Meredith is another of my Janeite mates in the blogosphere. She is American, lives in the US and I would have never met her if I hadn't starte blogging. Apart from some little differences, we discovered we share a lot. So you are invited to meet her. Read this inteview, visit her blog Austenesque Reviews, leave your comment and you'll have a chance to win Meredith's giveaway of one of her favourite Austen - based fiction books: JANE FAIRFAX by Joan Aiken.
Welcome on FLY HIGH Meredith and thanks for being my guest today. Could you please start intr,oducing yourself to our readers?
I am originally from Long Island, New York. I moved to Wilmington, NC to go to college and I have been living here ever since. I am a part time music teacher at a private school and I give private piano and flute lessons after school. I am newly married, my husband and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary last September. I love teaching, reading, playing the piano, gardening, crocheting, photography, going to the beach, and blogging!

2. Wow, Meredith, I guess we share lots of things. Let’s see, I also got married in September (but just some years earlier than you) , then I love teaching (English), I’m fond of music (I used to sing in a choir and studied opera singing), I like (listening to people) playing the piano, I’m keen on going to the beach (but live in the mountains) and , I’m definitely addicted to blogging! Jokes apart, tell about your love for music. Favourite genres, composers?
Wow, we do have a lot in common, Maria Grazia! My favorite genre of music to listen to and play is Classical. I sort of take after Marianne Dashwood in a way because I like to play pieces that I can pour my emotions into, and I tend to be drawn to music that are dark, passionate, and moody. My favorite composer is Ludwig van Beethoven, hands down! I love his tempestuous works as well as his soft and pensive ones. After Beethoven, I love to play or listen to music by Frederic Chopin and Sergei Rachmaninov. I'm also a big Beatles fan and I have grown very fond of jazz since that is what my husband likes.

And what about teaching? I think teaching music must be extremely gratifying. At least you can teach to pupils who want to learn privately, that’s my dream. Instead, my daily nightmare is to be in front of class groups of students who dream of being somewhere else and are not so interested in what I say. What are the best and worst aspects of your job?
Teaching music is extremely gratifying, Maria Grazia. I teach kindergarten through eighth grade at my school and it is such a pleasure to see all the students grow, mature,and develop a love of music. Plus it is the cutest thing in the world to have them sing for you! The best aspect of my job is working with children, I simply love children! I love to play and act silly with them and I hope I inspire them to have fun and enjoy music while they are in my class. The worst aspect of my job is all the busy work teachers have to do and all the boring faculty meetings we have to go to.

Don’t mention it. That’s the worst aspect of our job indeed. As to travelling, I dream of going on an Austenesque tour in England, I mean, I’d love to visit all the sites linked to JA’s novels, her life and even to the adaptations. Have you ever been to England? Have you ever visited Austenesque places or would you like to? Which towns/places?
Going on an Austenesque tour sounds fantastic! I have never been to England, nor have I been anywhere outside the United States. My husband and I hope to rectify that real soon! England is definitely one of the first places I want to visit. I would love to see Chawton Cottage and Bronte Parsonage. Have you ever been to England, Maria Grazia?

 I have, several times , but always to London and places nearby (Windsor or Hampton court for instance) . You love blogging , I guess. What are your favourite Austen dedicated sites? The ones you regularly visit to get updated?
My favorite Austen dedicated sites are actually two very special and wonderful blogs. Austenblog and Austenprose. The ladies who run these blogs are extremely talented and dedicated. I visit their blogs practically every day! Other than that, I love to hop around and visit various book blogs that often feature Austenesque novels. I love to read other people's reviews of Austenesque novels whether it be one I have already read or not.

I love reading your AUSTENSQUE REVIEWS. Your in - depth analysis of Austen and Austen based fiction is stimulating for a Janeite like me. When and how did your love for everything Austen start?

