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I am thrilled to welcome Georgina Young-Ellis back to Diary of an Eccentric today to celebrate her latest release, Incandescent. You’re in for a treat today, dear readers, as Georgina is here today to tell you a little about the book, share an excerpt, and offer a giveaway. Please give her a warm welcome!

I love Jane Austen. I have loved her for decades. Long ago, it would never have occurred to me to write Fan Fiction, especially based on Jane Austen’s work—after all, it wasn’t even a thing until somewhat recently. Yet my first book, The Time Baroness, a romantic time travel novel, was written in homage to Jane Austen, so in a way, it was my first foray into Fan Fiction though I didn’t know it at the time. Since then, I’ve written three other books in that series, (the fifth on the way) and six actual JAFF (Jane Austen Fan Fiction) novellas.

Since I’m going to be starting a graduate program in Spanish Language and Literature in the fall, I decided I better get all the writing done that I want to do for the time being, as it will be two years, I’m sure, before I’ll have time to devote to it again. That brings me to Incandescent, my latest JAFF, just released April 28th. Here’s the Amazon blurb:

In this modern day twist on Jane Austen’s Persuasion, The Elliots are Hollywood Royalty – a family of actors going back three generations. Annie Elliot has been cast to play Elizabeth Bennet in a new movie adaptation of Pride and Prejudice that takes place during the Belle Epoque, circa 1910, with a multi-racial cast. But who will her Mr. Darcy be? As the two stories mix and intermingle on and off camera, hearts are broken, love is found, and diversity is celebrated.

Several years ago, I had the idea of turning Persuasion into a modern day story, with the characters as actors, making a Regency film of it while also living out the plot in real life. That then morphed into the actors making a film of Pride and Prejudice, while living out both novels in real life. The result is something I think is unique, romantic, and also a lot of fun. Here is how Chapter One of Incandescent starts out:

“Annie Elliot, the hottest young actress in Hollywood!” the papers screamed after the box office of her latest film broke records. At merely the age of nineteen, Annie had everything, or so said the press: the looks, the body, the talent…and the family. Did she believe it? Well, she couldn’t argue that she had the family. “Hollywood royalty,” they called the Elliots. No matter how many times, however, she tried to tell herself she would have had a successful career even without a famous grandfather, father, mother, and sister, she knew it wasn’t true. Okay, sure, if she didn’t have the talent, she wouldn’t have gotten as far as she had, but the average pounding-the-pavement-actor doesn’t even get the auditions without connections, and she had connections for days.

It was April in New York City. Awards season had come and gone. Annie had been nominated in the Best Actress category for all the major awards, for a film that had been released in the fall. She’d won the Screen Actors Guild Award, but not the other big ones. That was fine. Young actors had to pay their dues. Besides, she’d just been cast as Juliet in the Shakespeare in the Park production of Romeo and Juliet, and nothing was more prestigious for an actor, young or old, than to do Shakespeare in the Park at the open air Delacorte Theater in Central Park. Her father, Walter Elliot, who everyone, including his friends, now called Sir Walter because he’d won an Oscar playing Sir Francis Drake, had, over the course of his career, done Shakespeare in the Park several times, playing everything from Mercutio in R and J, to Prospero in The Tempest only recently. Her mother had once played Juliet there too, as well as Ophelia, Titania, and Lady Macbeth.

Annie had flown to New York for the audition, gotten the part right away, and was now staying in her parents’ loft in Soho. She loved the city. Maybe after the play was over, she’d stay for a few years and get her own apartment. It would be fun to be a New York actor for a change. Maybe even do Broadway.

On the day before rehearsals started, Annie picked up a copy of the Sunday Times. This was her guilty pleasure, something she used to see her grandfather do. In the age of electronic news, she still loved to get the Sunday paper: The Los Angeles Times when she was there, the New York Times here, spreading it out on the coffee table, a fresh bagel and a cup of coffee handy, and reading it from end to end. In the Arts and Entertainment section, a big article about Shakespeare in the Park jumped out at her, her name featured prominently. She skimmed through it. They made much of the fact that the late Susan Elliot’s daughter would be playing the title role in Romeo and Juliet, the role the beloved actress had once portrayed so beautifully. Annie set the article aside and took a big swig of coffee. Nothing like a little pressure!

Monday morning, she woke up with butterflies in her stomach. Instead of hopping on the train or grabbing an Uber, she walked from the loft to the Public Theater at Astor Place, where the cast would work until the director was ready to have them move to the Delacorte Theater. It was pretty far from Soho to the East Village, but the exercise would work off all that nervous energy. In fact, springtime in the city proved to be just the remedy. It had rained the night before and the air was fresh and cool. Trees were blooming everywhere and flowers in planters added splashes of color to a town which had been grey with winter for so long and was just now starting to come alive again.

She got to the theater right on time and the first person she spotted was her manager, Cynthia Russell, who waved at her from her seat among the few invited guests for this first read-through. Cynthia had been her mom’s manager too when she was alive. It had been about a month since they’d last seen each other in L.A. Annie went to her and gave her a big hug.

“Hi, my darling,” Cynthia said, “you look wonderful.”

Annie was wearing a pink, vintage dress with a white cardigan sweater, and lavender tights with a pair of black Doc Marten boots.

“Thank you, so do you,” which was the truth. Though in her fifties, Cynthia was well-preserved and in good shape, a handsome woman at any age.

“Have you met your Romeo yet?” Cynthia pointed out a young man, sitting shyly at the table where the other actors were gathering.

Annie knew her Romeo’s name, Frederick Wentworth, but that was all. Her mouth fell open when she saw him. Never had she seen a more beautiful man. He was a combination of a Paul Newman and Taye Diggs, if that were possible, with a chiseled jaw and startling eyes.

