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Archive for the ‘author interviews’ Category

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Rose Servitova to celebrate the release of her newest book, The Watsons, a completion of the unfinished Jane Austen novel. I read Austen’s fragment several years ago and was intrigued by the story, and I think it’s very brave of her to “finish” Austen’s novel. I hope you all are as excited as I am about the novel. Please give Rose a warm welcome!

What inspired you to write a completion of The Watsons? Do you think it was harder to write this book, particularly since Austen never finished writing it? Or did you feel that it gave you a little more freedom in your story?

I had not thought of The Watsons at all until I went to a talk in Bath by Jane Austen expert Paula Byrnes. I was writing another manuscript that just was not working and I had more or less accepted that I would have to walk away from it. As I sat listening to Paula speak so passionately about Austen’s unfinished works and Juvenilia, I decided that perhaps I should read them and consider completing one of the unfinished works, if I liked it. I confess, the task was a little difficult as Austen had not placed much color on the fragment. As Virginia Woolf commented of The Watsons, it was as if she had meant to come back and add layers to it and had not. I had to ensure that I enhanced and added to what existed and not deflate or take from it. The characters she created had huge potential so I knew that if they came alive for me, they would take over the story and write it themselves. I feel that is what happened.

What do you think Jane Austen was starting to do with the themes in The Watsons? Are they different or similar to her other works?

Interestingly, Sanditon is very different from her other novels but The Watsons is somewhat similar. There are themes in The Watsons that we see elsewhere, such as sisterly love, female financial dependence, attempts at climbing the social ladder and family obligation.

Can you describe the main characters? What did you think of them, and what were the challenges in continuing their story?

Emma Watson has returned to her home after spending fourteen years with her rich aunt. Once a presumed heiress, she is returned penniless to her family when her aunt remarries. Emma is kind above all else. It leads her to act at times when others would hesitate or fear the opinion of others. She cannot watch others suffer and do nothing. Well educated and refined, she finds it difficult initially to resettle in the family home.

Her sister Elizabeth Watson is nine years older than Emma. Taking the role of matriarch in the family when she was but a child herself (on their mother’s passing). Elizabeth is outspoken, warm, witty and a little blunt.

Mr. Watson is their ill clergyman father, whose health often necessitates staying in bed. He is a sentimental lover of Shakespeare and a kind father.

Margaret and Penelope Watson are the two other sisters. Margaret is petty and loves gossip. Penelope is sharp-witted and conniving.

Robert and Sam Watson are the brothers in the family. Robert is married and doing very well in Croydon. Sam is an apprentice surgeon who is rarely free to visit.

Lord Osborne, Tom Musgrave, Mr. Howard, Mr. Shaw and Solomon Tomlinson are many of the male characters who play a role in this book. Lord Osborne is the socially awkward heir of Osborne Castle, Tom Musgrave is his charming, socially-climbing side-kick, Mr. Howard is an astronomy-loving clergyman at Wickstead on the Osborne estate, Mr. Shaw is a witty, wealthy bachelor from Chichester who abhors marriage and every mention of it, and Solomon Tomlinson is the arrogant curate at Wickstead.

When/how did you discover Jane Austen, and why do you think she and her novels remain so popular today?

My granny’s house had books – all the classics. When I was a teenager, I read Anne of Green Gables, Little Women, the Brontes and all of Austen’s novels. I really have no idea why her books remain so popular today except to say that there is, within the pages, a secret formula that is impossible to describe but which leaves such a satisfaction in the reader that is unmistakable.

When/how did you discover Jane Austen Fan Fiction (JAFF), and what prompted you to write your own?

To be honest, I am not an avid fiction or JAFF reader. In my free time, I am more inclined to read non-fiction. I get a great kick out of the screen adaptations and spin-offs however. I really enjoyed Bride & Prejudice recently. I thought it was an amazing adaptation that captured Austen’s essence perfectly yet altered almost every detail of the book. It was a joy to watch. I felt for many years that if I were ever to write a book, it would have some connection to Austen and, in particular, to Mr. Collins. This dream came true with The Longbourn Letters. I was not sure that I would get involved in any more Austen related writing but then The Watsons happened.

Could you share with us a little about your writing process and describe your writing space (or share a peek via photo)?

Rose Servitova writing

Writing my debut novel, The Longbourn Letters, was very different to writing The Watsons. I work full-time so I have to steal time where I can. The Longbourn Letters was largely concocted while out walking the country roads near my home and later typed up in a café while listening to classical music on my headset. I tended to write at No 1 Pery Square – a Georgian hotel, the setting was perfect by a sash window (see photo). For The Watsons, I gathered all my ideas and notes and took off to a writer’s retreat for a couple of nights – writing the first draft in less than a week and then spending about nine months, here and there, editing and rewriting. Contemporary music played a part – helping me find the emotions I was trying to evoke for key scenes. I also created a visual chart for the characters, basing them on actors, fictional characters etc.; for example, two of the characters are based on Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn. As a child, the verbal combat and onscreen chemistry of these two left its mark on me – it was a meeting of minds. I don’t share my work while it’s a work-in-progress. I tend to trust my gut and then trust a very good editor friend.

What book(s) are you reading right now?

Her Kind by Niamh Boyce. Her debut novel, The Herbalist, is one of my favorite books and I’m looking forward to Her Kind as it is based on the Kilkenny Witch Trial of 1324.

Are you working on another book at the moment, and if so, any hints as to what it’s about?

I wrote an outline to Sanditon in early 2018, putting it aside when I heard ITV were filming an adaptation. It’s a manuscript I hope to return to someday. I started a historical fiction crime novel set in a convent in Ireland in the 1930s but work on that has stalled while focusing on getting The Watsons out into the world. The essay is a form of writing that I love and I would like to write a collection of essays at some point. It’s my hope to write them in between writing novels. I’m also a huge fan of travel books and would like to write my own one day.

Fantastic! Thanks for being my guest today, and congratulations on your new release!

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About The Watsons

Can she honour her family and stay true to herself?

Emma Watson returns to her family home after fourteen years with her wealthy and indulgent aunt. Now more refined than her siblings, Emma is shocked by her sisters’ flagrant and desperate attempts to ensnare a husband. To the surprise of the neighbourhood, Emma immediately attracts the attention of eligible suitors – notably the socially awkward Lord Osborne, heir to Osborne Castle – who could provide her with a home and high status if she is left with neither after her father’s death. Soon Emma finds herself navigating a world of unfamiliar social mores, making missteps that could affect the rest of her life. How can she make amends for the wrongs she is seen to have committed without betraying her own sense of what is right?

Jane Austen commenced writing The Watsons over two hundred years ago, putting it aside unfinished, never to return and complete it. Now, Rose Servitova, author of acclaimed humour title, The Longbourn Letters: The Correspondence between Mr Collins and Mr Bennet, has finished Austen’s manuscript in a manner true to Austen’s style and wit.

Amazon | Goodreads

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About the Author

Rose Servitova

Irish author Rose Servitova is an award-winning humor writer, event manager, and job coach for people with special needs. Her debut novel, The Longbourn Letters – The Correspondence between Mr. Collins & Mr. Bennet, described as a ‘literary triumph’, has received international acclaim since its publication in 2017. Rose enjoys talking at literary events, drinking tea and walking on Irish country roads. She lives in County Limerick with her husband, two young children and three indifferent cats. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads.

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November 18            My Jane Austen Book Club (Interview)

November 18            Austenprose—A Jane Austen Blog (Review)

November 19            The Lit Bitch (Excerpt)

November 20            Austenesque Reviews (Review)

November 20            vvb32 Reads (Review)

November 21            All Things Austen (Review)

November 22            My Love for Jane Austen (Spotlight)

November 25            From Pemberley to Milton (Excerpt)

November 25            Diary of an Eccentric (Interview)

November 26            So Little Time… (Excerpt)

November 27            Impressions in Ink (Review)

November 27            Babblings of a Bookworm (Spotlight)

November 28            More Agreeably Engaged (Review)

November 29            My Vices and Weaknesses (Excerpt)

November 29            The Fiction Addiction (Review)

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I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Diana Birchall as part of the blog tour for her latest novel, The Bride of Northanger. Although I adore Pride and Prejudice, I get really excited when authors show Austen’s other novels some love. I read Northanger Abbey for the first time several years ago, and I really enjoyed it. I’ve read some variations since then, but they are few and far between. Life has been extremely busy recently, but as I catch up on my review backlog and squeeze in a few new ones here and there, keep your eye out for my thoughts on The Bride of Northanger. In the meantime, please give Diana a warm welcome!

