Juliet Archer’s “Emma”, Part 2 ~ Book Giveaway!

Life certainly gets in the way of blogging! – here is the promised Part 2 of my interview with Juliet Archer, author of The Importance of Being Emma, and a confessed “19th-century mind in a 21st-century body.”  [see Part 1 of this interview here].  Please see below for the book giveaway info… we welcome your queries and comments!

book cover importance of being emma


Deb:  Welcome back Juliet!  You mention in your last answer that the next novel in your series  “Jane Austen in the 21st Century Series”  is “Persuade Me”, after Austen’s “Persuasion”–  why did you start with “Emma”?

 JA:  Although Emma’s the first Austen modernisation I’ve had published, it’s actually my third attempt. I’ve done very early drafts of both Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion. When I realised how wide a gulf there was between writing something and getting it published, I focused on Emma because it was my most recent work and I thought it would need less doing to it. I was wrong! 

I think Emma is Austen’s most comic novel, so I was thrilled when The Importance of Being Emma was shortlisted for the 2009 Melissa Nathan Award for Comedy Romance.  

Deb:  [Congratulations on that! ] ~ What do you think Austen would say to your “meddling” with her story?  What would she say about all the sexual content? 

JA:  There’s been so much ‘meddling’ with Austen already that she’d probably be bored rigid by the time she got to The Importance of Being Emma! I hope she’d be proud to see her story adapt so well to a different time period and social setting, and that she’d be sympathetic to the changes I’ve made. Most of all, I hope she’d have a good laugh!

 As for the sexual content, for my hero and heroine it sits firmly within a framework of love, commitment and ultimately marriage – a scenario which comes across very strongly in the original novels. Given the world we live in, I felt I couldn’t modernise Austen without including some sexual content and, fortunately, readers seem to think I’ve struck the right balance.

 Deb:  I do agree with your readers here!  I think your characterization and plot devices are spot-on and the sexual scenes are so very well done, and of course we know how it ends – marriage IS the goal after all!  Which leads me to my next question:  We all do know this story and how it ends, so there are no surprises here – how did you go about creating enough interest and tension to make your reader want to keep turning those pages?  [I know that I did!] 

JA:  [Thank you!] First, with most mainstream romantic fiction, Austen-based or not, we can guess instantly who’s destined for whom – the interest is in how they get together. So in that respect my story’s no different from many others. Second, as you’ve already indicated, the alternating 1st person point of view helps to create interest and tension. And finally, in my opinion Austen does two things – effortlessly – that make the reader want to keep turning the pages: characterisation and dialogue, often laced with humour. By imitating her work, I hope I’ve written what many readers see as a ‘page turner’.

Deb:  Yes, indeed you have!   And now for a few personal questions if you don’t mind…  What else have you written? 

JA:  What started me writing novels was the BBC’s dramatisation of Gaskell’s North and South, starring Richard Armitage. So I’ve got a few modern ‘fanfics’ lying around and still hope to have a 21st-century version of North and South published – although not until I’ve got Austen modernisations out of my system. 

Before that, I wrote very bad, unpublishable poetry – rather like my version of Giles Benwick in Persuade Me.

 Deb:  The Armitage “North & South” adaptation seems to have set off a number of fan-fic writers – there are whole blogs devoted to it!  I would eagerly await your updated version – [and hopefully Mr. Armitage could be persuaded to play the part yet again…?] – but I digress! – What is your writing habit?

JA:  I work full-time in London Monday through Friday, so I fit my writing into my spare time and also get up early most mornings. In the evenings, a glass of wine is known to get me in the mood! My family keep me grounded and occasionally remember to feed me. 

Most of my first draft goes straight onto the computer – PC in the study, laptop in the garden or bed! But I’m always printing pages off so that I can read and edit on the train going to and from work. For me, there’s no substitute for the printed word – yet. 

Deb:  Oh, I like hearing about your love of the PRINTED word! Anything else you would like to share? 

JA:  I’m married with two teenage children and live in Hertfordshire, Pride and Prejudice country. Unlike Anne Elliot in Persuasion, I resisted well-meant advice and married young, before graduating from university with a First in French and Russian. Initially I worked in IT and company acquisitions, then ran my own consultancy business, and now I work for a national healthcare organisation. 

Finally, I love hearing from Jane Austen fans, so please visit my website – and I welcome readers to contact me directly.

