• Gaby Triana

Secret Memoirs of Mary Shelley by MICHAEL JANUARY

Today, as a special introduction to indie works, author MICHAEL JANUARY tells us about his genre-bending novel, Secret Memoirs of Mary Shelley. Take it away, Michael!

As I write this, I am appreciating the arrival of another enthusiastic and very positive review for the audiobook of “Secret Memoirs of Mary Shelley: Frankenstein Diaries." “A wonderfully entertaining story,” captivating tale,” “travelogue, history lesson and romance in one!” “LOVED IT!!”

Having readers grasp exactly what the book is has been a bit of a challenge as it bends and almost defies genres. It tells the story of the elopement of 16-year-old Mary Godwin with the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley in 1814 when they escaped together, chased by the law, to Paris and then walked to Switzerland, taking Mary’s 15-year-old step-sister Claire Claremont with them. This journey of two teenage girls and the poet of “free love” would form the ideas, themes and experiences that would eventually lead Mary Shelley to write her famous novel, Frankenstein.

Why defy genre? Some ask is it fact or fiction, how much is true, is it romance or literature, author biography, history or horror story? And I have to confess it is all those things, a romantic adventure in the Regency Period of contemporary Jane Austin, a young adult coming of age story, a history of post–Revolution Napoleonic France and the London publishing world, a family drama of personal tragedy, and an exploration of the heart and mind of a young woman seeking a connection to the mother who died in giving her birth, and the creative formation of a young writer of genius accomplishment.

I think of the “Secret Memoirs of Mary Shelley” as a “speculative autobiography” novel in a posthumous “collaboration” with Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, based in part on her published “History of a Six Weeks Tour,” but in the form of a rediscovered memoir from her journals, diaries and letters, both published and unpublished. Together, they meld with fictional speculation into an intimate atmospheric retelling of the elopement trip the two young lovers who would become icons. In her writing, Mary told where they went and what they saw, but here are the intimate details hidden between the lines told in a first person narrative, and the secrets she never revealed of inspirations for her famous book.

The author with the Frankenstein castle

What inspired me to write this admittedly convention-challenging idea? I have had a long interest in history as the story of people who shape the world through their needs and drives, and as a writer, a fascination with the literary figures that shaped our language. I have followed the literal footsteps of these real people, where they traveled and what they saw through their own eyes. And seeing what Mary described in her writing brought it to life for me, and I thought I might do the same for others. While Frankenstein is read, studied, and adapted in so many forms, from movies to comic books, Mary Shelley’s writing of her actual experience has been mostly forgotten. If we want to understand a writer of a famous work, she left the clues in her diaries and told her experience of the world in which she lived in her own voice.

In this 200th Anniversary year of the publishing of Frankenstein, a first novel by a writer begun at eighteen and published at barely the age of twenty, there are myriad biographies, a movie and tv shows, but I have endeavored in my small way to bring the real Mary Shelley to life. And readers, or listeners, who dare to go on the journey, so far, seem to agree that Mary Shelley’s extraordinary life is worth knowing. And the audiobook, with Heidy Gregory as the “voice” of Mary Shelley is the most intimate way to experience it.

Michael January

Michael January is a writer for film and television as well as a travel writer and photographer. His "Favorite Castles" book series is in its fourth edition with "Favorite Castles of Germany" and "Favorite Castles of Switzerland" as well as England, Wales and the Castles of Ireland. He regularly writes of historical connections and has followed in the literal footsteps the Romantic writers. "The Secret Memoirs of Mary Shelley: Frankenstein Diaries - The Romantics" is his first historical novel. Next is a WWII adventure and love story of pilots in the Battle of Britain. He also appears in the screenwriting documentary and companion book from Harper Collins "Tales From The Script: 50 Hollywood Screenwriters."

“An entertaining 'collaboration', exhaustively researched, skillfully adapted...long on memorable characters that will make readers see the seminal classic Frankenstein in a new light.” Historical Novel Society

Secret Memoirs of Mary Shelley Audiobook Audible: https://adbl.co/2Ji6h4X Amazon: https://amzn.to/2LcopPe

Ebook and Paperback: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00W6R8V0G

More about Mary Shelley and the writing of Frankenstein http://www.frankensteindiaries.com/secret-memoirs-of-mary-shelley-audiobook/

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