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Interview with April Lindner + Jane Giveaway!

I'm very excited about today's interviewee. As you know, I had been looking forward to the publication of Jane for months when a review copy happened in my lap and I let out a gasp of joy. Being a modernized retelling of Jane Eyre with a rock star-ized Mr. Rochester named Nico and a cover that hits every last one of my aesthetic buttons, it was sort of made to order for this reader. Needless to say, it more than lived up to my not inconsiderable expectations and I have been recommending it on a pretty much daily basis to family, friends, co-workers, neighbors . . . you get the picture. It's now just under a month until the book is out and, in anticipation of the release, I invited April Lindner over to dish about all things Jane. She kindly accepted. Please welcome April!

First things first: The Cover. I am in deep smit with that cover. Did you have any input and what was your reaction upon seeing it for the first time?

I adore the cover too, and was blown away the first time I saw the gorgeous, moody photograph that almost could be a painting, of Jane running alone across the grounds of Thornfield.  I still get a little thrill whenever I look at it.  Though I’d love to take credit, all the ideas behind the cover came from the team at Poppy/Little Brown.  They asked for my opinion at each stage of the process, but they made the magic happen.

 Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester. Jane Moore and Nico Rathburn. Was it hard modeling new characters after such utterly famous and beloved ones? What essential qualities did you want them to share? And in what ways (if any) are they different?

I feel like I’ve loved Jane and Mr. Rochester forever, so imagining them into the 21st century really wasn’t hard.  I’ve always thought of Jane Eyre as a kind of role model.  She’s so bluntly honest, so stubbornly herself, even when it would be so much easier to compromise.  Though I’ve never in so many words asked myself WWJD, I’ve drawn strength from her, especially when I was younger, going through difficult romantic relationships and trying to be true to myself.  In writing the book, I just had to tune back into my inner Jane.

And though I don’t have much of an inner rock star to tune into, imaging how Nico might live, act and speak was a lot of fun.  I’ve always had a thing for rock musicians and I’ve wondered—okay, fantasized—what it would be like to be one, or to date one.  Writing Jane gave me a chance to imagine that life in detail.
One thing that was hard, though, was finding Nico’s speaking voice.  It took several drafts to get him away from sounding like Edward Fairfax Rochester and more like a smart but self taught rock and roller.

What was it like updating a classic tale so embedded in its time period?

Like solving a complicated puzzle with lots of interlocking parts.  The first challenge was finding an equivalent for the rigid class difference that complicates the love between Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester.  Once I realized he could be a celebrity, the whole novel unfolded in front of me and I knew I had to write it.  But along the way other elements of Jane Eyre gave me trouble.   The fate of Mr. Rochester’s first wife, for example.  How could there be a modern day equivalent in an age of psychotropic medical miracles?  What sort of person would St. John Rivers be if he lived now?  And how could anyone who ever set foot in a grocery store avoid the covers of the tabloids?  Every now and then I’d hit a roadblock and despair of making it all work, but then I’d think of a solution and get back to work.
This is your first novel, though I know you are also a poet and a professor of literature and creative writing. Reading Jane I could immediately tell it was penned by someone very much at home with the written word. How was writing a novel different from the other types of writing you’ve done in the past?

I’ve always devoured novels and I’ve even written a few that are sitting in a cardboard box in the back of my closet, but poetry has been my main focus for most of my writing life.  Poetry is a very intense kind of writing because every word has to count.  When it’s going well, it can be very satisfying.  On a good day, I might finish the rough draft of a poem in a single sitting.  But that means when I sit down the next day I’m almost always starting over from scratch, facing the blank screen.  There are many discouraging days when I’m blocked, uninspired, and absolutely certain I’ll never write another poem in my life.

The best thing about working on a novel is that once I’d gotten started I had a project I could keep returning to for months and months.  Every day I had a specific destination to reach, with plot points I knew I needed to hit.  It was like going on a long journey with a map instead of wandering aimlessly in hope of stumbling onto someplace good.  The experience was less about inspiration and more about sustained work, and that came as a huge relief.  It’s much easier for inspiration to sneak up on you when you’re already lost in the act of writing.  Besides, I loved having a whole world to lose myself in.

