I am so close …

to quitting the Austen fiction game.

I’m tired of the characters being turned and twisted into modern parodies.

If you must have sex, modernize at least.

Off to try to sleep.

Take care–Susan Kaye

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21 thoughts on “I am so close …

  1. Robin Helm

    Susan, I have to agree with you, but I certainly hope you won’t quit writing JAFF. You are one of the most gifted writers in the genre, and it will be a sad loss for those of us who love clean JAFF if you stop giving us wonderful books to read. I am slogging through an acclaimed modern JAFF right now, and it is actually thinly disguised soft porn – graphic sex scenes joined by very little plot. It’s predictable, poorly written, and unbelievable. In their first night together, Darcy and Elizabeth had at least four sexual encounters in nearly unconceivable positions. Has the author actually tried what she has written? Were they trained gymnasts, and she forgot to mention it? They did everything but hang from a chandelier. I bought it only because it was on sale for under $2.00 for the holidays, and I had never read anything else by the author before. She was getting rave reviews, and I wanted to see what the fuss was about. From now on, I will not buy or read her books even if they are free.

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    1. Laura Hile

      Robin, I am out of time to comment, which is probably just as well because I can rant on and on. The sex-sex-sex is one issue, which I address in my reply to Susan’s post. (And I absolutely agree about the gymnastics!) The poor quality of writing is another. Oh my word.

      In Austen fan fiction, publishing houses discovered a Sleeping Beauty. That is, a ready-made genre with an established following on-line … and with a wealth of unpublished stories. Ka-ching! Can you hear the cash register? It’s not love of Austen that drives publishers, but desire for profit.

      Eventually the Austen Spin-off craze will fade — fueled, in part, by boredom with predictable plots that are poorly written.

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  2. Laura Hile

    Sweet darlin, what HAVE you been reading?

    I think I know, and it isn’t the book Robin references…because the book I mean isn’t soft porn. It’s sex-sex-sex with bad boys. Who turn out to be faithful husbands in the end. Right.

    What are we writers telling our sisters and daughters about love when we hype the sexual antics? Lies, that’s what. Haven’t we learned anything? A man who pulls a woman into bed before marriage — over her modest objections, in Regency times as well as our own — is selfish. And that selfishness plays itself out in all areas of the marriage. And, guess what, it doesn’t go away. Through the years I’ve counseled enough women to know.

    One of the driving forces behind Mercy’s Embrace, which was posted on-line for years, was to make readers fall in love with McGillvary without the bedroom stuff.

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  3. Lucy

    Ms. Kaye, I want to chime in with the hope that you won’t stop writing your wonderful Persuasion novels and stories, which are among my favorite Austen sequels, period. Keep showing the less talented writers–especially those who rely on sex rather than character development–how it’s really done.

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  4. Robin Helm

    Another point, Laura, is that McGillvary was reformed before he and Elizabeth made any declarations to each other. He did not go to bed with her, and then clean up his act. In fact, as they are not married by the end of Book 3, they never go to bed at all in your books. Additionally, you were never graphic in your descriptions of his previous liasons.

    I do not object to love scenes that are integral to the plot, or those in which Darcy and Elizabeth are married. But – and this is a BIG but, I’m speaking of love scenes, not graphic sexual encounters in which every sound, measurement, and physiological change are described in minute detail.

    I avoid foul language as well, and the book I spoke of has four letter words used throughout the manuscript. I don’t want that in my head. It may be realistic, but I don’t want to put it into my mind. In my book, SoulFire, Gregory actually needs to call Elizabeth a foul name, but I just couldn’t write it any worse than “slut” knowing that my church family, my pastor, my biological family, and my former students would be reading it. I will not write anything that I cannot claim as my own work.

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  5. Laura Hile

    The “married luv” scenes have me cringing in embarrassment — unless, as you say, Robin, there is something integral to the plot that happens in the bedroom. Susan Kaye and I learned the hard way with Love Suffers Long and is Kind that anything less than Fantasy Sex is loathed by readers. How they screamed when the sexual experience was, shall we say, realistic!

    Sex is meant to be private. Maybe I’m way too shy or reserved or inhibited. But when I read scenes that are so obviously “Mary Sue” (the authoress) in bed with whichever hunky actor portrayed Fitzwilliam Darcy, I feel like a Peeping Tom!

    Like you, I keep in mind that what I write could be read by anyone. And what if Mercy’s Embrace becomes a mini-series or movie? (Hey, it could happen! Probably not, but you never know.) Would I be comfortable having actors physically portray what I’ve written?

    I’ve tried writing a steamy scene, with, you know, the physical descriptions, just to see if I could. And I ended up all embarrassed and blushing and laughing. Laughing! It’s hard enough to write a kiss!

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    1. Robin Helm

      I actually wrote a joke scene once to make one of my betas laugh, and I e-mailed it to her because she was having a series of bad days. In it, my angel Darcy has his first physical reaction to his love for Elizabeth. No one else was ever meant to read it, and it’s hysterical. If I tried to write graphic sex, that’s probably how it would turn out. It would be a comedy. How can they write that bilge with a straight face?

