Today, I'm excited to announce the start of a blog series of guest posts! All about... retellings!!! I have authors lined up for a few weeks, sharing about their retellings of Jane Austen, Fairytales, Biblical parables, and more! I can't wait for you all to meet these authors and learn more about their retelling processes! Starting us off is Sarah Holman!
Meet Sarah Holman...
What if Jane Austen’s Emma lived in America in the year 1930?
The talk of stock market crashes and depression isn’t going to keep Emmeline Wellington down. Born to wealth and privilege, Emmeline wants nothing more than to help her new friend, Catarina, find a husband. Emmeline sets her sights on one of the town’s most eligible bachelors, but nothing seems to go right. Even her friend and neighbor Fredrick Knight seems to question her at every turn.
Will she help Catarina find the man of her dreams? Why is her father acting so strangely? Will the downturn affect her life, despite her best efforts?
Working Together to Retell Stories
A Note from Sarah...
Retelling a story can be challenging. I’ve written my own short-story versions of three fairy-tales (Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, and Snow Queen). However, when a friend inspired me to start a series retelling Jane Austen’s novels, I knew this was going to be a whole different kind of project.
Having wanted to try to do a group project for a long time, I invited some friends to each take a novel. We each picked one of Jane Austen’s famous stories, wrote a novel, and promoted them together. I learned a lot along the way. Today, I thought I would share some of the important things I learned and some things I got right. I’ll also share some fun things about the series!
What Went Right
I came up with a couple of things to tie the series of novels together. First, all the books would be set in the 1930’s (different years, same decade). No major plot points from the original book would be changed (No Lizzie and Mr. Collins getting married). And we had one character who made a cameo appearance in each story based loosely on Jane Austen herself. Having this in common, we moved forward.
Having a time in history we were all researching together was very helpful. We would post interesting things we found out and ask questions of each other. The burden of the research being shared was such a blessing. No one had to do a crazy amount of research, everyone did some.
We created a Facebook group. Where we discussed our books, research, and hashed everything out. We also continue to use it to plan promotional events and the like. Having a group is such a great way to stay connected.
We were very blessed to have someone who was excited about the project who helped set us up a website. Having one website to send people to for a multi-author project was such a blessing.
I think the biggest lesson I learned was that many expectations have to be spelled out. Because of the authors I chose, I figured we were all on the same page when it came to the standards of the content of our books. While that was mostly true, some things that seemed obvious to some of the authors weren’t to others. I learned to spell out expectations for what is and isn’t allowed as well as the tone of each story.
Group projects where you’re working together to build a series can be difficult for new writers or designers, as there’s a lot of pressure and time constraints. While obviously not a hard rule, I think experience is something to take into account.
One other thing I’ve learned is to make sure you have the costs spelled out the members upfront. It will cost something for cover and such, make sure that (as much as you can) you have those numbers to give to people upfront. Surprising people is not a good idea.
How it All Turned Out
I still get so excited when I see people read one of our books! We all worked together and when anyone succeeds, it feels like a victory for all of us! I loved seeing how each author took the story, adapted it, and made me love it all over again. Yes, I like some of the stories better then others, but that’s to be expected.
I loved revisiting an old favorite and taking the characters to a new setting. We all had to admit that transferring the stories to the 1930’s was relatively easy. Many aspects of the story fit well into this historical setting.
Doing this project has made me want to do more group projects. In fact, I’m working with a group to do a special Christmas novella collection. I also have a couple other ideas for some group projects in the works. If you want to keep up with that, you can join my newsletter.
Now, I’d like to share my retellings with some of you! I’m giving away an audiobook bundle to one person and three other people will get some of them too! Enjoy!