Jeanette Watts will be awarding a doll dressed in Regency clothing, handcrafted by the author (International Giveaway) to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.
- Woohoo! You are a published author. Describe a strong character trait you possess, good or bad, and how it helped you become a published author. Polish stubbornness. My German husband says Germans are the most stubborn people on earth, but I beg to differ. Poland was wiped completely off the map on more than one occasion, and you’ll notice it didn’t stay that way. You have to believe in yourself. I really almost never doubt myself. When I was publishing my first book, I spent five years talking to agents who all loved my book, but wanted to change it. I changed it to please them, then they didn’t like my book anymore! I concluded that the problem wasn’t my book, the problem is that agents are crazy.
- Sometimes an author begins writing a story before they are aware of its genre. Did you choose your genre, or did it choose you? Oh goodness, it definitely chose me! I’ve been cheerfully writing historical fiction, but then I’m driving home from the Jane Austen Festival when the idea for this modern satire came to me. Next thing you know, I’ve written this romantic comedy that really wants to b a Broadway musical someday. And that’s how it should be. Inspiration should come first. If you sit there saying, “Hey, I want to write a murder mystery thriller,” and then you sit around waiting for inspiration, well, it could get to be a long wait. And the end result will probably not be very good.
- The plot thickens, or does it? Which one are you, a pantser or a plotter? I tried to be a plotter. Jane Austen Lied to Me started out plotted. It’s a satire, I don’t think you can NOT plot out a satire. But then it took on a life of its own. The protagonist didn’t always do as she was told. The book has also changed drastically from one draft to the next. I plotted out a much more satirical piece, and it didn’t really have a happy ending. It was funny, but not your typical happy ending. My first round of beta test readers all thought my heroine wasn’t sympathetic enough, and they wanted a happy ending. So I rewrote. And rewrote. The characters told me what happens next, which wasn’t always what I’d planned. But I think the most important thing writers – and for that matter, actors – need to do is stay true to the character.
- Fear 101: As writers it is our duty to make our characters face their fears. Have you ever included one of your own fears in a storyline? Um, maybe? I’m not afraid of much. I think it’s reprehensible for societies to dwell on people’s fears. It brings out the worst of people, instead of the best of them. None of my books are about fear. They are about negotiating a path through Life, which is an endless series of obstacles we have to overcome. At least in fiction, we get to stop and celebrate our victories once in a while. In life, sometimes we have to remember to stop and celebrate the victories.
- Fear 102: Yes, deadlines are terrifying. Have you conquered the juggling act between writing and the rest of your life? What do you do when it feels like the balls are dropping all around you? The nice thing about being an independent publisher is the deadlines are self-imposed. The juggling act has nothing to do with fear, and a lot to do with distractions. The important thing with writing is to make it a priority. If the laundry doesn’t get done, but the writing does, you’ve got things prioritized right. I tend to prefer a lot of balls in the air; while writing novels, I have also been teaching dance classes at the local community college, running a belly dance troupe and a cancan troupe and a Vintage dance troupe, and run a Friday night social ballroom club. Then I must have gotten bored for a second, because 5 years ago I started the Genteel Outing and Expedition Society, a club that dresses up in Victorian costumes once a month and goes out to do something. Ice skating, archery lessons, bowling, the opera, museum exhibitions… something. All these distractions do not help me get more writing done. But the fact that I have a life rich in playtime and playmates means my brain stays sharp and creative. And happy. I never get writer’s block. Knock on wood…
- Switch positions with one of your main characters in a scene. What is the outcome, disaster or divine intervention? Hm… since Kali, the Indian Goddess of Chaos and the Destroyer of Egos is my patron goddess, disaster and divine intervention are not necessarily mutually exclusive.
- Where is your favorite place to write? Add that one comfort food that you can’t do without. I like to write in pretty places. When my husband has to travel for conferences, I love to go along and spend the day writing in those big hotel lobbies with lots of couches, and sometimes a bar or restaurant attached. I have friends who let me use their cabin in Canada on Lake Erie for a week. While I was up there, I discovered there were a dozen wineries in the area. One of the wineries had two story tall glass windows with an even grander view of Lake Erie. I’ve rented a cabin in Allegheny National Forest, and a cottage next to the Atlantic Ocean near Boston. When the only distraction is the pretty view when you look up from your writing, it keeps the creative juices flowing. It also helps when these pretty places have no cell signal, so you can’t be distracted by texts and emails and phone calls.
I only get ONE comfort food??? I’d better go with carbohydrates. That way pizza and donuts and pasta are all included. And kringle. Are there carbohydrates in chocolate?
