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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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It’s always a treat to have Victoria Kincaid as a guest on Diary of an Eccentric, and today I welcome her here to spotlight her newest Pride and Prejudice variation, Darcy’s Honor. I had the pleasure of editing this delightful novel, which has the perfect balance of drama, humor, and romance. I hope you all enjoy it as much as I did!

First, here’s the book blurb to grab your attention:

Elizabeth Bennet is relieved when the difficult Mr. Darcy leaves the area after the Netherfield Ball. But she soon runs afoul of Lord Henry, a Viscount who thinks to force her into marrying him by slandering her name and ruining her reputation. An outcast in Meryton, and even within her own family, Elizabeth has nobody to turn to and nowhere to go.

Darcy successfully resisted Elizabeth’s charms during his visit to Hertfordshire, but when he learns of her imminent ruin, he decides he must propose to save her from disaster. However, Elizabeth is reluctant to tarnish Darcy’s name by association…and the viscount still wants her…

Can Darcy save his honor while also marrying the woman he loves?

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Now, please give a warm welcome to Victoria Kincaid, who is here to discuss the importance of reputation in Jane Austen’s time:

The issue of reputation drives much of the plot of Pride and Prejudice (and many other Austen novels).  Darcy’s need to protect Georgiana’s reputation compels him to keep the incident at Ramsgate (and Wickham’s perfidy) quiet. Elizabeth’s aspersions on Darcy’s character cause him to write her a letter, but then his concern about her reputation (because it would be improper for her to receive a message from an unmarried man) prompts him to give it to her in person rather than sending it with a servant.  And, of course, Lydia’s careless behavior with Wickham affects not only her reputation, but her whole family’s.

Austen was well aware that the burden of maintaining a pristine reputation fell more on the shoulders of women than men.  In P&P, Mary observes: “Unhappy as the event must be for Lydia, we may draw from it this useful lesson; that loss of virtue in a female is irretrievable—that one false step involves her in endless ruin—that her reputation is no less brittle than it is beautiful.”  While Mary may be annoyingly pedantic, she is not wrong.  Wickham can get away with all manner of dastardly behavior that is covered up or shrugged off.  But Lydia’s one misstep is treated like a capital crime.  Collins even says she’d have been better off dead.

This inequity strikes me every time I read an Austen novel, and it occurred to me to make it part of a plot for a P&P variation.  What if Elizabeth lost her reputation—through no fault of her own?  Not that she actually did anything wrong, but that everyone assumed that she had.  How would Darcy react?  How would Elizabeth behave?  I was unsure of the answer to all of these questions as I set out to write Darcy’s Honor, so writing it was a process of discovery for me.  Some of the results surprised me.  And I hope that readers will find the book surprising and entertaining as well.

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An excerpt from Darcy’s Honor, courtesy of Victoria Kincaid:

Miss Bingley was still speaking with a rhythm that was almost hypnotic. Darcy’s attention began to wander as his head dipped lower and lower until it nearly rested on his chest.

“…Meryton…” Darcy was pulled out of somnolence with an abrupt jerk. Was Miss Bingley discussing Hertfordshire? “….A letter from Anna Hopkins,” Miss Bingley said to her sister. “You remember her?”

Mrs. Hurst tittered. “Does she still maintain a correspondence with you? Apparently she remains under the delusion that she will obtain an invitation to Bingley House.”

Miss Bingley flicked open her fan with a snap, only to employ the object rather lazily. “Heaven knows. I certainly do nothing to encourage the acquaintance,” she sneered. “However, the missive did include one item of note.” Her glance flickered toward Darcy as if to ensure he was paying proper attention. “About the Bennets. You remember them, Louisa?”

Such a disingenuous act! Darcy ground his teeth together. No one from the Netherfield party was likely to forget the family that Bingley had nearly married himself into. Even Georgiana watched with wide eyes, having heard stories about the Bennets of Hertfordshire.

“What about them?” Bingley asked, hastily setting down his teacup.

His sister took a languid sip of tea, making a great show of indifference. “Charles, you will be very pleased we are gone from that neighborhood and have no more acquaintance with that family. It is an absolute disgrace!”

A chill raced down Darcy’s spine. What had happened to the Bennets?

“What is?” Bingley asked impatiently.

“Miss Elizabeth Bennet.” Miss Bingley avoided glancing at Darcy as she spoke, yet he had no doubt her words were intended to wound him. He clenched his fists to forestall any impulse to cry out at her.

Instead, he waited while Bingley demanded, “What about Miss Elizabeth?”

His sister shook her head sadly. “Such a disgrace. I do not know how the family will ever recover.”

Darcy could hold out no longer. “What has happened?” he finally growled.

The triumphant smile on Miss Bingley’s face hardly registered. “Eliza Bennet was caught with that oily viscount—”

“Henry Carson, Viscount Billington,” Darcy supplied automatically.

