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Though Emily’s sister Charlotte gets all the attention for her novel Jane Eyre, every literary geek worth her salt knows that Wuthering Heights is by far superior. In fact, I once had a professor declare it to be one of the most subversive novels ever written in English. Whether or not you believe it (or think Jane Eyre is better — I’m not here to start any lit wars), let’s see how the Hemingway App ranks its opening paragraph.The Hartford Books Examiner has a Q&A with Michaela MacColl, author of Always Emily.
Well, it may be subversive, but it isn’t quite up to Hemingway standards of clarity, I guess. The app rates this opening as just “Okay.” (Emma Cueto)
1) What inspired you to write Always Emily – and what hope or intent do you have in featuring the Brontë sisters as protagonists for your readership?I find the Brontë sisters were fascinating, both as writers and as young women in the mid-19th century. For me the first goal is always to try and tell a good story but I have a secret hope that if I can hook my readers on the Brontës as people, I’m halfway to putting to Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights in their hands! [...]Andy Miller writes in The Independent about his book The Year of Reading Dangerously: How Fifty Great Books Saved My Life.
3) Tell us about your research process. Also, how do you endeavor to balance fact with fiction – and what do you find to be the key(s) to bringing history alive for readers?The research seems to be the thing that people think is most daunting. It’s odd for me because I find the research the most fun and by far the easiest part of writing historical fiction. I used to over-research – it is possible to learn too much. It becomes too much to organize and difficult to use in a story. But the more experienced I get, the better I am at understanding what I’m going to need. The trick is to be efficient, but also to keep your mind open for that little detail that defines your story.
When I wrote Always Emily, I started with the biggest most definitive biography I can find. In this case, it was The Brontës: Wild Genius of the Moors, The Story of a Literary Family. The paperback version of this is 1184 pages (that’s not a typo). After that, I read all the other credible biographies looking for little tidbits that might inform the story. I find that I develop a clear understanding of the character through her biography. Finally, I research all the extra bits I need based on my story. I spent a lot of time on bog bursts, the Freemasons and hydrophobia (rabies) for Always Emily. (John Valeri)
I recently wrote a book about the year I spent reading 50 of the greatest and most challenging books in the canon – Jane Eyre, Moby-Dick, War and Peace and so on. As a full-time working and commuting parent, most of this reading was done on trains. Every morning I would board the 6.44am to London and try to focus my pre-office energies on, say, Catch-22 or The Epic of Gilgamesh.Mother Nature Network mentions briefly working at a library.
It soon became clear that the challenge lay not just in engaging with the books in question but also in keeping the babble of the carriage at bay: the bing-bong of train manager announcements, the tish-tish-tish of leaky white earbuds, the honking of comedy ringtones, the repetitive beats of the slow-rolling refreshments trolley – TEAS! COFFEES! LIGHT SNACKS! – or the snores emerging from the occupant of an adjacent seat. The perfect sound to accompany Jane Eyre would probably be silence. But silence was not an option.
Growing up, my town's library was a home-away-from-home (I loved it so much it was a no-brainer that my first job ever, at age 14, was as a library page—a person who puts the books away). Walking through the stacks, I would mentally wave to old friends like Jane Eyre, Danny Torrence and Laura Ingalls Wilder, while having the comforting thought that just as many other characters (who could and would also change my life) were waiting for me to find them. To this day I'm more comfortable surrounded by books than anything else; I find people with bookless homes quite suspicious.The Telegraph and Argus reports on the Ilkley Carnival with a 'Tour of Yorkshire' theme where
Children dressed as the Brontë sisters, Vikings and York Minster choristers to pay tribute to Yorkshire’s heritage. (Amanda Greaves)The Guardian discusses how the Giro d'Italia passing through Northern Ireland during the weekend is more needed than the Tour de France passing through Yorkshire because
Yorkshire may be hosting the start of the Tour de France in June, but that county already has its dales, its Brontës and, in York, the second-most popular city in England for tourists. (Esther Addley)Mi Serve una Vacanza (Italy) has an article on a cruise where one of the stops is Antigua:
Il giorno dopo si va ad Antigua, la splendida località esotica decantata ne “Il Gran Mare dei Sargassi” il noto romanzo postcoloniale di Jean Rhys del 1966 e prequel del più celebre Jane Eyre di Charlotte Brontë. E’ un luogo ricco di storia, vivacità culturale e dinamismo intellettuale. La musica è presente in ogni piazza e spiaggia, assieme a localini tipici e architetture tradizionali. Il settimo giorno è il turno di Martinica, foresta tropicale circondata da numerose baie vivaci e ricche di natura rigogliosa. Tra le spiagge più belle spicca quella di Salines con i suoi pittoreschi pesci colorati. (Translation)Digital Journal via Labels4Kids credits Charlotte Brontë with the popularisation of the name Charlotte.