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My guest today on Diary of an Eccentric is Heather Lynn Rigaud, author of Fitzwilliam Darcy, Rock Star, a contemporary re-telling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.  If you desire an edgier, steamier take on Austen’s masterpiece, Fitzwilliam Darcy, Rock Star (check out my review) might be the book for you.  I’m always searching for unique takes on Austenesque novels, which many of you know are my guilty pleasure, and I was very curious about why Rigaud chose to turn Austen’s characters into rock stars.  I’m happy to welcome her here today to shed some light on that subject.  Please give a warm welcome to Heather Lynn Rigaud:

Hi Anna,

It’s nice to be here with you. It’s always pleasant to meet a fellow knitter and Jane Austen fan.

You’ve asked me the most popular question of my blog tour, which is “Why rock stars?” and I’ll admit is seems like a very strange idea. But I’ll be happy to write a bit about Fitzwilliam Darcy Rock Star and the thought process behind it.

When you first encounter the title, sometimes there’s a momentary tendency to pull back. Maybe even cringe. (It’s okay, I know) I think the reason is there is something showy and garish about Rock and Roll. Perhaps even something immature or loud. And if we know anything, it’s that Darcy is never garish or loud or immature. As Austen lovers, there is a crazy need to protect him from anything that might embarrass him. I get that and I share that feeling.

So let me put all your fears to rest, right here, right now. My Darcy is not immature or garish or showy or anything that might dull that Darcy glow. He’s proud, he’s aloof, he’s Darcy. When he’s on stage, he wears dark sunglasses and never speaks. When he does promotions, he’s polite to his fans, but ignores talk show hosts. Despite all the rumors to the contrary, he’s extremely professional in all of his behavior. He is, first and foremost, is a master musician and that is very Darcy.

Darcy’s band follows the Rock band tradition of having a friendly and outgoing frontman (Bingley) and a super-talented and silent guitarist. It’s likely that some of the public doesn’t even realize that Darcy’s in charge. They just hear Bingley talking, which let’s face it, is something Bingley does really well. (I kind of suspect that’s why Darcy keeps him around)

This was brought home to me all over again a Metallica concert I went to last week, where the singer and rhythm guitarist, James Hedfield, talked to the crowd, charming us all. Meanwhile the virtuoso guitarist, Kirk Hammett, never said a peep. He let his amazing guitar work do all the talking, and it was very expressive. This dynamic is not unusual. I can quickly think of 5 top-level bands set up like this and I’m sure you could too. (U2, Areosmith, Van Halen, Guns n’ Roses, Queen)

So lets get back to the question of ‘Why Rock Stars?’ The reason is that one of the things that is crucial to Austen’s story mechanics is that there has to be a reason why Elizabeth and Darcy are not a ‘proper’ match. In Pride and Prejudice, it’s the differences in their social class. Darcy is the grandson of an aristocrat, while Elizabeth’s mother’s side is still in trade. (We can tell from his mother being ‘Lady’ Anne) His wealth and property place him on a very different level from the Bennets, who are literally one heartbeat away from ruin. One of the things Darcy and Elizabeth need to overcome in the course of the story to be together is that class difference.

For my modern story, I wanted to recreate and update that difference. I needed a reason that Darcy and Elizabeth, on the surface at least, wouldn’t be obvious match. It’s harder in our society to find these differences than it was in Austen’s time, but fame is certainly something that would fit. My next question was how would Darcy be famous? He could be a rich CEO businessman, but that’s kind of boring. He could be a classical musician, but that’s been done. I wanted to try something that hasn’t been done before. Then I heard a song that was absolutely Darcy during that horrible time when he’s made his first proposal and Elizabeth has rejected him. That helped me to decide to make Darcy a rock star. It was new, it was risky, (because boy, the chance of it not working was pretty high) and I knew I could write it.

Darcy is famous, from a famous family. Elizabeth is a nobody from an average, unremarkable family. There’s some tension right there, but how to get them together? It occurred to me that a newer, up-and-coming band seeking fame could parallel a regency era lady seeking to improve her station through marriage. And just as in Pride and Prejudice Darcy felt he needed to protect his friend from a woman who just wanted his money and position, my modern Darcy would want to protect Charles from a woman who just wanted his fame. After all, can you think of a woman who’s famous just for the men she’s dated? I can. Several, in fact. It’s never a good situation.

My goal was to have a similar dynamic to Pride and Prejudice for my characters in which to interact. So, there’s my set up: Darcy and his band is rich and famous. Elizabeth and her band are not. Elizabeth wants to prove she’s good enough after being insulted by Darcy. And Darcy wants to protect his friends from the women’s ‘arts and allurements.’ We put that all into the fast-paced, high drama world of a rock band on national tour, and you’ve got Fitzwilliam Darcy Rock Star.