“Yes, that was the name. They were found in a”—she coughed delicately —“compromising position during a ball at Lucas Lodge.”

A tight hand seemed to squeeze Darcy’s heart.

“Oh dear!” Miss James’s exclamation was half distressed and half amused.

Mrs. Hurst tsked. “I confess I cannot be surprised. The whole family had no sense of decorum. The way her younger sisters carried on with the officers! And her mother’s behavior. Quite shocking.”

“Indeed.” Miss Bingley nodded her agreement. “I would not be surprised if her mother arranged the situation to entrap the viscount.”

The fist around Darcy’s heart closed even more tightly and painfully.

“Naturally,” Miss Bingley continued, “Lord Henry did the proper thing and made her an offer.”

No, Darcy wanted to cry out, but he had no breath. Mrs. Bennet might be capable of such a maneuver, but Elizabeth would never consent to be part of such a plot.

Mrs. Hurst pursed her lips disapprovingly. “So they are now betrothed?”

Oh, my! I bet you can’t wait to find out what happens next!

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Giveaway

Victoria is generously offering a copy of Darcy’s Honor in a reader’s choice (print or ebook) giveaway, open internationally! To enter, please leave a comment with your email address. This giveaway will close on Sunday, April 23, 2017. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

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a-very-darcy-chrsitmas-thumbnailI’m thrilled to welcome Victoria Kincaid back to Diary of an Eccentric today to celebrate the release of her newest novel, A Very Darcy Christmas. I had the pleasure of editing this delightful book, and I must tell you that it is both hilarious and sweet — and a perfect book to help you relax during the holiday season. Oh, how I loved the chaos at every turn, and I even fell a little bit in love with Colonel Fitzwilliam!

Here’s the book blurb to whet your appetite:

Elizabeth and Darcy are preparing for their first Christmas at Pemberley when they are suddenly deluged by a flood of uninvited guests. Mrs. Bennet is seeking refuge from the French invasion she believes to be imminent. Lady Catherine brings two suitors for Georgiana’s hand, who cause a bit of mayhem themselves. Lydia’s presence causes bickering—and a couple of small fires—while Wickham has more nefarious plans in mind….The abundance of guests soon puts a strain on her marriage as Elizabeth tries to manage the chaos while ensuring a happy Christmas for all.

Meanwhile, Georgiana is finding her suitors—and the prospect of coming out—to be very unappealing. Colonel Fitzwilliam seems to be the only person who understands her fondness for riding astride and shooting pistols. Georgiana realizes she’s beginning to have more than cousinly feelings for him, but does he return them? And what kind of secrets is he hiding?

Romance and merriment abound as everyone gathers to celebrate a Very Darcy Christmas.

***

Now, please give a warm welcome to Victoria Kincaid, who is here to talk about mistletoe and kissing in Regency England:

When writing A Very Darcy Christmas, I did quite a bit of research on Regency Christmas traditions. It was very interesting to see which of our customs they followed. They did not have Christmas trees, send Christmas cards, or give presents (except to children or charity to the poor). However, the Christmas season, which lasted from early December until January 6, was a time for visiting, parties and balls, games, and eating good food. One familiar tradition they did observe was decorating their houses with pine, holly, and other greenery—including mistletoe.

Mistletoe grows mostly in west and southwest Britain, but families in other parts of the country might have relatives send sprigs through the mail. A mistletoe berry was plucked each time a kiss was claimed and when the berries ran out, the kissing was over. Regency households also put up “kissing boughs,” hanging arrangements of evergreens, apples, oranges, ribbons, paper flowers, spices, or even dolls representing Joseph, Mary, and baby Jesus.

I found the mistletoe tradition to be an intriguing contradiction with other Regency customs. After all, this was the time period where a girl’s virtue could be compromised by being alone with a man and during which any contact between unmarried people of the opposite sex was strictly chaperoned. Why would they hang greenery that not only gave license for unauthorized and potentially scandalous kisses, but actually encouraged it?

I don’t pretend to be an expert, and I’m sure there are many explanations; but one answer to question may be that the Christmas season was a time when traditional customs and mores were loosened and the intermingling of the sexes was encouraged. All of the visiting and game playing encouraged socialization among unmarried men and women—and courtships and marriages often took place during the season. There were even games that would assign a man and woman to be “partners” for the evening.

The tradition of kissing boughs seems to be of a piece with these customs. Mistletoe gave couples permission to indulge in a “forbidden” behavior or gave a man an opportunity to display affection for a woman without having to make an outright declaration. In an era where anything resembling dating was forbidden, I can imagine that that such opportunities were valuable.