Did you always have a young adult audience in mind for the book from the beginning or was that a decision made after the fact?

Definitely after the fact.  I’m intrigued by the late teenage years, the moment when a young person starts growing into the adult she’s going to be, so I’m drawn to writing about young adults but it never occurred to me that I was writing for them, until my wonderful agent pointed out the possibility.  Since I love the idea of reaching readers at that crucial age when books really imprint on them, I agreed readily that we should market Jane as a young adult book.
Making Nico a rock star was a brilliant move, in my opinion. The romance between him and Jane is both perfectly paced and heart-stopping in its intensity. I knew what would happen and still I was breathless to find out how! What was your vision for the arc between these two and how did you go about making it, well, rock?

I’ve always had a vivid fantasy life.  Sometimes the stories in my head seem almost more convincing than the real, 3D world, to the point where I have to give myself occasional stern reminders that no, I won’t be accompanying George Clooney to the Oscars, and no, it probably wouldn’t be practical to buy a private jet and follow Bruce Springsteen’s tour across America.  So I’m an old hand at creating vivid tableaus in my head, just for fun.  All that fantasizing turned out to be good practice for writing a novel.  Because I had a strong sense of Jane and Nico as people, writing their dialogue was almost like taking dictation.  I got very swept up in their story.  Now that the novel’s done, every now and then I find myself missing them acutely.
As for the story arc, I knew the love between Jane and Nico had to be delayed more by their personalities than by external circumstances.  A rigid social order kept Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester apart, but today a rock star and a nanny could conceivably get together if they felt like it.  So the force that keeps Jane and Nico apart has to be more internal.  Jane’s lack of confidence, her reticence, her inability to flirt, makes her seem more resistant to Nico’s charms than she really is, and he’s too decent to impose himself on an employee without knowing for certain how she feels.  So he tests her, even torments her, in an effort to find out how she feels about him.  As in the original, so much has to happen to them both before they can reach their happy ending.

Is there a Jane soundtrack?

But of course!  It would have to include Lou Reed’s “Sweet Jane,” and Bruce Springsteen’s “Janey Don’t You Lose Heart”—perfect for when Jane leaves Thornfield Park to strike out on her own.  John Wesley Harding’s gorgeous “Your Mind’s Playing Tricks on You” would have to be on there as well, as would “Don’t Dream It’s Over” by Crowded House and Freedy Johnson’s “Bad Reputation”—definitely a song Nico might cover.  And if I can squeeze one more Springsteen song in there, “My Love Will Not Let You Down.”  I can imagine Nico singing that one to Jane.
This isn’t your last foray with the Bronte’s. Word is you’re at work on a retelling of Wuthering Heights. Will it be as faithful and modern a retelling as Jane? And what made you decide to tackle Emily’s work as well as Charlotte’s?

Wuthering Heights is my other favorite novel of all times, so retelling it seemed like the natural next step.  This time around I’m taking more liberties with the narrative.  It just seems necessary.  In Wuthering Heights first cousins marry each other and a foster brother and sister fall in love.   Heathcliff’s passion for Cathy is so deliciously over the top that when it’s frustrated, he slams his head against a tree trunk.  Later he even digs up her corpse.  There’s so much violence and cruelty in the original.  There’s also Emily Bronte’s brilliant and complex framing device in which the story is mostly told through the eyes of relatively minor characters.  I admire all of these elements but I didn’t want to even try to duplicate them.
What I do hope to capture is some of the original’s high romance, its darkness and its multigenerational sweep.  It’s too soon to say very much, but my story is set in present-day Manhattan, in a nightclub on the lower east side.  The Heathcliff character is an aspiring punk rocker.  If anything relatively contemporary could come close to the rough-edged intensity of Wuthering Heights, I figured it might be punk rock.

What’s the one book and/or series you’ve been gushing about nonstop lately?