Thank you for the compliment, Maria! It pleases me to hear that you find my blog helpful! My love for Austen began when I was sixteen and read Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte for the first time. Jane Eyre was required summer reading for the AP English class I was preparing to take in the fall. After reading Jane Eyre I was eager to read more similar-like books. Someone recommend I read Pride and Prejudice and that is how my love for Jane Austen began.
 Have you got any favourite Austen based fiction book/s? One or more that you would recommend here?
I have many favorites and I love to rave about them, but I'll try to keep it short! I'm big fan of hero retellings such as: Pamela Aidan's Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentlemen Trilogy and Susan Kaye's Frederick Wentworth, Captain Series, and my new favorites are Charity Envieth Not by Barbara Cornthwaite and Captain Wentworth's Persuasion by Regina Jeffers. In addition, I enjoy reading anything that combines Jane Austen and mystery, my favorites being Murder at Longbourn by Tracy Kiely and the Mr. and Mrs. Darcy Mystery Series by Carrie Bebris. Last but not least, some of my favorite authors are Abigail Reynolds, Monica Fairview, Jane Odiwe, Syrie James, and Kara Louise.

 What do you think of Austen adaptations? Have you got any favourite ones?
I do have some favorites, but I'm afraid I am partial to them partly because they are the first ones I ever watched. My first Pride and Prejudice adaption was the 1940's one with Greer Garson and Laurence Olivier. I know it is the least accurate, the costumes are all wrong, and the actors' ages are not suitable, but I can't help but enjoy everyone's performance in it regardless. The second Austen adaption I saw and fell in love with was Emma with Gwyneth Paltrow and Jeremy Northam. I love this adaption because of Jeremy Northam's excellent portrayal of Mr. Knightley and because it is such a stunning spectacle; I love all the costumes, scenery, and the music. Now as I watch more and more Austen adaptions I find something to like and appreciate in each one. I also love to watch Austen-Inspired movies like Bride and Prejudice and Lost in Austen too.

Who would you choose among Austen heroines as your best friend? Why?
I would have to choose Elizabeth Bennet. I tend to be a little quiet and shy like Anne Elliot and I feel that if I had someone brave and bold like Elizabeth as a friend she would help draw me out, make me laugh at myself, and stick up for me. Can you imagine how different Anne Elliot's life would have been if she had Elizabeth Bennet as a sister instead of Elizabeth Elliot?

Who would you marry if you were one of Austen heroines among her heroes? 
What a challenging question! I would love to say Darcy or Knightley, but I'm no Elizabeth or Emma so I know they wouldn't be right for me. Also, since I am already happily married I'm having a difficult time thinking about marrying someone else! My husband seems to be a blend of Henry Tilney and Mr. Knightley. He has Mr. Tilney's playfulness and humor and he has Mr. Knightley's good judgment and high moral character. He is the perfect man for me, that's for sure!

Lucky woman! Now, a question I‘ve wanted to ask you for some time. In January you won a brand new copy of BBC North and South (2004) in one of the giveaways on FLY HIGH! (offered by M. GRAY in “My Blogger Buddies”). Have you seen it? And if you have, have you found any similarity between Margaret /Thornton relationship and the love story in P&P? More similarities or more differences? And , finally, did you like it?

Yes! I have watched it and I feel so fortunate to have won it through M. Gray's wonderful giveaway! It is such a beautiful and captivating adaption! Having not read Ms. Gaskell's novel yet, I didn't know what to expect, but I enjoyed it immensely! (Especially with Richard Armitage as the brooding and romantic hero!) I noticed that North and South is similar to Pride and Prejudice in that both couples start out not liking each other. In addition, the themes of pride and prejudice are highlighted in both as well (although the genders seemed a little reversed in N&S). One big difference is in the mood I felt in each adaption P&P is light and bright where N&S seemed a little more dark and somber.

Have you got any question/s you want to ask to commenters for your giveaway?

I would like to giveaway a new copy of Jane Fairfax by Joan Aiken. Jane Fairfax was the very first Austen-Inspired novel I ever read about seven years ago and it still remains one of my favorites today! It is a fantastic retelling of Emma through the eyes of Jane Fairfax and it very successfully depicts Jane Fairfax as a second heroine of Emma.
To enter the giveaway maybe readers can share what was the first Austen-Inspired novel they ever read and share if they liked it or not?
Thank you so much, Maria, for asking me to be a part of your Blogger Buddy Interviews! This is my very first interview and I am so very honored to be one of your interviewees. I'm so very happy that we “met” through the Internet and our blogs, I only wished we lived closer together!

