J. L. Ashton: 2 Different Books, 1 Great Talent

Tell us about your first novel, A Searing Acquaintance.*

JLA: I’ve always enjoyed modern takes of Jane Austen’s book, but the social and financial chasm between Darcy and Elizabeth isn’t always translated well; a strong, modern Elizabeth Bennet is difficult to write. With A Searing Acquaintance, I wanted to update their canon story to 21st century New York, using settings, hobbies, careers, and lifestyles familiar to the characters and to readers: sports, art, music, books, (responsible) casual sex. These things becomes touchstones between the lonely son of an English millionaire and an American socialite and a literary-minded New Jersey girl from a broken home when their interrupted moment of physical intimacy spins into anger, misunderstanding and yearning before they come to truly know themselves and each other.


Reviewers on Amazon love A Searing Acquaintance, giving it an 82% 5 star rating. People said: 
  • Probably the best variation on Pride and Prejudice that I have ever read.
  • This is THE perfect modern adaptation of P&P.
  • This book is one of the best modern JAFFs out there... Lots of laughter, lots of tears, and a very memorable read (and re-read!).


JLA: People are so very kind!


What inspired you to take a different tack with Mendacity & Mourning which takes place in the Regency Era and takes an irreverent look at the period and genre?

JLA: There is humor in A Searing Acquaintance, but it is a story full of loss and loneliness and tragedy as well. A very sad Darcy! Mendacity & Mourning is rather cathartic, letting me explore my comfort level writing a full-length regency and making it bawdy and silly yet romantic and sweet. My voice is stubbornly modern—florid prose is not my friend— but the words and slangy vernacular is all true to the times (thanks to my great editor, Gail Warner).

The times were so mannered, with rules of dress and behavior and social calls, and I found it irresistible not to play with those rules by writing the characters true to canon but clearly tilted toward the nonsensical. I can credit (or blame) Roald Dahl and Monty Python and Stephen Fry for providing me a great education in sublime black comedy and witty banter to create “something completely different” in JAFF.


Despite the obvious differences, how are both of your books similar?

JLA: The central love story and characters are true to canon, which is important to me, but the stories take place in completely original settings. In both books, be it 2014 New York or 1811 Meryton, Darcy and Elizabeth banter—with humor or anger or love—and begin as strong, smart individuals who improve each other, and those around them, as they fall in love. Together or separately, they navigate the ridiculous and the mendacious, eccentric and misunderstood, with grace and a good sense of the absurd.


In a dozen words or less (i.e. brief and concise sentence), tell us what fans of Pride & Prejudice would love about each of your books.

JLA: Romance, laughter, banter, and a taste of life’s joys, trials and absurdities.


Early Mendacity & Mourning reviews on Amazon tend to agree with that. 
  • This is a light, comical mixture of outrageous plot and in-depth studies of characters who really ARE characters!
  • This author does a very good job of describing the wonderful chemistry between ODC. Well done!
  • The Colonel will make tears of laughter blur the page.


Thank you, Jan, for taking the time from your busy schedule to discuss both of your books with us as you prepare for your upcoming blog tour.

J. L. Ashton's second book, Mendacity & Mourning, just released on Kindle. A blog tour for the book begins on June 19, 2017 (schedule here).

A Searing Acquaintance is on sale in Kindle format from June 13-June 19 for only $1.99 (Amazon US and Amazon UK only).


Connect with Jan on:

Facebook: JanAshtonAuthor

Pinterest AustenAshton

Twitter JanAshton @jancat10

Blog  jlashton.merytonpress.com

8 Responses

  1. Glynis

    I have and love A Searing Acquaintance and am really looking forward to Mendacity and Mourning. I do like a bit of humour in my books so this sounds right up my street.
    Good luck and I look forward to the blog tour and more info on this book. It’s already on my wish list.

    • jana

      Thank you so much, Glynis! This story has more tears of laughter than of sadness, and I hope the vignettes and characters bits I’ve readied for the blog tour keep you laughing. I noticed you at the cover reveal and will look for you “on tour.” 🙂

  2. Sheila L. Majczan

    I have read both books: Mendacity and Mourning just over the last two days. And I did post my own reviews. I first read M&M on AHA just a year ago and posted a review of it as an unpublished book. Both times it was fascinating and had me laughing out loud. (Didn’t go to bed until 1:30 AM in order to finish it and post my review.) I gave 5 stars to both of these books. Good luck with future writing. I know I will want to read anything you have to offer.

    • jana

      How kind of you, Sheila, to post reviews and not blame me for keeping you up too late! I had so much fun writing both of these stories and creating new worlds for Darcy and Elizabeth. I hope you’ll enjoy some extra insights into the Colonel and some of his trademark mutterings about “dimness” and “honeyed fog” during the blog tour. Thanks so much!

  3. Lisa Hatfield

    A Searing Acquaintance is one of my all-time favorite books….I have read it over and over again (which is rare for me to do). Definitely is a five plus star read!!! I just picked up my copy of M&M last evening and I am looking forward to reading it soon.

    • jana

      Lisa, you just made my day! It’s wonderful knowing that someone read my work and liked it, but hearing that it’s constant re-read is just amazing. Thank you. And thanks for buying M&M. It’s a very different kind of Austen variation, but I think the bond between its Darcy and Elizabeth is just as compelling and sweet. I hope you’ll let me know what you think!

  4. Suzan Lauder

    Both books have the huge advantage of Jan’s unique voice and writing style as well. M&M is definitely a favourite for me, but I’m a Regency snob. Have fun on the blog tour, Jan, and I hope you get a ton of great reviews soon!

    • jana

      Suzan, you were such a great supporter of M&M when I first wrote it. I appreciate all your cheerleading, warm words, good advice, and encouragement. I’m glad to be writing in my Regency voice again! Thanks for your good wishes.