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Janeite Spotlight: Introducing Mindy Killgrove-Harris

Hello, dear readers! This year, we’ve begun a blog series highlighting Austen-lovers around the world—sharing how they first discovered Austen’s fiction, why they love Austen, how they’ve contributed to the Janeite community, you get the picture. Fans, who cultivate and engage in discourse surrounding Austen’s life and fiction, participate in workshops and conventions, host book clubs, and don I ❤️ Darcy merchandise with pride (but hopefully not prejudice—wink, wink), are the reason Jane’s spirit survives in the twenty-first century. We deserve a shout-out! And we deserve the chance to connect with like-minded individuals across the world. In this article, we’re highlighting professional ghostwriter, author, and educator Mindy Killgrove-Harris.


 

Mindy Killgrove-Harris

“It is difficult for me to recall a time when Jane Austen's works were not a part of my life,” says Mindy Killgrove-Harris when asked to describe her first encounter with Austen’s work. “I'd like to say there was some grand moment when I cracked open my first book and lost myself in the world she created, but I simply cannot remember such an event. I feel as though Austen's books have always been a part of me.”


In fact, Austen’s fiction has been a constant companion throughout Mindy’s life, she says. She fell in love with Austen's refreshing witticism and authentic characters. Her heroines were bright, engaging, and resourceful without breaking barriers, knocking other people out of their way, or being so assertive that they disgraced themselves or their families with their actions. She found Austen's characters “realistic representatives of not just the society in which they lived, but also as the sort of people I think everyone secretly wants to become.” Austen’s female protagonists wished to find love and hold onto it. They valued friendships and were concerned for family members—much like women in the twenty-first century.


Like every truly great writer, Austen’s works deal with universal themes: love, marriage, money, and power. But most importantly, she explores these concepts through the lens of a young woman living in Regency England. “[E]ven though so much has changed since then,” Mindy says, “the emotions her characters feel are still highly relatable. They must cope with scandal, just as we do today. And they work hard to establish and preserve their reputations, which are things that still plague so many people today who can get easily caught up in social media hoopla.” Austen’s stories feature real people whose problems still ring true for those of us in modern society, who also wish to love and live as happily as possible within our means.

Darcy and Bingley, circa 1995

When it comes to adaptations, Mindy feels happiest and most satisfied when they adhere as closely as possible to the original material. She believes, wholeheartedly, that “Austen got things right the first time around.” Her favorite adaptation is, of course, Andrew Davies' BBC miniseries, starring Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth, for Pride and Prejudice. One of her favorite moments in this adaptation is when Mr. Bingley (Mindy’s favorite Austen character) asks Darcy for his blessing to ride to Longbourn to propose marriage to Jane. Darcy asks if Bingley needs his blessing and Bingley says, "No, but I should like to have it just the same!"


“What a winsome fellow,” Mindy laughs.


Mindy joined JASNA just over a year ago and discovered the Jane Austen Summer Program Webinars shortly thereafter, but before that, she enjoyed traveling once a year to Mount Dora, Florida, where she could spend the weekend participating in their annual Jane Austen Fest. An experienced traveler, she has also been to England twice. Whether she is learning Regency dance steps or listening to guest lecturers discuss various fashion trends that might have appealed to Austen and her readers, Mindy finds solace in being with like-minded people, relishing the works Austen wrote so long ago.


Regarding her own work, Mindy is the author of numerous short stories and poems as well as the creator of the Missy Lawrence Romance Trilogy. In 2013, her novel Meet Me At the Pond was selected as the Reader's Choice Award winner for "Chick Lit./ Romance" by the Blogger Book Fair group. Most notably, Mindy is a professional ghostwriter. Over the last few years, she has penned one play, forty-one short stories, and thirty-six novels all while working as a freelance author. Through her work as a ghostwriter, she has authored fifteen Austen-inspired novels. Unfortunately, since she signed NDAs in each case, she is unable to speak about her ghostwritten Austen-adjacent titles.


Furthermore, as an educator, Mindy had the privilege of sharing Jane Austen's work with her students in a senior English classroom environment for many years. It was a pleasure to read the book with them and discuss marriage, gender roles in Regency society, and love. Austen’s vocabulary is so rich, the characters are so well-written, and the stories progress at such a splendid pace that Mindy believes any educators who might choose to use these novels will find them to be a blessing, just as she once did.


Professionally, Mindy has devoted decades to creating classroom resources that can be used in grades K-12. More than 250 educational resources are currently available through her TeachersPayTeachers Store. She currently resides in Orlando, Florida with her adoring husband and three rambunctious (but beautiful) children. When she is not writing or reading, she is exploring local theme parks, lounging on the beach, or aiming to bake the very best chocolate chip cookies in the world. As of this week, she has officially joined the JASP team! Let's all give her a warm welcome in the comment section below.


Connect with Mindy on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Goodreads, or X (formerly known as Twitter). Find more at https://www.mindykillgrove.com/.


Excerpted from email correspondence with Mindy Killgrove-Harris, February 7, 2024.


 

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1 comentário


Mindy is an incredible woman, and a creative and enthusiastic writer. She’s so passionate about her work! And, it shows. So nice to see her highlighted.

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