Guest Post: Trick or Treating with Jane Austen Made Me Do It by Laurel Ann Nattress

Earlier this week I reviewed Jane Austen Made Me Do It edited by Laurel Ann Nattress of Austenprose fame.  This collection provides readers with a wide breath of Jane Austen inspired short stories that range from love and romance to witty humor and mystery.

Today, Laurel has graced us with her presence (and a giveaway) to talk about the more spooky stories in the collection in honor of Halloween, which is tomorrow.  Get your candles burning and your costumes on; it’s time to trick or treat . . . or at least have a costume party with a little Jane Austen.

Without further ado, here’s Laurel.  Please give her a warm welcome and stay tuned for the giveaway.

Hi Serena, I am so honored to be here today at Savvy Verse & Wit during my Grand Tour of the blogosphere in celebration of the release of my new Austen-inspired anthology, Jane Austen Made Me Do It.

Halloween is tomorrow and I am all anticipation of a favorite holiday. One of the things I loved about it as a child was that I could be anyone, or anything, I wanted to be for one night of the year. I used to get very creative with my costumes! Being a child of the “television generation,” my costume choices were strongly influenced by what I had recently seen on T.V. I remember trick or treating in a hoop skirt one year as Scarlet O’Hara after seeing the movie Gone with the Wind! One wonders out loud what I would be influenced to be now? Jane Austen? Oh, I wouldn’t dare. I think I could be one of her characters, but never the Incomparable One. 😉

We don’t know if the Austen family celebrated All-Hallows Eve in Hampshire when Austen was a girl, but since they were very fond of family theatricals, I could imagine them reading out loud from the popular Gothic fiction novels of the day like, The Mysteries of Udolpho or The Monk, and scaring each other with horrid tales. Jane would later be so influenced by the Gothic genre that in 1798-99 she would write a parody of it. First entitled Susan, and later renamed as Northanger Abbey, the novel was published posthumously after her death in 1817. One of Austen’s lesser known works, I consider Northanger a hidden jewel, full of tongue-in cheek humor, allusions to Gothic fiction and more importantly, containing one of her most charming and endearing heroes, the teasingly witty Henry Tilney.

Because of its Gothic elements, I always gravitate to Northanger Abbey during this time of year. It never fails to charm, delight and make me laugh out loud at Austen’s audacity at having fun with her characters and the genre. My new Austen-inspired short story anthology, Jane Austen Made Me Do It, contains twenty-two original stories, five of which are perfect for a Gothic reading on the Halloween holiday. Interestingly, they all are contemporary tales. The first two are heavily inspired by Austen’s Northanger Abbey: “A Night at Northanger” and “The Mysterious Closet,” the third, “The Ghostwriter” features Jane Austen as a advice giving ghost, the fourth transports Austen’s most iconic romantic hero, Mr. Darcy, into the twenty-first century in “Me and Mr. Darcy, Again,” and the fifth, “Intolerable Stupidity,” is a high burlesque comedy involving Mr. Darcy in a law suit against those responsible for modern adaptations and spinoff’s. Here is a description of each:

“A Night at Northanger,” by Lauren Willig

Our heroine, Cate Cartwright, is part of the cast of “Ghost Trekkers”, currently filming at one of England’s most haunted homes, Northanger Abbey. Naturally, Cate knows there’s no such thing as ghosts. It’s all smoke and mirrors for the credulous who watch late night TV. At least, that’s what she thinks… until she meets the shade of one Miss Jane Austen during one fateful night at Northanger.

“The Mysterious Closet: A Tale,” by Myretta Robens

In the wake of her most recent failed relationship, Cathy Fullerton takes an extended vacation in a converted Abbey in Gloucestershire, England. Ensconced in the Radcliffe Suite, a jet-lagged Cathy mistakes a walk-in closet for a Vaulted Chamber, a clothing rack for an Instrument of Torture and an accumulation of cobwebs for her True Love.

“The Ghostwriter,” by Elizabeth Aston

Sara, obsessed with Pride and Prejudice, is jilted by Charles, who can’t compete with Mr. Darcy. His parting gift is a lock of Jane Austen’s hair. Sara wakes the next morning to find a strange woman sitting on the end of her bed. A figment of her imagination? No, it’s the astringent ghost of Jane Austen. On a mission to restore the reputation of forgotten Gothic author Clarissa Curstable, Jane Austen saves Sara’s career and brings Charles back before taking herself off into the ether, but there’s a price to pay, as the couple discover when they wake up to find another ghostly visitor at the end of the bed. It’s Jane’s friend, Clarissa – and she plans to stay.

“Me and Mr. Darcy, Again…,” by Alexandra Potter

Mr. Darcy is every woman’s fantasy. But what happens when he becomes one woman’s reality? In 2007 Emily traveled from New York to England to go on a Jane Austen-inspired literary tour. There she met and fell in love with Spike, an English journalist.

She also met Mr. Darcy… Or did she? She can never be sure if it really happened, or it was her over-active imagination. Now, four years later, she’s had a huge row with Spike and is back in London nursing a broken heart. And there’s only one person who can mend it. Mr. Darcy….

