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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 would like to welcome Joy King (J. Dawn King/Christie Capps) to Diary of an Eccentric to celebrate the release of her newest novel, Friends and Enemies. This is her first visit to my blog, and I’m delighted to have her as my guest today. Welcome, Joy!

Thank you very much.

Your latest Jane Austen Fan Fiction (JAFF) released yesterday. Can you tell us how this one differs from your others?

Friends and Enemies is the first full-length novel I’ve written from one point-of-view. It is very Darcy-centric. Readers will travel with him as he metamorphosizes from the arrogant gentleman in Hertfordshire to the man worthy of Elizabeth Bennet’s love. The journey, for him, is painful and angst-filled. Boy, oh boy did I love this man. I think he’s my favorite Darcy so far.

What did you like most about this Mr. Darcy?

I loved his sheer determination. Each time a personal flaw was revealed, he meditated on the impact to his future and the future of others as he considered what he needed to do to adjust. Then, despite anguish and difficulty, he pressed on with his purpose. His honor and innate qualities as a true gentleman drove him. Underneath, he is a man worthy of the deepest love and devotion.

What did you not like about Mr. Darcy?

I think it’s a man thing – the need to be in control and take charge. And, his assumption that he was automatically deserving of respect. Bah!

Which character surprised you most in your story?

Lydia Bennet. She is not often in the book; however, there are short moments of brilliance where I think she has completely redeemed herself. Nevertheless, they were quickly followed by her acting as the youngest Bennet who makes us roll our eyes and snort.

Would you give us an example?

In this excerpt, Lydia has just acted with unbelievable wisdom and decorum. Here’s the events immediately following. Mr. Darcy is speaking:

He wiped his eyes. “Miss Lydia, after Elizabeth and I have been married for a while, it would be our pleasure to invite you for a visit to our home. You have proven yourself to be a true friend and despite my initial impressions, I believe with a little amount of instruction, you would outshine the silly ladies of the ton in no time at all.” 

“What a joke!” She jumped up and ran from the room. At the door, she stopped. “You just wait until I tell Kitty.” Whooping and hollering like a field hand calling cows, she left Darcy and her sister behind, quite alone and stunned by her wild behaviour after the compliment.

And, what about the Elizabeth Bennet in your story. What did you love most about her?

This Elizabeth is wise and less impulsive. We understand what motivates her caution with Mr. Darcy. Even though we want her to love him as soon as he loves her, he truly doesn’t deserve her devotion until she can trust him. Her kindness in this tale is exemplary.

What did you not like about Elizabeth?

The same thing as above. It drove me nuts. I kept thinking, “just get over it and tell him you love him!” However, as a studier of character, she had witnessed and lived with a relationship she abhorred. It was a tricky thing to be a woman during Regency times. We are reading these stories with 21st century sensibilities. We wear our independence and completely comprehend Elizabeth’s need to go her own way. However, she was an anomaly at the time. Jane Austen definitely wrote her as period correct.

What is in store for J. Dawn King?

I keep saying this and have for the past three years, but I’m working on my Bingley/Jane sequel to A Father’s Sins. My daughter, Jennifer, keeps telling me to give it up and move on. I’d love to. Yet, this Bingley barges into my psyche and nags me fairly frequently. He reminds me I have a lovely finished cover and a strong beginning. He silently demands his own happily-ever-after. The brat!

Thank you very much for stopping by. Here is the blurb for Friends and Enemies which is available at Amazon.

Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy, the hero of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, has his world turned upside down when his character, of which he is particularly proud, is called into question by those whom he trusts.

Will he learn from his mistakes or remain his own worst enemy?

When he discovers a secret which could destroy not only the reputation of his beloved sister but threatens her very life, he can no longer hide behind his mask of social indifference. Dismaying circumstances will test the strength of his personal beliefs and convictions as well as his devotion to family and friends as a rival from his past determines to ruin him and take everything Darcy holds dear. Out of the flames of adversity, Miss Elizabeth Bennet, once scorned, becomes a beacon of hope.

