Bringing Jane Austen to the 21st Century
Kaitlin Saunders: A Modern Day Persuasion

Austenesque Extravaganza Special: An Interview with Anne Elliot

Posted by Kaitlin Saunders in Blog on August 8, 2011

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s Austen fans, we’ve been introduced to Jane’s ‘Major Six’, a title given to her most popular novels.  Jane’s words have touched the hearts of women world-wide for over a hundred years, so it was a great pleasure to take my personal favorite, Persuasion, and adapt it to a modern day setting.  Carefully studying each word, motive, and character, I sketched a portrayal of what I believe would have been Austen’s Persuasion had she lived in this present day world.  My most stringent goal was to not stray too far from the original.  This novel is exactly what it presents itself to be: A Modern Day Persuasion.

For those of you unfamiliar with the premise of Persuasion or its counterpart, A Modern Day Persuasion, take a moment to read the synopsis below:

Nearly eight years ago, Anne’s family, specifically her father, convinced her she was too young to wed and insinuated that her fiancé Rick was solely interested in their family’s wealth and status.  Against her better judgment, Anne agreed to postpone the marriage, only to watch the love of her life walk away, never to be heard from again.  Almost a decade later, still single and no longer wealthy, Anne struggles to make a name for herself designing greeting cards.  Unable to move on with her life, she finds herself still emotionally bound to the man who disappeared the moment things didn’t go his way.  Through a series of serendipitous events, however, Anne is reunited with her old love—just as a new beau enters the scene.  Only time will tell if her heart can finally be set free to love again, or if Rick’s initial betrayal will leave her single…forever.

When Meredith contacted me concerning a special blog post for her Austenesque Extravaganza, I was flattered and therefore eager to accept the invitation.  Dialing up my dear friend Anne Elliot, I scheduled with her a personal interview so that I could have something extra special to share with visitors on my Extravaganza debut.
The Meeting Place:A quaint coffee shop in downtown Portland, Oregon’s Pearl District.
What Anne Was Wearing:A white tank under a sheathy burgundy shawl, skinny jeans, and an adorable pair of ankle boots.

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aving arrived twenty minutes before the scheduled interview, I purposely chose a quiet corner and made myself comfortable in the wood-finished chair opposite the one Anne would soon be occupying.  When Anne entered the shop she looked radiant.  Her cheeks glowed with a soft blush, most likely from hurrying down the crowded downtown sidewalk to make sure she wouldn’t be late.  Hair pulled half-up, Anne’s natural beauty shown through what little make-up she had on as she made her way towards my table.

Greeting me with a pleasant smile and her ever-constant shy demeanor, Anne joined me and soon afterwards the waitress interrupted our hellos to take our orders.  While I selected my one weakness, a green tea frappuccino, Anne decided on a passion ice tea lemonade.  With the waitress away to retrieve our selections, Anne set aside her purse and I wasted no time in asking what fragrance she was wearing.  It smelled heavenly!

Anne: [smiling as her face took on a heavenly blush] Oh, Carol [Anne's godmother] just picked it up for me.  It’s Celine Dion’s signature scent.  It’s nice isn’t it?

Anne lifted her wrist to my nose so I could get a better sniff.

Kaitlin: Beautiful!

Taking note of the fragrance’s title in my handy-dandy reporter’s notebook, I quickly reacquainted myself with the questions previously prepared for Anne.  I had agonized over what readers would want to know concerning my book’s heroine but finally came up with 5 to 6 questions, allowing myself to branch off if any of her responses spurred another inquiring thought.  But as the waitress returned with our drinks, I was given a few extra minutes to socialize and take a jumbo sip of my ‘frap’ before Anne and I got down to business.

Kaitlin: How does it feel knowing that your story has been made into a book?

Anne: It’s surreal.  I’m such a private person that at first I was hesitant to share my tale.

Kaitlin: Was it awkward revealing all your deepest hurts and desires with me?

Anne: Yes, definitely.  It’s my nature to keep things to myself—so honestly being able to unlock my heart to your paper and pen was extremely scary in the beginning.  But I’ll have to admit finally being able to open up and share made it feel like a weight had been lifted.  I don’t think I could have opened up like that to anybody but you, Kaitlin.

Kaitlin: Oh Anne, that’s so sweet of you!  It was a privilege and it allowed me to know the inner Anne.  I truly consider you a dear friend.

Anne: Likewise!  My nephews already think of you as an adopted aunt!

Kaitlin: [laughing with pleasure] I loved my interactions with your family!  Speaking of which, do you think I was able to correctly portray everyone to character, or do you think my presence intimidated them?

Anne: Oh yes, you did a great job. [blushing again]  At first I had misgivings about my family being documented on page, but they support the book.  In fact, Carol even sells it in her shop.

Kaitlin: Do you have a favorite chapter in my novel?

Anne: A favorite?  Well, I will admit some of the book is still hard for me to read.  It’s so real and it rehashes my former pain and heartbreak.  Yet, the book represents so many different ‘chapters’ in my life—each having a purpose and a place.  If I had to choose though, I’d say the last chapter is my favorite.

Kaitlin: So you’re definitely a believer in destiny and fate.

Anne: Yes.

Kaitlin: How is your card line doing?

Anne: It’s taken off, can you believe it?!?  Carol said I shouldn’t be surprised, but I can’t help it.  I mean, as an artist you really hope people will like what you create, but then when they do it’s so humbling.

Kaitlin: Does it surprise you then that your story is so well-received?

Anne: It’s amazing to me how many readers can relate to my story!  Like me, they’ve experienced some type of loss, the loneliness that follows, and also that doubt about whether they’ll ever be able to love again—and especially the aspect of not feeling like they’re in control of their own life.  It proves that although your past may be painful, you can overcome.

Kaitlin: What do you think was the lowest point for you during this ordeal?

Anne: Probably the fact that I’d basically given up on myself as a woman—not so much in a career aspect—but I guess I figured that if Rick couldn’t love me, no one else could either—so why try?

Kaitlin: I think we’ve all been there at some point–but before we give away too much of the book, can you answer one last question for me, which is [as I shuffled through my notes], do you have a favorite song at the moment?

Anne: Well, I love Corinne Bailey Rae’s stuff, but right now on my iPod [as she searched through her purse to reveal the gadget] is Blake Shelton’s “God Gave Me You”.  What can I say?  I’m a hopeless romantic and like to believe in knights in shining armor and happy endings.

Kaitlin: Doesn’t everyone?  I know I do.

In closing this “interview” with Anne Elliot, I want to thank Meredith for allowing me to be a part of this exciting Austenesque Extravaganza.  For those of you who leave comments, you’ll be entered in to win a free copy of my novel, A Modern Day Persuasion.  Also, if you have questions, post them as well and I’ll answer them the best I can.

Best Wishes,
Kaitlin

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