Congratulations on the publication of The Bride of Northanger. What was your inspiration to write a continuation of Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey?

Thank you! Northanger Abbey seems to get overlooked, compared to the universal popularity of Pride and Prejudice, and the meaty genius of Austen’s more mature works. But what a delectably enchanting novel it is! The reader experiences, along with young, sheltered Catherine, the delights of entering the wide, adult world of Bath society with “such fresh feelings of every sort,” as Henry Tilney says. This leads to a developing love story that is in my view as compelling as any Austen ever wrote. It initially seemed unlikely to me that a clever, sophisticated man like Henry would fall in love with someone so young and ignorant as Catherine, and Jane Austen’s explanatory remark that Henry’s “persuasion of her partiality for him had been the only cause of giving her a serious thought,” does not quite satisfy. So, I wanted to examine his life, his feelings, and his psychology, to try to come to a better understanding of the dynamic here. Working towards that, I wrote an essay about his father General Tilney (entitled The Ogre of Northanger!), that helped me arrive at an answer that satisfied me. The General was a horrendous bully and his brutal treatment left marks upon his son, a clergyman with a strong wit and a respect for the life of the mind rather than one dedicated to worldly greed. No wonder Henry was drawn to a girl who was not scheming, manipulative, and grasping, but simple and sincere, with a thirsty mind for learning. I set out in my fiction to explore how the young man educated the young woman, and they became equal and happy partners together.

Northanger Abbey has been considered a parody of the Gothic fiction popular during Austen’s time. How did Austen’s story and style influence your writing of The Bride of Northanger?

Completely. I have been steeped in Austen’s writing – not dramatizations nor adaptations, charming as many of them are, but in her actual texts – for decades, to the point where I’ve read them literally thousands of times and have them almost completely mentally to hand, so to speak. I was driven by a longing to discover Austen’s secrets, to learn as much as possible about the genius that made her characters so real, her commentary on life so compelling yet enigmatic. Such study could only improve my own writing – it couldn’t possibly hurt! – and trying to enter her universe and style, proved to be a most enlightening way to learn a great deal both about these novels and their originator.

Henry Tilney and Catherine Morland are one of Jane Austen’s most charming couples. Was it a challenge to continue their story? How did you recapture their voices?

I don’t know if it was a challenge exactly, because I’ve been accustomed to imitating Austen for so many years; my first attempt was in 1984 when I won a contest in the JASNA journal Persuasions, and I eventually became very comfortable switching on my “Austenesque” dialogue voice. Once I started work on my “Bride,” Catherine and Henry began talking in my head and telling me about their Gothic trials and adventures. All this was very exciting, though I was really more excited about how Catherine was becoming a very sensible and sane woman, and how strong their marriage was growing.

When/how did you discover Jane Austen, and why do you think she and her novels remain so popular today?

I was about 20 when I first read Pride and Prejudice. In those days Jane Austen wasn’t anywhere near as widely popular as today, not to be encountered either in school or a movie theater. A literary aunt of mine recommended P & P, but the title wasn’t prepossessing, and it took me awhile to get around to reading it. Then, what an explosive revelation of enjoyment! It’s all still there for readers to take as much from as they choose: reading one or two of the books; giving your life to a study of Jane Austen and her genius; or simply enjoying her works and the books and movies they inspire, in your own way. Austen appeals on every possible level, from the great love story to the wit of one of the world’s best humorists. She provides a window into the 18th century, plus shrewd observations on human nature (which has not changed!), all with a display of perfect style and her own philosophy. As I say: something for everyone, and the more you read, the more you find.

When/how did you discover JAFF, and what prompted you to take the leap and write your own Austen-inspired novels?

I didn’t exactly “discover JAFF,” I was writing it long before the term was invented. Since the 1980s I’ve written hundreds of stories in the genre, and my first full length novel, Mrs. Darcy’s Dilemma, was written in the early 1990s. Of course, I was far from the first person to start writing Austen sequels – Austen’s own nieces were – but when I started my work there had not been a sequel since Pemberley Shades in 1949, so I was among the very first “modern” writers doing this. The adaptations, the Austenesque writing boom, and JAFF, all came years after I’d started writing Austenesque fiction, though to be sure that was another word that had not yet been invented!

As a writer myself, I’m always curious about where people write their books. Could you describe your writing space?

A dusty little study crammed with books and English china teapots in the rambling apartment my husband and I share with our three cats a couple of blocks from the beach in Santa Monica, California. Our son is the librarian on Catalina Island. We grew up in New York City and are transplants of a bookish bohemian variety!

What book(s) are you reading right now?

Just finished reading the memoirs of artist Elisabeth Vigee Le Brun, who was a French contemporary of Jane Austen. She’s the portraitist whose painting I chose for the cover of my novel. It looked exactly as I imagined Catherine, though in fact it is a portrait of a young French aristocrat, Corisande de Gramont, painted in 1800 when she was 18 years old (the same age and era as the fictional Catherine). Corisande was a granddaughter of the Duchesse de Polignac, the favorite of Marie Antoinette, and she married an English Member of Parliament, Charles Augustus Bennet (shades of Austen!), Earl of Tankerville, and settled in England. I also chose John Constable’s painting of Netley Abbey to represent Northanger, as Jane Austen actually visited and was inspired by Netley. My talented book designer Rebecca Young deftly transformed the two works of art into a beautiful book design. And now I’m reading books about Louisa May Alcott.

Are you working on another novel now? If so, any hints as to what it’s about?

As you can perhaps guess from my last hint, I’m writing a sequel to Alcott’s Little Women.

Thank you for asking me these questions, it’s been a pleasure to answer them!

You’re welcome! Thank you for being my guest today, and once again, congratulations on your new release. I look forward to reading it!

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About The Bride of Northanger

A happier heroine than Catherine Morland does not exist in England, for she is about to marry her beloved, the handsome, witty Henry Tilney. The night before the wedding, Henry reluctantly tells Catherine and her horrified parents a secret he has dreaded to share – that there is a terrible curse on his family and their home, Northanger Abbey. Henry is a clergyman, educated and rational, and after her year’s engagement Catherine is no longer the silly young girl who delighted in reading “horrid novels”; she has improved in both reading and rationality. This sensible young couple cannot believe curses are real…until a murder at the Abbey triggers events as horrid and Gothic as Jane Austen ever parodied – events that shake the young Tilneys’ certainties, but never their love for each other…

Amazon (paperback) (ebook) | Barnes & Noble (ebook) | Goodreads | Publisher Page

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About the Author

Diana Birchall worked for many years at Warner Bros studios as a story analyst, reading novels to see if they would make movies. Reading manuscripts went side by side with a restorative and sanity-preserving life in Jane Austen studies and resulted in her writing Austenesque fiction both as homage and attempted investigation of the secrets of Jane Austen’s style. She is the author of In Defense of Mrs. Elton, Mrs. Elton in America, Mrs. Darcy’s Dilemma, and the new The Bride of Northanger. She has written hundreds of Austenesque short stories and plays, as well as a biography of her novelist grandmother, and has lectured on her books and staged play readings at places as diverse as Hollywood, Brooklyn, Montreal, Chawton House Library, Alaska, and Yale.

Visit Diana at her Austen Variations author page, and follow her on Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads.

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The Doyenne of Austenesque fiction, Diana Birchall, tours the blogosphere October 28 through November 15 to share her latest release, The Bride of Northanger. Thirty popular bloggers specializing in historical and Austenesque fiction will feature guest blogs, interviews, excerpts, and book reviews of this acclaimed continuation of Jane Austen’s Gothic parody, Northanger Abbey. 

