About the book
According To Jane is Marilyn Brant's debut.
It begins one day in sophomore English class, just as Ellie Barnett's teacher is assigning Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice". From nowhere comes a quiet 'tsk' of displeasure. The target: Sam Blaine, the cute bad boy who's teasing Ellie mercilessly, just as he has since kindergarten. Entirely unbidden, as Jane might say, the author's ghost has taken up residence in Ellie's mind, and seems determined to stay there.
Jane's wise and witty advice guides Ellie through the hell of adolescence and beyond, serving as the voice she trusts, usually far more than her own. Years and boyfriends come and go - sometimes a little too quickly, sometimes not nearly fast enough. But Jane's counsel is constant, and on the subject of Sam, quite insistent. Stay away, Jane demands. He is your Mr. Wickham.
Still, everyone has something to learn about love - perhaps even Jane herself. And lately, the voice in Ellie's head is being drowned out by another, urging her to look beyond everything she thought she knew and seek out her very own, very unexpected, happy ending.
About the author
As a former teacher, library staff member, freelance magazine writer and national book reviewer for Romantic Times, Marilyn has spent much of her life lost in literature. She received her M.A. in educational psychology from Loyola University Chicago, dabbled in both fiction and art at Northwestern University, studied the works of Austen at Oxford University and is an active member of the Jane Austen Society of North America. Her debut novel won RWA's prestigious Golden Heart Award® in 2007. Marilyn lives in the northern Chicago suburbs with her family, but she also hangs out online at her blog "Brant Flakes." When she isn't rereading Jane's books or enjoying the latest releases by her writer friends, she's working on her next novel, eating chocolate indiscriminately and hiding from the laundry.
Her website: http://www.marilynbrant.com
I asked, Marilyn answered
A. What's the scariest thing that's ever happened to you? Bonus question: have you ever used it in a book?
M. I was on a dance tour in Europe when I was 19, and I happened to have a free day in Geneva, Switzerland. So, I was walking around--by myself--in their downtown area near the famous lake, sightseeing, and this dark-haired guy started following me. He said a few words to me in a language I didn’t understand, so I’m not at all sure what he wanted, but there was something in his body language that convinced me it wasn’t some friendly “careful, don’t drop your camera in the water” kind of comment. After a minute or two, he was close enough and I was sufficiently freaked out enough to start running. It was a crowded area, so I didn’t have any trouble dodging him and ducking into a building, but I was frightened--no doubt about it. Haven’t used it in a book. Yet.
A. Mystery writers often give their characters an unreasoning fear - and then make them face it. Do you have any phobias, like fear of spiders or enclosed spaces?
M. I absolutely HATE celery. That’s not an official phobia, but I think it should be. The stuff is so horrible it scares me… [April says: I hate it too! I used to tell people I was deathly allergic.] I’m not wild about bugs and rodents (scampering mice and rats make me scream), but my biggest fears involve having to get up onstage in front of hundreds or thousands of people. I’ve done it a number of times anyway, but the heart-pounding, nausea-creating feeling never goes away.
A. Do you have a favorite mystery book, author, or movie? M. I love mysteries, so I have lots of favorites! I was an insatiable Nancy Drew reader as a kid. I also loved the gothic romantic mysteries of Phyllis A. Whitney and Victoria Holt. More recently, I fell in love with Janet Evanovich and have read most of her novels now, too.
A. At its heart, every story is a mystery. It asks why someone acts the way they did - or maybe what will happen next. What question does your book ask? M> Why is Jane Austen in my main character’s mind? Why did Jane choose HER to visit, rather than someone else? A. Is there a mystery in life that you are still trying to figure out?
M. I think one of the big mysteries is “What gives life meaning?” I believe we answer that question differently at different ages--and it all depends on how we view the world--but it’s a mystery I keep returning to and trying to answer for myself with greater depth.