Today I am chatting to the author of the wonderful Pride and Prejudice ‘spin-off’ novels, Jean Burnett. Jean has just released The Bad Miss Bennet Abroad with Canelo (get your copy here) and I had LOTS of questions. What does Jean love most about Jane Austen? Why did she decide to focus on the youngest Bennet sister, Lydia, in her novel, and where does she find her writing inspiration? Read on to find out…
Hi Jean, welcome to Bookaholic Confessions! Thank you so much for participating in this interview. Would you like to start by introducing yourself…?
Hello everyone, I’m Jean Burnett and I write historical fiction. I’m based in Bristol but I have lived in various countries and travelled a great deal. There’s more about me on my website http://www.jeanburnett.co.uk.
Can you tell us a bit about your new novel, The Bad Miss Bennet Abroad (released 21st May 2016 with Canelo)?
The Bad Miss Bennet Abroad follows on from the first book about the adventures of Lydia Bennet from Pride and Prejudice. In the new book Lydia ventures even further afield to Brazil and India. She still occasionally resurfaces at Pemberley to annoy Mr Darcy and she also remarries –or does she? Read the book to find out!
The Bad Miss Bennett Abroad is actually the second Pride and Prejudice ‘spin-off’ you’ve written (the first being ‘Who Needs Mr Darcy?’) They are based on such a wonderful idea! What inspired you to write these novels?
I thought it would be a good idea to write more about a famous literary character – female. The choice was quite limited, but someone suggested one of the Bennet sisters from P&P.
Why did you decide to tell the story of the youngest Bennet sister, Lydia?
Lydia was the obvious choice. As the youngest and the black sheep of the family she had potential for lots of adventures. Nobody wants to read about a goody goody!
Are you a fan of any other Jane Austen books?
I’m a great admirer of Jane Austen’s novels. Mansfield Park is my least favourite and I’m not alone in that. However, it repays re-reading.
Where do you find your writing inspiration?
It just comes! It can be sparked by all kinds of things but as I write historical fiction it is usually sparked by a character from the past, an event, a building or even a painting.
Have you ever experienced writers block? If so, how did you overcome it?
I don’t get serious writers’ block but I often find the middle part of a book hard going. There is a tendency to run out of steam half way through. I find appealing to fellow writers for advice is good, as is a long walk. Failing that, chocolate and a stiff gin can help!
What advice would you give to any aspiring novelists out there?
Just keep writing – and reading. You need to study good writers if you want to write well.
Who are your favourite authors and which type of books do you enjoy reading?
That’s difficult! I read a wide range of writers. I particularly love crime fiction – Donna Leon comes to mind, also Barbara Nadel, Ian Rankin and Val McDermid. Of course I read historical fiction too – C.J Sansom and Rory Clements are favourites. Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch was an amazing literary novel and Julian Barnes is a sublime writer. I could go on and on!
And finally – can you tell us a bit about what you’re up to at the moment?
I have finished a novel set in Renaissance Italy based on a true story of murder, mayhem and music – the life of the composer Gesualdo. I am also finishing what I call my ‘modern’ novel-set in 1987 (that still counts as historical, apparently). I would call it a cosy crime and it’s set on a university campus. For something quite different there is my travel memoir-Vagabond Shoes which is being republished.
A huge thank you to Jean to also to Hayley at ed pr.
The Bad Miss Bennet Abroad by Jean Burnett is published on 23rd May, price £3.99 in eBook.