In any case, I found the presence of mistletoe and kissing boughs to be a useful plot device in A Very Darcy Christmas. However, in the book Georgiana occasionally has the same thoughts that I had: “If they do not wish me to kiss anyone, why did they hang up so much mistletoe?”

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An excerpt from A Very Darcy Christmas, courtesy of Victoria Kincaid

“Mrs. Darcy, there are people downstairs in the entrance hall who say they are your parents.”

Disdain dripped off every syllable Giles uttered.  Elizabeth pretended not to notice.  Every day Pemberley’s butler demonstrated that he did not approve of the upstart country lass his master had married.  In the months since William had brought her home as his bride, Giles’s friendliest tone of voice could be described as frosty.  On the other hand, Mrs. Reynolds, the housekeeper, and the majority of the other staff had been most welcoming.

Elizabeth rushed to her feet.  Her parents should be safely ensconced at Longbourn for the Christmas season.  What could have brought them to Pemberley unannounced?

She hurried from her sitting room and followed Giles down the grand front staircase, her heart contracting with every step as she imagined what kinds of evil might have befallen her family.  Her mother and father were indeed standing in the hall.

Their rumpled, travel-worn attire contrasted noticeably with the grandeur of the room.  The inhabitants of Pemberley called it the marble hall because of the black and white marble squares covering the floor as well as the classical statues set in niches along the walls.

It was an impressive room, meant to stir amazement in Pemberley’s newly arrived visitors, and from the expressions on her parents’ faces, it was having the desired effect.  Elizabeth had been duly impressed when she had first arrived at Pemberley, but now the room reminded her of a mausoleum, grand and cold and forbidding.  She and Mrs. Reynolds had recently finished decorating the room with holly, evergreen boughs, ivy, and mistletoe for the yuletide season.  The greens softened the room’s sharp edges, but it was only slightly more welcoming.

Her father’s careworn face relaxed into a smile when he saw her as if her presence made the unfamiliar surroundings more bearable.  He does not seem overly alarmed; perhaps the situation is not dire.  However, the moment her mother noticed Elizabeth, she commenced fluttering her hands and breathing rapidly as if she had experienced a terrible shock.

In other words, everything was quite normal.

Before Elizabeth could open her mouth, her mother launched into a torrent of complaints.  “Oh, my dearest Lizzy!  You do not know how we have suffered.  The ruts in the road and the quality of the coaching inns!  And there was a most disturbing odor in Lambton when we traveled through.”

Standing by the ornately carved front door, Giles watched this performance with a pinched mouth and lifted chin that left no doubt as to his opinion of the Bennets.

The best Elizabeth could do was to treat her mother’s shrieking as if she spoke in a normal conversational tone.  She embraced both of her parents.  “This is a surprise!  I did not expect to see you so soon.  Is something wrong?”  She searched their faces for signs of agitation.  Had something happened to one of her sisters?

“Everything is well,” her father assured her.

Mrs. Bennet gaped at her husband.  “How can you say that, Mr. Bennet, when we have heard the most frightful news imaginable?”

Fear gripped Elizabeth’s chest.  “What has happened?”

Her mother drew herself up to her full height.  “Meryton is about to be invaded!”

“It is?”

Her mother’s head nodded vigorously.  “Mrs. Long was the first one to rouse my suspicions.”  Now she lowered her voice.  “There have been a great many strange men visiting Meryton—speaking in French accents!”

Mr. Bennet rolled his eyes.  “Fanny, I explained that both of the men are laborers from Ireland.  They speak with Irish accents.”

Mrs. Bennet put her hands on her hips.  “And how would you know a French accent from an Irish one?  Mrs. Long met a Frenchman when she was one and twenty.  She knows how they sound!”

“Mama—” Elizabeth began.

“But that is not all,” her mother continued.  “Colonel Forster’s regiment had been wintering over in Meryton as before, but then they decamped suddenly.  Called away, just like that!  I wager they are in Brighton at this moment, preparing to fend off a ferocious French assault.”

Elizabeth bit her lip to stifle a smile.  “I have read nothing to suggest that in the papers.”

“Of course not!”  Mrs. Bennet waved her handkerchief dramatically.  “The authorities do not wish to stir up alarm.  But why else would they have called the regiment away?”

“There was political unrest in the North,” Mr. Bennet murmured.

“Mrs. Long does not believe it,” Mrs. Bennet said with a dismissive nod.  “And what is more, Mr. Long does not believe it.  He was in the militia for a year in his youth and said such orders were highly irregular.

“Fanny—” Mr. Bennet started.

Her words continued unchecked.  “An invasion is imminent.  Nothing you may say can convince me otherwise.”  She folded her arms across her chest.

Elizabeth feared this was the truest statement her mother had uttered since arriving.

Mrs. Bennet continued without even taking a breath.  “And, of course, Meryton will be one of the French army’s first targets.”

“Before London?” Elizabeth asked.

