When Headstrong Girls co-operate, rather than compete...
Please welcome June Williams and Debra Anne Watson. Along with Enid Wilson, they are co-authors of Headstrong Girls, a new collection of writings inspired by Jane Austen. June, Enid and Debra Anne met on-line in a Jane Austen community. After reading each other's stories for years, they decided to publish a collection together, with each person writing one-third of the content, and collaborating on a tag-along story.
Mary: Please introduce the ladies in your photo.
Debra Anne: The photo was taken a few years ago on a visit to San Francisco. I am on the far left. Next to me is Aimée Avery, author of A Little Bit Psychic: Pride & Prejudice, and Honor and Integrity. Next to her is Sara Angelini, author of The Trials of the Honorable F. Darcy and co-founder of Austen Underground, which Aimée and I help administer. On the right is June. Enid is from Down Under, and we haven’t managed to meet in person yet.
Mary: How did the three of you decide to collaborate on this book/collection?
June: One day, Enid, who has published a few JA-inspired novellas, read a comment from a sick reader at a forum, saying she wanted to combine a few short stories from her favorite authors to bring with her when she visited a doctor’s office. That was the inspiration for Honor and Integrity, a collaborative short-story collection, which was published last summer with Aimée and Enid. They both were extremely helpful in guiding me through the publishing process. I enjoyed the camaraderie when we were discussing and writing, so for Headstrong Girls, I was happy to join in again. This time, Debra Anne makes her debut.
Debra Anne: Yes, it has been a great experience. I’ve written three short stories for Headstrong Girls, Enid two stories and a short film script, and June one long short story.
June: We have a tag-along story, too, in which the three of us each write a section, but we cannot change what the previous writers did. The last writer has the hardest job—bringing all the threads together. Debra Anne volunteered to be that writer this time. It was as if Debra Anne had been reading Enid’s mind from the start. (Enid was quite evil, starting the story with Caroline Bingley accusing Elizabeth Bennet of being a murderer. Luckily, Mr. Darcy came to stand by Lizzy!)
Mary: Finishing each other’s section of stories without consulting with each other! That sounds challenging. You must have become very good friends.
June: Yes, almost everyone we’ve asked for help in the Jane Austen community has responded favorably, including more established authors such as you, Mary, for letting us post here and advising us about blogs. My legal story, No Cupid Contract, was edited by two amazing lawyers that I met for the first time through Georgia Girls Rock, a fun group within the JA community. I posted a cry for help, and they responded.
Debra Anne: I have edited for many JAFF authors over the years, but formatting for publishing was new to me. Enid was our manager, keeping us on target. I also want to credit Aimée for putting the bug in me for my story, Pride and Preservation, set on a wildlife preserve in South Africa.
Mary: Why did Aimee suggest a story set in South Africa?
Debra Anne: It wasn’t the locale she suggested. When Aimée’s stories have cliffhangers, she blames a mischievous monkey named Cliff (Hanger), who I’ve borrowed a time or two myself. Aimée mentioned that Cliff wanted me to “write a story with monkeys in it.” The story wouldn’t leave me alone until I wrote it. That monkey must have been hopped up on Banana Krimpets!
June: That story has some beautiful imagery: a baby samango monkey that is hand-fed by Lizzy (a veterinarian), a colourful sunset over the South African plain, an injured lioness, wild dogs, a blue crane with a five-foot wingspan, a boa constrictor – oh, wait, that was Caroline Bingley.
Mary: Sounds like fun, and it has familiar characters from Pride and Prejudice.
June: The rule was to use the term “Headstrong Girl” in each story. The girls are Caroline Bingley, Lady Catherine, Emma Woodhouse, and Jane Fairfax, not to mention JA’s memorable gentlemen and a few new characters we invented.
Debra Anne: But it’s not all fluffy. People get killed in some of the stories. And we couldn’t write an Austen-inspired work without Wickham appearing somewhere, although he’s not always the main villain.
Mary: The result of all your efforts is available now?
Debra Anne: Yes, Headstrong Girls, a bit of mystery, a bit of love, all inspired by Jane Austen, is available in any good e-book store.
Thank you, ladies. It’s been a pleasure. Mary
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Headstrong Girls is available at: