Teatime Ten: Meredith Esparza

In August 2011, the world of Janeites were treated to an entire month of the Austenesque Extravaganza.  Each day of the week was given over to some new delight: blog tours, twitter parties, new short stories, quizzes, book give-aways, interviews - it was a feast for the senses and a perfect end to summer.  

But who was the woman behind the Extravaganza?  None other than Meredith Esparza of Austenesque Reviews who, having caught her breath from AE was good enough to tell us a little bit about herself, the Extravaganza, and her favourite Austenesque books!

Hello Meredith!  And before everything else, I have to thank you for the wonderful Austenesque Extravaganza! What first drew you to this project?

Thank you, Emily!   I hope it was an enjoyable experience for everyone! Austenesque Extravaganza was an idea I got while participating in some fantastic Austen-related blog events hosted by Austenprose, Book Rat, and My Jane Austen Book Club.  I thought I should try hosting my own blog event and dedicate it to all the Austenesque novels and authors that I love so much.  It is really a fitting blog event for my blog because on Austenesque Reviews I mainly review Austenesque novels and interview Austenesque authors!  When I was still on the fence about doing my own blog event, I brought it up to my wonderful and supportive husband and he gave me the push I needed to do it. 

I wanted it be a celebration of my favorite genre of novels, and since I read all types of Austenesque novels – old, new, hard-to-find, indie, and publisher-issued – I wanted it to include as many authors and bloggers as I could.  Back in May, I emailed around 100 authors and bloggers – all the Austenesque authors I could find an email address or facebook/twitter profile for – and I was astounded to discover that over 60 of them wanted to take part in Austenesque Extravaganza!

In addition, it was important for me to have my event be diverse – both within itself and from other Austen-related blog events!  I didn't want to have 31 days of the same type of post – I don't think people would have found that interesting – so I came up with the themed days idea.  That way it would be organized (somewhat) but still filled with variety!

The Austen community is really a community. Did you find anything that surprised, delighted, or might even continue on out of the Extravagana?

I loved meeting new people who love to read the same novels I do.  I've met a bunch through my blog and Goodreads, but I was able to meet many more through AE!  I also loved getting to know many of the Austenesque authors better.  Through our many, many email exchanges I felt we become better acquainted with each other! 

What will continue on out of the Extravaganza?  Well, hopefully another Austenesque Extravaganza in August 2012!  And, because of popular demand, the Twitter parties (just look for #austenesque! - ed.).  Surprisingly, the Sociable Sunday event ended up being the favorite of many.  I never hosted a Twitter Party and was very nervous about these events!  I think I will try and host some more throughout the year.

You know, I was terrified when I first joined the Twitter party!  But - although it flew by fast - it was so enjoyable to talk in real time with other Janeites!  Speaking of...what first drew you to all things Austen?

I first discovered Jane Austen when I borrowed the black and white 1940's version of Pride and Prejudice from my library when I was 16. The name attracted me because I remembered seeing on a recommend reading list for my AP English class.  And the fact that it was a black and white movie also attracted me.  I'm a fan of old movies and have been since I was young – I love anything with Audrey Hepburn, Cary Grant, Jimmy Stewart, Katherine Hepburn, etc.  I fell in love with the movie –  I know it isn't very accurate – but as far as black and white movies go, it's lovely!  After that, I searched for the novel and thus my love for all things Austen began in full force!

What was the first Austenesque book you ever read? What did you love about it? What could you have done without?

A family friend, after learning that I loved Emma, recommended I read Jane Fairfax by Joan Aiken.  I searched for it in many bookstores but never could find it.  Finally, I found it on Amazon.com with a slew of other Austenesque novels!  Jane Fairfax is a fantastic novel and one of my all-time favorites!  Joan Aiken did a fantastic of retelling the story from the eyes of Jane Fairfax.  It made me understand Jane better, but at the same time it made me dislike Emma a little – but I think Emma has that tendency anyway!
Your blog, Austenesque Reviews, is a great resource for those looking for good Austen paraliterature. If you were suddenly dispossessed of your house by your elder half-brother, and could only bring six Austenesque books with you - what are some titles you could not do without?

LOL!  This is like the Desert Island Game I made for AE last Wednesday – but you are a lot nicer, you are allowing me to bring six books instead of three! Do sets count as one?  My list of Austenesque titles I could not do without are: 
I know, I cheated.  I'm sure if you were to ask me this question a couple days from now, I'd have very different answers!  There are so many that I consider my favorites and I guess that's a good thing!

What Austenesque paraliterature novel has yet to be written? What story are you longing to read?