It would be lovely, indeed, to meet and chat somewhere over a cup of coffee or tea, Meredith. And I would love to listen to you playing Beethoven at the piano. Keep up the good work with your Austenesque Reviews and best wishes for everything you do. Thank you!

Leave your comments then. Don't forget to say what your  first Austen-Inspired book was , if you liked it  and to add your e-mail address. The giveaway is open worldwide and winner will be announced on May 10th. Good luck! And have a great Sunday!


Terri said...

I've never read an Austen inspired novel but would like to be entered in the contest anyway.

niteofblu at gmail dot com

BurtonReview said...

Meridith.. you are so pretty, I love your wedding photo. I am also originally from Long Island but I don't normally say it loud. My first Austen sequel was a reissue as Darcy and Anne by Judith Brocklehurst. It was short but very readable and I enjoyed it! The last Austen sequel I read was The Darcy Cousins by Monica Fairview and that one is my new favorite! It was Austen and Heyer in one!
Thanks for the giveaway, I would love to read this story as well! marieburton2004 at yahoo dot com

Felicia said...

The first Austen inspired book that I read was a Pride and Prejudice sequel. Mr. Darcy Presents His Bride by Helen Halstead. I was very weary at first, I swore that I'd never read a sequel because no one can compare to Jane Austen. But I really did enjoy this book and read Austen inspired books whenever I can.

felicialso at gmail dot com

Unknown said...

I've never read any of Jane Austen inspired books. If you can give me a chance to win Jane Fairfax it will be my first Austen inspired novel.

nancysoffice at gmail dot com

Mo said...

Great interview

Unknown said...

Lovely interview, thank you MG and Meredith!

I've started reading JA sequels some ten years ago, but sadly didn't like any of them so far.
The very first was 'Darcy's Story' by Janet Aylmer, and I found it 'very dull indeed'. But I like the subject so much that I can't give up reading them!

Meredith said...

Thank you so much, Maria, for wanting to interview me! It was a lot of fun and you asked some great questions!

Hi Marie! I didn't know you were a LI native too! Do you have a LI accent? LOL! Most people when they hear I from LI don't believe me because I don't have much of a LI accent, although it does appear sometimes when I say things like "daughter."

Terri and Nancy: If you ever do read an Austen sequel I hope you find it very entertaining and enjoyable. My favorite thing about them is spending more time with some of my favorite characters.

Karen: Yes, some sequels can be a bit disappointing, but some can be truly magnificent. Janet Aylmer's was the second Austen-Inspired novel I read and I completely agree with your opinion about it.

Good luck in the giveaway, everyone!!

Avalon said...

Pretty and smart, that is hard to find. Interesting interview. Best of wishes Meredith.

Charleybrown said...

It's great to find out more about you. I envy your teaching job! It must be fun indeed to work with all those ages and to be teaching music. Reminds me of how much I loved my music teacher all through elementary school!
Congrats on your recent nuptials! And thanks for your reviews on Austenesque. I always appreciate those who take the time to write reviews since that's not my forté at all!

Maria Grazia,
You have the talent for interviewing! Thanks for sharing with us!

Alexa Adams said...

Some how I missed this post the other day! I love all the pictures - Meredith, you were such a gorgeous bride! I had no idea you were a musician. I play the piano too, only rather poorly. I wish I could play Beethoven like Lucy Honeychurch but instead I sound like Mary Bennet. Oh well.

I already have a copy of Jane Fairfax, so please do not enter me in the giveaway, though I would like to answer the question anyway. My first austenesque novel was the Sanditon completion by "Another Lady", which remains one of my very favorites. Excellent interview, ladies. Wouldn't it be wonderful if all of us non-English, blogging Austenites, forever pinning for Bath and Chawton, could all meet there some day?

Maria Grazia said...

@Alexa Adams
It'd just marvelous! To meet somewhere in England, all of us. Just a dream?

JaneGS said...

Lovely interview about a lovely young woman--thanks, Maria and Meredith, for sharing with us. I also loved the wedding photo--and a combo of Henry Tilney and Mr. Knightley, high praise indeed!

I really enjoyed reading about Meredith's love of Beethoven and her alignment with Marianne Dashwood, one of my favorite Austen heroines. I'm also a big fan of the Gwyneth Paltrow Emma, and Greer Garson was also my first Elizabeth Bennet.

