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  • Goodreads Team Interview # My Plain Jane

    Interview with The Lady Janies Author Team

    Cynthia Hand
    The author team behind the YA historical fantasy My Lady Janereturns with a supernatural sequel, My Plain Jane. A retelling of Jane Eyre, this novel reimagines Charlotte Brontë's eponymous character as a young ghost hunter.

    With the rare ability to see spirits and apparitions, Jane uses her talent to escape the confines of Lowood School and embark on a thrilling Gothic adventure. Goodreads asked authors Cynthia HandBrodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows over email to share what inspired The Lady Janies series as well as their list of YA historical must-reads.

    Goodreads: Describe the premise of My Plain Jane

    Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows: The short pitch for My Plain Jane is that it's Jane Eyre meets Ghostbusters. What we do with The Lady Janies novels is take a girl who has been kind of screwed over by history, and we rewrite her tragic story as a comedy and try to give her a better ending than the one she got in real life. We do understand that Jane Eyre is a fictional character, but in My Plain Jane we assert that Jane Eyre was a real person, and she was friends with an aspiring writer named Charlotte Brontë (who was also kind of screwed over in life, and died young and tragically), and we are retelling their story together.

    In addition to rewriting history, The Lady Janies series always adds an element of fantasy as a way to constantly remind the reader that it's not real history we're dealing with here. In My Plain Jane we added the existence of ghosts, which seemed like a no-brainer because Jane Eyreas a novel was already interested in the idea of the ghostly, and the afterlife, and the supernatural. We tell the story as an alternate version of Brontë's classic tale, in which Jane Eyre has the ability to see ghosts, a rare and dangerous talent, and has been quietly hiding this ability during her time at Lowood School.

    GR: What inspired The Lady Janies series? 

    CH, BA, JM: Two things: our desire to spend more time together as friends and do a project together, and Cynthia's initial idea about rewriting the story of Lady Jane Grey (My Lady Jane), which led to the notion that we would rewrite the stories of girls who had been overlooked or abused by history.

    GR: Readers love your take on YA historical fiction. What draws you to this genre? Have you noticed any trends?

    CH, BA, JM: There's something so fun and satisfying about getting to rewrite tragic stories. We write these books because we love to write the comedy—there aren't a lot of opportunities to write straight comedy these days—and because we love to learn about and research the history. The only trend we've really noticed is the way more and more writers are turning to history, especially with an eye toward writing about women and feminism, which we think is great and exactly what we ourselves are attempting to do.

    GR: What YA historical fiction books do you recommend?

    This is an up-and-coming retelling of the Guy Fawkes story, mixed with magic and romance in a way that we found truly delightful.

    Got to love a gender-swapped retelling of the story of Dracula. This story is so transporting.

    One of the best novels about the role of women in World War II, and just darned good storytelling.

    We'll read anything written by Saundra Mitchell, but we particularly like The Springsweet, which takes place in the Old West. This novel also mixes history and magic, and Mitchell does this so flawlessly.

    Another Wild West story—this one has heart-stopping action and an amazing, driven, complex female lead character. Loved this one.

    This novel moves back and forth between present day and the Tulsa race riot of 1921, and it's an excellent story to make you ponder how history is still relevant today.

    My Plain Jane is now available. Don't forget to add it to your Want to Read shelf! Be sure to also read more of our exclusive author interviews, and get more great book recommendations.

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