Saturday, June 15, 2013

Taking on Jane Eyre: Joanna Campbell Slan

Today we have a Q&A with the author of The Jane Eyre Chronicles,  Joanna Campbell Slan. 

1)     Why did you decide to write The Jane Eyre Chronicles?

While I was on a panel at Malice Domestic, the mystery conference, someone asked what my favorite mystery of all time was, and without thinking I said, “Jane Eyre.” That started me thinking, why not revisit the classic?

2)     What did you love most about Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë? 

Edward loves Jane for her spirit, and I find that enchanting. I also empathized with a character who was poor, unassuming and overlooked. That described me perfectly as a young woman.

3)     How did you prepare to write about such a well known and beloved character?

It’s strange, but I had to distance myself from the original. Otherwise my writing mimicked Brontë’s, and that would have been a bit too much for modern readers. But of course, I re-read the original, I bought study guides and every book about the Regency, the Brontës and their works that I could find. I also bought an 1816 two-volume set of Bewick’s History of British Birds, which is what Jane is reading when the classic opens. Just running my hands down the binding gives me chills.

4)      Did you visit England? If so, what did you learn that didn't make into the books? 

From 2001-2, my family and I lived in Sunningdale, outside of London, near Windsor. Living in a country is very different from visiting as a tourist. I learned a lot about the British mindset, and I believe that is apparent in my work. I realized quickly that people are both proud of the monarchy and have their criticisms of it. There’s so much that won’t be in one of my books, as I tried to see and do everything I could, and I’ve been back many times since.

5)     What are your thoughts on other works, such as the Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde, that also use Jane and Edward Rochester as characters?

In a word, wonderful! I also love The Flight of Gemma Hardy by Margot Livesey and Wide Saragasso Sea by Jean Rhys. As the author of several other mystery series with original characters, I can think of no finer tribute than to inspire others to keep one’s characters alive.

6)     Besides writing an entertaining book, did you have any other goals when you started this series?

Yes, I hoped to bring a new generation of readers to Jane Eyre. My proudest moment was when the Voice of Youth Advocates said, “For readers who love Jane Eyre, she lives on in Joanna Campbell Slan.”


  1. Hello Joanna! In your hands....a bust of Jane Eyre????


  2. @Joanna - Thank you for such a great post.

  3. No, it's actually a sculpture from a 17th century church, and it's either the head of a saint or a priest. The top of the head is flat, and a beam from the church rested on it.

  4. Glad you liked it, Deborah. Thanks again.

  5. By the way, the men in the colorful outfits are Morris Dancers, as seen in Downton Abbey, and of course that last photo is of Prince Phillip.

  6. First, that is a fabulous hat Joanna. Second, I love your books!

  7. What a lovely compliment to you, Joanna, to be carrying on JE to this generation. Well Done..
    It's definitely inspiriting my interest!

  8. Love the flowers in your kitchen. Nothing like a view and flowers when looking out a Looking forward to reading your book.