Can love grow from adversity? Is happiness possible?

In this full-length novel set in Regency, England, true friendships are made, enemies are revealed, and happily-ever-after is on the horizon. Or is it…

I understand you come bearing gifts.

I do, Anna. I have six eBooks of anything I’ve written as J. Dawn King or Christie Capps and a lovely $50 Amazon gift card to giveaway. Do you think any of your readers might be interested?

I do. Thank you for your generosity. All of Joy’s giveaways are open internationally. To enter, please comment below with the answer to the question: Which quality attracts you to a man? (Some suggestions: honorable, sexy, kind, loves puppies and babies, learned, capable…) Please include your email address so I can contact you if you win. This giveaway will close on Sunday, June 11, 2017. The winners will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post (and I will email you as well). If you are selected for a prize and we do not hear from you by June 16, 2017, we will have to select someone else as a winner. Good luck!

And thank you, Joy, for stopping by today. I can’t wait to read your books; I’ve purchased a few on my Kindle and am anxious to start them. Please come back again any time!

Connect with Joy on Facebook: Joy King and J Dawn King | Twitter | Website

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Three Women: A Poetic Triptych and Selected Poems, shortlisted for the 2011 Indie Lit Awards, is an emotional collection of poems.  The triptych, like the title suggests, focuses on three women:  Annette, a psychiatrist; Julia, her daughter; and Milena, one of her patients.  Emma Eden Ramos is a writer of both poetry and prose, and this shows in her narrative style.

With Three Women, I felt like I was reading a novel in verse.  Ramos tells a story about grief and family heritage, anger and suicide, and immigrant issues.  I like that Ramos doesn’t use flowery or abstract language and just tells the story.

We spoke our usual mother-daughter dialect
she cursed wildly
I eyed her with disgust
this rabid creature with my DNA
held hostage my distress
and we argued
she raged
it was about five minutes before she left me
in peace (page 7)

M: Hey, I say what I think. I don’t tip-toe like Americans.

J: What does that even mean? You don’t sound foreign.

M: Well I am, I’m Croatian. I actually wasn’t born here.

J: You sound American to me.

M: Well I came here when I was one.

J: So you were raised here, which, I think, makes you one of us. (page 25)

Following the triptych are three separate poems, my favorite of which was “Letter to Suicide (an old friend)”

We met first then
and
Later when Maribeth decided to go the Woolf way
(giant pebbles and all).
She had, after all, graduated with an English degree. (page 30)

Three Women is the kind of poetry book to read when you want a break from prose but don’t want to have to think too hard to decipher imagery and symbolism and just want to enjoy an interesting story.  I don’t think the “Selected Poems” were necessary to include, but they don’t detract from the triptych, which is the main focus.  And just because Ramos’ work is very accessible doesn’t mean it doesn’t pack a punch.

What I enjoyed most about Three Women was the raw emotion displayed by the women.  I really felt their anger and their sadness.  I felt like I really got to know the characters, much more than I expected given the short length of the triptych.  If Ramos can pack that much emotion and that much characterization into a poem spanning about 30 pages, I wonder what she could do with a novel?

Please give a warm welcome to Emma Eden Ramos, who was kind enough to answer some questions about her writing, Three Women in particular, and her favorite poetry collections.

Could you tell my readers a little about yourself (your interests, writing, etc.)?

I am a twenty-four-year-old writer from New York City. I am also currently a student at Brooklyn College.

I’ve been writing since I was fifteen but only began seriously working on my craft in 2009. At that time I was majoring in Psychology, which has greatly influenced my writing.

Describe your poetry in 5 words or less.

Prose-like, semi-autobiographical, moody, character-based.

The poems in Three Women are very narrative, which I enjoyed. Do you prefer writing poetry or prose?

Poets and fiction writers tend to be very different creatures, especially when it comes to time and space. Many poets have the ability to obliterate the concept of time as linear movement (although there are fiction writers–Virginia Woolf for instance–who manipulate the bounds of temporal space). Poetry can exist in a space of its own. It does not have to be cohesive or even logical.

