Other writing

"Cousin Eliza" by Massimo Mongiardo for YOUNG JANE AUSTEN by Lisa PliscouJane Austen’s Glamorous, Fascinating Cousin Eliza
As I was devouring Jane Austen biographies a few years ago — a rapid-fire binge which began as purely reading for pleasure, and then almost without my noticing it evolved into research for my Young Jane Austen: Becoming a Writer — the revelation of Cousin Eliza burst onto my imagination like a firecracker. continue reading »

Young Jane Austen CoverCelebrating Jane Austen, “Badass” Birthday Girl
What a pleasure to talk with writer Annie Scholl about one of my favorite people: Jane Austen, whose birthday was celebrated worldwide last month. Our interview appeared on the Huffington Post shortly before the Big Day. continue reading »

 Your Atomic Self: The Invisible Elements That Connect You to Everything Else in the Universe by Curt StagerA Jane Austen Birthday Toast
I had the pleasure this past weekend to participate in the annual Jane Austen Birthday Gala hosted by the Jane Austen Society of Northern California. Along with my conversation with Holly Brady — in a Q&A entitled “Obstinate, Headstrong Girl” — I’d been invited to offer a champagne toast to kick off the high tea. continue reading »

James Austen, the oldest brother of Jane AustenYoung Jane Austen: the “Writer of the Family”?
The oldest brother of Jane Austen is a minor, yet intriguing figure in her life story. Twelve years older than Jane, as a young man James wrote poetry, essays, and theatrical pieces. Their mother Mrs. Austen — literary herself, who as a child was declared the poet of the family — apparently seemed to feel that James was the writer of the family. continue reading »

Donald SutherlandAusten in August: A Virtual Roundtable
I recently had the pleasure of participating in the Book Rat’s annual Austen in August event, joining fellow Austen-y authors Maria Grace, Cecilia Gray, Margaret C. Sullivan, and Laurie Viera Rigler in a lively roundtable of virtual conversation. continue reading »

"Leaving Home" by Massimo Mongiardo in Lisa Pliscou's "Young Jane Austen: Becoming a Writer"Jane Austen at School: “I Could Have Died of Laughter”
When Jane Austen was seven, she and her older sister Cassandra were sent to boarding school in the house of a distant relative. This Mrs. Cawley was said to be cold and stiff — hardly a warm motherly figure welcoming the arrival of two little girls now far from the familiarity, the security, the friendly routine of home. continue reading »

Winston ChurchillTop 10 Reasons to Read Jane Austen
Because I came to appreciate — and love — the work of Jane Austen later in life, I’ll admit I’m a bit of an evangelist on the subject. I regret to say that had you asked me, a decade or so ago, about Austen, I might have vaguely answered, “Oh, yeah, she was the English gal who lived a long time ago and wrote that cute story ‘Pride and Prejudice.’” continue reading »

"In the Evening": illustration by Massimo Mongiardo in Lisa Pliscou's biography YOUNG JANE AUSTEN: BECOMING A WRITERYoung Jane Austen: Creativity, Inspiration, Grit
Although Jane Austen is widely acknowledged as one of the world’s greatest writers, there’s woefully little known about her creative development as a young person. She left behind no journal or diary; although she wrote a great many letters, only around 160 remain today, and these were edited by her older sister, which only deepens the mystery. continue reading »

Final illustration for "The Dressing Room" by Massimo Mongiardo in Lisa Pliscou's "Young Jane Austen: Becoming a Writer"Creating the “Dressing Room” Illustration
As a key element of Young Jane Austen: Becoming a Writer, I knew I wanted illustrations to accompany the narrative. This was rather a leap creatively, as currently there exist only two identifiable images of Jane Austen; both of them show her as an adult, and in one her face is entirely shielded by her bonnet. continue reading »

Tara Altebrando: Our Lives in Dioramas
My supremely talented friend, writer Tara Altebrando, always comes up with clever, fun ways to launch her new books, and with My Life in Dioramas (Running Kids Press, April 2015) she’s outdone herself. She’s asked some fellow writers to create dioramas inspired by their own books, and I couldn’t have been more flattered (and more intimidated) when she invited me to join in the fun. continue reading »

Pride & Prejudice BBCOn Jane Austen: Creativity, Inspiration & Success
I came to real admiration of Jane Austen later, rather than sooner, in life. In high school I found her books boring, irrelevant, and impenetrable, and in college I was a Chaucer-and-Shakespeare kind of English major along with getting into modernists like Mary Robison and Raymond Carver, so I really skimmed over the Georgian and Regency periods of English literature. continue reading »

"In the Village" by Massimo Mongiardo in Young Jane Austen by Lisa PliscouYoung Jane Austen: On Being ‘Farmed Out’ As a Baby
Here is a picture of a mystery. It is a fanciful illustration of Jane Austen at around age one. When Jane was four months old, she was given into the care of a village family, as had been her older siblings. She remained there for a year or so. Austen family lore assures us that her parents visited every day, and that the chief caretaker, Nanny Littleworth, was a “good woman.” continue reading »

From the chapter called "Reading." Illustration by Massimo Mongiardo in Lisa Pliscou's "Young Jane Austen: Becoming a Writer." (Wyatt-MacKenzie Publishing)What Jane Read: A Turning Point
When Jane Austen was eleven, her formal schooling — which entailed two stints in boarding schools, neither of which it seems she particularly enjoyed — ended. But once again established at home, she was fortunate to have the run of her family’s unusually extensive collection of books, as well as the library of her neighbors, the Lefroys, to which she is said to have free access. continue reading »

Jane Austen: A Life by Claire TomalinQ & A with Austenesque Reviews
Q. How about we start off with you telling us a little bit about yourself. When and where did you first encounter Jane Austen? A. I’m a longtime writer and editor, working in the realms of both children’s books and books for adults. Not that I have a favorite either way, but there’s no doubt that I’m thoroughly steeped in the literary experience of childhood . . . continue reading »

cover of BY THE BOOKJane Austen: Party Pooper?
It can be great fun to learn about the creative process of writing luminaries, so recently I picked up with delight By the Book: Writers on Literature and the Literary Life. What a cornucopia! David Sedaris, J.K. Rowling, Richard Ford, Katherine Boo, Dave Eggars, Jared Diamond, Michael Connelly, Anne Lamott, Dave Barry, Donna Tartt — to name just a few from the juicy table of contents. continue reading »

Hilary SwankOn Hilary Swank and Jane Austen
Idly leafing through today’s entertainment section in the Sacramento Bee, I came across an interview with Hilary Swank — what I supposed was the usual puff piece accompanying the review of her new film, The Homesman. continue reading »