This week, JBC Net­work author Wendy Wax, the author of While We Were Watch­ing Down­ton Abbey, blogs for The Post­script on the inspi­ra­tion for writ­ing her newest book The Post­script series is a spe­cial peek behind the scenes” of a book. It’s a juicy lit­tle extra some­thing to add to a book clubs dis­cus­sion and a read­er’s under­stand­ing of how the book came together. 

If you’re an Anglophile who loves Down­ton Abbey and wants to read more about the lives of British Jews, see our read­ing list on the British Jew­ish Expe­ri­ence.

I’ve enjoyed a lot of tele­vi­sion pro­grams in my day, but Down­ton Abbey is the first one that inspired me to write a novel.

I won’t say I was liv­ing in a cave at the time, but I did some­how miss sea­son one and only tuned in after some prod­ding from a friend. I was hooked imme­di­ate­ly and was in the mid­dle of a week­end long Down­ton Abbey marathon, when I start­ed imag­in­ing how cool it would be if I could find a way to use my new addic­tion to bring togeth­er my own cast of characters.

As I pon­dered the pos­si­bil­i­ties, I real­ized that while I want­ed Down­ton Abbey to be at the heart of the sto­ry, I didn’t want the sto­ry to be about the pro­gram. I want­ed it to be about my characters. 

What evolved is While We Were Watch­ing Down­ton Abbey, a sto­ry about three strangers and the British concierge of their Atlanta high-rise, who meet and bond through week­ly Down­ton Abbey view­ing par­ties. All are at cross­roads in their lives and none antic­i­pate the unex­pect­ed friend­ships that form between them. Seri­ous fans of the show will notice that some of the char­ac­ters are inspired by those liv­ing at Down­ton Abbey both upstairs and down; Saman­tha Davis, like Lady Mary is finan­cial­ly respon­si­ble for her younger sib­lings and mar­ries Atlanta Roy­al­ty’ (old mon­ey) to take care of them. Edward Park­er, the building’s British concierge is a mod­ern take on but­ler Car­son except he has a degree from Cor­nell and George Clooney looks. (A writer has to have her fun!) 

Togeth­er Saman­tha Davis, Claire Walk­er, Brooke Macken­zie and Edward Park­er watch sea­sons one and two unfold. While we see bits and pieces of the episodes, the focus is on them, their growth, and their devel­op­ing friend­ship. There are no spoil­ers for fel­low late­com­ers and no need for any­one to feel left out if they haven’t watched Down­ton Abbey. In fact, some read­ers have told me the book spurred them to watch the show. 

As I wrote what News­day lat­er dubbed pos­si­bly the first nov­el writ­ten about fans of the show,’ my Down­ton Abbey addic­tion inten­si­fied. I don’t leave my house on Sun­day nights when it airs and I can — and have — spent long hours hap­pi­ly dis­cussing the lav­ish cos­tumes and set­tings as well as the twists and turns of the series’ sto­ry­lines. I blew my house­hold Kleenex bud­get halfway through sea­son three. And when my hus­band found me cry­ing in a dark­ened room after one par­tic­u­lar death bed depar­ture, I had to reas­sure him that I didn’t want a divorce and I was fair­ly cer­tain that I didn’t need antidepressants.

The truth is, I’m hang­ing on by a slim thread until sea­son five airs in the states in Jan­u­ary. Every day I have to fight the urge to read Down­ton gos­sip and I can only hope I’ll have the strength to duck spoil­ers when the new sea­son airs in the U.K. months before we see it. I con­sole myself with the thought that my nov­el can pro­vide a tem­po­rary fix’ for oth­ers expe­ri­enc­ing this kind of withdrawal. 

I’m always excit­ed when a book club adopts While We Were Watch­ing Down­ton Abbey and love hear­ing about groups that dis­cuss my book and dish about my favourite series, some­times while dressed in Down­ton-era cloth­ing, sip­ping Down­ton style tea or cock­tails, and snack­ing on British del­i­ca­cies. I’m also thrilled that my pub­lish­er has select­ed While We Were Watch­ing Down­ton Abbey for their Read Pink cam­paign this fall and that they’re offer­ing a com­pli­men­ta­ry copy to JBC book clubs that would like to con­sid­er it*.

I’m hap­py to have had this chance to be in touch with you all. I hope you’ll stop by my site author​wendy​wax​.com to read reviews and excerpts of my nov­els or, if you’d like me to join your dis­cus­sion by phone or via Skype. You know, what­ev­er I can do to help oth­er Down­ton addicts hang on until the new sea­son begins. 

*Book give­away clos­es on Fri­day, June 27 at noon ET.

Relat­ed Content:

Wendy Wax is the author of eight pre­vi­ous nov­els, includ­ing Ocean Beach. A for­mer broad­cast­er, she lives in the Atlanta sub­urbs with her hus­band and two teenage sons, who have turned her into the short­est mem­ber of their family.