YAA! Chat with Mary Jane Hathaway

Introducing Mary Virginia Munoz, or as her books like to call her:


JL: I’m sooo excited to have you on my blog today. Thanks for agreeing to be the first interview on YAA! Chat. And thank you for donating for the book GIVEAWAY!

MH: Thank you for having me, and I’m absolutely honored to be your first interview!

JL: Before I start the questioning, I just wanted to say that I’ve really enjoyed getting to know you, and I’ve seriously fallen in love with your books!! I like LOVE all things Jane Austen, so of course I had to read your Jane Austen Takes the South series. Boy was I in for a pleasant didn’t-get-much-else-done-for-the-rest-of-the-week reading spree. Your books aren’t merely entertaining twists or retellings of the classics. Yes, they have all the main hero/heroine, major plot points, themes, love story, and ending, but the journey to get there is a refreshing, very well-written surprise! And I must say, you definitely win the TASTEFULLY HOT award! Especially for Emma, Mr. Knightley and Chili-Slaw Dogs! *Cue self-fanning*

Some “Serious” Writer Questions

JL: Where do you get the inspiration for your character names?

MH: Ohhh, so funny you ask. I take their names from the books in front of me on my desk. Franklin Keene is from my Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew books, for example.

JL: I absolutely love your covers! Who designed/inspired your them?

MH: I have about 3 different versions on my covers. The first version was a stack of books, which did NOT scream romance, so that was very confusing for some readers. I got reviews that said, “I thought this was a history book about food”! The next cover was very pretty and simple. The first professional cover was through the Killion Group. And these are by Howard Books. They have a great design team!

JL: What’s your favorite way/method to get past writer’s block?

MH: Dishes. And take a hot shower. Something about NOT being able to write anything down unlocks that place in my brain.

JL: Did you do anything weird while researching this series?

MH: I actually like to try out all the food my characters might be eating, so when I’m working on an Austen takes the South book, we eat a lot of interesting dishes! And I like to watch a lot of documentaries.

JL: Do you outline or plot or do you prefer just to see where an idea takes you? (Plotter, Pantster, or my favorite, Staller (You play on Pinterest, facebook, clean, do tons of research—not much actual writing until deadline time…LOL)

MH: HAHAHAHA! I haven’t heard that one! I’m definitely more of a Panster, but with a twist. After I write the scene, I scribble in a big map I have. I write down who, what, where, and when. Then I step back and see how it matches with what happened before. I might move it, but it gives me a good idea of what’s happening next… even though it’s backwards.

JL: Which actors/actresses do you have in mind to play your main characters?

MH: Ohhh, someone asked me that once and I had no idea. I don’t really watch many movies, but I see Shelby as tender-hearted girl with a tough exterior. I’ve seen Sandra Bullock play a character like that and she was just perfect. Hardnosed and funny, then so vulnerable she made me weep! And I used Richard Armitage’s picture for inspiration with PPCG. For me, he can look very serious and dour, when on the inside, he’s actually feeling something else. He has a good “make my day” face.

 The Randomness Questions

Favorite accent: I LOVE the New Orleans accent. *swoon*

What do you have on your fridge door?: Lots of kid art! I try to put ‘to do’ lists there and they just get covered with art.

What’s your favorite joke?: “What’s green and has wheels?”

“Grass. I lied about the wheels.”

What was your last dream about?: Hm. I have no idea. I don’t sleep much, and when I do, I don’t think I dream! But the last one I really remember was being in a giant house and trying to round up all my kids. Just when I’d get four or so, I’d lose a few and start looking again. I’d get close to getting them all together, but never quite finding all of them in all those rooms. Very funny…

Favorite party game: Quelf! My kids make me play it and I laugh my fool head off.

Would you like to build/design your own house? What would it be modeled after?: Interesting question! When we moved to our house, we had one child. It had two rooms and one bathroom. Ten years later we had six kids and it STILL had two rooms and one bathroom. Yikes. So we recently built on and that was a very fun/frustrating project. We had to interview contractors and make plans. If we had to start from scratch I’d definitely build up, not out. My husband likes the ranch style homes, while I prefer stairs and levels.

When writing with ink, which color do you prefer?: Thick black.

Choose a movie title for the story of your life: Cheaper by the Dozen, haha!

