August 31st 2010

The Wayfarers visiting a church, Jane Austen Country
By Julie Johnson: Julie, a life-long Jane Austen fan, is The Wayfarers US Operations Manager and Alaska Walk Leader. Q & A with Beth Pattillo, author of Jane Austen Ruined My Life has just returned from the Jane Austen walking vacation. Between research and deadlines, we caught up with Beth to chat about her love of Jane Austen, writing, travel and her next book.... In preparing for my trip next week to visit Jane Austen Country, I searched my library to see if there was anything related to her that I would like to read again – the first that came to mind was 'Jane Austen Ruined My Life,' by Beth Pattillo. It’s a fun yet poignant story that leads the main character on a scavenger hunt designed by a 'secret' Jane Austen Society. Turns out that the hunt takes our heroine, Emma (of course!) to many of the places I’d be visiting on our Wayfarers Jane Austen walk. When I learned the author, Beth Pattillo, had been on the same walk earlier this season, I knew I wanted to chat with her! Julie Johnson: How did you find out about the Wayfarers? Beth Pattillo: I found the Wayfarers online when I was looking for Bronte-related tours. Sadly, I was too late to get a place in the Bronte tour last fall, but the wonderful folks at Wayfarers told me about the new Jane Austen tour. Since I'd written two Jane Austen-related novels and was contracted for a third, the trip was right up my alley. JJ: Was this trip different from your other trips to England? BP: Two years ago, I did a one day 'Jane Austen' tour through Hampshire with the help of a very kind guide. It whetted my appetite for a more in-depth experience. The walking tour allowed me to experience all the wonderful Jane Austen sites at a more leisurely pace. It also allowed me to get a taste of what Jane Austen's own 'walking' life must have been like. Walking the paths where she walked was truly inspiring! JJ: Have you been able to put your finger on why Jane Austen's work inspires you? Why it seems to be so enduring through the generations? BP: Jane Austen continues to inspire us and to endure because of her complex and relatable characters. We all know people like Fanny Dashwood (horrible and self-serving) or Anne Elliott (put-upon but patient despite all that). Austen's plots also hold up well not only in the novels themselves but as they are adapted to stage and screen. Truly a master of her craft! JJ: Has this Wayfarer trip sparked your interest in writing another Jane Austen-inspired novel? BP: I went on the Jane Austen Country tour to research my next novel, The Dashwood Sisters Tell All (Guideposts Books, Spring 2011). I wanted to write about sisters, and so my characters will follow in the footsteps of Jane and Cassandra Austen. They will also encounter handsome men who could be scoundrels or heroes, a secret diary that may lead to the biggest Jane Austen secret ever, and a mysterious woman who leads a secret Jane Austen society. It's a tough job, having to travel to Hampshire and London for research, but I'm happy to take one for the team. ; ) You can find Beth’s book, 'Jane Austen Ruined My Life,' on the Wayfarers reading list.

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