#WWWBlogs ‘Why I wrote a sequel to #JaneEyre’ Part I #HistoricalFiction ‘All Hallows at Eyre Hall’

Seven years ago, in 2013, I started writing The Eyre Hall trilogy, which took me four years to complete. Book One, All Hallows at Eyre Hall takes up the story of Jane Eyre twenty-two years after her marriage, while Rochester is on his deathbed, and we find out what has been happening at Eyre Hall, the house Jane Eyre built, after Thornfield Hall burnt down.

When I first read Jane Eyre, I was fascinated by Jane’s character and fortitude. She was an orphan who grew up in a hostile family, with her cruel Aunt Reed and her spiteful cousins.

Jane later survived physical and emotional hardships, such as sickness, malnutrition, and humiliation, at Lowood Institution, yet she was determined and intelligent enough to eventually become a teacher there.

At eighteen, she decided she had outgrown Lowood. She wanted to see the world, but she was still a poor orphan, and yet she had the resoluteness and optimism to apply for a job as a governess in order to gain further independence.

Why I'm Quitting This Teaching Bullshit to Become a Governess - McSweeney's Internet Tendency

I was naturally overjoyed when her life improved and she, seemingly, found true love in Mr. Rochester, and I was devastated to learn that not only was he already married, but that he had imprisoned his, supposedly, mad wife in his windowless attic at Thornfield Hall, in the care of the drunken Grace Poole.

Jane’s hardships started anew. In chapter XXVII, after the interruption of her marriage and Bertha Antoinette Mason’s discovery in the attic, Jane told Rochester that she was leaving, and what did Rochester do? He offered her a love nest in France:

You shall be Mrs. Rochester—both virtually and nominally. I shall keep only to you so long as you and I live. You shall go to a place I have in the south of France: a whitewashed villa on the shores of the Mediterranean. There you shall live a happy, and guarded, and most innocent life. Never fear that I wish to lure you into error—to make you my mistress.

Jane saw through his deception and rejected the offer of living with him in France, because she knew she would become the very person he said she would not become, his mistress.

So, the following dawn, she escaped from Thornfield.

Jane found herself alone and penniless once again. She was soon forced to beg for a job and shelter. I was overjoyed that she found three generous people who took her in, days later (she was in a deplorable state by then) Mary, Diana, and St. John, who were her cousins, as yet unknown to her.

I was relieved that she didn’t accept St. John’s proposal of marriage and travel as missionaries to India, because she didn’t love him. A few months later, when she was informed that she had inherited her Uncle John’s fortune and decided to share it with her cousins, it was obvious that her life was on the mend.

I was mesmerised when she finally travelled back to Thornfield Hall, because she had heard Mr. Rochester call her across the Moors on a moonlit night. When she discovered Thornfield had been burnt down, I was devastated, until I found out it had been burnt down by Bertha, who had died in the fire.

I sighed in relief because I knew Jane would be rewarded with a happy ending, and she was. ‘Reader, I married him,” she told us, and I thought ‘At last! What a relief’.

I fell in love with Rochester, too. I was about fourteen at the time. Jane was blind because she was nineteen and in love, and I was blind because I was young enough to believe Jane’s happiness would be eternal.

Twenty years later, a friend and English Teacher from Denmark, Anne, suggested I read Wide Sargasso Sea, by Jean Rhys, and that’s when I understood that every story has two sides. I started wondering what kind of a man Rochester really was, and if Jane’s happiness would have lasted.

Sixteen years later, as a College Professor, preparing my classes on Postcolonial Literature in English at the University of Cordoba, I realized there was a counter narrative in which the colonial cultures wrote their way back into world history, which the dominant Europeans had written.

One of the topics we discussed in class was a comparison of Jane Eyre and Wide Sargasso Sea, which tells the story of Bertha Antoinette Mason, Rochester’s ‘mad’ wife who was locked in his attic. Bertha who was dehumaised, voiceless and constrained in Jane Eyre, was given a voice, a background and a personality in Wide Sargasso Sea.

As a result of further investigations into these two novels, I wrote the chapter titled ‘Sexuality and Gender Relationships in Jane Eyre and Wide Sargasso Sea’ in the Book, Identities on the Move: Contemporary Representations of New Sexualities and Gender Identities, published by Lexington Books, in 2014, when I was writing The Eyre Hall Trilogy.

The chapter discusses sexuality and gender relations in Jane Eyre and Wide Sargasso Sea based on a comparative character analysis of Jane Eyre, Bertha Antoinette Mason, and Edward Rochester.

I don’t know why, it’s ridiculously expensive, but if anyone would like to you can read the article it’s on ScribdYou can also read the chapter on Google Books.

If you’re not on Scribd or if  you can’t access Google books and you’d like to read it, just let me know in the comments and I’ll send you a copy.

Jane was only nineteen when the main events occurred, and ten years older when Jane Eyre An Autobiography was written. The last few paragraphs of Jane Eyre, where she moves the story on a few years, are a couple of rushed and imprecise paragraphs. We are told that Rochester recovers his eye-sight and is able to hold his first-born son in his arms. It’s an open ended story, because the rest of their marriage is open to discussion.

That’s when I realized that Orson Wells had the key to a happy ending: ‘If you want a happy ending, that depends on where you stop the story.’

Charlotte Bronte stopped where she thought best, but Jane Eyre, like all works of art belong to the beholder, and readers are free to reinterpret any work of art. I am neither the first nor the last to do so.

I’ve written a post about this called sequels, prequels, reinterpretations, rewritings, and writing back, which deals with this topic in greater depth. Here is my post on writing sequels, prequels, reinterpretations, rewritings and writing-back.

I also agree with Derrida that ‘there is nothing outside the text’.

Everything I have written is based on the spaces between the lines of the text of Jane Eyre. 

I’ve created an intertextual and diachronic mélange in my mind, which I have translated into a trilogy. More on intertextuality in this post.

Those were the literary, philisophical and emotional reasons which led me to write a sequel to Jane Eyre.

Part 2, which deals with my specific objectives in writing The Eyre Hall Trilogy, is already live.

Meanwhile! Important news! Freebie over the Halloween weekend!

Book One of The Eyre Hall Trilogy, (International link follows) All Hallows at Eyre Hall will be free for the first time on kindle deals to coincide with Halloween, from 29th October to the 2nd November.

Make sure you download your copy!

 

 

 

#WWWBlogs ‘How I found a perfect title for my novel in Four Stages’ #WIP #WritingCommunity #AmWriting #HistoricalFiction

I’d like to share with you the four-stage, frustrating, although ultimately successful, process of searching for and discovering the perfect title for my current WIP.

Stage One: Initial Brainstorming based on the Catalyst

I brainstormed titles based on one of the most important characters, who acts as a catalyst in Jane Eyre’s life, at the start and throughout the Eyre Hall Trilogy, Annette Mason.

The Eyre Hall Trilogy is based on the characters and events portrayed directly or insinuated between the lines of Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte and Wide Sagasso Sea by Jean Rhys. As a result of my combined reinterpretation of both novels, my main thesis, put forward in The Eyre Hall Trilogy is that the first Mrs Rochester, Bertha Antoinette Mason, had a daughter while she was locked in her attic.

Twenty years later, when her daughter reappears at Eyre Hall, Mr Rochester denies the child, Annette, now a beautiful, young woman, is his offspring, but as he proved to be a notorious and shameless liar throughout Jane Eyre, it is hard for readers and a mature Jane, to believe him.

In The Eyre Hall Trilogy, Richard Mason, Bertha’s step-brother according to Wide Sargasso Sea,  took the child to Jamaica, where he lived, in exchange for monthly payments from Mr Rochester for the child’s upkeep and his silence.

My new prequel (if you want to know why I’m writing a prequel I explain my reasons here) will culminate where All Hallows at Eyre Hall begins, that is, with Annette’s arrival at Eyre Hall with her uncle, Richard Mason, as Mr Rochester lies on his deathbed. Annette’s reappearance leads to a series of dramatic events which will cause havoc in the lives of the Rochester family and all the residents at Eyre Hall.

