Interview with The Lady Janies Author Team

Posted by Goodreads on June 11, 2018
The author team behind the YA historical fantasy My Lady Jane returns with a supernatural sequel, My Plain Jane. A retelling of Jane Eyre, this novel reimagines Charlotte Brontë's eponymous character as a young ghost hunter.

With the rare ability to see spirits and apparitions, Jane uses her talent to escape the confines of Lowood School and embark on a thrilling Gothic adventure. Goodreads asked authors Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows over email to share what inspired The Lady Janies series as well as their list of YA historical must-reads.

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Goodreads: Describe the premise of My Plain Jane.

Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows: The short pitch for My Plain Jane is that it's Jane Eyre meets Ghostbusters. What we do with The Lady Janies novels is take a girl who has been kind of screwed over by history, and we rewrite her tragic story as a comedy and try to give her a better ending than the one she got in real life. We do understand that Jane Eyre is a fictional character, but in My Plain Jane we assert that Jane Eyre was a real person, and she was friends with an aspiring writer named Charlotte Brontë (who was also kind of screwed over in life, and died young and tragically), and we are retelling their story together.

In addition to rewriting history, The Lady Janies series always adds an element of fantasy as a way to constantly remind the reader that it's not real history we're dealing with here. In My Plain Jane we added the existence of ghosts, which seemed like a no-brainer because Jane Eyre as a novel was already interested in the idea of the ghostly, and the afterlife, and the supernatural. We tell the story as an alternate version of Brontë's classic tale, in which Jane Eyre has the ability to see ghosts, a rare and dangerous talent, and has been quietly hiding this ability during her time at Lowood School.

GR: What inspired The Lady Janies series?

CH, BA, JM: Two things: our desire to spend more time together as friends and do a project together, and Cynthia's initial idea about rewriting the story of Lady Jane Grey (My Lady Jane), which led to the notion that we would rewrite the stories of girls who had been overlooked or abused by history.

GR: Readers love your take on YA historical fiction. What draws you to this genre? Have you noticed any trends?

CH, BA, JM: There's something so fun and satisfying about getting to rewrite tragic stories. We write these books because we love to write the comedy—there aren't a lot of opportunities to write straight comedy these days—and because we love to learn about and research the history. The only trend we've really noticed is the way more and more writers are turning to history, especially with an eye toward writing about women and feminism, which we think is great and exactly what we ourselves are attempting to do.

GR: What YA historical fiction books do you recommend?

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This is an up-and-coming retelling of the Guy Fawkes story, mixed with magic and romance in a way that we found truly delightful.

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Got to love a gender-swapped retelling of the story of Dracula. This story is so transporting.

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One of the best novels about the role of women in World War II, and just darned good storytelling.

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We'll read anything written by Saundra Mitchell, but we particularly like The Springsweet, which takes place in the Old West. This novel also mixes history and magic, and Mitchell does this so flawlessly.

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Another Wild West story—this one has heart-stopping action and an amazing, driven, complex female lead character. Loved this one.

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This novel moves back and forth between present day and the Tulsa race riot of 1921, and it's an excellent story to make you ponder how history is still relevant today.

My Plain Jane is now available. Don't forget to add it to your Want to Read shelf! Be sure to also read more of our exclusive author interviews, and get more great book recommendations.

Comments Showing 1-11 of 11 (11 new)

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message 1: by PollyAnna (new)

PollyAnna Joy So excited to red My Plain Jane!!!!!

message 2: by Brittney (new)

Brittney Andrews (beabookworm) I am going to Chapters on my lunch break today to pick up a copy. I've been "patiently" waiting for this book to come out. <3

message 3: by Taylor (new)

Taylor Rose I can’t wait to read this book!!!

message 4: by Kate (new)

Kate Soooo excited for My Plain Jane! Can't wait to get my hands on it and read!

message 5: by Francesca (new)

Francesca Scanlan Gosh, I’m so excited for this book! My Lady Jane was one of the best books I’ve read in the past few years!

message 6: by 4cats (new)

4cats This sounds atrocious. The premise is wrong and the assumption that Bronte was "screwed over" is a lie. She was a feminist, a strong female who fought against the establishment and had the power and drive to get her own work as well as her sisters work published in a patriarchal society. She worked and lived alone in Belgium (again not something women did in Victorian society), her heroes were not Austen but Wellington and Thackeray. Yes she died fairly young but in 1850's Haworth (her home) over 40% of children died before the age of 6!! If you are going to fictionalise history, just check your facts as there are many readers out there who would take this as fact.

message 7: by Rachael (new)

Rachael 4cats wrote: "This sounds atrocious. The premise is wrong and the assumption that Bronte was "screwed over" is a lie. She was a feminist, a strong female who fought against the establishment and had the power an..."

The authors of the Lady Janies books do point out (at least they did in their first venture) that they are rewriting history and not doing straightforward biography. I think the point they are shooting for is to get young women interested in the history by making it fun. The facts can be sought out by interested readers. But if they don't know about these women, how can they become interested in them? Historically, having to fight against the standard line that women shouldn't read or write novels, sounds to me like they were, to use their terms, "screwed over." Charlotte and her sisters did work hard, they did represent strong women. But what is wrong with wanting them to be known a little better by making their stories better known?

message 8: by BusyBookaholic (new)

BusyBookaholic I'm so excited they recommend Vengeance Road because, seriously, more people should read it!
I love what the authors are doing with this series. They're taking historical facts, put them into stories, change few of the facts, add humor and it turns into a great historical fiction novel!
I'm currently reading My Plain Jane, but I think Charlotte and Alexander are my favourites, not Jane herself. And for some reason, the first book was a bit funnier. Maybe because one of the main characters turned into a horse each night.

message 9: by Erin Elizabeth (new)

Erin Elizabeth I absolutely LOVED My Lady Jane! The story was funny, compelling and I loved how you told the story. I loved the fantasy twist you added (and of course, I loved the narrator’s notes).

I’m not sure if you’re planning another one, but if you do, can you do a story over Zina Portnova? She was a young russian girl during World War II who lured hundreds of Nazis to their death.

Upon her capture, she stole the interrogator’s gun and shot him.

Her story is an amazing one and needs to be shared to more people! We often hear of the men who sacrificed their lives during the war, but hardly of the women. I think it’s about time we change that.

Girl power!

message 10: by Gabrielle (new)

Gabrielle My lady Jane was one of the best books I read this year. I read it for a Battle of the books competition last year and it was by far one of the best on the list. I can't wait to read My Plain Jane. The authors do a great job with balancing the romance with the other elements of the story. I hope My Plain Jane is not a disappointment ( I have total faith that it won't be😁).

message 11: by Laura (new)

Laura I absolutely loved this story! I have not read the original so after finishing “My Plain Jane” I did a little research. It was so interesting connecting the story I read to the information I found online! I also really enjoyed how the authors referenced other popular stories like “The Princess Bride” and “Harry Potter”. The authors wrote in a very fun way by adding their feelings toward what was happening or extra facts.

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