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1. Writing from the Inside Out. . . Author Michaela MacColl shares + Giveaway

Dear Friends,

It's been awhile since I had a guest author who writes for the Young Adult age group, and what could be more exciting for Jane Austen fans and mystery lovers, than a book featuring Jane herself in a mystery of espionage, intrigue, and romance? Besides Secrets in the Snow featuring Jane Austen, our guest author, Michaela MacColl, has written mysteries featuring our favorite heroines from the 19th-century literary world--Louisa May Alcott, Emily Dickinson, and the Bronte sisters! A complete set would be a perfect gift this season not just for teens, but for all of us!

But before Michaela takes the stage, we have TWO winners picked by random.org from last week's post. Winner #1: KATHY WEICHMAN. Kathy, you may choose from either A Christmas Spider's Miracle or Apple Tree Christmas by Trinka Hakes Noble. Winner #2: JANA ESCHNER, you will receive the remaining book--the books will be personalized for the winners.

***Congratulations, Kathy and Jana!***  
 (Kathy and Jana please e-mail me: claragillowclark(at)gmail(dot)com with your mailing address and how you'd like the book personalized.)

And NOW, please welcome historical fiction author and my friend, Michaela MacColl. Michaela is generously donating a copy of her newest mystery, Secrets in the Snow, featuring Jane Austen! All you have to do for a chance to win is leave a comment about the post or share your favorite Jane Austen title. Thank you!


Dare I imitate Jane? by Michaela MacColl

I’ve written four literary mysteries now featuring famous writers as young adults – and I do say so myself, I’ve dared a lot. I channeled Emily Dickinson’s unique take on the world and explored the sibling rivalry between the Bronte sisters. Louisa May Alcott fell prey to my pen too (actually I found her matter-of- fact problem-solving ethos very modern). But Jane Austen? The undisputed Mistress of Conversation? How dare I put words in her mouth?

When I begin these books I read biography and their body of work in tandem. I look for emotional links in their writing to my understanding of their lives. With Emily D. I found connections between her shyness and search for someone who understands her in her poetry. With Louisa it was easy – Jo March is for all intents and purposes, Louisa with all the rebellion and childhood mischief that implies. But Jane was a different story. Her life was practically event-less. She lived quietly with her family, a dependent spinster. There were no deaths or mysteries in her life – just tea, county dances and conversation. Lots of conversation. In fact, the more I looked in Jane’s work for physical descriptions of characters or places, the less I found. Unless Elizabeth’s “fine eyes” tell you more than me – we have no idea what she looks like. But we do know how she talked. That’s mostly what all the characters in Jane Austen do – they talk.

So I read the books out loud. I watched my favorite adaptations – BBC anyone? -- and of course the 1999 adaptation of Mansfield Park. By the time I started writing, I had the rhythm and the vocabulary. I put Jane in the scene with her mother and a romantic interest and let them talk! I think it worked – but would love to know what you think?

Check out Secrets in the Snow (Chronicle, October 2016) and let me know!


Review From School Library Journal --Secrets in the Snow. Gr 7–10—Nineteen-year-old Jane Austen—yes, that Jane Austen—finds herself entwined in some serious intrigue when the War Office suggests that her cousin, whose French aristocrat husband lost his head to the guillotine, might be engaged in traitorous activity against England. Jane is determined to get to the bottom of the situation, even if it means veering into unladylike territory. Adding to the drama, a gentleman studying the law has entered Jane's social circle—and all of her family members are eager to encourage a marriage match regardless of his condescending first impression. MacColl's fidelity to Austen's biography and family, with a bit of creative license woven in, results in a charming historical mystery. Her playfulness with Austen's voice is a delight, and she peppers the story with hints at characters and plot points from the author's oeuvre—nothing that distracts from the narrative, but tidbits that serve as inside jokes to readers who have already dived into her works. These elements more than make up for a somewhat rushed conclusion. Readers whose interest in Austen is piqued will enjoy the biographical back matter. VERDICT A solid addition for fans of cozy mysteries and literary reimaginings.—Amy Koester, Skokie Public Library, IL

New York Times bestselling author Michaela MacColl  attended Vassar College and Yale University earning degrees in multi-disciplinary history. Unfortunately, it took her 20 years before she realized she was learning how to write historical fiction. Her favorite stories are the ones she finds about the childhood experiences of famous people. She has written about a teenaged Queen Victoria (Prisoners in the Palace, Chronicle 2010) and Beryl Markham’s childhood (Promise the Night, Chronicle 2011). She is writing a literary mystery series for teens featuring famous writers such as Emily Dickinson, the Bronte sisters, Louisa May Alcott and Jane Austen.  She has recently begun a new middle-grade series with Boyd’s Mills/Highlights called Hidden Histories about odd events in America’s past, including orphan trains, Dred Scott’s daughter and the Carlisle Indian Boarding School.  

Learn more about Michaela MacColl and her books: www.michaelamaccoll.com
Follow her on twitter: @MichaelaMacColl
FaceBook: AuthorMichaelaMacColl

Currently, Michaela is working on a new entry for the Calkins Creek Hidden History Series. This one is about an ancestor of hers who came to America from Shanghai in the 1870’s. 

Thanks, Michaela, for sharing your exciting new Jane Austen mystery--Secrets in the Snow--here at Writing from the Inside Out. . . I especially loved that line--I've dared a lot. That's a great challenge and good advice for all of us who write.


I'll be back on Monday, December 12th, to announce the winner of Secrets in the Snow! Thanks, dear readers, for continuing to support authors and books! You're the best!

Happy Holidays to all!

~Clara

13 Comments on Writing from the Inside Out. . . Author Michaela MacColl shares + Giveaway, last added: 12/29/2016
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