For me, however, working with a narrative structure that fits into a specific space and time is essential. So yes, when it comes to writing, prose is my preferred medium.

Why were the final three poems chosen to follow the triptych? I thought the triptych stood well on its own.

Originally I conceived the triptych to stand on its own, and it is still the main focus of the collection. The chapbook, however, needed to be a specific length, so I chose the final three poems because they expanded on some of the themes that were forefront in the triptych.

What are some of your favorite poetry collections?

I have many favorite poetry collections. To name a few: A Wild Patience Has Taken Me This Far by Adrienne Rich, Magnetic North by Linda Gregerson, Longing Distance by Sarah Hannah, Odes to Opposites by Pablo Neruda, and there are many others. One of my favorite novels is Vladimir Nabokov’s Pale Fire, which consists of a poem of 999 lines written by the main character and a commentary on that poem by his eccentric neighbor. It’s a work of genius.

Any hints as to what you’re working on now?

I have a middle grade novella coming out from MuseItUp Publishing in September, and I am beginning to pick up bits and pieces of what will hopefully be a full-length novel. Fingers and all other flexible appendages are crossed. That may account for the difficulty I’m having typing.

Thanks, Emma! Congratulations on being shortlisted for the Indie Lit Awards. I wish you much success!

Short List - 2011 Indie Lit Awards in Poetry

Hosted by Savvy Verse & Wit

Book 5 for the Fearless Poetry Exploration Challenge

Disclosure: I received a copy of Three Women: A Poetic Triptych and Selected Poems from the poet as part of the voting process for the Indie Lit Awards.

© 2012 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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Stephanie Dray is the author of two novels (with the last in the trilogy yet to come) about Cleopatra and Mark Antony’s daughter, Selene, who was dragged through Rome in chains with her brothers after their parents’ suicide and eventually became the Queen of Mauretania.  Stay tuned for my upcoming reviews of Lily of the Nile (Amazon/IndieBound), published earlier this year, and her most recent book, Song of the Nile (Amazon/IndieBound).  Please give a warm welcome to Stephanie Dray, whom I’d like to thank for taking time out of her busy schedule to answer my questions.

What inspired you to devote so much time to researching and writing about Cleopatra and Mark Antony’s daughter, Selene?

I was really inspired by the story of a little girl who was orphaned and taken away from the only home she’d ever known, marched through the streets as a captive prisoner, and raised by the very people who killed her family.  That she was able to carve a future for herself out of that horrific past, by endearing herself to her parents’ enemies and keeping quiet about her true feelings, is a testament to her strength. However, it also meant that she was deprived of a true voice most of her life, and I wanted to give a voice back to her.

What is one thing most people don’t know or get wrong about Cleopatra and/or Selene?

Cleopatra VII is known as the last of the Ptolemaic queens. She wasn’t; her daughter Selene was. Also, Cleopatra VII was known as the last Queen of Egypt. That honor probably goes to Queen Zenobia, who may have been a descendant of Selene’s.

Why do you think Selene is so popular in literature at the moment?  What do you think makes your books stand out from the rest?

I’m not sure why everyone seems to have discovered Selene around the same time — it might have something to do with Margaret George, whose marvelous book seemed to work through the collective consciousness of the culture. We all want to think that Cleopatra’s legacy wasn’t lost. That’s where Cleopatra Selene comes in. My novels stand out because they’re soaked in magical realism. For the ancients, magic was real, so when Isis speaks to Cleopatra Selene through bloody hieroglyphics that carve themselves into her hands, I think there’s a certain authentic mysticism that brings to my novels.

What do you think about the comparisons between your books and Michelle Moran’s Cleopatra’s Daughter?

I’m honored by any such comparisons. Michelle Moran is a fantastic author and a classy woman!

Are you working on another novel?  Any hints as to what it’s about?

