Pamela Jane has published over twenty-five children’s books with Houghton Mifflin, Simon & Schuster, Penguin-Putnam, Harper, and others. Pamela’s newest book, Little Elfie One, illustrated by New York Times best-selling illustrator, Jane Manning, has recently come out (Harper). Pamela is a writer and editor for womenmemoirs.com, and has published short stories and essays in The Antigonish Review, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and Literary Mama. Her memoir, An Incredible Talent for Existing: A Writer’s Story will be out in 2016.
Like Jane Austen, Pamela is a desperate walker and, unlike Jane, a very bad piano player. For more information on Pamela’s children’s books, or to book a school visit, go to www.pamelajane.com.
“You can learn a lot about a person from what’s on her iPod, and I have all of Jane Austen’s novels (unabridged of course) on mine. I listen to them when I go to sleep, and dream up new chapters. It’s almost like finding a long-lost Austen manuscript in the attic of Chawton House…Elizabeth takes a train ride (well, okay, it’s a dream after all), Darcy… well, we all know what we dream about him. And, I inevitably encounter the know-it-all who quotes huge chunks of Pride and Prejudice verbatim and won’t shut up – until I wake up.”
Cat-fanatic and Jane-Austen-lover Deborah Guyol is also a lawyer, writer, photographer, teacher and editor. (Mild case of attention-deficit disorder?) She is co-author of The Complete Guide to Contract Lawyering (3rd ed. 2003), and editor-in-chief of an Oregon State Bar publication, the Debtor-Creditor Newsletter.
She teaches creative writing in the Mature Learning program at Clark College in Vancouver, Washington, and conducts writing workshops in Portland, Oregon, and more exotic locations (see www.letsgowrite.com). Her memoir “Lovesick Blues” and novel “Cary Grant Slept Here” both languish unpublished. Undaunted, she is at work on another novel, “Julie and Isabelle.”
Deborah studied photography in San Francisco with Larry Sultan, Judy Dater, Ellen Brooks, and Tom Baird. She will always love her antique Rolleiflex more than her current digital camera, despite efforts to adapt to the brave new digital world. But she admits it’s easier to photograph cats with modern equipment.
Deborah has loved the novels of Jane Austen since she was a teenager and believes she has finally committed Pride and Prejudice to memory. She is a life member of the Jane Austen Society of North America. Sadly, her current cats, Dexter and Dudley, do not share her literary and artistic interests.
The Story of our Collaboration by Pamela Jane
(Note: The following is a version of a blog posted on www.womensmemoirs.com by Pamela Jane)
Debbie and I have been collaborating on one project (i.e. crazy scheme) or another since we first met in high school, in Dearborn Michigan. Back then, we were both learning to play the guitar and we indulged in the fantasy of becoming the first great white women blues guitarists. We planned to elaborate on our adventures in a novel about two teenage girls hanging out with the old blues musicians they admired, such as the Reverend Gary Davis or Mississippi John Hurt, whose identity we cleverly concealed by renaming the character “Alabama Joe Sore.” (OK, we were teenagers after all.) Although we did once meet the real-life Reverend Gary Davis and his wife in their hotel room over the Retort Café in Detroit, our fantasy of living and playing the blues never came to pass.
During the 1970s, when Debbie and I were both living in San Francisco, we spent many evenings after work drinking cappuccinos in coffee houses and making plans to collaborate on everything from a best-selling book or a prime-time TV show (I mean if you’re going to have a fantasy you might as well make it a good one) to a career counseling business called “Cappuccino Careers.” The idea was to get people buzzed on caffeine and then help them come up with a career plan. (After our own cappuccinos wore off, we never discussed this particular brilliant plan again.)
After I got married and Debbie graduated from law school, we got more serious about collaborating. We developed an idea for a book of recipes for cats called The Purring Palate, and spent several years, on and off, soliciting recipes from celebrity cat-owners, and writing the book. Unfortunately, the book never sold. Back then, in the 1980s, agents told us the cat craze was over.
Next, we threw ourselves into a Henry James-inspired ghost story. This was such a fabulous idea that it didn’t even need to be written – at least until after we took a highly necessary trip to a remote island in Maine to research the setting. All we got out of that was some really great lobster.
Our next project was “The Jane Austen Workout Book.” A nice catchy title. The only problem was that neither of us had the faintest idea what the book was supposed to be about. As the years passed, we laughed about how successful our collaborations had been. “Everything we touch turns to gold!” we joked.
Then one morning in 2006, I woke up with an idea that I truly felt could not miss – a book of wacky photos of cats juxtaposed with the wicked humor of Jane Austen. “Better than Cliffs Notes,” Debbie quipped. “The adorable meets the absurd.”
This idea shouted for collaboration – for someone to work, play, and laugh with. Like me, Debbie is a cat-admirer and Jane Austen-lover, as well as an accomplished writer and photographer. And so yet another collaboration was born. Slowly, we honed our vision for the book, wrote a proposal, and watched several initially enthusiastic agents back off when our vision of the book didn’t match theirs, or they had second thoughts about the logistics of photographing cats in Regency settings. Still, we kept doggedly submitting the proposal to agents.
After six years and dozens of agents, our agent, James McGinniss, found a publisher for Pride and Prejudice and Kitties (Skyhorse, 2013) our first project come to fruition. But the real collaboration started over fifty years ago with our dream of living and playing the blues with the legendary musicians we loved and admired. Unfortunately, Bonnie Raitt beat us to that one.
But it was a great idea all the same.
Ode to Toby
By Deborah Guyol
His beauty needs a poet’s tongue to tell –
Vanilla ice cream topped with caramel!
His padded feet and snowy vest,
Sharp claws, wet nose and furriness
All call to mind a toothsome dream
Of pumpkin pie with whipping cream,
Or orange marmalade and Crème brûlée –
A tempting and immoderate display!