      Not only that, I would feel that I had been, in some ways, unfaithful to my husband. In order to write, I have to visualize. I would not be able to write a sexual encounter without visualizing it and acting it out in my mind. Sometimes when I write, I actually move in my chair to see if the motions work, or I walk to get a feel for how the person would be positioned. I can just see myself trying to act out what they’re writing using my chair, my desk, a stool, the piano, the sofa, the dining room table, the countertop, the toilet, etc., etc. etc.

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  6. Sophia Rose

    I have picked up some of these books that you must be describing and couldn’t help thinking at the time that someone was just hijacking the names and locations to get their own historical romance to sell. Poor Jane must be rolling over in her grave to see some of these less than representative spin-offs.

    I add my voice to the rest and say that JAFF does need the purists more than ever which is why I chose to follow this site. I have read each of your book series with the exception of Barbara’s (getting to that, Barbara- I promise) and loved how they all feel like actual Austen sequels.

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  7. Jean

    NO, NO, NO – YOU CAN’T QUIT!!!!! Susan, your Persuasion-based work is some of my very favorite of the Austen sequels/re-tellings, and it would be a tremendous loss to all of us if you don’t continue to add to your writings. As difficult as it is, please ignore the “sillies” who turn Miss Austen’s wonderful work into “bodice-rippers” – doesn’t take any intellect or talent to do that! Keep it classy, and keep it coming!

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  8. Jennifer G.

    Please don’t quit! I won’t get started (because it will be hard to stop) about the sex, bad writing and crazy ideas some “writers” have. HOWEVER, you ladies, my FAVORITE four ladies, are truly writers and you WORK at what you do and I want to support you. I really HATE that the “industry” has turned this into a cash cow and does not seem to care about the essence and the basics.

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  9. AmyFlo

    Please. Don’t. Quit.

    Your Frederick Wentworth, Captain series, is a wonderful addition to Persuasion, and I actually check this and Austen authors daily to see if there’s any hope of progress in the third volume. I’m not kidding. Possibly pathetic, but I prefer passionate.

    The bodice rippers have their place (not on my bookshelf, mind you). And that’s all the more reason for classy, Austen-esque sequels out there that won’t cause the reader to blush.

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  10. Danae

    Please don’t quit. I much prefer to leave sex scenes to the imagination and very much enjoy the classy Austen-esque sequels. Thank you for the stories you have written!

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  11. Susan Kaye Post author

    Thank you all for the encouragement these responses have given me. This was not a trite, hand-to-forehead cry of despair meant to illicit praise. I had just read a bit of fiction was truly discouraged about the direction Austen fiction is taking.

    The only solution is BIC (butt in chair) and FTK (fingers to keyboard).

    Thank you all for commenting. πŸ˜‰

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  12. Robin Helm

    Susan, I have an off-the-wall question. What does Wentworth look like in your mind? Is he like Cierran Hinds or Rupert (his last name escapes me at the moment).

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  13. Susan Kaye Post author

    When I began, FW was Ciaran Hinds. I saw the adaptation first and then read the book so this is how that shakes out. Now, I’ve been at this so long, I see more or less, figures moving around the scenes. I only try to see features when I need a facial description.

    Rupert Penry-Jones is too pretty, though, I think he my be more the “handsome” envisioned by Austen.

    Why do you ask, Robin?

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  14. Eileen

    That’s exactly why you should NOT quit! Don’t be demoralized by all the garbage out there. I’ve read enough of it myself to really appreciate the talented writers like yourself. FTK, that’s an order!! Haha – now I’m just being selfish.

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  15. Laura Hile

    We’ve put ourselves under a 100-pages-by-Feb 24th-or-else deadline, Eileen. Not that this will be the length of our next books, but it’ll be a hefty start. Truth to tell, each of us is our own worst critic. And also we tend to procrastinate … πŸ™‚

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  16. Ranea

    I jusy wanted to let you guys know that your books are the only ones I have actually bought physical (or in Pamela’s case audio) copies of. Any of the others (bodice ripers) I have, I am more than happy that I didn’t have to pay a cent for, because in most cases, it was worth what I paid for it…. So thank you, keep on writing, and know that you have devoted readers waiting for whatever you want to give us.

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  17. Ellen

    I agree with Ranea. I’ve wasted money buying books that looked good, only to find out they were loaded with crap. Things written by you ladies are things I know won’t make my mother blush. And – which is a big and – they are thoughtfully written. You don’t substitute sex for characterization.

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  18. Susan Kaye Post author

    Your last point, Ellen, sex-for-characterization, is key. I’m tired of reading novels packed with sex that end with the notion in place that exciting coitus can hold a marriage together. With or without marriage.

    My latest example is the character of THE HOOKER WITH THE HEART OF GOLD. In the past, this was an honest character, who knew they were morally suspect in the eyes of the society, but did the right thing when the time came. This character is now portrayed as a crusader for free expression and who revels in their occupation while trying to change the repressed notions of the world. (Well, there is usually a reference to Holland and how evolved they are about sex. Displaying women in windows like haunches of beef is not my idea of advancement.) It’s this sort of bait-and-switch that angers me. I’ve met people who have plied the trade for various reasons and not one of them was ever proud of it, or wanted their children to follow in their footsteps.

    The finely crafted sex scene is not a substitute for finely crafted dialogue.

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Why yes, we DO want a piece of your mind. ;-)

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