I just finished a really charming and funny book, Gods Behaving Badly by  Marie Phillips, in which the Greek gods have fallen on hard times and are living together in a flat in present-day London, wreaking havoc on the various mortals that get in their way.  It would make a terrific movie, and casting it would be a hoot.  

And just for fun, what’s the first word that comes to mind when I say:
Jane: careful
Books: trance
Nico: charisma
Music: concert
River: intense
Writing: coffee
The Boss: electrifying
The Bronte’s: windswept
Sexy: eyes
Poetry: inspiration
YA: vibrant
Home: cozy

Thanks so much, April! You’re always welcome.


And now for the giveaway! I happened to get my hands on an extra ARC of Jane and am offering it up today to one lucky commenter. All you need to do is leave a comment telling me your favorite literary couple. The giveaway will be open for one week and will end at midnight on Monday, September 20th. I'll announce the winner the next day. This giveaway is open to U.S. and Canada addresses only. As always, please be sure to leave me a way to contact you. 


  1. My favorite literary couple is Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy!

    swordsforfighting at yahoo dot com

  2. I am dying to red this book! My favorite is Elizabeth and Darcy

    throuthehaze at gmail dot com

  3. Anonymous11:49 AM

    I hadn't heard about this author or the book before, but it's definitely added to my wishlist. Don't enter me on the giveaway though, I'm not from the US or Canada.

  4. Wuthering Heights is one of my favorite book. I love that she chose Sweet Jane, it's such a great song, I want to read this more and more.
    One of my favorite couples is Frederick Wentworth & Anne Elliot , I love them more than Elizabeth and Darcy

  5. Anne Shirley and Gilbert Blithe. I could read about their romance a hundred times and it never gets old. And, as always, such a fantastic review.

  6. I love Anne & Gilbert as well as Elizabeth & Mr. Darcy
    bkhabel AT gmail DOT com

  7. I'm dying to read this book! Jane Eyre is one of my all time favorite reads.

    I also blame those BBC remakes of Jane Eyre that makes me long for my own Rochester even though he was a cruel man for what he did to his first wife.

  8. Anonymous12:44 PM

    Oh, how I want to read this book!

    There've been some great couples mentioned in the comments already, but I'm going with Sam Vimes and Sybil.

    I can be reached through my LJ, linked above, via comment or private message.

  9. I am going to have to be a little off the wall here and go with either Chloe & Derek from Kelley Armstrong's Darkest Powers Trilogy or Terrible & Chess from Stacia Kane's Downside Ghost series.

  10. My favorite couple is still Mr. Thornton and Miss Margaret Hale-I never get tired of those two and their drama!

    This interview was brilliant! I loved getting to know more about the author and how she wrote Jane. Now I need to go off to the library to find Wuthering Heights because I have yet to meet Heathcliff or Cathy (that retelling has me curious...)


  11. Oh, you've given me the wantsies! Stop reviewing books, please, Angie. Ok, forget it. But, lend me your books, please, Angie.

    One of my fave literary couples is Anne Shirley and Gilbert Blythe. But, I also have to mention Margaret and Mr. Thornton. Le sigh.


  12. I'm going to have to go with Alanna and George from the Song of the Lioness quartet. Thanks for the giveaway!

  13. Scarlett and Rhett from Gone With the Wind!

  14. Rachel R1:59 PM

    I'm so excited about this book! Great interview!
    Favorite it's hard to pick just one but I really liked Katsa and Po from Graceling. Thanks, Angie!

  15. I do so love Anne Shirley and Gilbert Blythe, although Gen and his Queen give them a good run for understated romances. I'm so excited to read this one after your 2nd mention!
    yhaduong(at) yahoo (dot) com

  16. I am so looking forward to this book! But don't enter me in the giveaway - I'm in Scotland.

    My favourite literary couple is Francis Crawford and Philippa Somerville from Dorothy Dunnett's LYMOND CHRONICLES.

  17. I think I'm going to have to go with a majority and vote for Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy.

    This new book looks fantastic! Thanks!

