21st Century Austen
How is this a series? None of the books seem connected!
The 21st Century Austen books are an anthology series. They share a connection that you can usually discover in the short story collections, A Little More Modern Persuasion and A Little More Phi Alpha Pi. They share the same universe (so do all my stories) but have little to no magic in them. The closest connection between stories will be Woodhouse Hall and The Stash (planned for 2021 publication). You’ll meet some of The Stash characters in Woodhouse Hall.
What role do the A Little More book play in this series?
When I’m done writing a book but promoting it to readers, I often sit and think about the characters beyond the pages of their original story. It always results in me writing some of those ideas into stories. This is where I explore the connections one book has to another or explore what the future looks like for couples. Not all the stories end up in these collections. Phi Alpha Pi’s Lydia has a short story that’s in the Dangerous Curves Ahead anthology put out by Riverdale Avenue Press and edited by Rachel Kenley.
Modern Persuasion was a modernization of Persuasion, Phi Alpha Pi of Pride and Prejudice, and Woodhouse Hall of Emma. What’s next?
Next is Northanger Parks, a modernization of Northanger Abbey. It takes place in a totally-not-Disney theme park empire. This book will feature the first hints of the magic that exists in the rest of my universe! Book six in the series is another modernization of Emma set in a yarn shop. Book seven is another take on Pride and Prejudice but in a candy shop and the genders will be reversed. Mr. Darcy will be a woman and Elizabeth will become a man. Eventually I expect there will be 2 different takes on my four favorite Austen books.
What about Mansfield Park and Sense and Sensibility?
I’ve never been a fan of those books and wouldn’t be able to give the characters a fair chance. I’ve read other people’s attempts to modernize these books and been just as irritated with those as I was with the originals.
Do you have audiobooks for the series?
Yes! The main novels all have audiobooks and Woodhouse Hall is already in production. I’m happy to get people free copies of the audiobooks for reviews.
Mr Darcy, Captain Wentworth, Mr. Knightly, or Mr. Tilney?
Captain Wentworth! Mr. Darcy and I are too much a like to get along that well but it is romantic to think that someone would want to change for the better for me. Mr. Knightly is certainly a wonderful man and I love that he is willing to put aside his ego to accommodate Emma by living in her house so she can care for her father. Mr. Tilney is a hot mess that would drive me crazy. I’m editing Northanger Parks now continues to struggle with the lack of romance in the original. Tilney is fun but there was barely any chemistry between him and Catherine.
Do your horror stories take place in the same universe as your romance stories?
Yes but also, no! I see the horror as hopeless when compared to the very hopeful romance stories. They are opposites and the horror is like the dark half or upside down part of my universe. The towns may be the same but its a parallel, dark universe.
How do you pronounce Kraulaak?
Krau – like sauerkraut
Laak – like you lack the skills to continue
Are these stories connected?
Yes and you will see how as you read the book. Spoilers!
Yom Tov Romances
What kind of romance stories are these?
These books are for young, secular Jewish women who want a contemporary, sexy romance about Jewish holidays. They are full of sex scenes and profanity. The stories are about the experiences of non-religious Jewish women. They don’t keep kosher, they have sex before marriage, and they love holiday food. These stories focus on their relationships with different types of men.
Is this the same Jenna from Woodhouse Hall?
Yes! She’s older in these books and grown up a little bit.
Why did you write these?
In 2018 I realized I was tired of all the holiday books being about Christmas. There were only a handful of Chanukah stories to buy and most were religious or about homosexual relationships. I’m happy these people have their own books but I felt women like me, who grew up in a more secular environment, were lacking something sexy. I was going to write Purim Fling as a short story for the Woodhouse Hall short story collection or an anthology, but it kept getting longer.
Why break up Jenna’s story into two books?
Purim Fling is Jenna’s story but The Matzo Ball Billionaire is Asher’s story. They might seem the same but they’re not! Jenna’s story is about discovering what you want when you have to pivot from old plans or a lack of plans. Asher’s story is about being open to something you thought you didn’t want in the first place.
Will we be able to get all the books in one volume?
Yes, for year one each book was limited to Amazon and the Kindle Unlimited program. By the end of 2020 there will be an ebook collection of all four stories in one volume. In early 2020 I will also have a paperback collection of all four that will be sold at local events and available as special offers on Patreon or any future Kickstarter campaign.