Currently, I’m working on the third and final installment of the trilogy about Cleopatra Selene’s life. It will follow her life as a more mature and powerful queen and explore her unique viewpoint of the imperial family during some of its most tumultuous days.

What are the best books you’ve read recently?

I’ve been on a Ken Follett kick lately — so Pillars of the Earth, World Without End and Fall of Giants have consumed me.  For (slightly) lighter historical fare, however, I’ve also recently enjoyed Kate Quinn’s Daughters of Rome and Jeannie Lin’s historical romance, The Dragon and the Pearl.

Thanks, Stephanie!  I can’t wait to read the last book about Cleopatra Selene!

About Stephanie Dray

Stephanie graduated with a degree in Government from Smith, a small women’s college in Massachusetts where–to the consternation of her devoted professors–she was unable to master Latin. However, her focus on Middle Eastern Studies gave her a deeper understanding of the consequences of Egypt’s ancient clash with Rome, both in terms of the still-extant tensions between East and West as well as the worldwide decline of female-oriented religion.

Before she wrote novels, Stephanie was a lawyer, a game designer, and a teacher. Now she uses the transformative power of magic realism to illuminate the stories of women in history and inspire the young women of today. She remains fascinated by all things Roman or Egyptian and has–to the consternation of her devoted husband–collected a house full of cats and ancient artifacts.

About Song of the Nile

Sorceress. Seductress. Schemer. Cleopatra’s daughter has become the emperor’s most unlikely apprentice and the one woman who can destroy his empire…

Having survived her perilous childhood as a royal captive of Rome, Selene pledged her loyalty to Augustus and swore she would become his very own Cleopatra. Now the young queen faces an uncertain destiny in a foreign land.

Forced to marry a man of the emperor’s choosing, Selene will not allow her new husband to rule in her name. She quickly establishes herself as a capable leader in her own right and as a religious icon. Beginning the hard work of building a new nation, she wins the love of her new subjects and makes herself vital to Rome by bringing forth bountiful harvests.

But it’s the magic of Isis flowing through her veins that makes her indispensable to the emperor. Against a backdrop of imperial politics and religious persecution, Cleopatra’s daughter beguiles her way to the very precipice of power. She has never forgotten her birthright, but will the price of her mother’s throne be more than she’s willing to pay?

Disclosure: I am an IndieBound affiliate and an Amazon associate.

© 2011 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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I’m thrilled to welcome Mary Lydon Simonsen back to Diary of an Eccentric today.  Mary is one of my favorite authors of Jane Austen-inspired novels, and her latest release, A Wife for Mr. Darcy (read my review), didn’t disappoint.  In A Wife for Mr. Darcy, a variation of Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Darcy and Elizabeth are attracted to one another right away, but Darcy’s courtship of Sir John Montford’s daughter jeopardize their happiness.  It’s a unique take on Pride and Prejudice, and a book I found difficult to put down.  I’d like to thank Mary for taking time out of her busy schedule to answer my many questions about all-things-Austen.

With so many variations of Austen’s novels available today, why should readers choose yours?

Why should readers choose A Wife for Mr. Darcy? I’ll give you an analogy. It is like someone who is trying to decide what to have for lunch. Sometimes a nice salad will do, but other times, you want the whole enchilada, with rice and beans and sour cream and guacamole, a big, heavy, mother of a meal. My Pride and Prejudice re-imaginings are on the light side. I try to tell a story using a lot of humor. After reading A Wife for Mr. Darcy, I hope you will have a smile on your face. You will not be reaching for the Kleenex box.

You’ve written P&P variations set during WWI and WWII. Do you plan to take Elizabeth and Darcy elsewhere outside Regency England?

Yes. In a book I will be self-publishing in August, Darcy on the Hudson, I have Darcy, Georgiana, and Charles Bingley traveling to Tarrytown, north of New York City, where Darcy meets American, Elizabeth Bennet. Although Americans and the English have a lot in common, there are enough differences to add some spice to the stew, and America and England are about to go to war again.