“That’s Frederick Wentworth?”

“I know. Handsome, isn’t he? His headshot doesn’t do him justice. If I weren’t a good thirty years older than he is…”

“Cynthia!” Annie snorted.

“I jest. I just met him, and he is extremely amiable, but, if I had a son, he would be his age. No, he’s safe with me.”

“Good to know, Cynth.” Annie winked at her. “See you after the reading.”

She went and took a seat opposite Frederick and he looked up and smiled. Their eyes met and locked.

“Hello,” he said softly.

“Hi,” she replied.

Then the director walked in. The cast had been given their script a few weeks before and Annie had memorized her lines, happy to see there weren’t too many cuts. People should not mess around with Shakespeare.

They went around the table and everyone introduced themselves. Frederick, it turned out, liked to be called Freddy. The director then talked for a few minutes about his vision for the production and the reading got under way. As Annie read her lines, she barely looked at the script, and neither did Freddy. The fact was, it was hard to look away from him. His gaze captivated her as his character spoke his first lines to Juliet, holding out his hand to her. She took it across the table. It was warm and strong.

“If I profane with my unworthiest hand his holy shrine,” he said, “the gentle fine is this: my lips, two blushing pilgrims, ready stand to smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss.”

The sweet conversation between the two lovers-to-be continued. Though having just met, they would exchange their first kiss. Annie wondered, if she had been sitting next to instead of across from him, would he have brushed her lips with his?

The play built in intensity. The young teenagers, as the characters are supposed to be, fall immediately in love, and vow to be married, though, of course, their families are enemies and will never allowed it, as well as the fact that Juliet is to marry someone else. After Romeo is banished for killing Juliet’s cousin in retaliation for the murder of Romeo’s best friend, comes the scene of the lovers waking in the morning after spending the night together, knowing full well that Romeo must flee the town, and they might never see each other again. Their words of love at their parting felt unbearable to Annie. Then finally, of course, the two lovers die in the last moments of the play.

By the end of the reading, the other actors, the director, and everyone else present were in tears. Annie’s heart was pounding, her face hot. She felt as one with Juliet—that she had fallen in love at first sight, committed her life to her lover, and lost him, all in the course of two hours. While everyone composed themselves, Annie went to get a drink of water. Freddy was at her side a moment later.

“Are you all right?” he asked her. She looked up at him. His face was tender, concerned.

She smiled. “Yes. I didn’t expect the first reading to be so powerful.”

“It was, wasn’t it? You were wonderful.”

His clear, blue eyes, intense in contrast to his tawny skin, pierced her soul. “Thank you.” She had to look away for a moment. “So were you.”

Just then Cynthia hurried up to her. “Can I steal her for a moment?”

Annie was almost relieved as Freddy nodded and stepped away.

“Annie, that was amazing.” Cynthia gushed. “I have never seen a better Juliet! It was every bit as good as when your dear mother played her.”

“This was just a rehearsal,” Annie demurred. “Who knows how it will be when I’m finally on stage in front of an audience.”

“Oh, nonsense. You were born to play this role. And Frederick! My God, the chemistry between you!”

Heat rose to Annie’s cheeks again.

Cynthia observed her closely. “Be careful. It’s never a good idea to fall for your leading man.”

“I’m not going to fall for him!” Annie declared, but there was no use denying it. Freddy Wentworth was intoxicating. He was yet practically an unknown, though it turned out he had made a name for himself locally in some very good Off-Broadway productions. She had certainly never heard of him before he was cast by the Public Theatre for R and J, but had no doubt he was going to be big.

The first time they did the scene in Juliet’s bedchamber without scripts, Annie lost herself in the desire of her character and in Freddy’s passion. Suddenly, they were no longer acting. The director had asked them to create as sensual a moment as possible while still keeping it PG13, but they didn’t even have to try. From that moment on, every time they looked into each other’s eyes, Annie fell harder. But did Freddy feel the same? They didn’t talk much off stage. She was shy. He was reticent. But on stage, there were fireworks.

The show opened to previews, and the critics were ecstatic. “Elliot and Wentworth are magic together!” One paper cried.

“You feel you are intruding on an extremely intimate moment between two innocents, blissfully exploring their first act of love together, giving themselves over to each other wholly,” another enthused.

The cast went out after the show that night to celebrate. Freddy was at Annie’s side the whole time though they spoke little. When she finally decided to leave, he asked if he could share a cab with her.

“Do you live downtown?”

“No,” he replied with a grin.

Hope you enjoyed this excerpt! Please visit my website to see all my work—time travel and JAFF alike! www.georginayoungellis.com

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Wow, thanks so much for sharing, Georgina! I think this has got to be the most unique mashup I’ve seen so far, and I’m definitely going to have to get my hands on a copy. For those of you as intrigued as I am, you can purchase Incandescent on Amazon.

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About the Author

Georgina Young-Ellis

Georgina lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband who is an artist, writer, and teacher. They have a son who is a professional musician in New York City, where they all lived for eighteen years. She is a member of the Screen Actors Guild, and was a stage actress for many years. Born and raised in the Southwest, she went to school in New York City, graduating from New York University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theater. She is also a screenwriter, journalist, film/theater critic and blogger.

Connect with Georgina: website | Facebook | Twitter | Tumblr | Instagram: GYoungEllis

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Giveaway

Georgina is generously offering an ebook copy of Incandescent to one lucky reader. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address. We’d love to hear what most intrigues you about the book. This giveaway will be open through Sunday, May 20, 2018. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

Thank you, Georgina, for being my guest today. It’s always a pleasure. Congratulations on your new book!

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