THE BRIDE OF NORTHANGER BLOG TOUR SCHEDULE: 

October 28                My Jane Austen Book Club (Interview)

October 28                Austenprose—A Jane Austen Blog (Review)

October 28                vvb32 Reads (Spotlight)

October 29                A Covent Garden Gilflurt’s Guide of Life (Guest Blog)

October 29                From Pemberley to Milton (Excerpt)

October 30                Drunk Austen (Interview)

October 30                Silver Petticoat Review (Excerpt)

October 31                Jane Austen’s World (Review)

November 01            So Little Time… (Interview)

November 01            Laura’s Reviews (Review)

November 04            English Historical Fiction Authors (Guest Blog)

November 04            Confessions of a Book Addict (Spotlight)

November 05            More Agreeably Engaged (Review)

November 05            Vesper’s Place (Review)

November 06            Jane Austen in Vermont (Interview)

November 06            Diary of an Eccentric (Interview)

November 07            All Things Austen (Spotlight)

November 07            A Bookish Way of Life (Review)

November 07            Let Them Read Books (Excerpt)

November 08            Babblings of a Bookworm (Review)

November 08            vvb32 Reads (Review)

November 11            My Jane Austen Book Club (Review)

November 11            Reading the Past (Spotlight)

November 12            Jane Austen’s World (Interview)

November 12            The Calico Critic (Excerpt)

November 13            The Book Rat (Review)

November 13            Austenesque Reviews (Review)

November 14            Fangs, Wands, & Fairy Dust (Review)

November 14            The Fiction Addiction (Review)

November 15            My Love for Jane Austen (Spotlight)

November 15            Scuffed Slippers and Wormy Books (Review)

Read Full Post »

I’m thrilled to welcome Victoria Kincaid back to Diary of an Eccentric today to celebrate her latest release, Darcy in Hollywood. I’ve enjoyed editing all of Victoria’s books thus far, but her modern-day Pride and Prejudice variations are especially fun. I hope you enjoy our interview, as well as the excerpt from Darcy in Hollywood. Please give Victoria a warm welcome.

What inspired you to bring Darcy and Elizabeth to Hollywood?

That’s a good question which is always hard to answer since usually the idea for a book has been gestating in my brain for at least a year before I start writing it.  There are a lot of contemporary romances with movie stars as protagonists as well as a number of movies (like Notting Hill).  I really enjoy that subgenre; I think it’s particularly interesting to see the clash between the Hollywood lifestyle and the lives of ordinary people.  I also wanted to write another modern after President Darcy since that one was so much fun, and I thought Hollywood would make a good setting for the P&P story.

How difficult was it to adapt P&P to this setting? Did you find it difficult to insert timely themes, of which there are many throughout the book?

Writing a modern P&P variation is definitely harder than writing one set in the Regency time period because I need to find modern equivalents for the events, places, occupations, etc. that happen in P&P.  I didn’t set out to insert any modern themes in the story—any more than I did with President Darcy.  But they do have a way of creeping in.  The storyline about drug addiction was a natural fit with Hollywood, where so many people struggle with addiction issues, and it helped motivate a lot of character behavior.

Other themes came about in different ways.  I wanted Elizabeth to be committed to a charitable cause so that she would see a contrast between her beliefs and Darcy’s.  Originally I planned to have her become a worker in a nonprofit, but then decided it would be better if she was becoming a doctor.  One of the reasons I had her pick LGBTQ issues as a cause was personal.  My daughter has a friend whose parents disowned them when they came out as nonbinary.  This person is just a sweet, loving human being and that kind of rejection just struck me as so wrong.  That sense of injustice wouldn’t leave me alone, so it ended up as a subplot in the story.

You have a way with humor in your modern variations, from the Bennet family’s business in President Darcy to my favorite in Darcy in Hollywood: Bill Collins and Catherine de Bourgh. I don’t want to spoil it for readers, but oh how I laughed whenever Collins came into the picture…and Catherine’s advice to Darcy…priceless! That being said, what was your favorite scene to write? Do you have a favorite secondary character in your variation?

I always enjoy writing humor in my variations.  I actually think it’s an important part of Pride and Prejudice since Austen herself made humor an integral part of her stories.  With Collins and de Bourgh, in particular, it’s almost impossible to go too far with their characters—which makes them very fun to write.  I can make Collins can be as sycophantic and as stupid as possible, and it still works with the character Austen wrote.  Similarly, Catherine de Bourgh can never be too imperious or oblivious.

The joy of writing a modern novel is that I can think up new contexts for them to display those same character traits.  For instance, in Darcy in Hollywood, Collins becomes Mrs. de Bourgh’s personal assistant who has literally given up his life so he can devote it to hers.  He doesn’t even see his parents at Christmas (they just exchange cards) because de Bourgh needs him to sing carols to her on Christmas day.

This is your second modern P&P variation. Do you have plans to write another? (I sure hope so!) Do you find the moderns more difficult to write? To me, the moderns seem to give more freedom in the plot and characterization. But does that freedom make it harder since you lose the confines of Regency social rules?

Right now I don’t have an idea for another modern variation, but I’m sure another one will occur to me at some point.  Before I wrote President Darcy, I would have said that moderns should be easier to write since the writer doesn’t have to do as much research or worry about period details and period language.  But I would have been wrong.  In fact, Darcy in Hollywood took me longer to write than any book since my first one—and I deleted sixty pages from my drafts of the novel.

Regency-set P&P variations are easier in part because I can start partway through the story and the reader will know what has happened before.  For instance, I could open the book with the proposal at Hunsford, and readers wouldn’t bat an eye.  But in a modern, I’d have to explain how Darcy and Elizabeth met and got to the point where he was making some kind of offer (probably not an offer of marriage so early in their acquaintance). So modern variations end up being longer because I need to include more of the original P&P narrative.

The other thing that makes moderns hard is trying to remain true to Austen’s characters while having their behavior make sense in a modern setting.  A modern mother isn’t likely to want to marry her daughters off like the original Mrs. Bennet.  So I made her into a stage mother instead—someone who’s convinced that Lydia will be a big movie star.  Likewise, Mr. Bennet went from being a fairly well-to-do landowner, to a producer of B-movies.

But I ran into major problems with Darcy in this respect.  I discovered he really didn’t want to be a movie star!  With his personality, he didn’t fit with the Hollywood culture of self-promotion, screaming fans, and glitzy parties. I’d originally seen him as someone who was so proud of his work that he believed he deserved the adulation, but Darcy is too private for that.  So I had rewrite the early parts to make him into a kind of Masterpiece Theatre, classical actor who starred in one movie that made him a heartthrob to teenage girls—much to his embarrassment.  That worked much better for Darcy’s character.

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Here is an excerpt from the beginning of Darcy in Hollywood—right after Darcy nearly hits Elizabeth with his car. Enjoy!

Darcy stomped on the momentary flare of irritation.  “Is the sarcasm really necessary?”

She regarded him through narrowed eyes.  “Yeah, I think it is.  What’s the alternative?  That I should be honored to be knocked over by your car?  Because I don’t think your identity would have been much comfort to my parents.  ‘We don’t have a daughter anymore, but at least she was killed by a celebrity.  Maybe he can autograph her coffin.’”

Why did she have to be so difficult?  He was already putting up with so much doing an indie film.  “That’s not what I meant.  You don’t have to put it that way—”

“I almost got hit by a car.  I can put it however the fuck I want to!”

Darcy was so over this woman. She wasn’t nearly as pretty as he had initially thought. If only he could leave.  But he needed to make sure she wouldn’t talk to the media; another car-related incident would be a disaster for his career.  From now on, I only travel by train or boat.  Pity about her personality; she had fine eyes.

Darcy helped the woman limp to a nearby bench and gently lowered her to the seat.  “Maybe I should call for an ambulance,” he suggested.  He would have preferred to discuss having her sign a nondisclosure agreement, but it seemed a little insensitive.

“Let me sit for a minute.”  Leaning forward, she cradled her head in her hands, providing a good view of the blood matting the hair on the back of her head.  Huh, maybe she wasn’t wrong about the possible concussion.

