1. What inspired you to write a sequel to Northanger Abbey?
Almost from the beginning, I’ve had a goal of writing at least one novel related to each of Austen’s six, since I love them all. I have four Pride and Prejudice novels so far, a Persuasion novel (The Persuasion of Miss Jane Austen), and I consider Leap of Hope my Mansfield Park book. I’m not sure yet what I’m going to do for Emma or Sense and Sensibility, but it seemed like a slightly spooky murder mystery would be the perfect sequel for Northanger Abbey.
Personally, I adore Northanger Abbey. It reminds me of some of Austen’s hilarious juvenile works, which makes perfect sense when you remember that she wrote it mostly in her early 20s, before any of her other novels. It’s playful, fun, and packed with early examples of Austen’s patented ironic wit. I laugh out loud every time I read it! Plus, I’m a Henry Tilney fan. What woman doesn’t like a sexy man who can also make you laugh? And so I was eager to carry on Catherine and Henry’s story with something in the same tongue-in-cheek style.
2. Is this your first mystery, and how did you enjoy writing it?
Yes, my first, and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience! It seems like I seek out a new challenge with each book, but I really had no idea in the beginning if I was capable of writing a mystery. Halfway through, when, believe it or not, I hadn’t yet decided ‘who done it,’ I still wasn’t sure I could! (You see, in some respects, Murder at Northanger Abbey is like Gosford Park: lots of people in the house and everybody has a motive.) Then, after a few more twists and turns, the pieces fell into place, and I knew what must have happened. Well… sort of. Just for fun, I did write an alternative ending, which is included in the book. Readers can take their pick!
3. Who was your favorite character to write in this story?
Oh, I can’t pick just one person, unless a married couple counts as one. Despite the fact that this is a mystery, MNA is first and foremost a story about Henry and Catherine – their romance carried into married life (in PG fashion). Catherine is Catherine still. Although she likes to believe she has outgrown some of the girlish fancies that got her into so much trouble, she’s still very young, naïve, and impulsive, yet pure at heart. Henry is honorable, always teasing and joking, and surprisingly passionate. I enjoyed the challenge of remaining true to the essence of their established characters while envisioning how they and their relationship would grow and evolve under the stresses and strains of unusual circumstances.
In the runner-up position, again it’s a tie. The baddies are always fun to write, and here I had both father and son – General and Captain Tilney – who continue to say shocking things and behave badly!
4. Tell me about a new secondary character you added to the story that you just adore.
I would have to go with Mr. Thomas Cogsgrove. He’s the barrister brought in to defend the family member wrongfully accused of the murder. Writing the courtroom scene – something else I’d never done before – I really admire the way Cogsgrove walks the difficult line between contradictory imperatives (to abide by his client’s wishes and yet bring out the necessary truth), and the way he skillfully outmaneuvered the prosecutor and his witnesses. If I ever found myself accused of a crime, I would hope to find a lawyer as smart as Mr. Cogsgrove!
5. Are you working on anything new at the moment or have an idea for a new story?
One reviewer liked MNA so well that she urged me to write more mysteries! So now I have that to consider, possibly for my Emma or my S&S book? But first I’m headed back to the world of Pride and Prejudice. I have just a start (a couple of chapters) of something from Darcy’s point of view this time. All my P&P novels agree with canon and with each other, so it won’t be a “variation” so much as an augmentation, expanding on the existing story. It’s starting out in the period before Darcy meets Elizabeth and will carry into the P&P timeline at least a ways. How far, I’m not sure at this point. It may even end up growing into a new series! In any case, I always have more ideas than I have time to write!
Awesome! I'm looking forward to more!
Murder at Northanger Abbey
by Shannon Winslow
Sequel to Jane Austen’s Spoof on the Gothic Novel
Newly married to her beloved Henry, Catherine’s eyes are now open to the grownup pleasures of wedded life. Yet she still hasn’t quite given up her girlhood fascination with all things Gothic. When she first visited Northanger Abbey, she only imagined dreadful events had occurred there. This time the horror is all too real. There’s been a murder, and Henry has fallen under suspicion. Catherine is determined to clear her husband’s name, but at the same time, she’s afraid for her own safety, since there’s a very good chance the real murderer is still in the house.
This delightful sequel reprises the mischievous spirit of Austen’s original spoof on the Gothic novel, while giving Catherine a genuine murder mystery to unravel.
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Thank you so much, Shannon, for visiting here today and answering my questions! Congratulations on the release of Murder at Northanger Abbey!
So, friends, what do you think? Please leave Shannon any questions or comments below! We would love to hear from you!