“Intolerable Stupidity,” by Laurie Viera Rigler

Well hidden from the ordinary world, in a little-known corner of jurisprudential hell known as the Court of Intolerable Stupidity, a legal drama of literary proportions unfolds. The plaintiff is none other than the most famous romantic hero of all time, Mr. Darcy. The defendants are the authors who dared write sequels, adaptations, and inspired-by’s of his Creator’s most beloved work, Pride and Prejudice. One of those works, whose author was tried and convicted in absentia, is so popular that its salacious swimming-in-the-lake scene has resulted in Darcy’s being forced to endure a perpetual state of shivering wetness in a transparent white shirt. For when Darcy’s adoring public isn’t throwing water on him, his umbrella breaks in the midst of a downpour. And now, between the zombies and the vampires, Darcy and his wife Elizabeth are at their wit’s end. So is defense attorney Fritz Williams, who not only fights a losing battle in a kangaroo court ruled by Darcy’s tyrannical aunt, the Honorable Lady Catherine de Bourgh, but also his secret infatuation with prosecuting attorney Tawny Wolfson. Who has her own secret: a hopeless addiction to the illegal miniseries that she is supposed to abhor.

I hope that readers find Austen’s creative spirit and witty Gothic humor this Halloween by indulging in a bit of trick or treating with Jane Austen Made Me Do It. Please enjoy one of my favorite passages between Austen’s hero and heroine of Northanger Abbey to set the mood.

“You have formed a very favourable idea of the abbey.”

“To be sure, I have. Is not it a fine old place, just like what one reads about?”

“And are you prepared to encounter all the horrors that a building such as ‘what one reads about’ may produce? Have you a stout heart? Nerves fit for sliding panels and tapestry?”

– Henry Tilney and Catherine Morland, Chapter 20


Thanks so much, Laurel; it was great hosting you!

About the Editor:

A life-long acolyte of Jane Austen, Laurel Ann Nattress is the author/editor of Austenprose.com a blog devoted to the oeuvre of her favorite author and the many books and movies that she has inspired. She is a life member of the Jane Austen Society of North America, a regular contributor to the PBS blog Remotely Connected and the Jane Austen Centre online magazine. An expatriate of southern California, Laurel Ann lives in a country cottage near Snohomish, Washington.  Visit Laurel Ann at her blogs Austenprose.com and JaneAustenMadeMeDoIt.com, on Twitter as @Austenprose, and on Facebook as Laurel Ann Nattress.

To Enter the Giveaway for 1 copy of Jane Austen Made Me Do It edited by Laurel Ann Nattress (US/Canada only):

1.  Leave a comment about your favorite Halloween story or what intrigues you about reading an Austen-inspired short story anthology.

2.  Follow Laurel Ann Nattress on Facebook and Twitter, leaving a comment here that you did with your Facebook and Twitter names for 2 more entries.

3.  Leave a comment on my review for another entry.

4.  Blog, Tweet, Facebook the giveaway and leave a link here for up to 3 more entries.

Deadline is Nov. 7, 2011, at 11:59PM EST.

Winners to be drawn at random! Good luck to all!


  1. Nancye Davis says

    I Tweeted!


    nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net

  2. Nancye Davis says

    I Tweeted!


    nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net

  3. Nancye Davis says

    I Tweeted!


    nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net

  4. Nancye Davis says

    I follow Laurel Ann Nattress on Facebook and Twitter
    FB ID: Nancye Epperson Davis
    Twitter ID: @NancyeDavis

    nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net

  5. Nancye Davis says

    I follow Laurel Ann Nattress on Facebook and Twitter
    FB ID: Nancye Epperson Davis
    Twitter ID: @NancyeDavis

    nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net

  6. Nancye Davis says

    My favorite Halloween story is the “Headless Horseman”

    nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net

  7. I would like to win this book. The reviews sound interesting and if they are about Jane Austen I would like it even more. Have a great day.

  8. I posted on my blog about your giveaway – http://ejsbookshelf.wordpress.com/2011/11/01/jane-austen-made-me-do-it-giveaway/

    Good luck with the giveaway!

  9. I posted your giveaway on my facebook page – http://www.facebook.com/pages/BetweenTheCovers/284492708233028

  10. I commented on your review as eva.

  11. I would love to win this book because I love all things Austen (and Amanda Grange) Good luck on the giveaway!

  12. I love anything Jane Austen. I love the way the author has taken creative license here with short stories. I’m reading good things about the book so I’m quite intrigued to read it.


  13. Poe would be good for Halloween reading, as would IT, though I haven’t finished that as you know.

    “Intolerable Stupidity” was a hilarious story!

    No need to enter me, but I put the giveaway in my sidebar for you.

  14. My favorite Halloween story is Dracula – I never tire of it! What fun this collection will be to read!

  15. my fondest memory of halloween in going ‘trick or treating’ as a child for the sheer joy of it 🙂

    thanks for the opportunity to read this fabulous novel.

  16. Dont count me in as I am overseas but thanks for the post.


  1. […] away a copy…but I’m giving you the link to someone who is.  You can visit the giveaway here.  I hope you enjoy this book (if you win it). […]