Posted: 22.05.20 at 17:50 by Zola Hargreaves
On Wednesday evening we had the pleasure of attending the Griffin Books Meet the Author event. This week Janice Hadlow joined the virtual meeting from her home in Edinburgh to discuss her novel ‘’The Other Bennett Sister’’ with a large group of Penarth attendees.
The event was carried out over Zoom and residents logged into a group meeting which is where the evening took place.
Mel Griffin, the owner of Griffin Books, and Janice Hadlow discussed her journey to novel writing and the book itself whilst the audience watched on.
Janice discussed her life in isolation and revealed, as an author, that her day-to-day hadn’t really changed that much. She said: ‘’I suppose the biggest difference is that my two sons are back with me, so they are eating me out of house and home.
‘’They are both doing their finals, so life is not without tension, but we are surviving. We are still eating together which is saying something!
‘’As a writer, my life has changed less than most people. I am in my office and go for my one government-regulated walk of the day.
''These are strange and challenging times but in terms of my daily life, I am very lucky that it hasn’t involved too much change.’’
Janice Hadlow has not always been a novelist. She has spent a lot of her career in production for TV. She has worked across the BBC and Channel 4 and has commissioned popular shows like Wolf Hall, The Great British Bake Off and Line of Duty.
Before this, she studied History at university before working for the House of Commons for a few years.
Ms Hadlow has written non-fiction before, but The Other Bennett Sister is her fiction debut.
Based on the ‘’forgotten’’ sister from Pride and Prejudice; the story follows the life of Mary Bennett before, during and after the timeline of the famous Jane Austen novel.
The virtual evening saw Mel Griffin ask a series of questions to Janice before it was opened up to a public Q and A.
When asked about her journey between TV and writing she said: ‘’Part of being a producer is that you are writing – and if not, you are around people that write and that is very inspiring.
‘’I learnt the importance of the big what happens next. In book terms, this is what makes people turn the page. What makes you turn the next page and the next chapter? I learnt that from TV. The big difference in TV is that you have to be careful how much you say. Most writers have an amazing freedom rather than having to deal in hours, minutes and seconds like TV.
‘’My factual book is where the writing took off, but I’ve had the idea of investigating an Austen character at the back of my head for a long time.’’
‘’I decided to look into what Mary’s perspective would have been in Pride and Prejudice (What made her into the character).
‘’My Book begins before Pride and Prejudice when the girls were growing up so I could look into how her identity was formed.
‘’All Austen's heroines go on a journey. They begin thinking one thing of themselves and ending somewhere else. I wanted to tell Mary’s journey.’’
The Other Bennet Sister, shows another side to Mary. An introvert in a family of extroverts; a constant disappointment to her mother who values beauty above all else; fearful of her father’s sharp tongue; with little in common with her siblings – is it any wonder she turns to books for both company and guidance? And, if she finds her life lonely or lacking, that she determines to try harder at the one thing she can be: right.
When asked about the mighty task of writing alongside Austen’s plot Janice Hadlow said: ‘’Much great art has inspired others to create things. It’s not that the new art will live up to the original but it’s its own thing.
‘’I wanted to be respectful and didn’t want it to be something Austen wouldn’t have wanted. She was done with Mary. I wanted to get that little bit of life left out of Austen.
‘’I didn’t want her to do something extraordinary. I was imagining a life that Austen would imagine for her own characters.’’
After the interview, members of the public posed their own questions to the author which she then responded to and discussed.
Overall, it was a really interesting evening and we would recommend it for anyone in need of a midweek distraction.
Meet the Autor Events will take place on Zoom on a weekly basis with Griffin Books and the schedule and ticket booking can be found here.