Guest Post: The Home of Visual Imagination by Amanda Grange

Amanda Grange is one of the most well-known writers of Austenesque retellings from Mr. Darcy’s Diary to her latest Henry Tilney’s Diary.  Henry Tilney is one of the main characters in Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey, which is the novelist’s sarcastic take on the Gothic novel and its frivolity.

Grange’s diary series of books focus on the heroes of Austen’s novels, though there is one about a villain Wickham.  In all of these diary books, Grange gives readers an inside look into the thoughts and pasts of Austen’s male characters, and she does it all while keeping with Austen’s vision and wit.

Today, I’ve got an inside peek into Grange’s writing space and habits.  Please give her a warm welcome and stay tuned for a giveaway.

I do a lot of my writing in my head before I commit anything to paper. When I’m writing my Jane Austen retellings, I start by rereading the original novel. If it’s a nice day, I do this outside, often going to a nearby stately home or formal garden so that I can soak up the elegant, leisurely atmosphere of days gone by. As I read, I let my mind wander over all the questions that occur to me. What was Henry like as a child and young man? What kind of relationship did he have with his parents and siblings? What was life like for him when his mother died? When did he discover a love for Gothic novels? Where did he read them?

I have a very visual imagination, and as I ask the questions, I build pictures in my mind. This is easier if I’m somewhere spacious and elegant, as I can look around and imagine the characters walking round a corner or sitting in an arbour.

Sometimes I will start writing longhand, on a large notepad, and I often do this out of doors if the weather is good. I’ve written quite a few scenes sitting on the bench in the photo, which is at a nearby stately home. Then, once I’m in full flow I move onto the computer. My study is very plain, because once I get down to the actual business of writing, I don’t like distractions. The walls are a neutral colour without any pictures and there is no furniture apart from essential office furniture. My desk is large because I’m an untidy worker and I need space for all my notes, as well as my research books. I start off in an organised fashion, making neat notes in a word document, but I soon resort to scribbling things down on any piece of paper that comes to hand – an envelope, a copy of the Radio Times, anything. If I’m out, I make notes in a notebook I keep in my handbag, except when I forget it, which is often. Then I will scribble ideas down on an old receipt, train ticket or in fact anything that can be written on. I end up with a jumble of papers on my desk and I daren’t throw anything away in case it turns out to be vital.

Once the book is finished, I throw everything away with a great sense of freedom and tidy my study, which remains pristine until I start the next book. I always say I will take a break before starting the next book, but in fact I get itchy fingers and it’s usually only a week or so before I’m raring to go again.

Thanks for sharing your writing space with us. To enter for 1 copy of Henry Tilney’s Diary by Amanda Grange:

1. Leave a comment on this post about what Austen villain you’d like to see write a diary.

2. Blog, Tweet (@SavvyVerseWit), or Facebook the giveaway for up to 3 more entries.

3. Follow this blog and let me know for another entry.

Deadline Dec. 20, 2011, at 11:59PM EST. US/Canada only


  1. I’d love to read Catherine de Bourg’s diary, beginning in her childhood!

    **Following the blog on Networked Blogs

    **Tweet: http://twitter.com/#!/lhartness/status/148216440007299072

    Thanks for the giveaway!

    Laura Hartness
    CalicoCritic at gmail dot com

  2. Melinda Borrell says

    I think the most interest book would be about Henry in Masfield Park — he comes so close to winning Fanny Price, but blows it in the end with his assignation/seducton of Maria. JA is so coy about talking about sexual passion, but it resides in the background of her books. Surely, the better angels of Henry’s nature fail to guard him from his love of seduction, and he pays a rather heavy price — of course, not as heavy as Maria’s. His ability to justify his treatment of Maria and Fanny would make for very interesting diaries!

  3. I am a blog follower

  4. I’d like to read more about Willoughby, too. What drives him?

  5. I would definitely love to read Willoughby’s story big time!! I know how liberating it can be to just throw stuff away!! I hope Amanda reads our comments!! 😀

  6. I would like to read a Willoughby’s diary. I think it would be the most interesting.

    I posted your giveaway on facebook = 1 entry

    I blogged about the giveaway = 1 entry

    I followed your blog = 1 entry


  7. I’d love to see a diary of William Elliot (Persuasion). No need to enter me, but I’ve added the giveaway to my sidebar.

  8. I do wonder what goes on in Henry’s head, cool 🙂

  9. There are so many Austen spinoffs, so I’m unsure what has been done already, but I think an author could do a wickedly funny diary by William Collins, from Pride and Prejudice.

  10. I’m not sure I would enjoy the diary of a villain, but perhaps it would be interesting to try to understand Willoughby.

  11. Hm, I’d like to see George Wickham (from Pride and Prejudice) write a diary. That guy is one villain character who can both infuriate and gain sympathizers at the same time.

    Tweeted from @EvangelineHan for +1 entry. I tagged @SavvyVerseWit in the tweet.

    Followed this blog for +1 entry. GFC name: Evangeline Han

    Thanks for the giveaway.


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