This series of mini-interviews features the authors who contributed to our Austen anthology A CERTAIN PERSUASION.
Now we hear from Narrelle Harris, who wrote the story Know Your Own Happiness, a modern-day twist on another of Austen’s most beloved novels.
Blurb: Four years ago, Cooper West allowed his brother to persuade him that it was easier to pretend to be straight than admit to being bi. It was a stupid decision that cost him the love of his life, Archer Flynn. Now out, recently dumped and still harbouring regret for his lost love, Fate and Cooper’s cousin Kate are about to intervene, via a book club meeting where the book under discussion is … Persuasion.
Q: How did you discover Jane Austen and her works? What was the initial appeal? Has she surprised you since then?
I first read Austen at school – Pride and Prejudice – and loved her wit and characters. I hadn’t expected her to be so funny, and it’s still my favourite thing about her work – the surprising amount of hilarious snark.
Q: Which Austen character do you like best? Which do you identify with most?
I’ve always identified with the bookish Elizabeth Bennet – partly because Mr and Mrs Bennet were also so much like my own parents (for good or ill). I once saw a stage production of Pride and Prejudice and spent the two hours face-palming when everyone else was laughing and laughing when everyone else was just paying close attention, because those two were so like my own family. Awkward.
Q: Why do you think the Regency is such an appealing period to write and read about?
I think people tend to think of people in the past as being more serious or less free than people of today. That is of course true to a degree, but I think there’s endless delight in seeing human beings just being so very human, and full of life and wit, passion and misunderstanding, longing and learning, in what we perceive as a more constrained era. The frocks, the balls and the manners appeal to me, but it’s seeing people being reliably people, even in this more formal setting, which really sells Austen and the Regency period to me.
Author bio: Narrelle M Harris is a Melbourne-based writer of crime, horror, fantasy, romance, erotica and non-fiction. Her books include Fly By Night (nominated for a Ned Kelly Award for First Crime Novel), fantasies Witch Honour and Witch Faith (both short-listed for the George Turner Prize) and vampire book, The Opposite of Life, set in Melbourne.
In March 2012, her short story collection, Showtime, became the fifth of the 12 Planets series (released by World Fantasy Award winning Twelfth Planet Press). Walking Shadows, the sequel to The Opposite of Life, was released by Clan Destine Press in June 2012, and was nominated for the Chronos Awards for SF and fantasy, and shortlisted for the Davitt Awards for crime writing.
In 2013, Narrelle also began writing erotic romance with Encounters (Clan Destine Press) and Escape Publishing. Six short stories have been published to date. Her first full-length romance, The Adventure of the Colonial Boy – a Holmes/Watson crime/romance set in Australia in 1893 – was published by Improbable Press in 2016. A queer paranormal romance and more short stories are in the pipelines with Clan Destine and Improbable Press.