P&P seems to be a reader favorite, but for those of us who enjoy all of Austen’s novels, what do you think readers can do to convince publishers to release more retellings of Austen’s other novels?

To start with, Jane Austen fans could buy my book, Anne Elliot, A New Beginning, a parody of Persuasion that you were good enough to review. I also have a short story, Elinor and Edward’s Plans for Lucy Steele, a parody of Sense and Sensibility, on Kindle and Nook. Seriously, with publishers, the numbers do the talking. Although my editor liked Anne Elliot, she told me she couldn’t sell it. However, there is hope. Because it is so easy to self-publish on Kindle and Nook, I think you will see more books inspired by novels other than P&P coming out. For instance, I will have a novella out this fall, Captain Wentworth, A Random Harvest (working title and another Persuasion re-imagining). Did I mention, I’m looking for reviewers?

Here’s a debate I continually have with myself: Captain Wentworth or Mr. Darcy? What side do you take?

I love Mr. Darcy. He’s got it all, but the thing I like most about him is that throughout the story he is evolving. I like a man capable of change. Having said that, I have to go with Frederick Wentworth. I admire the fact that he is a self-made man and that he has a job, which is important to me. Also, he loved Anne Elliot for eight years! That’s a lot to ask of any lover. Finally, his love makes Anne beautiful because she is glowing on the inside. Sigh!

Do you plan to write more outside the Austen genre?

I would love to write a mystery. I started one: a pre-World War II espionage thriller, but it was so much harder than I thought. For example, I would actually have to write an outline. But you’ll be one of the first to know if I ever complete the manuscript.

You’ve been a guest on Diary of an Eccentric a few times now. Can you tell me and my readers something unique about yourself that we haven’t read anywhere else?

I took an algebra class when I was fifty years old. I have been math phobic my whole life, and I decided to see if I could do it. I got an A in the class, but I have to tell you, by the time I finished that class, my brain hurt!

If you had just a few minutes to speak to Jane Austen in person, what would you say to her?

How did you do it? You wrote with ink and a quill pen! How did you not go crazy squeezing your corrections in—writing in the margins and between the lines? You really have to admire Jane Austen’s work ethic because the very process was so difficult, and, yet, she did it brilliantly! My hat’s off to Miss Austen and all those other quill pen wielders.

Thank you for having me. It is always a pleasure visiting with you.

Thanks, Mary!  I am very, very excited about your upcoming Captain Wentworth novella.  And P&P in New York?  I can’t wait!

Sourcebooks is offering a copy of A Wife for Mr. Darcy to one lucky reader!  To enter, please leave a comment with your e-mail address and tell me what you would say to Jane Austen if you had a chance to meet her.  Because the publisher is shipping the book, this giveaway is open to readers with addresses in the U.S. and Canada, and it will end at 11:59 pm EST on Sunday, Aug. 7, 2011.

**Please note that this giveaway is now closed**

Disclosure: I am an IndieBound affiliate and an Amazon associate.

© 2011 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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Jim Hooper in Yemen two years ago

Today, I am thrilled to welcome Jim Hooper to Diary of an Eccentric.  Jim is the author of A Hundred Feet Over Hell, which made my “Best of 2010” list.  A Hundred Feet Over Hell is about the Catkillers who flew over the Demilitarized Zone during the Vietnam War.  Jim’s brother, Bill, was a Catkiller, and Jim enabled him and his friends to describe their missions and experiences in their own words.  Here’s an excerpt from my review:

Going back and forth between the pilots and some of the soldiers on the ground, several particularly intense scenes involve a handful of troops hunkered down, unable to move, and under intense fire from the Viet Cong.  Various circumstances — being shot at, the weather, the time of day — made the Catkillers’ job difficult, but despite the pressure and with the help of the men in their backseats, they saved many lives.  Hooper puts you right in the plane, and my heart pounding, I rushed through the pages to see how the missions turned out.  I don’t know how these young men — many barely out of high school — could deal with such pressure day in and day out, but they did their jobs well and with heart.

Please give a warm welcome to Jim Hooper.