I love novels about minor characters!  So there is endless possibilities out there! I would love to read a novel about Henry Crawford *hint hint, Emily* (ahem...working on it - ed.) or Frank Churchill.  But overall, I think more attention needs to be focused on non-Pride and Prejudice novels.  While there are some great novels for Northanger Abbey, Mansfield Park, and Emma, I'm always longing for more!
(Henry Crawford waits impatiently to fulfill Meredith's desire.) 

What do you think of the recent rash of monster mash-ups? What's next on the horizon for poor Jane Austen?

At first I didn't think I would be a fan of monster mash-ups.  But I have read several good ones (Jane and the Damned, Moonlighting, Bespelling JaneAusten, Jane Bites Back) and I'm open to reading more, providing they are not too graphic!  I think Jane Austen will continue to be coupled with whatever is the current popular trend – whether its cowboys, pirates, princesses, or extra-terrestrials.   
What's your guilty pleasure reading - that's not Austenesque?

When I am not reading Austenesque novels I sometimes like to read Historical Christian novels – some of my favorite authors include Debra White Smith, Nancy Moser, and Julie Klassen.  I also love to read novels by Louisa May Alcott and Georgette Heyer.  And I seem to love anything Syrie James writes – Austenesque or not – I loved her two paranormal novels Dracula, My Love and Nocturne!

Much has been made, with the closing of Borders and the rise of e-books, about there being fewer readers in the world. What would make you pick up a book?

When a new Austenesque book appears on my radar, I like to do a little bit a research before I add it to my wishlist.  Usually this involves reading the blurb, seeing if the author has a website/blog, and reading any reviews I can find.  If it is by one of my favorite authors, I'll read it no matter what!

What's next for Meredith Esparza?

LOL!  I'm still recuperating from Austenesque Extravaganza!  But my plans for the future are to resume with my usual reviews and author interviews on my blog and work towards putting together a regularly scheduled twitter party!  In my personal life, school just started and as a music teacher and private piano teacher, I'm pretty busy getting back into the swing of things! 

Thank you so much!

Thank you, Emily!  I'm honored that you wanted to interview me!

Meredith Esparza is a owner and editrix of Austenesque Reviews, and recent foundress and hostess of the Austenesque Extravaganza.  She hails from Wilmington, North Carolina.

You can follow Meredith on Facebook, Twitter, or at Goodreads!

Full Disclosure: Meredith was good enough to ask me - after reviewing "Nachtsturm Castle" much to my surprise and delight - whether I would participate in the Austenesque Extravaganza.  The moral of the story is: if Meredith asks something of you, do it!


  1. Fun! I miss the community at RoP, but I simply don't have the time to hang out there like I used to... le sigh. Love your new blog! xoxo

  2. Emily is apparently working on Henry Crawford and Frank Churchill is still gnawing at my brain, so there will be two more non P&P, minor character centric novels to add to your wish list, Meredith.

    Thank you to both of you for this interview. Meredith, the AE was such a fun thing to do in August. I loved logging into blogger and finding the new post of the day, or reading through the posts you linked to. I found a few new blogs to follow this way too!

    And Emily, once again a great interview. Thanks so much!

  3. Nice interview! I always enjoy learning what inspires people to do what they do. Meredith, AE was fantastic and well put together. I didn't get a chance to do everything and I seem to have missed Emily. It is so nice to meet you, Emily. I'll be stopping by again!

  4. Hi Meredith. You are an example of from a little acorn a giant oak does grow. You started with your favorite Darcy, Laurence Olivier, and now you have one of the premier Austen blogs. Congratulations! Great interview.

  5. Lovely friendly chat! I like Meredith for her enthusiasm which she manages to convey to all of us through her blog. Thanks Emily for asking these questions and let us knowing more about her.

  6. Lauryl - Republic of Pemberley days, good times! (England even better!)

    Nancy - I fear me that Henry's redemptions may have to wait until the Colonel gets his shot at romance! But Frank gnawing at your brain sounds fabulous and frightful! ;P (One is reminded of Dante's Inferno. Or is it just me?)

    Hi Candy! It's nice to meet you here! AE was really such a huge extravaganza, I imagine we'll all be catching up with it for some time to come!

    Mary - you've put it exactly right. Love the image!

    Maria - yes, that is Meredith's great gift. One feels that she's right there with you in the bookstore, enthusiastically loading up your arms!

    Thanks to all who read and to all who commented! And keep those comments coming - I know it means a lot to Meredith.

  7. Great interview. One of my favorite reviews came at Meredith's hands. She has the knack of seeing the author's true intent.


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