“Well, London will be well-defended.  Meryton no longer even boasts a militia!”  Mrs. Bennet flicked open her fan and vigorously fanned her face.  “Mary and Kitty refused to leave Hertfordshire.  Even Jane would not listen.  But I told your father I was coming to Pemberley.  Since it is so much further north, we have much less of a chance of being slaughtered in our beds.”  She folded her fan again.  “How very clever of you to catch the eye of a northern man.”

Having never considered this a feature of her marriage to William, Elizabeth did not respond.

“I pray you let us stay here for a while.  What say you, Lizzy?”

Elizabeth gave her father a helpless look, not knowing where to start unraveling her mother’s convoluted reasoning.  Mr. Bennet offered her a defeated shrug.  Apparently he had given up on reasoning with his wife.

Well, she could hardly turn away her own parents.  Perhaps she could talk sense into her mother during her visit.  “Yes, of course, Mama.  I am very pleased to see you both!”  She smiled at them.  “Welcome to Pemberley.”

Her father gave her a rather sad smile, but her mother grunted in response.  “Now, if you will have them show me to my room.  I am greatly fatigued by all this travel!”  Now that their immediate fate had been settled, Mrs. Bennet eyed the hall critically.  “Oh, Lizzy!”  Her hand flew to her mouth.  “You have hung greens already!”

“They make the house more festive,” Elizabeth replied.

“But it is bad luck to hang greens before Christmas Eve!”  Her mother’s eyes were round with concern.

“Just a superstition—” her father interjected.

“No, it is not!”  Mrs. Bennet exclaimed, wringing her hands.  “Mrs. Taylor hung her greens early one year, and the very next day their chickens refused to lay a single egg!  She never made that mistake again, I will tell you.”  She pointed an accusatory finger at Elizabeth.  “You have practically begged the French to invade.”

Elizabeth rolled her eyes.  “I like the greens.”

Mrs. Bennet’s hands fluttered.  “Well, don’t blame me when the French invade.  I warned you!”

“I promise not to blame you, Mama, if the French invade.”  Elizabeth gestured to the butler.  Perhaps her mother would be more rational after she rested and freshened up.  One could only hope.  “Giles, I think we can put my parents in the red bedchamber.”

Giles’s expression could not possibly have been haughtier, but he gave a slight bow and left to summon a maid.  As the maid led Mrs. Bennet up the stairs, the older woman warned the wide-eyed girl about the imminent French invasion.  Elizabeth and her father fell behind, staying out of earshot.

“I apologize, Lizzy,” he said.  “Trying to stop her was like trying to halt a runaway carriage.  When she declared her intention to visit Pemberley with or without me, I thought my presence might mitigate the damage.”

Elizabeth took her father’s arm.  “I am very pleased to see you both, Papa.  And it will provide an opportunity to show you Pemberley.”

He smiled gently.  “I must confess, that is something I am anticipating with pleasure.  What I have seen so far is quite grand.”

***

Giveaway

Victoria is generously offering a copy of A Very Darcy Christmas in a reader’s choice (print or ebook) giveaway, open internationally! To enter, please leave a comment with your email address. This giveaway will close on Thursday, December 8, 2016. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

Check out A Very Darcy Christmas on Amazon | Goodreads

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chaos-comes-to-longbourn-thumbnailI’m thrilled to welcome Victoria Kincaid back to Diary of an Eccentric to celebrate the release of her latest Pride and Prejudice variation, Chaos Comes to Longbourn. I had the pleasure of editing this book a few months ago, and it was such a delight to read. I’ve enjoyed all of Victoria’s books, and I think this is her best yet! Victoria is here today to share her inspiration for writing romantic comedies, an excerpt from Chaos Comes to Longbourn, and as an international giveaway. Please give her a warm welcome!

First, check out the book blurb to see just how chaotic things are in the world of Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy:

While attempting to suppress his desire to dance with Elizabeth Bennet, Mr. Darcy flees the Netherfield ballroom only to stumble upon a half-dressed Lydia Bennet in the library.  After being discovered with her in this compromising position, Darcy is forced to make her an offer of marriage.

A few weeks later, Bingley returns from London to discover that a heartbroken Jane has accepted an offer from Collins. Bingley instead proposes to Elizabeth, who accepts with the hope of reuniting him with Jane.

Now Darcy must cope with jealousy toward Bingley and a fiancée who longs to get her hands on the grand estate of “Pembleton” (or is it “Peckersly?”).  Lydia, in turn, is jealous that Wickham has proposed to Charlotte Lucas.

Although Darcy yearns for Elizabeth, he feels honor bound by his promise to Lydia.  Elizabeth has also developed feelings for the master of Pemberley, but he has never seemed so far out of her reach.  How can Darcy and Elizabeth unravel this tangle of misbegotten betrothals and reach their happily ever after?