  18. Wonderful, wonderful interview Angie!! Don't enter me for the giveaway, but I am very, very excited to hear she is working on a Wuthering Heights retelling. I'm not a huge fan of that tortured love story, but man, I'm betting it'll be pure magic in Ms. Lindner's hands!

  19. Elizabeth and Darcy too! And in YA Francesca and Will from Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta.

    Great interview, I'm really looking forward to the book

  20. I loved Jane too. It was a great way to delve back into the story of Jane Eyre (and it inspired me to re-read the original!)

    Great interview!

  21. Thank you for a wonderful interview and a great giveaway! I recently read a book blog post about "Jane", and I immediately added it to my Wish List : ) My favorite literary couple is Cole Latimer and Alaina MacGaren from "Ashes in the Wind" by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss. I am a diehard Southern romantic!!!

    gcwhiskas at aol dot com

  22. My choice is a really strange one, but I'm really interested in the relationship between Hamlet and Ophelia. We never get to see their relationship in "usual" times because everything is so insane (sometimes literally) throughout the play. I like how their regular old romance is left to the imagination of the reader.

  23. Fave literary couples: Benedick and Beatrice in Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing; Dee and Luke in Maggie Stiefvater's Lament; Caleb and Maggie in Simone Elkeles' Leaving Paradise (but *only* in the first book.

    Thanks for another great interview and giveaway!

    ahoffman1979 at gmail dot com

  24. Jane Eyre is one of my favorites- I usually find myself re-reading it annually. I'm interested in this new twist.
    However, as much as I love their romance, Elizabeth and Darcy win.
    - you know where to find me :)

  25. Angie--I always appreciate your blog and your most excellent reviews. I've come to trust them, and find a lot of my next-reads (as well as favorite past-reads) here. And I've been eager to read Jane since your first mention. Thanks to you, and Ms. Lindner, for this interview.

    As to the question of favorite literary couples; I've collected quite a few over the years. But my all-time favorites developed in childhood: Anne and Gilbert, of course, Jo and Teddy (which sadly, never turned out the way I wanted, no matter how many times I read the book!) and Laura Ingalls and Almanzo Wilder. I still remember feeling butterfly-ish reading about "Manly" driving his horse-drawn sleigh over the frozen ground to fetch Laura home to her family at the end of each week. I think that was my very first introduction to romance, and I always felt that was true love.

  26. Wendy4:16 PM

    Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy of course, and also Margaret Hale and Mr. Thornton...more recently, Lady Jane Grey and Nicholas Brisbane and Fire and Brigan (from Fire, by Kristin Cashore)

  27. Heathcliff and Cathy!!

    mlawson17 at hotmail dot com

  28. Ooh this sounds good...Jane Eyre is my favorite. Although my fave romance is Anne & Gilbert.

  29. Mine isn't very popular because its kind of a second fiddle relationship, but I like Jane and Mr.Bingley and strangely enough Winston and Julia from 1984, but now that I've seen North and South John Thorton and Margaret Hale are up there as well, and of course Darcy and Elizebeth. Great interview and thank you for the giveaway.

  30. I am so excited about this book. Jane Eyre was the first "classic" that I ever picked up, and I adore it more and more each time I pick it up. Favorite literary couples... Hmm.. In no particular order:
    -Darcy & Elizabeth (P&P)
    -Will and Francesca (Saving Francesca)
    -Howl and Sophie (Howl's Moving Castle)
    -Ruth and Quinn (The Morning Gift)
    -Venetia and Damarel (Venetia)
    -John Thorton and Margaret Hale (North and South)
    -Beatrice and Benedict (Much Ado About Nothing)
    -Seb and Lydia & Em and Charlie (Ashbury/Brookfield series)
    -Alanna and George (Tamora Pierce)
    - Thomas and Tara (Because you can never have too much Melina Marchetta on one list)

    I could go on indefinitely about this subject, so I'll cut myself off here. I only meant to list three maybe five couples. Instead I blathered on, listing ten of them (eleven if you count the Seb/Lydia and Em/Charlie combination).