Darcy settled on the bench beside her despite a desperate desire to cross the street and slip into Building 4, where they were holding the table read.  They won’t start without me, he reminded himself.  But being late wouldn’t impress them with his professionalism.

He took the opportunity to check her for other injuries.  She had a scrape on her right arm and favored her left ankle.  Of course, her clothes were disheveled—and a fashion disaster.  The sleeve of her t-shirt was ripped where she had fallen.

“I can get you a new t-shirt.”

“Huh?”

He gestured to the rip.

Her mouth hung open.  “I don’t give a shit about the t-shirt!”

“I don’t think that kind of language is called for.”

“That kind of language?” she echoed and then squinted at him.  “Are you drunk?”

“It’s 7 a.m.”

“Yes, it is.  Are you drunk?  Or high?”

Damn, you have one scandal…

“No,” he said sharply.

“The car was moving rather erratically.”

“I was…trying to work the stereo.  It’s complicated.”

“You almost killed me because you couldn’t work the radio?”

“To be fair, it’s satellite radio.  And I didn’t almost kill you!”

“To-may-to, to-mah-to.”

His jaw clenched so tightly he could grind glass.   “This isn’t a matter of opinion!  You would have been fine if you hadn’t fallen.”

“I also would have been fine if your Ferrari hadn’t come hurtling toward me.”

Darcy didn’t respond; arguing was futile.  After a moment she gave him a sidelong glance.  “You don’t need to babysit me; I can call myself an ambulance if I need one.”

“I shouldn’t leave you alone.”

“Oh!  You don’t want me talking to the press.  Don’t worry.”

“That’s not what I’m worried about,” he lied.  “My primary concern is your well-being.”

“I bet you say that to all the girls you almost run over.”

Darcy stifled a smile.  Under other circumstances, he’d think she was funny.  “I assure you that you’re the first.”

The woman examined the scrape on her arm.  “I accept your apology, by the way.”

“I didn’t apologize.”

Now she turned her blue-green gaze on him.  “I noticed that.  Why didn’t you?  Do you think this is my fault?  That your car had the right of way on the sidewalk?”

Darcy would have apologized—if he had thought of it—but now he couldn’t without losing face.  “I didn’t hit you.  You agreed I didn’t hit you!”  I sound like an idiot insisting on that point.  

“You. Are. Unbelievable.”

Darcy had heard that before but usually in a more complimentary tone.

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About Darcy in Hollywood

A modern Pride and Prejudice variation.

Rich and arrogant movie star, William Darcy, was a Hollywood heartthrob until a scandalous incident derailed his career. Now he can only hope that Tom Bennet’s prestigious but low budget indie film will restore his reputation. However, on the first day of filming, he nearly hits Bennet’s daughter, Elizabeth, with his Ferrari, and life will never be the same. Okay, she’s a little sarcastic, but he’s certain she’s concealing a massive crush on him—and it’s growing harder to fight his own attraction….

Elizabeth Bennet has a lot on her plate. She’s applying to medical school and running the studio’s charity project—while hoping her family won’t embarrass her too much. Being Darcy’s on-set personal assistant is infuriating; he’s rude, proud, and difficult. If there’s one thing she dislikes, it’s people who only think about themselves. But then Elizabeth discovers Darcy has been doing a lot of thinking about her.

She might be willing to concede a mutual attraction, but events are conspiring against them and Darcy subject to constant public scrutiny. Can Darcy and Elizabeth have any hope for a happy ending to their Hollywood romance?

Buy on Amazon

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Giveaway

Victoria is generously offering an ebook copy of Darcy in Hollywood to one lucky reader. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address. This giveaway will be open through Wednesday, July 17, 2019. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

Thank you, Victoria, for being my guest today, and congratulations on your new book!

 

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Nicole Clarkston recently introduced me to Leena Emsley, who narrated These Dreams for her, and I had the pleasure of interviewing Leena about all things audiobook-related. Please give her a warm welcome!

Hi, Leena! Can you tell us a little about yourself? How did you become an audiobook narrator?

I live in the UK, in the beautiful county of Northumberland. I come from a family of actors. My grandparents performed, my parents met on the stage and I was running around theatres from a young age. I went to drama school, but decided it was more fun as a hobby so devoted all my spare time to it and performed for many years on stages from Edinburgh to Berlin.

I gave up the stage when I had my children and have home schooled for almost 10 years. They are now teenagers and need me less, so I started to look for something I could do from home, and was drawn to find something that allowed me to indulge my old passion. I began doing voluntary audio work, took a training course for voice narrators, and signed up to ACX.

Can you describe the process of narrating a book? I know nothing about how it’s actually done, so any or all details would be fascinating to me. How do you go about differentiating between all the different characters/voices? What preparation is involved? Where do you record the book, etc.?

The first step is to read the book, know the story and get a feel for the characters. If there are particular accents required, I research the accent. In These Dreams there are several Portuguese characters. I was fortunate to have the help of Nicole’s Portuguese friend, Rita, who very kindly recorded phrases for me. She has also very kindly refrained from throwing her hands up in horror at how badly I managed to reproduce them! There is a balance between accuracy and performance. In the end, performance takes precedence, so long as I manage a flavour of the accent.

For characters with similar accents, I rely on their character differences to clue me in to their voices. Well drawn characters jump out the page. Mostly it comes down to intonation. For instance the snake Reginald (spoiler!) just has to have a languid tone, as opposed to his pompous staccato father. I do my best to differentiate between characters, sometimes successfully, sometimes not.

Leena Emsley

I record in a small booth my husband made for me. It does a good job of screening me from most outside noises, though I have to stop for planes, high wind and lawn mowers! I love my little booth. It feels like I enter a new world and I get totally wrapped up in the story.

What did you like best about narrating Nicole’s books?

I love Nicole’s writing! Not a word is wasted, there is pace and drama, her characters are well drawn and you feel their emotions. I am always moved by human compassion, and my favourite moment was when Elizabeth meets Amália. It reduced me to tears and required a pause in recording!

The Earl of Matlock and Lady Catherine were the most fun to narrate. It was great to let rip with the stiff upper lip, starchy accents, and so wonderful that their vulnerabilities were brought out, too.

What are some other books you’ve narrated?

My first book with ACX was Leslie Diamond’s Particular Intentions. It was my introduction to JAFF, and as a Jane Austen fan, I was immediately attracted. I am currently working on her sequel Particular Attachments. They are both Pride and Prejudice variations, with the sequel following Georgiana’s story. I have done several books books by Regina Puckett, as well as a detective story and steam punk adventure.

Thank you so much, Leena! I really enjoyed learning more about audiobook narration, so much so that I think this year might be time for me to give them another try!

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Giveaway

Nicole is generously offering two codes for each of her audiobooks, These Dreams and London Holiday. The codes are for the U.S. and U.K. only. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address, and let us know which book you’d prefer (you can enter for both, but can only win one) and whether you’d like a U.S. or U.K. code. This giveaway will be open through Sunday, January 13, 2019. The winners will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck! And a big thanks to Nicole for setting up the interview with Leena and for the very generous giveaway!

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I have a treat for you today, my dear readers! I have been excited about the Austenistan anthology — a collection of stories inspired by Jane Austen that are set in modern-day Pakistan — since I first heard it was being published. Life has been too busy for me to delve into it just yet, but I’m thrilled to have Laaleen Sukhera, editor of Austenistan and author of the story “On the Verge,” and Mishayl Naek, author of the story “Eaaman Ever After,” here today for a discussion about Jane Austen and the anthology. Please give them a warm welcome!

ANNA: How did you discover Jane Austen? Have you read all of Austen’s novels? Do you have a favorite, or a favorite character? What drew you most to her books and the time period?

LAALEEN: I’ve grown up reading her novels and started on my twelfth birthday with Pride and Prejudice, which will always be my favourite. I’ve been in love with Regency England ever since and Georgette Heyer further developed my passion for the era. I’ve found that at different stages in life, one can appreciate Austen’s characters, settings, and dialogues in new and surprising ways. One can reread the novels and rewatch the screen adaptations countless times but be struck by a new detail or observation each time. They’re like dear old friends that you can revisit whenever you please. Whether it’s romance or fashion or travel or aesthetics, they influence you considerably.