Wonderful interview :)

LĂșthien84 said...

I couldn't remember my first Austen inspired sequel but I think it was either 'Old Friends and New Fancies' by Sybil G. Brinton or Janet Aylmer's Darcy's Story. What attracted me to purchase and read 'Old Friends and New Fancies' is because it was the first Jane Austen sequel ever back in 1910s if I'm not mistaken. Sadly, I never managed to finish reading it but I did enjoy the 100 pages or so that I read. I need to catch up this book one of this days.

As for Darcy's Story, I remember sitting down in the book store and reading it from the first till the last page in one sitting. I like it at that time but compared to now after reading many books on Austenesque sequels, I'm not sure if I would enjoy it as much.

Thanks Maria and Meredith for entertaining us with your tales and opinions. I look forward to more interviews in future.


Meredith said...

Thank you for the kind words everyone! I'm not usually that photogenic, but I am glad I was for my wedding day!

It is wonderful learn how we all have similar things in common!

Maria, you definitely do have a true talent for interviews!!!

Best of luck to everyone in the giveaway!

Lori Johnston said...

Wonderful interview, Meredith. Your wedding picture is beautiful and I love that you carried sunflowers (one of my favorite flowers).

Very small world - - I too play the piano and always loved playing the classics because they are so full of emotion and allow you to really lose yourself in the music.

My first Austen inspired book was Juliette Shapiro's "Excessively Diverted" (which is now available under "Mr. Darcy's Decision"). I loved it so much, because I wanted a continuation of Lizzy's and Darcy's story and I felt the author did Ms. Austen justice. Furthermore, it developed a passion for Austen inspired sequels and opened an entirely new genre for me.

Excellent work, Maria and Meredith!

~ Lori

Alisha said...

I guess the first Austen-inspired thing I read was the continuation of Sanditon by "Another Lady," who I believe has since been identified, but I can't remember who it is. I liked it very well indeed and have added it to my own collection, but even without knowing, it's pretty easy to tell where the split is between Austen's original words and the newer continuation. I think it holds up much better than a lot of other sequels/Austen-inspired books.
Would love to be entered for the Joan Aiken book!
alisha-dawn at juno dot com

CaRiiToO said...

I'm reading First Impressions by Alexa Adams and am loving it!

seriously, it's fantastic!

ALso I love Jane Austen Book Club, it's a lovely book full of funny and Austenesque things!

Mary Simonsen said...

Wonderful interview. Meredith you made a beautiful bride! I really enjoy your blog, esp. b/c you are such a thoughtful reviewer. Even if you don't like something, your comments are considerate. I hope you get to England to visit some of the places mentioned in P&P. etc. My first Austenesque novel was Murder at Longbourn. Thanks Maria Grazia for the interview. Mary Simonsen
quailcreekpub at hotmail dot com

Unknown said...

Aww what a lovely wedding picture!!!

Hmm I haven't really read any Austen inspired novels that I can remember. What I do remember that's Austen inspired is Lost in Austen. It was a mini series but got cancelled and become sort of a movie (3 hours long!). It's really fun and cute!

Nicole K. said...

First Jane Austen-inspired book? Hmm I gotta say that it's Jane Bites Back. I know it's a really recent book, but Michael Thomas Ford really wrote Austen as how I would see her.

The Book Mole said...

Very nice interview. Thanks Meredith and Maria! I am a big Austen fan, though I have only read a handful of sequels - mostly Amanda Grange. I have a couple reviewed by Meredith on my TBR list. Thanks Meredith for the great reviews. Also, the wedding picture is beautiful!

melanie teabird said...

I haven't read any of the Austen-esque sequels, but I have read several biographies, including the short-but-wonderful one by Carol Shields. I'd love to win this book to start my collection of Austenesques!

I'm from Long Island, too!

teabird17 atyahoodotcom

Laurel Ann (Austenprose) said...

Great interview Meredith. The Diary of Henry Fitzwilliam Darcy, by Marjorie Fasman was the first Austenesquebook that I read in the 1990's. I think it was the first P&P novel from Mr. Darcy's perspective ever written. It is now a collectors item and I kick myself for loaning it to a friend who did not return it. :-(

Meredith said...

Thank you for all the kind comments and support everyone! It was great to learn a little something about all of you!