Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Welcome, Bethany House author Julie Klassen!

Inspired by…Jane Austen

I fell in love…What can I say? I fell in love with Jane Austen.

And even before I was smitten with the author, I was smitten with her leading men: Mr. Darcy, Colonel Brandon, Captain Wentworth…. Sigh. And as anyone in love would do—I spent a great deal of time with—and learned everything I could about—the object of my affection. I watched every Austen adaptation big screen and small, have listened to each audio recording (and have never so enjoyed my lengthy commute), and have read the books themselves. Jane Austen: The Complete Novels also stands on my shelf, lending class to the paperbacks around it, but otherwise useless—the leather volume is so heavy, that when I try to read it in bed at night, my arms begin to shake!

My Austen collection exhausted, I turned to writing my own novels set in “Jane Austen-era England.” I’ve longed to be writer since I was very young, but it was not until my love affair with all-things-Austen that I got serious about the dream. I so enjoyed the world of Pride and Prejudice, Emma, and Persuasion, that I wished to return there again and again. And in this way, I have been, and continue to be, inspired by Jane Austen.

Jane’s books were published primarily in the Regency period, a relatively brief span of years from about 1811-1820. Why are readers like me so drawn to this period? In the pages of Austen, it was a romantic, idyllic time, at least if you had money. Gowns and hats, balls and grand parties, chivalry and carriage rides. And who can resist a handsome gentleman in those tall Hessian boots?

On a deeper level, it was a time when being a true “lady” or “gentleman” was something people aspired to. A time when many in society followed polite rules of conduct and a high moral code. Things not always as evident in our world today.

What about you? Have you read Jane Austen’s novels or seen the movies or miniseries based on them? If so, I imagine you, too, have fallen in love. Perhaps Jane has even inspired you to write, as she has me—and many other authors as well, as the plethora of sequels and fan fiction prove.

In fact, Jane Austen is more popular now than during her lifetime nearly two hundred years ago. And, in a modern high-tech world always eager for the newest thing, Jane Austen’s books enjoy ongoing appeal. Is it any wonder writers like me are inspired by—and long to emulate—Jane Austen?

Henry Austen described his sister Jane this way:

“She always sought, in the faults of others, something to excuse, to forgive or forget. She never uttered a hasty, a silly, or a severe expression. In short, her temper was as polished as her wit. Nor were her manners inferior to her temper. No one could be often in her company without feeling a strong desire of obtaining her friendship, and cherishing a hope of having obtained it. She became an authoress entirely from taste and inclination. Neither the hope of fame nor profit mixed with her early motives.”

Even allowing for a brother’s understandable pride and prejudice, is seems clear that Jane Austen embodied many qualities that writers—and all of us—might do well to imitate. Is it any wonder I find her inspiring?

Who inspires you?


Julie Klassen is the author of three novels, Lady of Milkweed Manor (a Christy Award finalist), The Apothecary’s Daughter, and releasing this month, The Silent Governess. She also works as a fiction editor for Bethany House Publishers. Julie is a graduate of the University of Illinois. She enjoys travel, research, BBC period dramas, long hikes, short naps, and coffee with friends. She and her husband have two sons and live near St. Paul, Minnesota.

Visit her website:
Olivia Keene is fleeing her own secret.

She never intended to overhear his.

But now that she has, what is Lord Bradley to do with her? He cannot let her go, for were the truth to get out, he would lose everything--his reputation, his inheritance, his very home.

He gives Miss Keene little choice but to accept a post at Brightwell Court, where he can make certain she does not spread what she heard. Keeping an eye on the young woman as she cares for the children, he finds himself drawn to her, even as he struggles against the growing attraction. The clever Miss Keene is definitely hiding something.

Moving, mysterious, and romantic, The Silent Governess takes readers inside the intriguing life of a nineteenth-century governess in an English manor house where all is not as it appears.

The Silent Governess can be purchased at Bethany House, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Christian Book Distributors, and Books A Million.  


  1. So glad to greet you first, Julie!
    Welcome to the Well!

    I am cleaning up after a megaparty and put dishwater detergent into the dishwasher. Well, it's one way to mop the floor, I tell you that...

    Who inspires me? Hmmmm. Agatha Christie. Elisabeth Elliot. Very different ladies. Very prolific writers.

    Thanks for an unveiling of Jane--and quite different from Hollywood perspectives!!!


