Last night I had the great honor of interviewing Lyndsay Faye during her Jane Steele Tour stop at One More Page Books in Arlington, Virginia. It was wonderful to see so many readers come out on a Wednesday night to hear about this new novel.
I started by asking Lyndsay what her history with Jane Eyre was. Lyndsay referenced that as a child she was a fan of fantasy and sci-fi (authors like Heinlein and Tolkien), but that reading Jane Eyre opened up a whole new world for her and her reading habits became much more diverse. She lamented how girl readers are “allowed” and encouraged to read all kinds of different things, but that most little dudes are not given books like Island of the Blue Dolphins to read during their early developmental stages.
After her elevator pitch of Jane Steele, I asked Lyndsay what the reaction was from her editors, agents, etc. Fortunately for readers, it seems that the reception to the idea was very positive from the start and allowed Lyndsay to work on developing this unique concept for a novel.
The former English major in me totally geeked out by asking Lyndsay why she felt that the Bildungsroman (coming of age story tracing a characters full life) seems to have fallen out of favor in modern writing. While Lyndsay did question if this was completely accurate since books like The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay and the works of Kahled Hosseini could be modern examples of the style, she did agree that there are challenges in writing novels that span long periods of time and this might help account for their rarity. She did say she was thrilled that readers still seem to flock back to the classic Bildungromans.
We had some brief discussions of the Easter Eggs embedded within Jane Steele. Fans of Jane Eyre will have fun reading the various ways that Lyndsay turns that original tale on its head – in both minor ways and in a larger thematic manner. There was also some discussion of the quotes from Jane Eyre that open each chapter.
Since all of the servants in the Hall where Jane Steele works as a governess are Sikh, we talked a bit about Lyndsay’s research on this religion. Fortunately, Lyndsay found some sources that were able to provide highlights of the lengthy holy book (Guru Granth Sahib), which helped her determine how that would factor into the novel.
We talked character names, which lead to lots of laughter. And then we discussed differences between America and the UK during the Victorian era – which allowed Lyndsay to regal the audience with talk of her Timothy Wilde trilogy.
Before asking for audience questions, I asked Lyndsay her thoughts on the idea that the crime novel is the social novel of today. While I couldn’t remember where I first heard this, Lyndsay did agree that whoever first proposed this was definitely on to something.
After the audience had a chance to ask some questions, I ended by asking Lyndsay what was next for her. At first hesitant to reveal anything, I was able to get her to say it was another historical and she was gracious enough to give us a clue about the time period –1922. Break out those flapper dresses; we are surely going to be celebrating this novel when it comes out.
Again, I just want to thank both Lyndsay Faye and One More Page Books for offering me this opportunity. In a long line of highlights from my blogging career, this evening was another of those that I will long remember.