Yours Affectionately, Jane Austen
O’Rourke creates a world that defies cynicism and demands suspension of disbelief – even in this age of doubt and hyper-realism. Sheer escapism at its best. Clever, charming and affectionate.
…the reader must tenaciously read on rather than put the book down to satisfy their hunger for the story to resolve, which it does in characteristically Jane Austen fashion.
In Yours Affectionately, Jane Austen, author Sally Smith O’Rourke creates a compelling story that investigates what and who might have inspired Jane Austen. While the story line is certainly far-fetched, it is a truly unique idea, one that captivated this reader until the very last page.
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Author Sally Smith O’Rourke
Sally Smith O’Rourke is a surgical scrub nurse at the City of Hope national cancer research hospital in Duarte, California and resides in the near-by Victorian village of Monrovia.
With her late husband, author Michael O’Rourke (aka F.M. O’Rourke) Smith O’Rourke owned and operated a medical advertising company where she used her diverse talents to produce and co-write teaching films and videos. Working not only with major medical and surgical manufacturing companies but also network television. These endeavors ultimately led to a collaboration on two feature films (direct to video) and three published novels.
The wife and husband writing team of Sally Smith and Michael O’Rourke, being long-time fans of Jane Austen, wrote The Man Who Loved Jane Austen released by Kensington Books in 2006. Kensington followed that very successful effort with The Maidenstone Lighthouse in 2007 and Christmas at Sea Pines Cottage in 2009, both also collaborative projects by Smith and O’Rourke. Published after her partner and spouse’s untimely death in 2001, the publisher chose not to use the names Michael O’Rourke and Sally Smith (as the manuscripts were presented), releasing all three books under Sally Smith O’Rourke.
Yours Affectionately, Jane Austen is Sally Smith O’Rourke’s first solo novel.
If you could travel in a Time Machine would you go back to the past or into the future?
Most definitely the past. I’m a history buff so would love to see how things really were rather than the perceptions of other people and the passage of time. I would not want to stay in the past as I am a creature of comfort so would miss this world.
Are there any other books in the works? Do you have goals for future projects?
My current project, currently titled Physician, Heal Thyself, is a story of college sweethearts, reincarnation and rekindled love.
I am planning a third in the Jane Austen series (although I never intended it to be a series) which will be the final one. And then I hope to work on a ghost story that takes place in San Francisco’s China town. Someday there is a fairy story I’d like to tell.
What is one piece of advice you would give aspiring authors?
I only have two rules for myself and my late husband, Michael taught them to me.
Lesson one ~ WRITE! Saying you want to write or have been thinking about writing doesn’t make you a writer nor does scribbling a few lines now and again. No, you must sit down and write. Which brings us to rule number two: Treat writing as a job, even if it’s a second job, you must do it every day without fail. You may well throw out what you wrote one day but you had something to throw out. And that something might point you in a direction you hadn’t considered before. Writing is a progression. Nothing will ever be perfect to don’t even go there. Even now with four published books I find things in them that today I would change.
What was your favorite children’s book?
I’m assuming you mean my favorite book when I was a child. The Story of Ferdinand. The story of a young bull being groomed to fight in the bull ring in Madrid but all he wants to do is sit in the shade and smell the flowers.
How do you react to bad reviews?
I’ve been writing my whole life but generally small, non-fiction things. I never thought I had enough imagination to write fiction until Mike encouraged me to do it. Since I’ve never thought of myself as a writer I don’t get so invested in a story or the characters that I can’t see past possible flaws. Don’t get me wrong, overall I’m pleased with whatever I’ve written before I let anyone see it but I go on the basis that it can always be made better. Once it’s published it’s pretty well written in stone so getting too upset serves no purpose.
I’m sorry the reader didn’t like the story but he/she is entitled to his/hers opinion. The nature of people dictates that not everyone will like what you do. And even a bad review may have something nice in it. I recently got a not very complimentary review which ended with this paragraph:
Aside from all this, the writing is actually very good. The author has a talent for vivid description and paints a beautiful scene wherever she takes us. The characters of Eliza and Fitz were likeable and spunky at times. Even Jane Austen seemed like a perfectly lovely version of our beloved author. The dialogue is well done and even witty.
I must admit that I’m far more surprised by a rave review than by a scathing one.
What do you do in your free time?
As a full time surgical scrub nurse my free time is mostly taken up with writing and promoting my books. When I do engage in other activities they include cooking, baking and cake decorating; gum paste flowers; making candy (filled chocolates) I garden and sew. I used to read a lot but find now that most of my reading is limited to research.
What is your favorite season or weather?
The heat of summer makes all the other seasons preferable to me. As a red head with a pale complexion I avoid the sun. And daylight savings time adds to my dislike of the season because I am an early morning person and bright light at 8 at night just doesn’t sit well with me.
Who or what inspired you to become a writer?
My late husband, Michael is the only reason I am an author. His encouragement and collaboration made it possible. When he died I didn’t really expect to keep writing because I always considered him the writer with me just pitching in occasionally. That changed when the production company that had optioned the films rights to The Man Who Loved Jane Austen before Mike’s death wanted me to do the adaptation by myself. It was the first thing I ever wrote without him. Even then I considered it a collaborative effort. Yours Affectionately, Jane Austen is my true first novel as I wrote it alone. I had a story consultant and editor so not completely alone I suppose but mostly. But any time I’m writing it feels as though Mike has his hand on my shoulder continuing to inspire and encourage me.
What do you think of book trailers?
Book trailers are an intriguing phenomenon and I’m not convinced that they are of much value. However, the internet is a visual medium and with the bulk of the population needing sound bites I suspect they will get more and more popular. At the same time, readers by their very nature do not need visuals and sound bites.
That said, I’ve made four book trailers. Mostly because I used to be a video editor and thought it would be fun… and it was. I have gotten some nice feedback on them but have my doubts that they impacted sales of the books. I’ve recently completed the audio book of Yours Affectionately, Jane Austen and created a trailer for it that includes the dreaded sound bites because I wanted people to hear how wonderful Kendra Hoffman is in her narration of my story. I’d love to know what your readers think of it.
Do you like the spotlight or lurking in the shadows?
I’m definitely a shadow dweller. Frankly I’m always surprised that people want to know anything about me and I still get tickled that folks want me to sign copies of the books. I understand the need to promote and market the books but would gladly send the books out into the world to fend for themselves if I could.
Do you write as you go or do you have the book all planned out from page 1?
I start with a base premise and allow the story to write itself. I never even know how it will end. Nothing is planned. I took a class where the teacher used note cards and plotted everything out but when I tried it during the class project it felt like I was trying to shoehorn things just to make them fit the plan. It seemed as though it restricted the possibility of taking the story in a different direction than the plan even though it would work better. While I’m very organized, i.e. I have research materials at my fingertips, I don’t deal well with too much structure.
Describe your book in five words
Clever, Charming, Affectionate, Fresh, Endearing
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