- Writing inspirations? I’ve only just realized right this second that all of the authors who have inspired me are women. Margaret Mitchell. Laura Ingalls Wilder. Louisa May Alcott. Dorothy Parker. I do happen to adore David McCullough and Shelby Foote, but while biographies are my favorite things to read, I don’t write biographies. So I’m not sure the gentlemen count as inspirations.
- You are introduced to your favorite author. Who is it, and what is that one burning question you must ask them? I did actually get to meet David McCullough!! My burning question was, “Can I give you a present?” My first novel, Wealth and Privilege, is set in Western Pennsylvania between 1875-1889. It ends in the Johnstown Flood – The Johnstown Flood was Mr. McCullough’s first book. I relied upon his book heavily in my research. He was the native guide who led me to all the rest of my primary source material. I was allowed to give him a copy of my book. Now I guess if I got to meet him again, my next question would be, “Did you read it/did you like it?” Okay, that’s two questions….
- I’ve gone mad – why don’t you come with me? Some people just don’t understand us writers. Name a quirky, writer-thing you do that friends wish you didn’t. Well, I don’t know if it has anything to do with being a writer, or if it’s just being me… but I’m sure my friends wish I flirted less. I flirt with everyone. The cashiers at the grocery store. (My advice to everyone is always talk to the cashier at the grocery store. He or she is having a bad day. I can almost guarantee it. Some cranky customer just ruined their day about half an hour ago.) Small children waiting in line at the post office. Bank tellers. People on the phone doing customer service.
The problem with my flirting is I’m not very original. Any time I make a phone call, or walk in a store, or the bank, or wherever, people are going to ask you, “How can I help you?” I always, always reply, “Oh, honey, I’m beyond help.” And then I state my business. At least, when the person I’m talking to stops laughing. I almost always get a laugh. Whenever I go to a restaurant, which is a minimum of once a week, the waiter or waitress will be guaranteed to introduce themselves. “Hi, I’m Chris, I’ll be taking care of you today.” I always answer “That’s good. We’ll be as much trouble as we can.” The answers I get are varied, ranging from noncomittal (which is rare) to extremely clever. My favorite answer so far was the waitress who said, without missing a beat, “Okay, I’ll go get reinforcements.” She got a really big tip.
The whole point of these predictable one-liners of mine is that I’m having a brief but meaningful exchange with the intended audience, the sales clerk or the waitress. But my friends have to listen to me say the same one-liner over, and over, and over, and over… I’m sure they are heartily sick of hearing it. The problem is, they aren’t the intended audience. I’m not going to stop saying it so long as I get a laugh, and an ice breaker that lets me see a little more about these strangers I will probably never meet again.
by Jeanette Watts
What college girl doesn’t dream of meeting Mr. Darcy? Lizzie was certainly no exception. But when Darcy Fitzwilliam comes into her life, he turns out to be every bit as aggravating as Elizabeth Bennett’s Fitzwilliam Darcy. So what’s a modern girl to do?
Jeanette Watts’ satire pokes loving fun at Jane and all of us who worship the characters who shall forever be our romantic ideals.
Well! That was interesting. My roommate invited me along to this frat party she was going to. She went through something called rush week, and she is now pledged to a sorority. She said the frats are less formal than the sororities, and even though I wasn’t a pledge I could go with her. I figured, why not, it should be fun, right?
I got to meet the guy she’s chasing. I couldn’t blame her for being interested. He’s cute, and sweet, and considerate, and a total people-pleaser. One of his parents must be the demanding sort who is never happy.
He introduced us to his friend… whose name is Darcy Fitzwilliam! I wasn’t sure at first that the guy wasn’t just pulling our legs.
“Your mother obviously loves Jane Austen,” I laughed.
“Obviously,” he answered. Not much to go by.”
“I love Pride and Prejudice,” I continued.
“I hate Pride and Prejudice.” I can only describe the look he was giving me as hostile.
“I think you will find yourself very much in a minority,” I answered, returning his look with one of my own.
We didn’t talk any more that night. Talk about getting off on the wrong foot!
Jeanette Watts had been writing historic fiction when the inspiration for Jane Austen Lied to Me hit her on the drive home from the Jane Austen Festival. The idea was simply irresistible, and she put aside other writing projects in order to focus on writing a satire, thinking it would be a “mental vacation.” It turned out to take every bit as much research to write a modern story as it does to write a historical one.
She has written television commercials, marketing newspapers, stage melodramas, four screenplays, three novels, and a textbook on waltzing. When she isn’t writing, she teaches social ballroom dances, refinishes various parts of her house, and sews historical costumes and dance costumes for her Cancan troupe.