  2. (sigh) Jane much to love about her & her works.

    "The silent governess" sounds like a great book!

  3. What a treat to find Julie and Jane this morning!
    I've already publicly admitted (at the start of "The Six Months of Jane" challenge I joined) that I am obsessive about the Jane. And Gaskell, Dickens, Hardy, Eliot, the Brontes, etc.
    But certainly no one has inspired my writing and the voices in my head like she has.

    Thanks for joining us today, Julie. I know you had a chance to visit England, and I shared your excitement visiting the 'real' Milkweed Manor. I highly recommend your books and can't wait to get my hands on The Silent Governess!

  4. Good Morning Everyone.

    I always enjoy reading Jane Austen.

    I would LOVE to read 'the silent governess.' I so enjoyed your other masterpieces, Julie.

    Have a fabulous day.


  5. I've read both of Julie's books already and liked them a lot so I'm sure the Silent Governess is going to be just as good. I like Jane Austen too. And it's funny because her complete set of works book that I have is currently being used to prop up my computer monitor. I have so many of her books though. I even have the ones with the illustrations from above. Great post.

  6. Oh, Patti! Sorry to hear about your dishwasher incident.(That's about what it would take to "inspire" me to mop my floor these days!:))
    Hi Terresa and Debra--always fun to meet fellow Jane lovers. I enjoy Gaskell, too. And have recently been so impressed with Dickens's characterizations.
    And adge, the fact that Jane's complete works is propping up your monitor cracked me up! Thanks all!

  7. I can't call myself a serious fan, but I have read all her books more than once, seen all the film and video adaptations, my favourite still being the BBC series. My daughter and I recently watched Becoming Jane and the while the movie was excellent, I especially liked the documentary part of the DVD that delved in to Jane's everyday life.

    Okay, I may be a serious fan.

    I look forward to reading The Silent Governess.

  8. So glad you joined us today, Julie. It's always great to have a guest! The Silent Governess sounds great. Can't wait to get my hands on a copy.

  9. Hey Julie,
    I'm a Regency era fan and writer of this time as well. My Jane Austen books and movies share shelf space with my Sherlock Holmes and Scarlet Pimpernell books and movies. I have a feeling that I'm sure to love The Silent Governess.
    I bought The Lady of Milkweed Manor while in Denver for the ACFW conference this year, but haven't had a chance to read it yet. Really looking forward to all your books.
    I think I watch Pride and Prejudice at least twice a month. I'm hooked.

  10. Yay! Julie's in the house. Julie, you inspire me. You've definitely joined my favorite author short list this year. My daughter and I both just finished Apothecary's Daughter. I hid away in my room for a whole Saturday, and she became downright anti-social while reading it :) We're both looking forward to The Silent Governess.

    Now for true confessions. I haven't ever finished a Jane Austen novel. The parlor talk does me in. I just bought Pride and Predjudice, though, and I hereby vow to read it. I have watched the movies, and loved them.

    One of the Bethany editors suggested I try writing Regency, but with so many other ladies out there who love the time, I feel like it would be a travesty for me to even try.

    Maybe I could try to write Victorian. That's the time period I "love to hate." I'm a big fan of Kate Chopin, Charlotte Gilman Perkins and I love "A Doll's House." All those books that show how awful the Victorian Era was for women.


  11. Hi Wenda, Lisa, and Jill! Wenda, you definitely qualify as a fan. :)
    And Jill, I loved the Scarlet Pimpernell movie, too. I can't watch P & P that often, because my hubby walks by rolling his eyes and muttering, "Capital! capital!" a la Sir William Lucas.
    And Dina, glad you and your daughter enjoyed the books. I haven't read any of the titles you mentioned. Can you recommend a favorite? Thanks!

  12. Julie, those are all classics from the Victorian Era. "A Doll's House" is a play and would be the most famous of the three. It's wonderful. I've taught it in lit classes before. It's by a Norwegian playwright named Henrik Ibsen.

    Kate Chopin's novella "Awakening" is also great. And she has a famous short story, "The Storm," which would remind you of "The Bridges of Madison County." Charlotte Gilman Perkins is most famous for her short story "The Yellow Wallpaper," which I've also taught and love. It's about a woman with post-partum depression who is given the worst possible treatment by male doctors and goes crazy because of it. Perkins also has a very interesting, but not terribly well-written novel, called "Herland" about a utopian female society. Actually, she must have been a little bit later than the other two, because in the story three men crash an airplane into the society and havoc ensues.