When will Nook, Kobo, and iBooks readers be able to get these stories?
- Purim Fling: December 2019
- The Matzo Ball Billionaire: January 2020
- Forgive Me, I Love You: March 2020
- Latkes of Love: June 2020
What are you doing over at Patreon?
I’m trying collaborative writing! I have three projects that I’d like to publish in the next year: Bribre (the next horror story collection), Northanger Parks (21st Century Austen #4), and Write Soon (a romance story written in letters). For $2 a month, collaborators get to give feedback and help make decisions through the writing, publishing, and marketing process of publishing a book. They get credit as collaborators in the front of the book and their own autographed copy of the final paperback. Collaborators can pick 1, 2, or all three projects.
Where do you get your ideas?
Where don’t I get ideas? Sometimes its a dream or talking to people about random topics. Sometimes I’m in a place, like a candy shop or Disney, and realize I want to write something about this experience. I’m rarely lacking an idea. I have a whole file full of story ideas and things I’ve observed that I want to put into something someday.
How much research do you do?
Research is my favorite part of the process. I could easily get lost in doing the research and forget about writing the story. I’m a research librarian by day so it’s often my natural reaction to an idea. For Woodhouse Hall, much of the research was pulled from the twenty-five years I’ve spent in academia. Life in the dorm was based on my memories of dorm life and what current college students told me about it now. I do plenty of online research which includes watching YouTube videos, listening to podcasts, reading articles, and chatting with people. I’ll even visit a place if necessary – especially if it’s a Disney park, yarn shop, candy store, or something I enjoy.
Why do you write?
For years I constructed stories in my head and played them out over and over in different ways. I realized I had to write the stories down to be able to move on. I would just obsess about the characters and plots in intricate detail if I didn’t. Once I wrote them down I could move on to the next story. When I discovered National Novel Writing Month I found my place to focus on the writing. I spent years writing the one big story that had been in my head for most of my life. Once that was done I was finally ready to move on to other projects.
How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?
When I first started writing, it was primarily this weird universe of interconnected fan fiction for the tv shows, movies, and even books I loved. For years I borrowed characters from other universes. It started with the ideas of what I would do in that universe. What if I was Buffy the Vampire Slayer? What if I was an elf in Middle Earth? As I started telling my own stories, even when borrowing Jane Austen’s structure, I’m influenced by other books I read and editors who help me along the way.
What is the hardest thing about writing?
For me, it’s finding the right story to tell. I often sit with an idea in my head for years. I live with the characters and get to know them. I can tell you the day to day things in their lives, but that isn’t a story. I have to find the problem they need to resolve and that can take time. While I do that, I have an inclination to tell you all the details of their lives. I always struggle to cut out the details that aren’t important.
What is the easiest thing about writing?
For me, it’s the flip side of the hardest thing. I find it really easy to develop the characters. I spend a lot of time thinking about my characters. It often seems like I am living with them and talking to them. I know so many rich details about their lives. I know their motivations and the choices they make.
How long on average does it take you to write a book?
I always do my first draft during National Novel Writing Month. They have three events a year. Modern Persuasion was the first draft in July 2014. I wrote the entire book in that month. Then I let it sit for a while until I am ready to revise it. I like to see it with fresh eyes. That can take a few months, depending on what else is going on. From starting Modern Persuasion to the day I submitted it to publishers, it took 2 years to complete. I think, once the first draft is done, it takes about a year and a half to complete.
Do you ever get writer’s block?
I used to get it until I discovered what I need to do with it. I realized that I get blocked when I think I have to write something I don’t want to really write. I am the only one accountable to my writing plans and when I remembered I could change anything I want, I started getting good at recognizing when I was hitting that wall. I stop forcing myself to write something and start writing whatever is in my head that’s easier to work on. Eventually, I come back to the block, but I do it when I am excited about that project again.
Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors?
I read a lot. I generally read over 100 books a year. I think Jane Austen is my favorite and clearly, she has a strong influence on what I am writing right now. For horror, I always find myself going back to Stephen King.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
As tempted as I am to advise my younger self, I wouldn’t give me any. I am who I am now because of the choices I made, the advise I listened to, and the advice I ignored. I wouldn’t want to risk changing who I became because of my ego thinking I am smarter now than I was then.