Bearing this crucial event in mind, I brainstormed the following titles related to Annette Mason’s return to Eyre Hall, where she had been born nineteen years earlier;

My / Her Husband’s Daughter

Mrs Rochester’s Stepdaughter

Mr Rochester’s Secret

Mr Rochester’s Secret Daughter

Jane’s Stepdaughter

Bertha’s Daughter

Bertha’s Daughter Returns to Eyre Hall

The First Mrs Rochester’s Daughter

Miss Annette Mason

Richard Mason’s Niece

The Heiress

The Jamaican Heiress

These titles were fitting, but I didn’t find any of them striking, and although it wasn’t strictly necessary, I wanted ‘at Eyre Hall’ in the title of the prequel like the three subsequent novels, All Hallows at Eyre Hall, Twelfth Night at Eyre Hall and Midsummer at Eyre Hall. That meant that Bertha’s Daughter Returns to Eyre Hall was the best fit, but it was too long and disclosed too much of the mystery. I could also add ‘Returns to Eyre Hall’ in any of the previous titles, for example, The Jamaican Heiress Returns to Eyre Hall, but again, that made the titles too long or awkward, so as I wasn’t overly fond of any of the previous titles, I started from scratch, thinking up titles all over again.

Stage Two: Brainstorming Round Two for Emotions

I decided to add a specific moment in time to the title, as I had done with my previous novels, which are marked by significant festivities during which the climax of the novels occurs; All Hallows, Twelfth Night, and Midsummer.

I wanted the events in the prequel to culminate where All Hallows begins, so it had to be a festivity occurring not too long before All Hallows, which led me to a few more titles with September in mind.

Harvest Moon at Eyre Hall

September Moon at Eyre Hall

September Storm at Eyre Hall

Thunderstorm at Eyre Hall

Autumn Equinox at Eyre Hall

September Equinox at Eyre Hall

Michaelmas at Eyre Hall

Season of Mists at Eyre Hall

Again, none of these titles seemed the perfect fit, although I preferred Harvest Moon at Eyre Hall over all the others, in fact in my recent update on the prequel I’m writing to the trilogy, I said this would be the title of my new novel, but I was never entirely happy with that title, because it evoked a calm, happy, pastoral event and that is not what this novel is about.

I thought about the emotions I wanted to evoke in potential readers of my novel when they read the title, and I made a list of negative emotions and nouns such as; surprise, suspense, rage, hurt, blackmail, restitution, revenge, death, injustice, banishment, exile, justice, moment of truth, lies, and secrets. But there are also positive emotions and events, such as love, passion, forgiveness, restitution, gratitude, reconciliation, truth, honesty, rebirth, and new beginnings. Unfortunately, none of the previous titles immediately evoked those feelings, so I was back to square one, without a title.

Stage Three: Visualisation 

So, I started from scratch for a third time. I slept on it and decided to search for visual stimulus by looking at premade book covers on the internet. This may seem strange to you, but I’m what many people describe as a ‘visual person’. On the one hand, my feelings and emotions are highly influenced by what I see with my eyes and my mind. I do not have a photographic mind, but I do try to visualise things in order to find them or remember them. On the other hand, I also spontaneously see what I’m reading or listening to (audiobooks, songs, conversations), in my mind’s eye.

Visualisation is also a very powerful tool for me as a writer because I ‘see’ my novel’s scenes before I write them. I act out whole scenes, conversations and places, in my mind well before I write them. I need to write a whole post about this, because sometimes I take this need to see to extremes.

Literally, I can’t write a scene if there’s a specific element I want to see and can’t figure out, so I search for it like a crazy person. This could be any prop I consider valuable to me or symbolic in the scene, such as the dress Jane is wearing, a clock on the wall, the exact colour of a character’s eyes, or a even the shape and colour of a chair!

I create and/or recreate visual representations of abstract information and ideas all the time. So, I thought looking at book covers might help. And miraculously it did, almost. I found this image by chance on The Book Cover Designer  by BetiBup33 and I fell in love at once.

Even the title, Red Moon, fit perfectly. I’m a moon lover. I follow full moon rituals which I wrote about in a previous post, and I make sure to look for the moon in the sky and I follow its phases because it fascinates me. I’m delighted that my posts on The Moon in Jane Eyre are my most viewed and it’s something I share with Charlotte Bronte, the moon is not there by chance at key moments in Jane Eyre.

