The question I’m asked most often is Where do you get your ideas? (Usually with a note of incredulousness in the speaker’s voice.) And the answer is different for every book. For What Would Jane Austen Do? the plot came out of discussion on time travel with several author friends. The question to the table was If time travel were possible, would you go and whom would you want to meet? My response was in a heartbeat and Jane Austen. I love her books and reread them regularly.
I started thinking about it. Would I actually go? I’ve always enjoyed reading time travel, historical, and Regency romances. To go to a real Regency ball or country house party would be fascinating, a dream come true. Then I started thinking about what I would miss. In addition to my husband, family, and friends, there are so many modern things that I consider absolute necessities. Like plumbing. And electricity. And chocolate. The mental list of stuff I would miss got longer and longer. Maybe I wouldn’t go after all.
But I could send the heroine of a book back. The plot of What Would Jane Austen Do? was born. Eleanor Pottinger, a costume designer is in England for the Jane Austen Festival. A mix-up in reservations at the castle-turned-into-an-inn puts her in the haunted suite where she meets two ghostly sisters. The ghosts claim they can take Eleanor back in time if she promises to prevent the deadly duel that killed their beloved brother. In return, they will introduce her to her favorite author. Despite her disbelief, she agrees so that the ghosts will leave her alone. When the bed begins to spin inside a vortex of colored lights, Eleanor blames her lack of sleep and jet-lagged imagination and ducks under the covers. She wakes in 1814. When everyone assumes she is the long expected American cousin who finally arrived in time for the house party, she has no choice but to play along. She meets and is immediately attracted to the wicked Lord Shermont, duelist, rake, and as she later learns, agent for the crown trying to ferret out a ring of Napoleon’s spies. He finds her intriguing, but is suspicious of her uncharacteristic behavior. They dance around each other. He wants information, she can’t tell him the truth. She needs to prevent the duel, which hasn’t happened yet and which he denies is even a possibility. Everything comes to a crescendo the night of the ball.
Eleanor misses many of the things I would miss. One thing I would not miss is my computer. (I know… sacrilege!) I have this love/hate relationship with my computer. Mostly because I spend so many, many hours (between my job and writing) working on a computer that I can’t wait to get away from it. Which is why I’ve stayed away from things like MySpace and Twitter. I know I would spend hours at it if I ever got started. When I do really, really get away on a computer free vacation I don’t miss it until about day five. My cell is another matter entirely. That I would miss immediately.
How about you? If offered a chance, would you go back in time? Who would you want to meet? What would you miss most besides family and friends?