Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Headstrong Girls - An Interview


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

GIVEAWAY!!!! To help celebrate the publication of Headstrong Girls, the authors are hosting a giveaway of one e-book of Headstrong Girls.

The fine print: Leave a comment by March 12 about a time when a stranger helped you with something. Winner will be announced on March 13. Entry is open worldwide. Because my blog does not capture e-mail addresses, you must leave an address where I can contact you.

Headstrong Girls is available at:

36 comments:

  1. Congratulations on the release. I wish you all the best.

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  2. Quite a fun party, Mary, June and Debra Anne. Can I have a cup of hot chocolate instead?

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    1. Hi Enid, I'm not a coffee drinker either. Drink iced tea all day long.

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  3. Congrats on releasing your new anthology! Sounds like some great stories.

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  4. It never ceases to amaze me. There seems no limit to the imagination of JAFF writers, and of their willingness to help each other! That's been my experience also. When I was first starting out, an author named Jennifer Becton patiently gave me the benefit of her experience. And I've since been able to do the same for others. Congratulations on your successful colaboration, ladies!

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    1. Ooh, Jennifer Becton! That's wonderful to hear. I'm so excited to hear about you passing on the favor. "Paying it forward" is real.

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  5. I love the title and can almost hear the ring in Lady C's tone when she says it. It was fun meeting everyone in the posse.

    Congrats!

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    1. Heh-heh! I've never thought of us as a posse, but we do ride together. Thank you, Sophia Rose!

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  6. Congrats on your release, ladies! Headstrong Girls sounds like a great anthology! :)
    BTW, when I used to have time to read works online before they were published, I read several of Debra Anne's stories and really enjoyed them. With a great group of writers, I am sure your latest release will be a success!

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    1. Debra Anne has some memorable stories. I still chuckle at her Sirius (Darcy's dog) who was so proud of getting Caroline's shoe.

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    2. Thanks, Jakki! I've been contributing to our community almost as long as I've been aware of it, and have met the most wonderful and helpful people here. Still, it is always lovely to hear someone enjoyed my work.

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  7. Sounds like a fun collection of stories! The story that you all had different sections to write sounds interesting! It must have been very challenging to write, and fun too!

    Thanks for the chance to win a copy!
    canapple7 (at) cox (dot) net

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    1. It's definitely challenging to write only PART of a story and then pass it to someone else, but it's very enjoyable. It never turns out the way you expect. Thank you for posting!

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  8. I met this stranger in a Dunkin Donuts and spent hours with her, picking her brain about life and Austen and everything... ;) She turned out to be a kindred spirit!

    I love anthology because I feel a sense of accomplishment when I can finish a story in one setting.

    No need to enter me in the drawing, as I'm off to order this ebook for my next trip.

    Congratulations on your book, ladies!

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    1. We are way overdue for a DD meet-up. :)

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    2. Thank you, Nina! Good things really do happen at Dunkin Donuts -- besides chocolate.

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  9. This sounds like a fun read! Short story collections are great because you can get a little bit of everything all in one book. I'm a little worried now about the whole people-getting-killed thing but depending on who those people are, I'll probably get over it. ;)

    Congratulations on the publication and thanks for the giveaway! I'm still contemplating the question about the stranger helping me out with something. Is it bad that I can't think of anything?

    monicaperry00 at gmail dot com

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    1. You know us -- only the bad guys get killed off. Muahaha!

      Thanks for posting, Monica.

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  10. What a great interview!
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the anthology and congrats on its release!!
    p.s. A stranger helped me more than once when I was traveling...from finding the right gate to safely stashing my luggage. There are some very kind people out there ;).

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    1. Thank you, Marilyn! It's a good thing for all of us that there are some very kind people out there in the world. :=)

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  11. I absolutely love short story anthologies. One of my favorites being, Jane Austen Made Me Do It. I loved reading one story a night before falling asleep. So needless to say I would do a little Jane Austen dance of joy if I won this drawing. :)

    I wish all three of you the best when it comes to the success of your new release. How exciting!!!

    My story:

    On Thanksgiving day eight years ago my husband and I were traveling to visit his dad (roads were rather slippery) when the pickup truck that we were driving in slid off of an overpass and our truck rolled down a hill. We rolled over 3 and a half times and wound up upside down. Strangers came running down the hill it seemed, while we were still rolling. People were picking up our belongings that had scattered all over. One man with whom I call my "angel" held my head until the ambulance came. I had cuts and scrapes all over the top of my head which were bleeding. Luckily, they were all superficial. Other people offered to take their turn holding my head because he didn't have a coat on and was shivering. He wouldn't budge. I was and still am so thankful for him. He looked, acted, and smelled just like my grandpa who died when I was twelve. In case you are wondering what I mean by smelled... he had a butterscotch candy in his mouth. Just like my grandfather always did.

    The kindness of strangers is such a beautiful thing! :)

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    1. What a lovely story. I've been helped by strangers as well. It stays with you.

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    2. Kimberly, I was holding my breath at the thought of you sliding off the overpass and rolling over in your pickup truck. WOW! I am so glad there were people helping you. The butterscotch candy was truly a special sign. Thank you for sharing that!

      PS - please leave us your email address.

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  12. Wow, so many lovely stories about the kindness from strangers. Make my heart warm up. Thank you for sharing.

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  13. I've read quite a few of Enid's books. I particularly like the short stories, they are such fun! I don't believe I've read anything by the other ladies. I would like to enter for the giveaway but I have no good stories about strangers helping me. I've been helped by people but I've always known them! Kimberley, your story is amazing, I'm so glad everybody pulled together to help you and that you recovered.

    Frawli1978 at gmail dot com

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  14. Congratulations on the book
    My husband and I landed in Toronto airport (this was when we were still living in Britain) and a complete stranger helped us find the way around and got us to exactly where we needed to be

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    1. I hate being lost at airports and in strange places! I'm so glad someone helped you navigate in Toronto.

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  15. Congratulations!! I think the title, 'Headstrong Girls' is great and would make JA proud. Anthologies are my favorite.

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    1. It's a wonderful title, and we're just surprised that it hadn't been taken already.

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  16. Congratulations, ladies. I do so love short stories as I get a bit of everything from Regency to modern times, etc. I have the pleasure three anthologies but the best would be Jane Austen Made Me Do It.

    I don't remember helping strangers in a big way, rather it is small ways such as telling the person and pointing him or her to the right direction.

    evangelineace2020(at)yahoo(dot)com

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    1. Helping in small ways is still very much appreciated, and I speak from experience as someone who gets easily lost. XD

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  18. Thank you so much for sharing your stories and for your congratulations! We're all very happy for your support.

    I've had so many strangers help me in this lifetime, many going well out of their way. I've given this a lot of thought, leaving this window open while going on to other things and coming back. I thought I had chosen, but then changed my mind and thought some more.

    One that is easy to tell but was so very special was when I was in an auto accident several years ago, with both of my kids in the car. Airbags deployed and my car was totaled, but we were completely fine. It was January, clear and dry, but night and below freezing. A lady who did not witness the incident, but was not far behind, put my kids in her warm car, then stood by and comforted me and made sure I was all right. I never got her name, and have no idea what happened after we were put in the ambulance (my nearly 4 daughter had a bruise from her seat belt, that was all, but they had to make sure that was the only reason her tummy hurt), and while I'm sure I thanked her at some point, it probably was not sufficient for the gratitude I felt toward her.

    Good luck to everyone, and thank you again!

    *hugs*
    DA

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