MISHAYL: I discovered Jane Austen around my teenage years when the social conventions reflected in her book seemed to ring so true and helped me bumble through personal social navigation. It was an easy escape to fall into her witty, female centered portrayal of society and I loved the female relationships. The time period seemed very romantic to me, and still does! The way the scenery and homes were painted feels beautiful and peaceful, especially when I was living an big, bustling city. It was probably one of my reasons to attend the University of Bath and I definitely imagined myself as one of her heroines as I walked in the countryside. My favorite character is quite cliché but it is—and always will be—Elizabeth Bennet.

ANNA: What was the goal behind Austenistan? What do you hope readers will take from the anthology? Did you find it difficult at all to adapt Austen’s novels and characters to your culture?

Laaleen Sukhera

LAALEEN: We honestly wrote it for ourselves, never dreaming that it would resonate with so many people around the world, nor that Bloomsbury would be publishing it. I hope our readers will laugh and cry and cringe at all the right moments with us—it’s such a joy to hear their views!

I didn’t find it at all difficult to visualize or adapt Austen for Pakistani society. It was almost disturbingly easy; beyond the etiquette and the ‘marriage mart’ and the social season, our inherent misogyny parallels the Regency era. We don’t just read Austen, it’s like we’re living in her world. Her characters are incredibly relevant and relatable.

MISHAYL: Our goal was to create a lighthearted book which told a different story about Pakistan. Each writer worked hard to create ambiance and capture the era and essence of their city in a Jane Austen inspired setting. Since there are different writers, each story has its own feel and take on Austen’s Pakistan. We hope readers will enjoy this contemporary take on Pakistan, which is typically portrayed in a more negative, political light. At the end of the day, our country is filled with women who wish to find a great love, whether its romantic, friendly or family oriented, just like most other women around the world.

It was very easy for me to adapt Emma to the Karachi setting, with its glitzy party scene and constant matchmaking. I thoroughly enjoyed my ‘research’ which consisted of silently watching my peers at social gatherings. Sadly there was a lack of Mr. Knightleys and a plethora of Mr. Eltons.  

ANNA: Are there any plans for another anthology?

LAALEEN: It’s just wishful thinking at this point, not just to appease the fans, but to give me another excuse to work with such wonderful women. Let us know what you think!

Mishayl Naek

MISHAYL: Not that I know of! But we are always open to more anthologies that include a brighter angle of Pakistan.

ANNA: How did you discover Jane Austen Fan Fiction? Do you have any favorite variations?

LAALEEN: I’ve picked up various prequels and sequels, mostly titles with catchy names and beautiful covers, been amused by some and disappointed by others. It simply isn’t possible to ape her style so to overtly attempt that makes the writer look a bit foolish. I’d have to say the Bridget Jones series by Helen Fielding—with the exception of the exceedingly depressing Mad About The Boy—has to be my absolute favourite.

MISHAYL: With the exception of Clueless, I was introduced to Jane Austen fan fiction by our editor Laaleen.

ANNA: What projects are you working on now?

LAALEEN: I’m meant to be writing a novel. At the moment I’m fleshing out characters and trying to get into their heads. It’s not meant to be Austen inspired, but knowing me, Jane-isms will find their way in!

MISHAYL: I am personally trying to write a series of children’s books that are culturally significant.

ANNA: Thank you both so much for being my guests today! You’ve made me even more excited about reading Austenistan. Laaleen told me that the book has done well across South Asia, and that Pakistani booksellers say it is a top 10 bestseller! Congratulations on the anthology’s success thus far!

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About Austenistan

Heiress and society doyenne Kamila Mughal is humiliated when her brother’s best friend snubs her to marry a social climbing nobody from Islamabad. Jameela Baig’s cold, unenterprising husband hasn’t planned for the future and all she can think about is how to find suitable husbands for her daughters. Roya Khalil discovers that her fiancé has been cheating on her and ends up on a blind date in Surrey on her wedding day. Beautiful young widow Begum Saira Qadir has mourned her late husband but feels she may finally be ready to start following her own desires. Emaan navigates post-divorce singlehood in cosmopolitan Karachi, Samina confronts her inner demons in metropolitan Lahore, and Maya fears her marriage to her English diplomat husband has gone cold.

Inspired by Jane Austen and set in contemporary Pakistan, Austenistan is a collection of romantic, uplifting, witty and sometimes heart-breaking love stories which pay homage to the queen of wit and romance.Comprising seven stories inspired by Austen’s novels and largely set in contemporary Pakistan, Austenistan is an amusing, sometimes savage and sometimes moving look at love, loss and second chances in the upper echelons of a society which very closely echoes Regency England. The writers are professionals from the media, academics, law, and medicine, and are members of the Jane Austen Society of Pakistan (JASP), whose founder, Laaleen Sukhera, is editor of this collection.

ABOUT THE STORIES:

The Fabulous Banker Boys

By Mahlia S Lone

“The business of her life was to get her daughters married”—Pride and Prejudice

Jameela Baig, struggling to pay the bills and coveting respectable alliances for her four unmarried daughters, is overjoyed when two eligible young men arrive from Dubai and seem interested in Jahan and Elisha. Young Leena’s antics, however, seem likely to disgrace them all…

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Begum Saira Returns

By Nida Elley

“No character, however upright, can escape the malevolence of slander”—Lady Susan

It is 1989 and hope is in the air as Pakistan elects its first female Prime Minister. Alluring Saira Qadir reappears in Lahore society for the first time since the death of her husband, confronting old flames and new social barriers.

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Emaan Ever After

By Mishayl Naek

“If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more”—Emma

A spirited divorcée has an awful run of luck with Karachi’s most sought after bachelors, who also happen to act pretty entitled. Thankfully, Emaan has her best friend Haroon’s shoulder to pinch and cry on…or does she?

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The Mughal Empire

By Saniyya Gauhar

“Miss Bingley was very deeply mortified by Darcy’s marriage”—Pride and Prejudice

Kamila Mughal, publisher of Pink magazine, never imagined that a Queen Bee like herself could possibly be outdone by the gold-digging Bilal sisters who cut a swathe through town, even scooping up the man she’s always had her eye on. But might she find love while trying to merely save face?

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The Autumn Ball

By Gayathri Warnasuriya

“To be fond of dancing was a certain step towards falling in love”—Pride and Prejudice

Trailing diplomatic spouse Maya longs to attend the society gala of the year with Hugo, her reluctant English husband, in Islamabad’s bubble-like enclave for embassies. As the night progresses, Maya suspects that her marriage is as shaky as the DJ’s playlist.

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Only The Deepest Love

By Sonya Rehman

“The more I see of the world, the more I am dissatisfied by it”—Pride and Prejudice

University lecturer Samina has learnt not to trust men from her battered and abandoned mother. Her young cousin, in the meantime, has had an arranged marriage with a wealthy young man who doesn’t appear to desire her, or indeed women in general. About the only upside to their wedding was that Samina met a man there whom she can’t quite get out of her head…

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On The Verge

By Laaleen Sukhera

“One cannot be always laughing at a man without now and then without stumbling on something witty”—Pride and Prejudice

Blogger Roya Khalil, on the hunt for a perfect-on-paper soul mate, discovers her blue-blooded fiancé is cheating on her. A second chance at making a spectacular marriage presents itself when a matchmaking aunt snags her a date with an obnoxious British Asian halal meat tycoon.

Buy Austenistan: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Bloomsbury (U.K.) | Waterstones (U.K.)

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About the Authors

Laaleen Sukhera

EDITOR & CONTRIBUTOR

Laaleen is a communications consultant and writer. She graduated with an MSc in Professional Communications and a BA (High Honours) in Screen Studies and Communication & Culture at Clark University in Massachusetts. She is the founder of the Jane Austen Society of Pakistan and has appeared in programs, podcasts, and features in 1843 (UK), the BBC (World Service &100 Women), the British Council (UK and Pakistan), Harper’s Bazaar (India), HELLO! (India and Pakistan), NewsTalk (Ireland), NPR/National Public Radio (USA), Sky Arts (UK), The Times (UK), and Vanity Fair (Italy), and has been quoted in The Atlantic, The Economist, and The New York Times.