Deb:  Thanks so much Juliet for visiting us and sharing your thoughts on the writing of YOUR “Emma”!   I wish you much success – and am looking forward to “Persuade Me ” and making the acquaintance of your Captain Wentworth! ~ Now Gentle Readers, please send in your queries and comments to participate in the book giveaway…


Book Giveaway:  Juliet has most graciously offered to answer any questions you might have for her – all queries and comments posted between today and midnight September 25, 2009 will be entered into a drawing for the free book giveaway, courtesy of Choc-Lit.  All are eligible to enter.

The Importance of Being Emma
by Juliet Archer
Harpenden, UK:  Choc-Lit, 2008   £7.99 / $13.07 [paperback]; also available in an ebook version direct from the publisher for £3.99 / $5.99
ISBN:  978-1-906931-20-9

[Posted by Deb]

13 thoughts on “Juliet Archer’s “Emma”, Part 2 ~ Book Giveaway!

  1. Hi Margay,

    Great to hear from you!

    For me, the most challenging aspect is maintaining the ‘silences’ between hero and heroine. In the originals, they would communicate in a very limited way, or not at all, even when they were in the same room – and the social conventions of the time made this acceptable and natural.

    My hero and heroine have no such social barriers and more methods of communication – mobiles, emails, etc. It’s therefore more difficult to be ‘incommunicado’ and I have to think of convincing reasons why, for example, Knightley wouldn’t just pick up the phone to Emma and so on. Fortunately, mobile phones can be switched off or their batteries occasionally go flat! And, in Persuade Me, an inaccurate email address is used …

    Juliet x


  2. Dear Juliet,

    Which character do you find it the most difficult to transform to modern setting?

    Btw, I’m looking forward to reading your next book ‘Persuade Me’ because I love Persuasion. Do you have an idea the exact date it is available in the market?



  3. Hi Luthien84,

    Great to hear from you!

    Hmmm, I think the ‘Most Difficult Character to Modernise’ Award will change from book to book.

    For The Importance of Being Emma, I took particular liberties with Mr Knightley (most enjoyable!) to make him – in my view – more appealing to a 21st-century reader, while keeping his dry sense of humour, generous nature (except where Churchill is concerned) and rather conservative ways. It was quite a challenge to make him recognisable as Austen’s hero but still change him, if you know what I mean.

    With Persuade Me, it’s Anne who’s been the most difficult to modernise. I have to make her more independent, to appeal to modern readers, yet still at her family’s beck and call – because one of the key themes of Persuasion is how little they value her. And I think that’s a scenario that will ring true with many women today – they are one person with their friends and work colleagues, but with their family they lapse into feelings of guilt or other old habits.

    End December for Persuade Me, I’m told!


    • Hi Laura,

      Glad you’re excited about a modern North & South. You may recognise Richard Armitage (the actor who played John Thornton in the BBC’s dramatisation) in one or two of my Jane Austen modernisations first!

      I think living in one of Austen’s settings and being able to visit others definitely inspires me. Hertfordshire is generally a very pretty green county and I can quite easily imagine Lizzy going for long walks and Darcy galloping across the horizon!

      I’ve just arranged a library talk at Lyme Regis so will combine that with research for Persuade Me. Even though I’ve been there before and already written the Cobb scene, I’m keen to get a fresh feel for the location.


  4. I’m excited you started your modern versions of Austen with Emma. I’ve always thought she was the most modern of Austen’s heroines. With her financial security, she can make choices like a modern woman. I look forward to reading your book!

    How did you manage to get the same initials as Jane Austen?


  5. Hello Juliet and thank you for taking time for the interview with Deb!

    I think that Jane would absolutely be honoured that women continue to draw inspiration from her writings and put a modern twist to the classics. Recently, I have enjoyed one or two of these modern Austenesque. As I read them, I like to see how close the author stays to the original and if any dialogue is duplicated.

    I look forward to reading you novel and eagerly anticipate “Persuade Me” as Persuasion is my favorite Austen novel.


  6. Hi Mkay,

    Thank you for your kind comments!

    I’m glad Persuasion is your favourite Austen novel. At the moment it’s mine too! I tend to submerge myself in the characters of the book I’m modernising and fall in love with them all over again.


  7. Wow, this sounds like such a great book! I think it’s funny that you have the same initials as Jane Austen and also live in “Austen Country”. Do you think living in Hertfordshire helped you ‘get into’ the Emma/Jane Austen mood?
    Congratulations on your publication!
    -Laura :)


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