austen Devotional); and three others, each with its own set of joys and its own set of difficulties to overcome.
So why not write a sort of cozy murder mystery? How hard could it be?
One thing that put me at a real disadvantage from the start was that I’m not very good at plotting out my stories from first to last. Unlike some writers, I tend to only have a vague idea of where I’m headed and then fly by the seat of my pants in that general direction, following the story where it takes me instead of sticking to a pre-planned route. Exciting, but a little risky!
For example, I’m pretty sure most mystery writers know “who done it” from the start, but not me. No, it could have been one of half a dozen interesting characters in Murder at Northanger Abbey. All of them had motive and opportunity, and I could imagine a plausible scenario for each one. It wasn’t until I was more than halfway through the book that I finally decided which way to go!
Even then, I wavered. So, consistent with the “new challenges” theme of this post, I did something else I’ve never done before. I wrote an alternative ending – one that works just as well but results in a rather different outcome for the heroine, Catherine Morland Tilney. I prefer the main one, but you can have your pick, because they’re both included in the book!
Will I ever write another murder mystery? I don’t know. I had a lot of fun doing this one, especially carrying on in Jane Austen’s quirky, tongue-in-cheek style from the original. And besides, I never say “never.” I like to go where inspiration takes me, especially if that means tackling a new and interesting writing challenge!
No one who had ever seen Catherine Morland in her infancy, would have supposed her born to be an heroine. Her situation in life, the character of her father and mother, her own person and disposition, were all equally against her… But when a young lady is to be a heroine, the perverseness of forty surrounding families cannot prevent her. Something must and will happen to throw a hero in her way. (Northanger Abbey, chapter 1)
PS – If you haven’t read Northanger Abbey lately or perhaps ever, I’d like to invite you to read/reread it now, so that you’ll be ready for its sequel when it comes out next month! – for that seamless transition the beta reader spoke of above. Think you won’t care for NA? Take another look with an open mind. Although in a different style from Mr. Darcy or Mr. Knightley, Henry Tilney is a worthy hero (and a passionate guy). And some of the early examples of Austen’s patented ironic wit contained in the book are laugh-out-loud funny. Speaking of challenges, I challenge you to read chapter one without chuckling here and there. I don’t think it can be done!
Read excerpts and more about Murder at Northanger Abbey here.