Earlier in her career, she worked as a series coordinator and interviewer for an award nominated documentary that aired on ITV, as a field producer and advertising executive in New York, as a TV producer in Lahore, as a public relations consultant in Islamabad, and as the associate editor of Libas International.  Laaleen represented Austenistan at the Galle Literary Festival in Sri Lanka, the Times of India Lit Fest Bangalore, and at panels hosted in Washington DC by the Jane Austen Society of North America and Muse District at George Washington University, as well as in Lahore at the British Council Library, the LGS Lit Fest, The Last Word, and in Islamabad at the British High Commission’s British Club and at London Books Café.

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Mishayl Naek

CONTRIBUTOR

Mishayl is a freelance writer and monetary economist who received her BA in Economics from Bryn Mawr College, Pennsylvania [where she received the Jeanne Quistgaard Memorial Prize] and M.Sc. in International Development [concentration: Political Economy] from the University of Bath. She has worked at the State Bank of Pakistan in the Development Finance Group and Monetary Department, where she co-authored various policies, reports and studies including a study on monetary policy for SAARC [presented in July, 2012].

Mishayl lives in Karachi, Pakistan, and has been published in BeautifulYou.com, the Express Tribune, Good Food, Grazia Pakistan, Libas International, Women’s Own, and Yello. She runs the Yummy Mummy Network group on Facebook to address childcare issues, activities and resources for metropolitan Pakistani mothers. Mishayl remotely appeared as a panelist for Austenistan at the Times LitFest Bangalore 2018.

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Nida Elley

CONTRIBUTOR

Nida is a college teacher, a writing coach, and a writer. She grew up between Scarsdale, New York and Lahore, Pakistan. She has worked in the fields of academia, non-profit film and event management. Nida previously taught Composition, Creative Writing, and Literature to college students in Lahore; she currently teaches at St Edward’s University in Austin, Texas, and is shortly relocating to London, UK. She received her Bachelors degree in Journalism & Mass Media from Rutgers University, New Jersey, and a Master of Fine Arts degree in Fiction Writing from Sarah Lawrence College, New York.

Her work has been published in Psychology Today, The Friday Times, High Profile magazine, Paper magazine and she maintains a blog, A Storyed Sensibility. Nida appeared as a panelist for Austenistan at the British Council Library and at The Last Word, both in Lahore, as well as at the University of Southern California’s Conversation@PAM as well as at the University of Texas at Austin’s South Asia Institute.

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Saniyya Gauhar

CONTRIBUTOR

Saniyya is a barrister by profession and was editor of the Pakistan based business magazine, Blue Chip, for four years. A graduate of Sussex University, she received a First Class Honours in Contemporary History and later went on to do the Common Professional Examination [CPE] and was called to the Bar in 2000.

Saniyya has worked in corporate law and litigation in both London and Pakistan. She is currently a freelance writer and editor. She has had articles published in magazines and prominent Pakistani daily newspapers and edited and co-authored papers for prestigious international academic journals. Saniyya appeared as a panelist for Austenistan at the British Council Library in Lahore and in Islamabad at the British High Commission’s British Club and the London Books Café.

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Mahlia S Lone

CONTRIBUTOR

Mahlia is a seasoned textile journalist. She contributes to WWD [Women’s Wear Daily] among other publications, and is currently the editor of GoodTimes magazine in Lahore, Pakistan. Mahlia was valedictorian of her graduating class at the Lahore American School and attended university at Kinnaird College in Lahore, William Smith College in New York and Clark University in Massachusetts.

She started her journalistic career as the assistant editor of the op/ed pages at The Nation and became the features editor for The Friday Times before she began writing for trade publications. Mahlia has maintained a blog for Matrix Sourcing, a textile buying-house located in Lahore. Additionally, she has strategically planned creative lines for several home décor and fashion startups, and planned society fundraisers for philanthropic causes. Mahlia appeared as a panelist for Austenistan at the British Council Library and at The Last Word, both in Lahore.

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Sonya Rehman

CONTRIBUTOR

Sonya is a journalist based in Lahore, Pakistan, with an expansive body of published work comprising over 400 articles. Her work has been featured in TIME, The Wall Street Journal’s Scene Asia, Rolling Stone [Middle East], BBC [The Strand], Asia Society, Esquire [Middle East], The Hindu, The Huffington Post, Al Jazeera, The Diplomat Magazine, Forbes, The Friday Times, DAWN and The News International, amongst others. In 2010, Sonya was awarded the Fulbright Scholarship to pursue her Master’s degree in Print Journalism at Columbia University, New York, and was one of four students [in the same year] to receive the Joseph Pulitzer II and Edith Pulitzer Moore Fellowship.

In addition to her prolific publishing career, Sonya teaches English and journalism, runs her own postcard start-up, From Lahore With Love, and was selected as a speaker at an independently organized TED event, TEDxKinnaird in Lahore in 2011. Sonya has also anchored and scripted for television at HUM TV, hosted a radio show for City FM89 and conducted journalism and creative writing workshops in Lahore over the years. Sonya appeared as a panelist for Austenistan at the British Council Library and at The Last Word, both in Lahore.

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Gayathri Warnasuriya

CONTRIBUTOR

Gayathri is a Sri Lankan Molecular Biologist with a background in Cancer Research and work experience in HIV/Public Health. She holds a PhD in Molecular Biology and Toxicology from the University of Dundee and is an alumnus of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine [MSc Molecular Biology of Infectious Diseases] and Imperial College London [BSc Biochemistry].

Born and brought up in Columbo, Sri Lanka, Gayathri has been a nomad since the age of fifteen and has lived in Saudi Arabia, the UK, Nigeria, Guyana, Barbados and Pakistan. She currently lives in Amman, Jordan, and is completing an MSc in Public Health from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine while working on science and innovation partnerships. Gayathri appeared as a panelist for Austenistan at the British Council Library in Lahore, as well as for ‘Austenistan: Jane Austen 200 Years On’ at the Galle Literary Festival 2018.

Have any of you read Austenistan? If so, let us know what you thought in the comments!

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It’s always a pleasure to have Victoria Kincaid as a guest on my blog, but today I’m even more excited because we’re celebrating the release of President Darcy! I had a wonderful time editing this novel, and it’s become my favorite of hers (and I’ve loved them all!). This time I had a chance to pick her brain about the process of writing the book, her first modern Pride and Prejudice variation. Please give Victoria a warm welcome!

Until now, you’ve written only Regency-era P&P variations. What made you decide to write a modern P&P variation?

This idea has been knocking around in my head for years, but it finally came of age. I was able to envision all the major characters and figure out how the plot points fit together. At that point I couldn’t not write it. I was chomping at the bit to start writing.

Given the current political climate, did you find that a challenge in putting Mr. Darcy in the White House? What would you say to readers who might be a little nervous about putting Darcy in such an environment?

First of all, politics is not at all the focus of this story. It’s a love story about a man who happens to be president. In general, the presidency is more of an obstacle than anything.

I had the idea long before the 2016 election turned so contentious, but Darcy evolved—in some ways—into an antidote for the current political situation.  President Darcy may be proud and difficult (just like his literary predecessor), but the presidential version is very honest and empathetic and concerned about people. His character embodies a lot of qualities people would like to see in a president.

What is your favorite scene or moment in the book? What did you have the most fun writing?

It’s hard to say much without giving too many spoilers. But I had a great deal of fun with the scene after the “proposal” scene—where Darcy’s friends/staff are giving him a hard time at how romantically inept he is. I could imagine the Regency-era Bingley and Colonel Fitzwilliam saying similar things to Mr. Darcy after Hunsford: “You told her she was inferior and it was a degradation to love her? What’s wrong with you?” I also love the scene outside Pemberley when they meet up again because the way they encounter each other is so unexpected.