What prompted you to write about the Catkillers?

My kid brother’s return from Vietnam had been etched permanently into my mind long before I thought of the book. I was a few months out of the army, having served in Germany, when we received a letter from his commanding officer, expressing regret for Bill’s wound and praising him to the sky. What? Because Bill had ticked the ‘NO’ box after the question “Do you want your family notified if you are wounded?” there had been no official telegram from the Department of the Army. As you can imagine, my mother almost collapsed, then got on the phone to our congressman, who quickly discovered Bill had just arrived at the hospital at Ft Gordon, GA. Three weeks later, he was given a few days’ leave. He and I sat at the kitchen table until dawn, sipping injudiciously from a bottle of JD Black, Bill talking almost non-stop as I listened open-mouthed. The stories he told me that night and over the next days never left me.

Years later, as a freelance war correspondent and photo-journalist, I had seen combat, learned the meaning of fear under fire, and, though both were designer wounds compared with what my brother had suffered, had received my own red badges of courage. And I’d written my first book about it all. With a few hundred flying hours as a private pilot, I decided I was finally qualified to apply all that to recording what Bill had lived through, as a tribute to my best and most trusted friend. Little did I imagine it would turn into a 16-year project.

How did you get in touch with them?  Were they interested in talking about their experiences, or did you encounter some resistance?  My experience with Vietnam veterans has been that they don’t like to open up about their time in combat.

Tracking down those Bill had flown with was a story in itself, especially since I live in England. He had long since lost touch with them, but the names remained fresh. The internet was very new, and I started with the White Pages. The first name I tried was Charles Finch, and dozens of bemused Charles Finches picked up their telephones to listen to my reason for calling; none was the man I was searching for. By good fortune, one of Catkillers had been given the unusual name “Sargent” at birth. There couldn’t be too many Sargent Means, I reasoned, and sure enough, I found myself talking with one of the men I’d heard so much about. Still in the army, he was very wary about a cold-caller claiming to be the brother (and a journalist to boot!) of a Vietnam comrade. I gave him Bill’s number in Florida, and as soon as my bona fides were established the Catkiller network opened. Even then, getting their recollections was a struggle. Fortunately, Doc Clement, one of those straight-out-of-central-casting characters, was incredibly enthusiastic about the project. He led the charge, pestering the Catkillers unmercifully with prods and prompts to send me material. It still took years to gather enough stories, edit and work them into chronological order, before I had a viable manuscript. The next struggle was finding a publisher, which was accomplished when I eventually went to agent Bill Corsa of Specialty Book Marketing.

Are you still in touch with the Catkillers? Have you received comments from those who read the book?

Fifteen years of emailing back and forth with the Catkillers saw some become close friends; as a result, we regularly bring each other up to date by email or Skype. The praise from all those who feature in A Hundred Feet Over Hell – as well as many who served before and after the period covered in the book – has been overwhelming and not a little humbling. I was honoured last year by being invited as guest speaker at their reunion, where I had the opportunity to meet most of them face-to-face for the first time. It was a deeply satisfying experience. One of the unintended consequences of the book has been over a dozen reconnections amongst Catkillers who had completely lost touch with their wartime comrades, as well as US Army and Marine Corps observers who rode in their back seats.

What do you want readers — especially those like me, without a background in military terminology, etc. — to take from the book?