What do you think? Have I made my case for Rock Star Darcy, or are those shades of Pemberley being thus polluted? I am all eagerness to hear what you and your readers have to say. Thank you for having me here today.

Thanks, Heather!  It certainly is an interesting and unique take on the classic novel.

Are any of you interested in getting to know Mr. Darcy as a rock star?  If so, you’re in luck!  Courtesy of Sourcebooks, I have one copy of Fitzwilliam Darcy, Rock Star up for grabs.  To enter, simply leave a comment with your e-mail address.  [Warning: This book contains explicit sex, so please, no entrants under age 18.]  Because the publisher is shipping the book, this giveaway is open to readers with addresses in U.S. and Canada only.  This giveaway will close at 11:59 pm EST on Sunday, Oct. 2, 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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Source: Review copy from Sourcebooks
Rating: ★★★☆☆

Ignoring the luxury automobile around her, Elizabeth gave directions to Darcy.  Then she asked the first thing she could think of.  “So, why did you cut your hair?”

Darcy’s eyes were hidden behind his sunglasses, but she could see the annoyance in the set of his lips.  “You know,” he said softly, “I have written seven number one songs.  I have traveled over four continents.  I have performed before hundreds of thousands of people.  I have met both the Pope and the Dalai Lama, and still, do people ask me about any of that?”  His voice had risen slightly, “No, they ask me about my hair.” 

(from Fitzwilliam Darcy, Rock Star, page 44 in the ARC; finished version may be different)

Heather Lynn Rigaud trades dresses, bonnets, breeches, and balls for leather pants, tattoos, groupies, and concerts in Fitzwilliam Darcy, Rock Star, a contemporary re-telling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

Slurry, a famous rock band featuring guitar god Fitzwilliam Darcy, bassist Charles Bingley, and drummer Richard Fitzwilliam, is in need of an opening act for a seven-month tour.  Their tour manager and Charles’ twin, Caroline, introduces the band to an all-girl group called Long Bourne Suffering, featuring Elizabeth Bennet on guitar, her sister Jane on bass, and her friend Charlotte Collins on drums.  LBS hasn’t hit the big time yet, and touring with Slurry could be their big break.

Tension arises before they even embark on the tour, as Elizabeth overhears Darcy tell his bandmates to keep their hormones in check and not get involved with the girls, who likely are willing to do anything to further their careers.  Fitzwilliam Darcy, Rock Star is nearly 600 pages long and focuses on the stresses of a lengthy tour, media appearances, and video shoots and the problems that result when Charles and Jane fall in love, Richard and Charlotte embark on a “no strings” relationship where someone is bound to get hurt, and Will and Elizabeth misunderstand one another over and over again.

I was expecting Fitzwilliam Darcy, Rock Star to be light and funny, but I was surprised to learn that Rigaud tackles some serious issues, including sex addiction and pedophilia, within its pages.  There were a several scenes that made me chuckle, but for the most part, the humor that I love about Austen’s novels was absent.  Much of the book involves the characters wondering how their lovers truly feel about them, being mad at their lovers, or having sex.  I figured a novel about rock stars would have sex, but I didn’t expect a multitude of sex scenes, and it honestly grew tiring after awhile.  The sex scenes were also very explicit, and while they were infused with passion, some of the words used to describe body parts made them seem more pornographic than romantic.

However, the plot itself was very interesting, and when the sex scenes bogged down the book, I still kept reading because I wanted to know what happened to the characters.  I think many of the sex scenes could have been excluded to shorten the book and focus on the meat of the story.  Rigaud’s interpretation of Austen’s characters was entertaining, with Wickham, a former member of Slurry turned video director, more of a bastard and Collins, an A&R executive with De Bourgh Records, creepier and less ridiculous.  Elizabeth takes herself more seriously than she does in Austen’s novel, and Charlotte and Jane are both wilder (and more shocking) than you’d expect.  It was hard for me to get used to Elizabeth and the girls cursing, and I felt the absence of Elizabeth’s wit and playfulness, but Rigaud does succeed in telling a rock ‘n roll love story.  In fact, I loved how when Will and Lizzy were unable to express themselves through words, they did so beautifully through music.  And of course, it was impossible not to fall in love with Darcy the rock star, who is so very polite and professional and not the bad boy the world thinks he is.

I applaud Rigaud for taking a unique approach to Pride and Prejudice.  Now that I’ve read so many different takes on Austen’s novels, I’m on the lookout for something different, and Fitzwilliam Darcy, Rock Star certainly fits the bill.  It’s definitely not a novel for Austen purists, but if you’re looking for something modern, edgy, and sexy, then this might be the book for you.

Disclosure: I received Fitzwilliam Darcy, Rock Star from Sourcebooks for review.

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

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