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Behind the Scenes: Down Jasper Lane

The first incarnation of Down Jasper Lane was written when I was only eighteen. I’d just finished reading Anne of Green Gables for about the tenth time, and basically wanted a story like it, yet different. I decided to write one myself. My best friend was also a big Anne fan and I printed off the chapters for her as soon as I finished them and she read them avidly. It took nearly a year to finish, and the book was long--about 200,000 words! I even went on to write two others, all devoured by my best friend and my sister. In fact, one of the best compliments I’ve ever received about my writing came from my sister when she finished that first version of Down Jasper Lane. She sighed and said ‘I’m still in Ellen’s world’. One of my most helpful criticisms was about that manuscript as well, when an author who read the first chapter said ‘you can’t put wagons and bonnets into a story and make it historical fiction’. Ouch! But I was only eighteen.

Fast forward about fifteen years and my editor at The People’s Friend asked if I would write a serial that was a combination of Anne of Green Gables and Little Women. I immediately thought of Ellen, and my editor liked the idea. Sadly, not one of those earlier 200,000 words was used in the current version of Down Jasper Lane, but I did keep most of the characters: Ellen, Jed, Lucas, Peter, Caro, Rose, and Dyle were all pretty much as they are in the original, and I’m so thrilled to have brought them to life again.

 

January 2008