Since reading through Jane Austen’s novels, I’ve started to notice all of the ‘Austen-inspired’ books, novellas, and short story collections that are published every year. With dramas, mysteries, romances, Austen-lit should be a genre in and of itself.
There’s nothing wrong with being inspired by a favorite author. But if you really want to write like Jane Austen, write like Jane Austen! She didn’t write about the Regency era like we do, as if it were in the past; no, she wrote about current society, the world in which she was living, with all of it’s fashion and foibles. She wrote stylized social commentary, not historical fantasy. Her literary world was based on observations of life, not the footnotes of someone else’s research paper. That’s what makes her work so timeless. Perhaps today’s authors would have more success if they wrote about their world, their observations of society. Historical fiction has it’s place, but there should be a difference between ‘inspired by’ and ‘in the style of’. That said, shouldn’t we expect something more contemporary when a book is labeled as ‘Austen-inspired’?
It is my opinion that authors would do their inspiration much more honor by writing in her spirit – with insight, humor, and relevance – than in her words.