    Warning though, these books are not for the faint of heart. Only Herland is a "pleasant" read. The others are all from the Naturalist philosophical period (life stinks and then you die). They are pretty dark. There's a lot of feminism and sexual politics involved. I do like early feminism, though, back when we needed feminists.


  13. Now, ladies, have I somehow missed one of us wishing Jane a happy birthday? Being in a historical fiction loop has its benefits! Dec. 16th is Miss Austen's birthday! I don't see any mention of it.

    I'd love to go home, bake some scones and make some tea. What to watch? I'm like Jill. I watch those darn period dramas over and over! My entire Christmas wish list is on Amazon. Why be practical - I need more movies!

    Dina, I read a Doll's House in one of my English classes. (I was an adult learner in college, so it wasn't that long ago.)

    Loved Becoming Jane, but there's also a BBC one titled "Miss Austen Regrets". Excellent! A story of the older Jane.

    The whole idea makes me wonder how many gallons of ink and the 'expensive' paper I would waste on editing w/o word processing.

  14. Mmmmmm, I love Jane Austen! I just finished reading Pride & Prejudice last night, as a matter of fact, as the last segment of my Everything Austen Challenge. I re-read all six of her books in less than six months. Not a difficult challenge at all!

    I fell in love with Jane Austen's books when I was in high school. P & P is my favorite. Mr. Darcy! LOVE HIM! I love the movies, but they often disappoint me. My favorite P & P version is the miniseries with Colin Firth. YUM!

    I'm planning to write a Regency. Even though I've written books set in 14th century Europe, I'm a little intimidated about writing a Regency, the time period is so well known by the experts. I have most of the plot in my head already. But it's hard to come up with a truly heroic hero in the Regency setting. That's the problem I'm having, and frankly, I think JA struggled with that a bit!

  15. No wonder I like you so much, Deb Marvin!

  16. Hey, Julie, I am that weird person who loves Regencies who only likes a couple Austen novels. I admire hr skill in the rest, but found Mansfield Park insufferable. I love Emma though. Me, I'm more a Georgette Heyer devotee.

    And, yes, for those of you who haven't read The Silent Governess, get it. It's terrific.I hated it when life interrupted and I had to put it down.

  17. Thanks Dina. I do remember reading The Yellow Wallpaper, now that you mention it.
    Debra, I have Jane Austen movies on my Christmas list, too!
    I'm with you, Melanie. It's probably Colin Firth's fault that I'm writing in the Regency era!
    And thanks, Laurie Alice, for your kind words about The Silent Governess. I have enjoyed a few Georgette Heyer novels as well, especially These Old Shades.

  18. Wonderful interview! I have TSG on my list as I really enjoyed Julie's debut novel. I don't read as much as I like as I'm so busy writing but my TBR stack is very dear to my heart and I do make time every day.
    Thanks so much for stopping by my blog, Patti! It's a privilege to add yours to my list:) And congrats on your representation! I sense the Lord has an exciting journey in store.

  19. Well, I'm late to this party, but thanks so much for visiting, Julie. I read (and write) Regency and am always so pleased to read something new, so I'm eager to get my hands on The Silent Governess! Your other works are outstanding.

  20. Inkies ... thank you SO much for having Julie Klaasen ... one of my favorite authors AND my favorite people!!

    Julie, I loved the interview, but I have a dire confession to make. Uh ... I have never read Jane Austen. Seriously hoping this doesn't injure our friendship because I do really intend to read her someday, truly. If it helps at all, I love the Pride and Prejudice movie (Keira Knightly) and have seen it at least 15 times. Saw the Collin Firth version, too, and am with Melanie about Collin Firth -- YUM!!

    Confession over. Now to go drown myself in cinnamon hazelnut coffee and guilt -- a powerful combination for writers, you know. :)

    I wish you and all the Inkies a most blessed Christmas and new year.


  21. Okay. I finally pulled out that beautiful copy of Pride and Prejudice I bought, and I'm trying to wade through it. Not feeling very inspired yet. The language is too convoluted for it to feel like a pleasure read. Oh well. Maybe it will be my "educational" reading spread out over a few weeks.


  22. bookmarked!!, I really like your web site!


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