For too long the Vietnam War was a highly contentious period of American history. Many of those sent to fight were branded as war criminals on their return. My brother, still recovering from a serious wound, was called a “hired killer” and spat on soon after going back to college. It was not an all-volunteer army as we have today; the vast majority were drafted and sent to Southeast Asia: the alternative was jail or fleeing to Canada. Lumping them into the same category as Lt William Calley, responsible for the infamous My Lai Massacre, was not just desperately unfair but morally wrong. So I guess the message for those with no military background is that the Catkillers were bright, funny and honorable men – boy-next-door types – who risked their lives to support other young Americans, who, like themselves, served there by government fiat. To a lesser extent, I wanted to explain the job the Catkillers were given. This was more difficult, particularly in the use of terminology. I suspected the largest percentage of readers would come to the book because of their own military experiences; thus I was loathe to translate everything in ‘civilianese,’ something that annoys veterans considerably. In the end, I leaned more toward the jargon, but tried to explain in subsequent paragraphs what it all meant without insulting either side’s intelligence. (One of the biggest mistakes authors make is underestimating their audience.) Getting the right balance was difficult, and perhaps I wasn’t as successful as I might have been. Another goal was to avoid the angst so often used to stitch together war memoirs. It’s an approach that panders to those who believe war is an atavistic and dehumanizing phenomenon; and it plays well to certain publishers. Unfortunately, war is part of man’s – as opposed to woman’s – DNA, and no part of that particular genetic sequence will ever be bred out of us. To those who don’t believe it, have a look at DVD covers. The huge percentage that show men (and occasionally women) brandishing guns tells you that if there was no market for war/police drama the big film studios wouldn’t invest millions in producing such films. Is war frightening? Immensely. Can it be life altering? Unquestionably. Dehumanizing? The fact that the Catkillers placed themselves in mortal danger on almost a daily basis to save lives suggests quite the opposite. And contrary to popular myth, they all came home and established successful careers; not a sociopath among them.

[Jim, you did an excellent job making the book understandable and accessible to the average reader without making it too simplistic.]

Jim Hooper in Africa 20 years ago

What has been the biggest adventure of your writing career?

Tough question. First, writing is an adventure all by itself. As I’m sure you know, it can be alternately intimidating and exhilarating. As far as physical adventure, it’s a toss up between the eight wars in African I covered and the war in Bosnia. In Africa, the distances – whether in the back of captured Soviet trucks or on foot through jungle and forest – were daunting and physically demanding. I also had to accept that a serious injury could very well have terminal consequences before the various rebel armies I accompanied could get me to modern medical care. By good fortune, the two times I was wounded was while embedded with South African forces in Namibia; in both instances I was on a helicopter in less than an hour and heading for a military hospital. Bosnia was a different situation entirely. I spent almost six months on my own, driving between the various front lines, being shot at by all three sides on occasion. The most terrifying experience was being captured by Arab Islamists near the central Bosnian town of Travnik; I was extremely lucky to survive. It was certainly the most dangerous place I’ve ever been. To put it in perspective, during the Vietnam War, sixty-three journalists were killed over twenty-two years; in the first three years of the Bosnian war, over seventy died.

[You certainly have had your share of adventures, and it sounds like you have many experiences about which to write.]

What projects are you working on now?

A novel nearing completion has been interrupted by three publishers wanting rights to my first book, which has been out of print since 1992. This has seen me dive into revising the original manuscript. Alongside that, I’ve pulled a couple of thousand slides and black and white negatives from files I haven’t looked at in almost two decades, the best of which may end up in a companion volume or two to complement the revised edition. And then there’s the relaxing and enjoyable time addressing your questions. Nice break, so thank you.

[Congratulations!  I wish you much success!]

What books (fiction and non-fiction) about the Vietnam War do you consider to be must-reads?

I must confess the only novel based on the Vietnam War I’ve read is The 13th Valley. I remember it as well-written but dark and angst-riven. Top of the non-fiction list has to be Dispatches by Michael Herr, who spent a year covering the conflict for Esquire magazine. As background to understanding what occurred prior to President Kennedy sending the first US troops to the country, Bernard Fall’s Street Without Joy is superb. Though poorly adapted to the big screen, We Were Soldiers Once…and Young ranks high as an account of what America’s young draftees lived through. Written by General Hal Moore, who as a lieutenant colonel was US commander at the Ia Drang battle, and correspondent Joe Galloway, who was also there, it is a singularly gripping memoir.

Thanks, Jim, for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer my questions. I look forward to reading more of your work in the future.

Disclosure: I am an IndieBound affiliate and an Amazon associate.

© 2011 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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