I showed my daughters the cover and my title, Red Moon at Eyre Hall. They are two wonderful women with a sharp eye for beautiful things (I also have a son, but he has other skills!), and they loved it, and yet, I wasn’t fully convinced. It was definitely the best title, so far, but Red Moon, sounded a bit too juvenile, or bland. Red is my favourite colour because I love the fire and strength it conveys, but it still didn’t seem powerful enough for my title.

Stage Four: Finding Perfection with some help from Google!

My next search was on the internet, I started looking for ‘Red Moon’ titles in other novels or general information on the phenomenon on specific webpages and I found many references to Blood Moon and I thought, of course, why on earth didn’t that occur to me before! I found the perfect title, Blood Moon at Eyre Hall. The title and the image with a huge, red moon in a stormy sky with a large country house below in dark shadows, transmits passion, love, mystery, nightmare, troubles, secrets unveiled, death and renewal at Eyre Hall.

So that’s how I found the perfect title for the prequel to The Eyre Hall Trilogy.

I can’t tell you how thrilled I am. The scenes are spinning in my mind’s eye, my handwritten notes, which I always start with before typing anything,  are all over the place in several notebooks, and my chapter outlines, plot and character arcs, are still in the process of reordering and completing, but I feel strong enough to pull it all together, now that I have an image and a title. I’ve printed out the title on my Dream Board (there will be more about dream boards in another post!). So I’m good to go, and I’ll be posting regular updates on my writing process on Wednesdays.

Next week I’ll tell you all about the biblical and astrological meaning and symbolism of Blood Moon and it’s relevance to the themes and events portrayed in Blood Moon at Eyre Hall.

Well, do you think my title is a good fit for my novel?

How do you decide on the names of your novels? Do you find it tough too, or do you come up with a name instantly?

Let me know in the comments.

Important news! Freebie over the Halloween weekend!

Book One of The Eyre Hall Trilogy, (International link follows) All Hallows at Eyre Hall will be free for the first time on kindle deals to coincide with Halloween, from 29th October to the 2nd November. Make sure you download your copy!

 

 

#PhotoOfMyLife Day6 #Tanka #WordlessWednesday

Taken today during my morning walk.


Stunning pink petals
Cuddle up to bare branches,
Beauty and the beast,
Agony and ecstasy,
Two sides of life’s golden coin.
****



The rules for this Twitter Challenge: no people, no explanations and challenge one new person every day. I was challenged by @GeorgiaRoseBook check out her blog.

Today I challenge @OlgaNM7 check out her book blog.

As I already told you, I’m terrible at following rules, so I’ve written a Tanka and told you where I took the photo!

Take a walk!

Take a photo!

Enjoy your Wednesday!

#WednesdayWisdom ‘Dark and Stormy’ #1linewed #WWWBlogs #JaneEyre

If you feel as if you’re in a tiny fishing boat, alone in a vast, dark and stormy sea, and there’s nothing you can do to help yourself, look around, do something for someone else to make you feel better.

And the best thing is it works.

Your own troubles will seem less dark, you’ll feel good about helping someone else, and who knows? Perhaps you’ll be someone else’s distraction from their own dark and stormy feelings. Trust karma.

Jane helping Rochester after falling from his horse.

Jane Eyre knew all about the positive effects of helping others:

My help had been needed and claimed; I had given it: I was pleased to have done something; trivial, transitory though the deed was, it was yet an active thing, and I was weary of an existence all passive.

These are Jane’s reflections in Chapter XII, after meeting and helping an unknown gentleman who had fallen off his horse on a cold, dark afternoon in January, when the days are very short and dark in Yorkshire. Jane had offered to take a letter Mrs. Fairfax needed posting to Hay, which was a two mile walk away.

Jane had been feeling sad and lonely after spending the first winter months at Thornfield, and yet, a kind gesture led to a second kind gesture and her first meeting with Mr. Rochester.

Jane overcame her passivity and ventured out of her comfort zone, to help others, and in so doing she opened new avenues by meeting the man who would change her life.

If she had satyed at home wallowing in her loneliness and misery, they would probably never have met. Mr. Rochester probably would have had no interest in meeting his ward’s governess under normal circumstances.

Don’t don’t overindulge in your own problems, if you can’t do anything for yourself, do something for someone else!

Image from Pixabay