    Great interview and thanks for the chance to win!

  31. Woops forgot to leave my email

    melodiousrevelry (at) gmail (dot) com

  32. My favorite, favorite literary couple would be John Thornton and Margaret Hale. Then followed by Yelena and Valek from The Study Series. Or Captain Wentworth and Anne. Something like that, anyway!

  33. Don't enter me - I'm too excited and willing to wait for that cover - but I have to say great interview questions! I'm feeling stoked for a Wuthering Heights retelling as long as its in the skilled hands of April Lindner.

  34. I don't know if I have a favorite from classic literature (though I could cheat and say, based on the movie, Thornton/Margaret.)

    So...I'll go with one of my favorite couples discovered this year: Nathaniel Bonner and Elizabeth Middleton from INTO THE WILDERNESS (which has literary roots in The Last of the Mohicans!)

  35. Wonderful interview! I'm psyched to hear she's going to tackle Wuthering Heights.

    As far as couples go, I have a lot of favorites, but one that I've had stick with me is Paula and Stoyan from Juliet Marillier's Cybele's Secret. They were really sweet and I enjoyed their story.


  36. This comment has been removed by the author.

  37. oh dear. favorite literary couple? there are so many awesome ones out there...right now I'd have to go with Senneth and Tayse. So full of awesome right there. :o)

  38. Wow, I feel so bandwagon right now, but... yeah, Elizabeth and Darcy, and Anne Shirley and Gilbert Blythe. Two couples in two books that I love with all my heart.

    stephxsu at gmail dot com

  39. Jamie Fraser and Claire Randall from the Outlander series, written by Diana Gabaldon.

  40. Ooh. I've been salivating over this book impatiently waiting for it's release date.

    It's so hard to pick a favorite literary couple. Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth are a classic choice. Both Amy and Poe and Brisbane and Lady Julie have pretty sizzling relationships. On the more youthful side, I just reread Ella Enchanted and the love story between Ella and Prince Char is so sweet.

    joleestephens at gmail

  41. Peeta and Katniss from the Hunger Games!(:

  42. Oooooh, this sounds great! Okay, fave lit couple? That's a hard one....I'm gonna go with Max and Fang from the Maximum Ride series. I dunno why, but it seems pretty real to me, and I'm 14, so I like it.

  43. For today I'm going with Captain Wentworth and Anne from Persuasion.

    So many people entering! I think I'm going to be buying this book if I don't win. :) I feel the pull because of your review and Holly's (aka Book Harbinger).

  44. When I first saw the blurb on this book, I immediately added it to my wishlist. I don't know about literary, but my favorite couple is Eve and Roarke from JD Robb's In Death series because they always bring out the best in each other.

    jen at delux dot com

  45. Oh goodness. I have too many favorites to name. Jack and Aliena? George and Alanna? Robin and Marian? :)

    literarymiss at aol dot com

  46. Thanks for the contest, this is one book I'm really looking forward to. My favourite literary couple is Darcy and Elizabeth.


  47. I'm sticking with Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester!

    nbmars AT yahoo DOT com

  48. Jessica and Dain from LoS, but Jane and Rochester are in my top 10 for sure.

  49. Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth. Most definitely. Or perhaps The Little Prince and his rose if that can count as a couple...

  50. Anonymous10:52 AM

    I've been dying to read Jane since I first read your review! It's on my to-buy list whether I win or not.

    My favorite literary couple...I know I'll get flak for this, but I love Edward and Bella.

  51. Charlene12:56 PM

    My fave literary couple is Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester! email- palinure at gmail

    This book sounds really good!

  52. Oh do I want this book!

    I think Mr. Thornton and Margaret from North and South. Oh, I love them.

  53. lyriana5:15 PM

    I have to say Jo March and Friedrich Bhaer, as I've loved Little Women far too long and well to choose anybody else. However, Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy are definitely a close second!

  54. it's so trite, but anne and captain wentworth from austen's "persuasion." there's just something so lovely about their long-lasting love.

