This Boulder novelist recounts “Pride and Prejudice” with a burlesque touch

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The alluring and captivating world of modern burlesque is not often taken in the same frame as Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen’s classic Regency romance. With his first novel A certain attraction, Colorado author Vanessa King is changing that. The story tells Pride and Prejudice through the prism of the contemporary world of New York burlesque. A certain attraction was on a list of 25 best fall books through Good Housekeeping, who said, “Whether you like the classic that inspired it or not, you’ll devour this steamy novel!” The book will be available on November 2 of this year.

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Plunge a toe into the world of burlesque

While living in New York, King came across the New York School of Burlesque (NYSB), led by legendary director Jo Weldon. In addition to leading NYSB, Weldon is an educator, activist, artist and author who advocates for the rights of sex workers and sexual expression. The school’s website states that its mission is to be “a business founded, owned and operated by women, especially in the face of an industry that has a history of resistance to women’s performance as defined by the tastes of business owners. male places ”.

King signed up for their “Confidence Course” – and was hooked. “The next day it was like, ‘Apparently I’m doing this, and it was fantastic!’ She said. “The first rule of the Trust course is that you don’t talk about the Trust course,” she added, explaining that students are encouraged to get others to enroll rather than divulging the secrets of the class. . “I liked it so much that I thought to myself that I wanted to see what else was on offer, so I signed up for the Introductory Burlesque course… It wasn’t too long ago that the New York Burlesque Festival, so I went to the opening night and got to see tons of performers and it really caught my interest. I was never good, but I loved it.

A modern narrative

The writer has always kept the idea of ​​incorporating his time to do burlesque in his writing. “It was such a bizarre and fun experience, and part of it feels like fiction anyway, even when you go through it,” she said. “I was chatting with a friend when I was between projects and she mentioned that she was working on a new version of The Wizard of Oz as part of a concert festival – which she still hasn’t finished and I think she should. “

After clinging to the idea of ​​a “modern rewrite”, Pride and Prejudice is the first classic novel that comes to mind. “From there, it was just about breaking down the different, more memorable scenes, or lines I wanted to work with,” she said. “Then I tried to find contemporary counterparts for the characters, their day-to-day tasks and what their goals would be outside of the club.”

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Captive audiences

Although the whole world has been affected by COVID-19, the introverted literary industry has not suffered as much as some. King got an agent in December 2019 – she had just finished revising the novel when the Boulder Valley School District closed and her daughter began studying at home indefinitely. “I was glad I finished revisions while the kid was still in school,” she said. After sending her work to her “dream writers list,” she had an interested party within days.

“I think having a literal captive audience might have been helpful,” King said. “New York was on lockdown and they were looking for a happy escape reading, and it really hit that button.”

The seed has already been planted for follow-up A certain attraction, who tells Sense and sensitivity. “There are new main characters but it’s still in the world of A certain attractionso the burlesque club is there, you see some of the same characters and they have more time than the last round. It was fun working on them, and it was good to see them again, ”she said.

A Certain Appeal will be released on November 2, 2021. Find the list of pre-order locations on king’s site or support one of the local bookstores in this 303 roundup.

All photos courtesy of Vanessa King.


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