And oh what a tangle it is! I was on the edge of my seat, unable to fathom how it would all end and laughing out loud throughout. Here’s what Victoria had to say about teasing out the humor in Pride and Prejudice:

When I first started reading Pride and Prejudice variations I was in it for the romance.  I have to admit that I love drama and angst and big sweeping emotions.  And there were lots of variations that fed this “addiction” for me.

However, when I started writing my third P&P variation, Mr. Darcy to the Rescue, I realized that angst and drama didn’t always fit into a story in which Elizabeth accepts a proposal from Mr. Collins.  After all,  Collins’s primary value in P&P is comedic.  I found I loved writing dialogue for Collins; it’s almost not possible to go too far.  He’s so oblivious and so obsequious that it’s delicious fun.

Before I knew it, I was writing a romantic comedy.

Of course, Mr. Darcy to the Rescue is still dramatic and full of romance, but there were plenty of funny moments.  And the readers appreciated the humor, noting it in their reviews.

I wasn’t necessarily planning to write another comic P&P variation, but around the same time, I happened upon a Facebook post by fellow Jane Austen Fan Fiction writer Joana Starnes.  She described playing a game of Marrying Mr. Darcy which ended with Elizabeth as an old maid, Caroline Bingley eloping with Denny, and Darcy married to Lydia (!).

It got me thinking about what fun it would be to have a P&P variation in which characters were all engaged to the wrong people.  Of course, it couldn’t be anything other than a comedy.  Chaos Comes to Longbourn was born.

As I’ve been writing humorous variations it has helped me appreciate another side of Austen’s masterpiece.  While I love the drama and romance, I’ve grown to understand how brilliantly she wrote comedic characters.  Characters like Lydia, Collins, and Mrs. Bennet might be exaggerated for comedic effect, but their behavior is recognizable and human.  This long-past Regency English setting resonates in part because we see these characters and think, “I know someone like that.”

So it’s interesting.  As I’ve written more comedic variations I’ve realized that many of us are drawn to Austen because of the romance, but it’s the comedy that helps us relate the stories to our own lives.  We feel at home in Jane Austen’s world in part because it’s funny in a way we can understand.

And if that isn’t enough to convince you that you must read the book, hopefully this excerpt will:

Elizabeth dropped the napkin on the tray.  “You cannot flirt with officers now, Lydia.  You are betrothed to Mr. Darcy.”

“I remember, silly!”  Lydia waved away this objection as she shrugged off her night rail and donned her dress.  “I shan’t kiss anyone!  But I must have some fun before I marry that stodgy old man.”

Elizabeth was not an admirer of Mr. Darcy’s, but she would hardly describe him as stodgy or old.  “Engaged women must behave with greater discretion,” she said.

“I can be discreet!” Lydia declared.  “I shall have discretion shooting out of my ears!”  Elizabeth winced at this image as she laced up her sister’s dress.

Once her dress was fastened, Lydia flopped back onto her bed.  “Although honestly, Lizzy, I wish I were not engaged to Mr. Darcy.  I agreed to marry him because everyone said I must, but I always wanted an officer.  They are so dashing and so much fun!  Mr. Darcy almost never smiles and never laughs.”

Elizabeth pulled Lydia into a standing position before she could wrinkle her dress.  “I understand, my dear.  But the circumstances last night were…quite bad.  You are betrothed now, and you must make the best of it.”

“That is what Mama said, and she reminded me of Mr. Darcy’s fortune.”  Lydia sighed.  “If only he were more dashing…Although I suppose I shall comfort myself with jewels and hats…”

“Yes, indeed,” Elizabeth said.  She hardly approved of such an obviously mercenary approach to marriage, but Lydia must not break off the engagement.  Her reputation was in tatters.

“I cannot wait to tell everyone in Meryton about Mr. Darcy’s ten thousand a year!”  Lydia giggled.

Elizabeth’s righteous anger at Mr. Darcy was gradually transforming into an amorphous regret.  Last night she had been so certain of his guilt, but now…if what she suspected was true, he had been wronged, and Elizabeth had helped to wrong him.

Moreover, she did not need to learn more of his character to be certain that he was spectacularly ill-suited to be Lydia’s husband; most likely they would both be miserable in the marriage.  Elizabeth rubbed suddenly sweaty palms on her gown.  What can I do?  She had nothing but suspicions and no way of confirming them without Lydia’s cooperation.

“I shan’t let anyone forget I have a fiancé.  A very wealthy fiancé!”  Lydia dashed from the room and down the stairs.  Elizabeth followed at a slower pace.

At the bottom of the stairs, however, they both encountered Hill, followed by the tall figure of Mr. Darcy.  He bowed to the two ladies.  “Forgive the intrusion at such an early hour,” he said.  “But I was hoping to have a word with Miss Lydia.”