I’m curious: Where did you get the inspiration for the Bennet family business, On-a-Stick, Inc.?

I wanted the Bennets to have money from doing something that Darcy would consider gauche but not prurient (so owning a strip club wouldn’t work). I thought about processed food and corn dogs (which my son loves). There’s something so American about the idea that the most convenient way to eat a hot dog is off a stick. You can’t imagine an old-money scion like George Bush eating something so processed and messy. I also had a good time thinking up improbable foods to put on a stick. I mean, would anyone want zucchini on a stick? Or could you imagine trying to put lasagna on a stick?

I laughed out loud so many times while editing this book. Seriously, gut-busting laughs. I realized that this feel-good laughter was mainly centered on Bill Collins. Did you laugh as much writing him? Could you describe your Mr. Collins to my readers?

I’m so glad you found him entertaining! At first I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to make his character function in a modern context. Having him as a clergyman and potential suitor would have been hard to work out. So I focused on the idea of his slavish devotion to Mrs. de Bourgh and his sense of self-importance. I decided that she owned an office supply company because it’s a boring industry that Collins could delude himself into thinking was really interesting. Everything else sprang from that.

He started thinking of himself as the “crown prince of staplers.” One of the fun things about writing Collins (in Regency or modern day) is that it’s almost impossible to go too far over the top with him. He can talk about how he always wanted to market number two pencils or how cutthroat the office supplies industry is—and it works for his character.

How easy or difficult did you find transforming Regency Mr. Darcy to modern-day President Darcy? What about translating Elizabeth to modern times?

It was harder in general to translate P&P into modern times than I expected. When I write a Regency era adaptation, one of the challenges is to stay true to Austen’s characters and world while writing something new. The modern setting gave me more freedom, but that also meant there were more choices to make.

For example, we see class quite differently in 21st century U.S.A. While Regency-era Darcy had to be more polite and circumspect in his speech generally, he could be more open about the socioeconomic differences between him and Elizabeth. Class divisions were accepted and seen as natural. We’re more egalitarian today, so noticing and discussing the differences between old money and new money makes Darcy even more of snob.

With Elizabeth and the other female characters, the biggest challenge is the degree of freedom women enjoy today. Although Regency-era Elizabeth turns down two eligible men, she doesn’t have a lot of other options other than matrimony. All the women are openly husband-hunting even if they’re genteel about it. But today such behavior is in bad taste, so Mrs. Bennet—and her talk of how her daughters’ eggs are aging—is the one who’s desperate for rich husbands for her daughters. In fact, my Bingley gets upset when he thinks Jane wants him for his money. In the Regency era that was just an accepted part of the marriage bargain.

What did you find to be the most difficult part of modernizing P&P?

For one thing, it required a whole different kind of research! Instead of looking up Regency carriages and Christmas customs, I was googling the layout of the White House or pictures of Air Force One and the presidential limo. I know a lot more about the presidential lifestyle now.

Another challenge was remaining true to Austen’s characters and world while also finding modern day equivalents to Regency customs and institutions. For example, today we’d go home or to the hospital if we got sick at someone else’s house. But Jane needed a reason to stay overnight in the White House—and to require Elizabeth’s company. The Gardiners and Elizabeth aren’t going to get a tour of Pemberley, so how does she meet up with Darcy again?

The limitations on the president’s life were another added dimension. He can’t run into Elizabeth at the coffee shop or drop by her apartment. But these are fun problems to have. Usually when I solve them I find that the solution enriches the story and takes it in a new and better direction.

Did you find it harder or easier to write Will and Elizabeth’s relationship without the strict rules of Regency courtship and propriety?

I’m going to cheat and say both. 😊 In general it’s easier to write Regency romance because the social expectations set up a lot of inherent obstacles between the romantic protagonists. And, without obstacles, you could have a boring story. Boy meets girl. Boy marries girl. The end.

It can be hard to write contemporary romances because there are just fewer things that believably stand in the way. That’s why so many contemporary romances rely on misunderstandings as a plot device. Fortunately the presidency itself created a lot of obstacles. Because the president is always in the public eye, there are a lot of things he can’t do or say—or he needs to keep hidden (like his potential girlfriend’s embarrassing family).

Do you think you’ll write another modern (or even just non-Regency) P&P? Or a variation of a different Austen novel?

I have another idea for a modern P&P variation which I hope to write eventually. I haven’t been able to come up with good ideas for other non-P&P Austen variations, although I’ve considered doing a mashup of P&P and Persuasion or Sense and Sensibility.

Could you tell us a little bit about your next project?

I’m now writing a Regency-era Christmas novella about Elizabeth and Darcy which I hope to have out by Christmas.

Thanks, Victoria! I really hope the readers love this one as much as I did. Congrats on the new release!

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About President Darcy

A contemporary adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice

President William Darcy has it all: wealth, intelligence, and the most powerful job in the country. Despite what his friends say, he is not lonely in the White House. He’s not. And he has vowed not to date while he’s in office. Nor is he interested in Elizabeth Bennet. She might be pretty and funny and smart, but her family is nouveau riche and unbearable. Unfortunately, he encounters her everywhere in Washington, D.C.—making her harder and harder to ignore. Why can’t he get her out of his mind?

Elizabeth Bennet enjoys her job with the Red Cross and loves her family, despite their tendency to embarrass her. At a White House state dinner, they cause her to make an unfavorable impression on the president, who labels her unattractive and uninteresting. Those words are immediately broadcast on Twitter, so the whole world now knows the president insulted her. Elizabeth just wants to avoid the man—who, let’s admit it, is proud and difficult. For some reason he acts all friendly when they keep running into each other, but she knows he’s judging her.

Eventually, circumstances force Darcy and Elizabeth to confront their true feelings for each other, with explosive results. But even if they can find common ground, Mr. Darcy is still the president—with limited privacy and unlimited responsibilities—and his enemies won’t hesitate to use his feelings for Elizabeth against him.

Can President Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet find their way to happily ever after?

Check out President Darcy on Goodreads | Amazon

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Giveaway

Victoria is generously offering a copy of President Darcy to one lucky reader. They will have their choice of an ebook or paperback. This giveaway is open internationally and will close on Sunday, October 29, 2017. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

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I’m excited to have P.O. Dixon here today to celebrate her latest Pride and Prejudice variation, By Reason, by Reflection, by Everything. I’ve long been a fan of P.O.’s books, and as soon as I read the blurb for this one, I was intrigued. The book sounds fascinating, and I hope to read it soon. I also hope that once you read P.O.’s inspiration for the novel and the excerpt, you’ll feel the same. Please give her a warm welcome!

Thank you so much, Anna, for having me here at Diary of an Eccentric. I am honored indeed to be able to share an excerpt of my newest release, By Reason, by Reflection, by Everything, with your readers.

I’ll start with the story’s premise: what if the elder Mr. Darcy’s first-born son is promised to Mr. Bennet’s first-born daughter?

If ever there were a Jane Austen fan fiction taboo, a romantic alliance between Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy and Miss Jane Bennet would surely fit the bill. As a reader, I’d find such an entanglement unconscionable. However, that does not mean the writer in me would balk at such a possibility. Indeed, I have asked myself what if Darcy and Jane were promised to each other numerous times since I wrote my first Pride and Prejudice variation.

Finally, I took the time to fashion my frequent musings into a story during last year’s National Novel Writing Month. Otherwise known as NaNoWriMo, it’s an annual event during which writers around the world commit to writing fifty thousand words during the month of November.

I do not know that I have ever had such fun writing a novel in one month—so much so that I crossed the fifty thousand words milestone with nine days to spare. Of course, my rough manuscript would require months and months of editing, fine-tuning, and polishing to deliver the final story. Upon reading the excerpt below, I hope everyone will find that my effort to deliver a wonderful Pride and Prejudice what-if story proves to be time well spent.

Enjoy!

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Excerpt from By Reason, by Reflection, by Everything (Reprinted with Author’s Permission. All Rights Reserved.)