  55. My favorite literary couple is Sam & Alyssa from Suz Brockmann Troubleshooter series.
    Love & Hugs,

  56. I would have to say that my favorite literary couple is Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra.
    When I first read the play, I was struck by the intensity of their love for one another.
    I love Cleopatra because she is forward and fierce.
    And Antony is so conflicted with his desire and his obligations.

    Best way to contact me is


    Thanks for this, Angie.
    Hope you are well.

  57. Thanks for the giveaway.
    One of my favorite couples is Francis and Philippa from Dorothy Dunnett's Lymond series. Also love Taylor Markham and Jonah Griggs from Jellicoe Road.

    j.brol at

  58. OH so many! I truly loved your earlier review of Jane and have been wasting away to get my hands on a copy.

    I;m going to have to go with Liadan and bran from Juliet Marillier sevenwaters series. I just discovered them this past summer and they still linger in my thoughts *sigh*

    Thank you so much for the giveaway!


  59. My favorite literary couple has to by Elizabeth and her Mr. Darcy. Talk about a sexy build up and beautiful conclusion.

  60. I am greatly intrigued by this book as I adore Jane Eyre. My attention towards April's answers was there but when she mentioned a vivid tableau of following Springsteen's tour in a private jet then my attention certainly heightened. Yay, A Springsteen fan, I am gathering, and I love the playlist! :D
    Serisouly, this whole interview rocked, and has really left me wanting to get my hands on the book, Jane. I want to live the story through the modern retelling.

    My favorite literary couple? Hmmm...Elizabeth and Darcy certainly rank high on my list but I am going to go with Claire and Jamie from Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series...hands down they are my favorite.

    Please enter me in the giveawyay.


  61. The problem is you can't see most great romantic couples sitting around together, sharing the love of a good book. so, for that reason alone, Catherine Morland and Henry Tilney is my favorite literary couple.

  62. So many to choose from so I'll list my top three:

    Sam and Grace (Shiver/Linger)
    Jay and Violet (The Body Finder)
    Ani and Devlin (Wicked Lovely Series)

  63. Makayla6:14 PM

    There's so many!
    Elizabeth & Mr. Darcy (Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen)
    Fire & Brigan (Fire - Kristen Cashore)
    Deirdre & Luke (Lament - Maggie Stiefvater)
    mhipke_08 at hotmail dot com

  64. I'm not very creative, but have to say that my favorites include some pretty popular couples! :)

    --Elizabeth and Darcy (of course)
    --Rhett and Scarlett (I always had hope for that "tomorrow" for them!)

    There are others, but those are my favorites that come to the top of the list!

    Thanks for the great giveaway! mjmbecky(at)gmail(dot)com

  65. Anonymous1:39 AM

    Ella and Prince Char come to mind immediately. A good pairing makes for a great read!!


  66. I just like how much she works Bruce Springsteen into her answers. Congrats April.

  67. Can.not.wait! This interview makes me pine for the book all the more!

  68. My favorite literary couples are: Jane and Mr. Rochester, Anne and Gilbert, Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy,and Harry and Ginny.

  69. This is hard question but my favorite literary couple is Elizabeth and Mr.Darcy.
    Cool giveaway

  70. I really thought I entered this one already, but I can't see myself in the list, so I will enter now!

    My favorite couple is... all the same ones everyone listed already! But add Molly and Roger from Wives and Daughters to the list too! :)

    jenstusue AT yahoo

  71. Great interview! I really like the word association game too. I've never seen that one done before; good idea!

    My favorite couple would have to be Robin and Marian.


  72. I have to say Bella and favorites...

  73. Of course I forgot to leave my

  74. Betsy and Joe from Maud Hart Lovelace's Betsy-Tacy books. Or Remy and Dexter from Sarah Dessen's "This Lullaby."

  75. I've been longing to read this book. My favorite literary couple are Phoebe Sprague and Oliver Campion in Elswyth Thane's The Light Heart.

  76. This is a tough question! I'd say .. Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy OR Jace Wayland and Clary Fray..

    jlelliott08 AT gmail DOT com


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