Elizabeth’s first reaction was alarm.  Surely he was not suggesting she leave them alone!  But then she recalled that they were betrothed, and it was appropriate for betrothed couples to enjoy some privacy.  Although she could not imagine what two such different people would say to each other.

Lydia pouted.  “I am bound for Meryton with Kitty!”

Elizabeth barely refrained from chastising her sister.  How could Lydia treat her fiancé so rudely?

Mr. Darcy looked affronted.  “I shall be departing from Hertfordshire within the hour.”

Lydia heaved a great sigh.  “Very well, I suppose I have time for a brief conversation.”

“Thank you for making time for me.”  Mr. Darcy’s tone was so dry that Elizabeth could not discern if he was being sardonic.

“I suppose I must, for I am your fiancée!”  She gave Elizabeth a sidelong glance and giggled.  “Isn’t that such a grand word: fiancée?”  Elizabeth rolled her eyes, but Lydia mistook the gesture.  “Don’t worry, Lizzy,” she patted her sister’s hand, “I am sure someday a man will want to marry you as well.”

Mr. Darcy regarded the sisters with a carefully blank expression.  Did he also believe Elizabeth would be lucky to procure a husband?

“You are too good,” Elizabeth murmured to Lydia.  Mr. Darcy made a strangled sound that turned into a cough.

“I know.”  Lydia tossed her head so her curls bounced.  “Mr. Darcy, shall we retire to the drawing room?”

He nodded mutely.

Now for the giveaway:

Victoria is generously offering an international giveaway of one copy of Chaos Comes to Longbourn. The winner will have the choice of an ebook or paperback. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address and tell me what intrigues you most about the book. The giveaway will close on Sunday, July 24. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced in the comment section of this post. Good luck!

© 2016 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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darcy-vs-bennet-thumbnail (1)I am so happy to welcome Victoria Kincaid back to Diary of an Eccentric today to celebrate the release of her latest Pride and Prejudice variation, Darcy vs. Bennet. I had the pleasure of editing this novel, and I must admit that Victoria makes my job easy by writing such delightful variations!

About Darcy vs. Bennet:

Elizabeth Bennet is drawn to a handsome, mysterious man she meets at a masquerade ball. However, she gives up all hope for a future with him when she learns he is the son of George Darcy, the man who ruined her father’s life. Despite her father’s demand that she avoid the younger Darcy, when he appears in Hertfordshire Elizabeth cannot stop thinking about him, or seeking him out, or welcoming his kisses…

Fitzwilliam Darcy has struggled to carve out a life independent from his father’s vindictive temperament and domineering ways, although the elder Darcy still controls the purse strings. After meeting Elizabeth Bennet, Darcy cannot imagine marrying anyone else, even though his father despises her family. More than anything he wants to make her his wife, but doing so would mean sacrificing everything else…

Victoria’s Inspiration for Darcy vs. Bennet:

Readers often ask me where I get my ideas. Often it’s difficult for me to re-construct the origins of an idea after I’ve been living with it for months (and often years). However, the idea of a more positive version of Romeo and Juliet has appealed to me ever since I read the play in high school, and it seemed a natural fit to apply elements of the plot with Pride and Prejudice. This allowed the family feud aspect of the R&J plotline to provide Darcy and Elizabeth with external obstacles. While I love the conflict created by the personality differences and misunderstandings in the canonical P&P, I thought it would be intriguing to see a Darcy and Elizabeth who were working together to struggle against external pressures.

One of the results of this struggle in Darcy vs. Bennet is that they must pretend to dislike each other so that no one suspects their true feelings. Thus, when Darcy says Elizabeth isn’t handsome enough to tempt him, he doesn’t mean it; he’s trying to deflect attention from his true admiration of her. And Elizabeth must pretend to believe Wickham’s slander of Darcy’s character. Other parts of the P&P plot also fit into the family feud template. For example, many of Wickham’s actions are motivated by his conspiracy with Darcy’s father to separate the lovers. And Mr. Collins plays a brief but vital (and humorous) role in adding to the struggle.

In writing Darcy vs. Bennet, I was surprised how easily the various plot points of P&P fit with elements of R&J. However, I do promise my version of the R&J story does have a happy ending; no one dies in a tomb!

And if that hasn’t already made you want to read it right away, here’s an excerpt from Darcy vs. Bennet:

“Just think, five thousand a year!” Elizabeth’s mother exclaimed for at least the sixth time that day. “Jane, you must be sure to smile at him.”

“Yes, Mama,” Jane said serenely—again.

“And be certain to have him dance with you. Lizzy’s friend Louisa swore that it only took one dance with her Robert and he fell in love! Now she is married into the Berwick family as happy as can be!”

“Yes, Mama,” Jane said.

