Meet Manuela Santoni, Italian graphic novelist and author of YA graphic novel Jane Austen: Her Heart Did Whisper, an imagining of Jane Austen’s young life.
Q&A with Manuela Santoni
How were you introduced to Jane Austen’s work?
I heard about Jane Austen for the first time in high school. We had English literature classes, and our teacher made us read Pride and Prejudice for the summer holiday. I immediately fell in love with it. I really appreciated Austen’s world, made of good manners and strong feelings, but stifled by the social context. It was a very different type of literature from what we were used to, a world different from ours, but very fascinating.
What is Jane Austen fan culture like in Italy?
In Italy there is a large group of Austen fans. Mara Barbuni, who wrote the essay that’s included at the end of Jane Austen, is the president of the JASIT (Jane Austen Society of Italy), whose website popularizes the Austen’s novels through articles, debates, and meetings. They also organize Regency-themed picnics in some Italian cities.
Where did the inspiration to write Jane Austen come from?
There is a bunch of movies about Jane Austen’s novels I took inspiration from, but probably the greatest sources have been BBC’s adaptations, especially the memorable 1995 version with Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy! Amazing!
What was your artistic process for the book?
It took me nine months to make this comic, and the writing took up most of that. Then, I moved to the storyboard in order to visualize the story and give it a sense of narrative. Then came the inking, which is my favorite part of the process.
Do you have a favorite Austen leading man? Who?
Mr. Darcy! Beautiful, rich and charming, what more could one ask for? And I like the way of his behavior changes in the book, from surly to loving and very romantic.
“An engaging, creative addition to Austen’s many biographies.”—Booklist
“Young readers new to Austen will enjoy speculating on their romance and will admire Jane’s strength in an era that gave women very few options.”—Kirkus Reviews
“A good choice where Janeites are plentiful.”—School Library Journal