Authors: Peter Archer
For all the Jane Austen fans who’ve ever put a pen to paper—or even just thought about it.
The editors would like to thank all of the writers who played along and submitted their entries to
in the hopes of getting chosen to appear in this book. We had more fun at work than we’re supposed to as we sifted through these stories and shared our favorites.
We’d also like to thank our panel of judges, Patrice Hannon, Carrie Bebris, and Gregory Bergman, for their involvement in picking the winning entry!
What Is Bad Austen?
One afternoon, during a session of “We should publish a book on …,” our editors came up with the answer: Jane Austen. Who doesn’t love Jane Austen? But this had to be a special book. A book that hadn’t been done before. A book that would appeal to a lot of readers. A book that, in fact, made fun of Jane Austen. (She’s dead—she can’t sue us.)
The thinking went thusly: “There is a Bad Hemingway contest. There is a Bad Faulkner contest. There’s even a Bad BulwerLytton contest! Why not a Bad Austen contest? Surely as bad as we can make Hemingway be, Austen can be made worse?”
And so it was born, the Bad Austen Writing Contest, in which entrants turned their hands to penning scenes of a “classic” Jane Austen novel that never actually existed. We solicited Austen parodies on a blog (
and collected the best into this book.
What were the rules? They were simple:
Of course, we did have some legal mumbo jumbo as well, but that was basically it.
We also gave some guidance about entering the contest:
To enter, write a 500- to 800-word scene that is a parody of Jane Austen’s writing. Possible themes can include, but are not limited to: horror and the supernatural, sex, science fiction, fantasy, romance, and mystery. The scenes may use Austen’s characters or original characters created by you or drawn from real life (e.g., celebrities, sports figures, politicians, etc.). The scenes can parody themes, language, or characters and may be drawn from any of Austen’s novels
We found that many people saw the word
and immediately got to work. So we have been reading about sex for weeks now, and as editors are unusually celibate creatures, this has led to some whining among the staff, and also some—well, that’s pure speculation, so never mind.
Once we had read every single entry (some of them several times, with the door closed), we picked the one story we felt represented the pinnacle of bad Austen writing. It is probably best if we don’t go into detail regarding how this selection was accomplished; suffice it to say that the process involved some arm wrestling and a few heated words, but no long-term damage was sustained by any of the parties.
We also picked the runner-up entrants to be published in this book, though admittedly this was a less rough-and-tumble enter- prise as they did not have to be ranked in any particular order (imagine the carnage if they had). All told, we’ve included more than fifty stories for your enjoyment.
We saw that writers had submitted stories that split neatly into three categories (editors like categories): Austen-era entries, present-day entries, and mashups involving vampires (and sundry other creatures). This suggested to us a tripartite structure to the book (editors like parts). Thus, you will find that Part 1 contains stories that take place in the nineteenth century, Part 2 contains stories that take place in the present day, and Part 3 contains mashups of Austen and other beloved story lines.
We hope you enjoy!
The Winning Entry
Our distinguished panel of judges selected the following story as the best of the best, or the worst of the bad, whichever. The lucky winner not only receives the glory of being selected as the winner but also gets some cold, hard cash. We know Austen would appreciate that.
Kyle Richards might quarrel with her, but Camille grammer could find no quarrel with herself.
In her own surgically lifted eyes, Camille always deserved the best treatment because she never put up with any other—from women, at least—though it was beyond her how a former child actress like kyle could be so insolent in her wit to a woman of her character, age, and situation. But upon reflection, and after consulting with her makeup artist and three of her four nannies, she realized that only jealousy, that plague upon the feminine half of the populace, could explain kyle’s incivility, that and only a party could put relations to right, or at least educate kyle in respectable decorum.
The first invitation went out to Lisa Vanderpump, well known for her wise management of a series of dining establishments in the spa towns of Cheltenham and Bath, as well as her equally wise semireplacement of her graying husband with a mini Pomeranian. (ken Vanderpump was no cad, certainly, but saddling a good lady with such an unfortunate last name was almost unforgiveable.)