Elizabeth exchanged an understanding smile with her elder sister. All week the family had been in an uproar over the arrival of Mr. Bingley at Netherfield Park. Her father had called on the man, and he had returned the call, but the Bennet daughters had yet to meet him.

Now, however, they were on their way to the Meryton Assembly, where Mr. Bingley was certain to be in attendance. Elizabeth winced as the carriage went over a particularly big bump, and she was jostled against Jane.

“And he may have other wealthy gentlemen with him!” her mother exclaimed. “I heard he was to bring twelve ladies and six gentlemen to the assembly.”

“I heard it was seven ladies and four gentlemen,” Lydia put in.

Her mother waved her handkerchief irritably. “In any case, he is likely to have other wealthy friends.”

“I will be sure to smile at them!” Lydia exclaimed.

“Good for you!” Their mother smiled.

“I can smile at gentlemen, too!” Kitty whined.

“There is no doubt of that.” Their father rolled his eyes.

“I do not believe it is appropriate to smile at men to whom we have not been properly introduced,” Mary added.

Elizabeth massaged her temples. It was possible she would have a headache before they even arrived at the assembly.

“Do you think there will be any men in regimentals?” Lydia asked. This began a discussion of how dashing men appeared in a red coat, and Mr. Bingley’s party of guests was temporarily forgotten.

Lady Lucas greeted the Bennet party at the entrance to the assembly with the information that Mr. Bingley had brought two gentlemen and two ladies. The ladies were his sisters, and one of the gentlemen was married to one of the sisters. The other gentleman was a friend of Mr. Bingley’s who was rumored to be worth ten thousand pounds a year, but Lady Lucas had not caught his name.

At this news, Elizabeth’s mother was in an even greater frenzy of excitement. “Oh, Jane! You must be sure to dance with both of them! Is the other gentleman well favored? He must be in want of a wife as well. Elizabeth, be sure to stand near him. Perhaps he would dance with you too!”

Elizabeth simply nodded; she knew from experience that any type of protest was futile and would only prolong her mother’s inappropriate behavior.

Within a few minutes Mr. Bingley had made his way to their party, and Mr. Bennet introduced the newcomer to his wife and daughters, whereupon Mr. Bingley immediately invited Jane to dance. Lydia and Kitty ran off to join some of the other neighborhood girls, and Mary departed for a discussion with the local vicar.

Elizabeth stood awkwardly with her mother. The assembly hall was quite crowded and warm. The others in Mr. Bingley’s party were well concealed by the crush of people, for Elizabeth noticed no strangers. However, Mrs. Long waded through the crowd to be at Mrs. Bennet’s side. Her eager expression suggested she had some interesting gossip to impart.

“Have you heard about Mr. Bingley’s guests?” she asked Elizabeth’s mother.

“Indeed, I have! Ten thousand a year!” Mrs. Bennet exclaimed.

“Well, the man may have a fortune, but the man is proud and disagreeable!” Mrs. Long said. “He has refused to dance with anyone save the ladies in his party and stares at everyone with haughty disdain. I told Henry, ‘Well, if that is how Mr. Darcy feels about Meryton, then Meryton does not—’”

Elizabeth and her mother gasped in unison, but Mrs. Bennet recovered first. “W-What is his name, Marianne?”

“Mr. Darcy. I believe his given name is Fitzwilliam. I am sure it must be a family name because who would choose to bestow such a name—”

Mrs. Bennet had turned white, and Elizabeth was sure her complexion looked no better. “Where does he reside?” Mrs. Bennet asked her friend.

“I believe his family is from an estate in Derbyshire.”

Elizabeth’s world went white for a moment at these words, so implausible and unwelcome, and she thought she might faint. He was here. There was no doubt it was him. In the two years since the masquerade ball, he had constantly invaded her thoughts. She could not help comparing every man she encountered to “William.” But she had believed herself safe from another encounter.

Would he recognize her? Remember her? Was he angry at how she had fled the ball? Of course, he would know by now that she had not been invited. Did he think her terribly wanton? Perhaps he had forgotten her; that would be for the best.

Elizabeth attempted to quell her growing panic. It hardly matters what Mr. Darcy thinks of me, she reasoned. Once he learns I am part of Thomas Bennet’s family, he will be disgusted. But the thought of seeing that look of disgust on his face ignited more panic. I must leave before he sees me!

Giveaway:

Victoria is generously offering a copy of Darcy vs. Bennet to one of my readers. This giveaway is open internationally, and the winner will have the choice of an ebook or paperback. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address about what intrigues you most about this unique take on Pride and Prejudice. The giveaway will close on Sunday, April 17. The winner will be chosen randomly. I will email the winner and announce their name in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

© 2016 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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when mary met the colonelI’m thrilled to announce the release of Victoria Kincaid’s new novella, When Mary Met the Colonel, which I had the pleasure of editing last year. I loved that Victoria’s Pride and Prejudice sequel focused on Mary Bennet; I’m always drawn to variations that focus on the secondary characters, and Mary doesn’t usually get a chance to shine.