Chapter 3

Wonder and Intrigue

Today is everything it ought to be. My Jane shall meet the gentleman whom she very well may marry and with whom she may spend the rest of her life. Elizabeth could not imagine being anywhere but by her sister’s side during such an auspicious occasion, and thus the two of them sat next to each other, arm in arm, as their carriage rounded the bend headed for Pemberley.

Everywhere Elizabeth looked she beheld the estate’s natural beauty. When at last the manor house came into view, she gasped on behalf of her sister as well as herself. There stood a massive stone mansion backed by a ridge of high woody hills. In front of it, flowed a large stream, its banks neither formal nor falsely adorned

Never have I seen such a place as this, Elizabeth silently reflected. Pemberley. Is there any wonder it is hailed as one of the finest estates in all of Derbyshire?

One glance at her sister and she rather supposed their thoughts must have tended along the exact same lines. Both of their faces overspread with contagious smiles.

“Dearest Jane,” Elizabeth remarked, “how fortunate you are. To be mistress of such a place as this must surely be something. How fortunate you are indeed.”

Jane squeezed Elizabeth’s hand. “Dearest Lizzy, I appreciate your enthusiasm over the prospects for my future life, but truth be told, I feel more overwhelmed than fortunate at this moment. What if the gentleman takes one look at me and concludes he wants nothing to do with me? What a considerable distance to travel to be summarily sent on one’s way.”

“Not like you! Jane, do not be ridiculous. I posit Mr. Darcy will fall madly in love with you the moment he lays eyes on you. How could he not? Unless of course, the gentleman is a fool. But even a fool would fancy himself the wisest and the luckiest man in the world to proclaim himself your future husband.”

“We shall see,” Jane replied in a voice that lacked the joy the moment warranted.

“Jane, I can see you are not as convinced of your unmitigated charms as you ought to be. But you need not worry, for I have enough confidence for the two of us. Mark my words, there will be a wedding here at Pemberley in under three months, or my name is not Elizabeth Bennet.”

“Oh, Lizzy! Where would I be without you?”

“Pray you will never find out.”

“Then does that mean you will accompany me on my wedding journey?” Jane bit her lower lip sheepishly. “That is to say, should events unfold as you anticipate.”

“I agreed to spend this time with you here at Pemberley, did I not? I see no reason to abandon you once you have accepted your prince.”

A little while later, a mixture of wonder and intrigue commanded Elizabeth’s thoughts as their carriage drew to a halt in front of the imposing manor house. The number of people awaiting them was such that she had never witnessed before.

What a welcoming reception.

Two tall, very distinguished looking gentlemen were flanked on either side by lines of servants uniformly attired in stark black and white. The older of the two, Elizabeth quickly surmised as being the master of Pemberley, Mr. George Darcy. His countenance was stern and dignified, but there was something about his eyes that gave a real glimpse into his character. While indeed a man to be reckoned with, Elizabeth suspected buried beneath his austere outward appearance was a heart of gold.

The gentleman who stood beside him, much to Elizabeth’s surprise, wore a military uniform.

How can it be that the future master of Pemberley is an officer? Elizabeth immediately questioned herself in silence. As they were mere moments from meeting their magnanimous hosts for the summer, she suppressed her urge to ask her father how he had overlooked conveying such a fascinating tidbit of information to any of them.

How pleased Mama will be upon learning not only does her eldest daughter stand a chance of being the next mistress of such a grand home, but moreover her would-be son-in-law is a dashing officer.

Not very long afterward, Mr. Bennet, Jane, and Elizabeth descended the carriage and awaited the approach of the two gentlemen. Elizabeth tossed her sister a tentative smile. Any irksome reservations she suffered that Jane might be subjected to a less than desirable alliance faded with each step the eminent gentlemen took.

A good measure of formality was cast aside as the older gentleman eschewed the expected handshake and embraced her father. “Bennet, my old friend, after all these decades it gives me enormous pleasure to say to you, ‘Welcome to my home. Welcome to Pemberley.’”

Her father responded to his old friend in the warm manner that was to be expected of acquaintances who had not had the privilege of sharing each other’s company after a great long absence, and soon thereafter it was time for introductions to the other members of the assemblage.

All at once, a quiet hush spread throughout the gathering as all heads swung in the direction of a new addition to the welcoming party. Elizabeth could hardly believe her eyes. She knew without being told that she had been mistaken earlier as regarded the officer’s identity. The tall, handsome gentleman with dark hair, brooding dark eyes, and noble mien who appeared before them was the most beautiful sight her eyes had ever beheld.

Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy.

My sister Jane is a most fortunate woman, she could not help but think, even though the gentleman’s eyes were not fixed on Jane. To Elizabeth’s bewilderment, his eyes were fixed on her. She was powerless to turn away. But turn away she must, for this was Jane’s moment, and Elizabeth truly did not want to miss bearing witness to a single second of her sister’s joy.

Elizabeth must have blinked an instant or two, for before she knew it, the gentleman stood by the elder Mr. Darcy’s side and was introduced to her own father. And no sooner had her father been introduced to the officer did the three gentlemen focus their full attention to Jane and Elizabeth.

“Allow me to present my eldest daughter,” Mr. Bennet began, directing everyone’s eyes to Jane. “Mr. Darcy, Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy, and Colonel Fitzwilliam, meet Miss Jane Bennet.” Each of the gentlemen, starting with the eldest, greeted Jane in their turn. Elizabeth could not help noticing the decided contrast in the manner of the gentlemen’s addresses. The elder Mr. Darcy’s expression was lively, his manner warm and welcoming—very much the same as it had been toward her father. Colonel Fitzwilliam’s greeting was equally pleasant, but the other gentleman’s – the one that mattered the most – was rather wanting.

Before Elizabeth had too much time to mull over the implications of what such a reception might mean for her sister’s prospects, it was her turn to be introduced. Once again, she detected in the gentlemen the same measure of civility that had been extended toward Jane with but one exception, for she was confident that the younger Mr. Darcy’s eyes held fixed with hers a second or two longer than was necessary—his hand lingered upon hers just a bit longer than that.

The situation righted itself moments afterward when the two older gentlemen moved side by side and turned toward the manor house, the colonel took his place by Elizabeth’s side, and finally, the younger man fell into place beside Jane. As the party proceeded inside, Elizabeth threw a look in her sister’s direction and was pleased to observe that Mr. Darcy seemed to be focused entirely upon his companion. What a relief this was for Elizabeth to see that things were exactly as they ought to be.

Soon after, upon entering the grand foyer with towering ceilings, glorious paintings, black-and-white marble floors, and gilded stairways, Elizabeth was pleased to know Jane and she would be escorted to their respective apartments to allow them a bit of a reprieve before joining the rest of the Darcys’ houseguests. It was a much-needed reprieve at that, for the last part of the journey had been filled with such wonderment of what was to come that Elizabeth had not bothered to sleep for fear of missing a single moment of the adventure unfolding before her.

How happy she was upon discovering that she and Jane were assigned apartments just across the hall from each other. Of course, she would have been just as pleased if she and her sister had been assigned a single room, for no doubt they would be spending a prodigious amount of time with each other as they were wont to do while at Longbourn. Aside from a much-needed reprieve to refresh herself, there was but one thing uppermost on Elizabeth’s mind, and that was discovering what her dearest sister thought about Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy. On second thought, there was another matter for Elizabeth to dwell upon in private.

What precisely is my own opinion of the heir apparent of Pemberley?

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About By Reason, by Reflection, by Everything

Promised to one sister. Bewitched by the other.

What if Mr. Thomas Bennet’s first-born daughter is promised to the elder Mr. Darcy’s first-born son? Are promises made always promises kept? Or is a love like Fitzwilliam Darcy and Miss Elizabeth Bennet’s destined to prevail?

You’ll fall in love with Darcy and Elizabeth all over again while reading this heartwarming Pride and Prejudice what-if story. Grab your copy now!

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Giveaway

P.O. is generously offering an ebook copy of By Reason, by Reflection, by Everything to my readers. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address and tell us what most interests you about the book. This giveaway will close on Wednesday, September 20, 2017. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

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