What color is your toothbrush?: Purple

What’s your favorite quote?: I love quotes. I have hundreds of them written down. But one of my favorites is from Anne Lamott about writing:

“I’ve managed to get some work done nearly every day of my adult life, without impressive financial success. Yet I would do it all over again in a hot second, mistakes and doldrums and breakdowns and all. Sometimes I could not tell you exactly why, especially when it feels pointless and pitiful, like Sisyphus with cash-flow problems. Other days, my writing is like a person to me― the person who, after all these years, still makes sense to me.”

I loved that and it resonated with me because I feel like the whole process of writing and creating and publishing is very personal, and each process is different. I look back at how I wrote a book and when, and it seems that time is a blessed one for me, as if I was meeting and learning about a dear friend the entire time.

JL: Is there anything else you would like to add that I haven’t included?

MH: Just that this is probably the funniest interview I’ve ever done! And thanks so much for having me on your blog!

JL: So glad you came over! 🙂



All right, readers: Leave a comment for a chance to win Pride, Prejudice and Cheese Grits (signed!) and Emma, Mr. Knightley and Chili-Slaw Dogs (signed!) I’m giving away 3 copies of each, so if you can keep your friends from coming over to the blog, you might be able to get all of them to yourself!!









31 thoughts on “YAA! Chat with Mary Jane Hathaway

  1. What a FUN interview! Thank you so much for the smile you put on my face and for the giveaway, too (and for the grass joke my own kiddos will love).

  2. Janelle – I LOVED these questions. They’re truly a reflection of your fun personality. Thanks for introducing me to Mary Jane Hathaway too. What a hoot! I want to know more about that game she plays with her kids. I never heard of it. And I love the part where she eats the food her characters are eating. But more importantly, I want to understand her writing method. It’s new to me. I’d love to see an example of her map of the who, what, where and when. Interesting!

    • Eating research is pretty wonderful! 🙂 Maybe Mary can elaborate on her map method. I would love to hear more about that too! Thanks for stopping by M.

    • Hi M! My method is the way a pantser feels like a plotter. 😀 Seriously, I feel like I kill my creativity when I plot out exactly where the story will go at every step, but I’m not good enough to hold it all in my head. So I write, then I take a few minutes to jot down the who, what, where, when. Especially introductions, major pivotal points, revelations and character arc. It keeps the story moving. It also keeps me from repeating myself when I’m sleep deprived.

  3. This is a fun and entertaining interview, Janelle and Mary Jane. I love stories with Jane Austen’s characters and plots so Jane Austen Takes the South is definitely on my radar. Thanks for the generous donations, too.

  4. Such a fun interview, ladies. I really enjoyed it. Emma is my favorite JA novel so I am so excited to read Emma, Mr. Knightley and Chili-Slaw Dogs. I just can’t get enough Mr. Knightley!! Thank you for this great giveaway!!

    • Emma has become a favorite of mine lately too. Reading Emma, Mr. Knightley and Chili-Slaw Dogs made my love for the story grow even bigger! I LOVE the friendship-Love that Emma and Mr. Knightley discover. 🙂 SO GOOD!

    • I agree! My Knightley is one of my all-time favorite heroes. His kindness and generosity are true hero material. Capt. Wentworth is a close second, but I didn’t know he was such a good guy until I took a course on Regency manners. Persuasion is chock full of Capt. Wentworth being chivalrous and I didn’t even notice!

  5. Love learning about what makes an author tick. Enjoyed this interview and the great questions and getting to know Mary better. Also Love her writing and her pseudonyms. 🙂

  6. thanks for the chance to win (I hope – you didn’t say if this giveaway was restricted just to the USA) – seen one of these books before and have been wondering whether I would enjoy the read

    • Hi Vesper! Another familiar face! I sure wish we had another Regency bonnet to give away. THAT was a hoot!! And yes, international give away. I lived overseas many years myself, and it’s nice to feel that Austen fans have no borders. 🙂

  7. Loved the interview! As a Southerner AND a big Jane Austen fan, I think these books would be right up my alley! Thanks for the opportunity to win them. 🙂

  8. I really enjoyed reading this interview! It was so funny 🙂 Thanks for the chance to win. These books sound great! I hope this giveaway is international because I don’t live in the US.

  9. Pingback: My 2014 Writer/Reader Year | THE WRITING LIFE

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