Guest Blogging and Post-Apocalyptic Persuasion FAQ

In all the excitement about announcing my new book yesterday, I forgot to point y’all to one of my guest blogs. Kate at Read This Book! asked me to blog about one of my favorite “lost” YA novels. I sing the praises of Gene Stratton Porter’s turn-of-the-century classic, A Girl of the Limberlost. Check it out.

Thank you all so much for your congratulations! I am so excited about this book. It’s a project that has both been a long time in the making, and that kind of flashed up on me quite suddenly. I thought I’d take this opportunity to answer some of the questions that were batted around in the comment section yesterday:

Lell asks: Given just the depths of your love for PERSUASION, was it at all daunting to write a retelling? Or was it one of those fun “This is what I was meant to write” situations with singing and bluebirds?

Actually, it was a little of both. For the better half of the decade, the words “a retelling of Persuasion” has been sitting in my “idea” file, with nothing to hook it onto. I’m a big fan of retellings in general, and I love Austen retellings like Clueless and Bridget Jones’s Diary. (BTW, the Bridget sequel is a very loose retelling of Persuasion.) After participating on a Dragon*Con panel last fall with Heidi Anne Heiner of Sur La Lune Fairy Tales (a fantastic woman and a fantastic site) I started thinking more seriously about how to attempt such a project (even though it’s not a fairy tale).

Around the same time, I started having conversations with my critique partner, Carrie Ryan, about how I, a great lover of Post-apocalyptic fiction, hadn’t written anything post-apocalyptic while there was a post-apocalyptic boom happening all around me. At some point, the words “Post-apocalyptic” and “Persuasion” came together and everyone involved had a lot of fun trying to pronounce it (especially after a few glasses of wine).

Of course, that was just the beginning. I had a lot of other questions I needed to answer before I could turn a phrase I had a lot of fun watching my agent try to pronounce five times fast into a book proposal.

Stacy asks: How the heck did you make it into a post-apocalyptic story?

Obviously, that was question number one. What was the apocalypse? Why did it happen? And, sorry guys, but I’m not going to tell you that yet. But, like all post-apocalyptic writers, I worked backwards. I’m writing about a very particular society so I had to craft an apocalypse that would result in that society. My husband (also a big science fiction fan) and I spent a lot of time trying to figure out all the details.

Stephanie asks: though what age will the heroine be? because i don’t think of Persuasion as a young adult book.

That was the other big question. As I said in my last post, I think of Persuasion as one of Austen’s most “mature” novels. The characters are older and wiser and have been burned before by the time of the story’s action. They aren’t giggly teenagers.

Then again, a lot of characters in contemporary post-apocalyptic YA aren’t giggly teenagers either: Katniss of The Hunger Games, Mary of The Forest of Hands and Teeth. Additionally, Astrid of Rampant and Ascendant is not a giggly teenager either. So once I started thinking about who these characters are, and how they’ve been shaped by the society they live in, it wasn’t difficult at all.

Just because you are diong a teenage retelling of Austen doesn’t mean you have to make the characters into something they are not. Cher of Clueless is clueless because Emma was as well. (And they took what? Twenty years off Paul Rudd’s Mr. Knightley character?) And, despite the fact that Anne and Wentworth are supposedly “older and wiser” they still have their fair share of silly behavior. After all, Anne has been moping for seven years, and Wentworth sets out initially on a petty quest to make her pay for rejecting him. That translates quite easily into the YA realm.

So, to answer your question, the main characters are teenagers.The book is YA.

Posted in Austen, PAP

5 Responses to Guest Blogging and Post-Apocalyptic Persuasion FAQ

  1. Jo Treggiari says:

    It just sounds so great, Diana! I can hardly bear the wait. Do you have a pub date yet?
    PS- my security word was ‘secret’.

  2. Celia says:

    I am SO glad that you are another A Girl of the Limberlost lover. I adore that book – in fact, I’ve re-read it at least 18 times. Maybe more…
    Anyway, it IS completely wonderful, and I did my own little ‘why is this book so awesome?’ post here.

  3. Jennifer says:

    I love that you threw these two random concepts together. LOVE IT. Can’t wait to read it.

    I’ve always wanted to do some kind of “modern” version of The Sherwood Ring, but darned if I can think of a way to do it…I’m not nearly as crafty as the characters were, alas!

  4. Amy C says:

    This book is very possibly my most anticipated of 2011! Please update us with more info as soon as you can. I mean, Persuasion… post-apocalyptic style? SQUEEEEE.

    ps. I like how your anti-spam words relate to your books!!

  5. phyllis towzey says:

    What exciting news, Diana — I can’t wait to read it! Congratulations 🙂