I’m delighted to welcome JD Smith to Austen Variations. While I’m a great admirer of JD Smith’s book covers, I’ve been discovering that her interest in Jane Austen extends far beyond the covers of a book.
I’ll leave you to discover what that enigmatic statement means by having Jane explain her unique Jane Austen artistic creation.
When I was nineteen I received a copy of the 1995 BBC Pride and Prejudice adaptation as a gift. As an avid watcher of period dramas, so it should have been the perfect gift, but I found it tough going at first. I struggled with the language, so faithful was it to Jane Austen’s original, but muddled through all six episodes I did.
I was a lover of historical fiction, anything from wartime dramas to the Roman Empire. It didn’t matter, so long as it was set in the past, I was addicted. Over the years I’ve become a constant and steadfast fan of everything historical, so much so a friend once said, ‘You would love to live in the past, wouldn’t you?’ to which I replied, ‘Yes, as long as they had antibiotics and decent toothpaste.’
I watched Pride and Prejudice a second time, and with greater ease I understood the language, the humour and little quips, and enjoyed more the characterisation, the houses and costumes, the way of life. I fell in love with that adaptation and I have watched it at least once a year since. I believe it is because it is so faithful to the original that it has remained popular over the years, that and a soaking wet Colin Firth.
My addiction didn’t stop there. I bought the book, and lapped up living in the world myself, immersed in the language alone, no actors, no interpretations of the characters. It became one of my treasured books, a favourite, and to my delight I recently received a copy of the book with a difference for my birthday: it had been turned into my name!
But I wasn’t just a lover of history, nor simply Austen, I was a lover of books. They were my passion, they always had been. Stories could be found everywhere, but the written word, the binding and the smell and feel of a book was something else entirely. I was a graphic designer and in 2012 I turned to book design full time. I began writing my own books, retelling first the legend of Tristan and Iseult, followed by the epic series beginning with The Rise of Zenobia, based on the third century Palmryene queen who carried out one of the most threatening rebellions the Roman Empire ever faced.
In 2012 I redecorated my conservatory. I wanted wallpaper, something to give a bit of a homely, warm feel to a stark room. I look everywhere, on the internet and in shops, but to no avail. Everything was fashionable, nothing classic or timeless to be found. Then I thought, but I am a designer, I’ll just make my own! There are plenty of bespoke wallpaper printers online. I looked for stock images I could print onto paper, but I lacked enthusiasm. Nothing was quite right. I couldn’t put my finger on what I really wanted. It was then it occurred to me that I could print an entire book on wallpaper and paper the wall with it. Which book? My own? No, that’s too self-absorbed, I could never do that. So which?
Of course, it was obvious. What book is more classic, more timeless, and more perfect than Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. But could I fit it all onto one 2m x 2m wall space?
I downloaded a copy of the text. Then I set up a document in my design software and copied the text in, including all the chapter headers. I made columns the width of a standard size book which ran floor to ceiling, and with a bit of jiggling, the entire book fitted in 9pt on the paper. Once I was happy with it, I uploaded the print files to an online printer and ordered my wallpaper. A week later and it arrived in a huge tube, and with a bit of trimming and pasting, I had my favourite book on my wall.
It cost me £135, but I think it was worth every penny. I cannot even begin to tell you how many hours I have spent standing next to that wall drinking tea and reading …
In addition to being an author and book designer, I am also the editor of the writer’s site Words with JAM, the reader’s site Bookmuse, and the mother of three mischievous boys. You can browse my website and find me on Facebook.
I am so jealous of JD Smith and her conservatory wall. I can’t think of anything better I’d like to do over a cup of tea than read the writing on the wall ; )
JD Smith would love to receive comments and questions. How would you feel about having Pride and Prejudice on your wall?
Book cover by JD Smith