Without the beauty and wit of the older Bennet sisters or the liveliness of the younger, Mary is the Bennet sister most often overlooked. She has resigned herself to a life of loneliness, alleviated only by music and the occasional book of military history.

Colonel Fitzwilliam finds himself envying his friends who are marrying wonderful women while he only attracts empty-headed flirts. He longs for a caring, well-informed woman who will see the man beneath the uniform.

A chance meeting in Longbourn’s garden during Darcy and Elizabeth’s wedding breakfast kindles an attraction between Mary and the Colonel. However, the Colonel cannot act on these feelings since he must wed an heiress. He returns to war, although Mary finds she cannot easily forget him.

Is happily ever after possible after Mary meets the Colonel?

Please welcome Victoria Kincaid to talk about the power of reading when it comes to knowledge and relationships:

One of the interesting things about being a writer is that sometimes our writing is smarter than we are. In other words, what I (the writer) write occasionally gives me a glimpse (retrospectively) into my own psyche. I recently had one of those moments with When Mary Met the Colonel.

In the story, Colonel Fitzwilliam is intrigued by Mary Bennet’s knowledge and understanding of military history, which she gained from books in her father’s library. I added this information because I wanted to find some point of commonality between two characters who initially might not appear to be well suited. Only after I had published the novella did I realize that Mary’s choice of reading material reflects one of my strongly held beliefs: the power of reading in teaching us about the world.

Of course, Mary Bennet had few alternative ways to learn about the world; with such a proscribed life, she would have had few other sources of information. However, even today when we have far more opportunities to travel and videos or podcasts to teach us an infinite variety of subjects, I still believe reading is the most valuable way to learn about almost any subject. Obviously, reading on the internet is a great source of information, but for a deep understanding of a subject, nothing beats a book. Whether it is fiction or non-fiction, books take you more in depth than just about any other medium.

In my novella, Colonel Fitzwilliam is impressed by how Mary uses her knowledge to analyze the battles she sees reported in the paper. I also think it’s the fantasy of every book-loving woman to be admired and appreciated for her love of reading—and for her intelligence. So often bookish women are portrayed as dried-up spinster librarians. So, who doesn’t like the idea that being an avid reader helps you “get the guy”?

And I do believe this is true to life. Although there may be guys who are threatened by a well-read, intelligent woman, who wants them? For most people, having the information and understanding you derive from books can only make you more interesting. And, personally, I think “interesting” is very attractive.

Please enjoy this excerpt from When Mary Met the Colonel:

Fitz loved serving his country, and the work he did was important, but girls like Kitty Bennet and Maria Lucas could not see beyond the uniform. They never expressed any interest in him.

He slowed his pace to an amble and brushed his hair from his forehead. It was a warm day for spring, and he enjoyed the sunshine as he followed a meandering path, occasionally framed by overhanging branches and vines.

He gave his head a hard shake. Enough with this melancholy inner soliloquy. I am not a heroine in a popular novel! He had no need to provide an heir and no responsibilities to anyone else. If he never married, he would still have a good life. Never mind that the thought generated an aching hollowness in his chest. He would survive; soldiers were trained to survive.

Better never to marry than to marry a superficial chit who chattered on all day about lace and curtains and the cost of a joint of meat. He shuddered at the thought.

The pathway opened unexpectedly into a little clearing with a bench in the center. Fitz stumbled to a stop; the bench was inhabited.

His sudden appearance caused the young woman to start violently and drop her handkerchief. Her head jerked up to see who had disturbed her and immediately tilted down again. It was enough to reveal a pretty face, although perhaps not by conventional standards. Her brown hair was dark and glossy, pulled back in a severe style without any curls around her face. Her nose was a little long and her brows a little heavy for today’s fashions, but her mouth…was wide and pink with full, round lips. A mouth made for kissing. What the hell had provoked that thought?

“I beg your pardon, miss.” Fitz bent to retrieve the handkerchief. Taking it from his fingers, she was careful not to touch him while her eyes remained fixed on the stone of the path. “I did not mean to startle you…” She said nothing, crushing the handkerchief in one hand. “…I believed myself to be alone.”

Her eyes flicked up to his face and down again, long enough for him to discern that they were a dark, rich brown—but red-rimmed. “’Tis not your fault. I-I fear I startle easily.” Her voice was low and melodious. Fitz would love to hear her sing. If only he could inquire about the source of her tears, but he did not even know her name.

Perhaps he could lead to the subject indirectly. “It appears that we are both seeking a refuge from the crowds in the drawing room.”

She said nothing for a moment, but finally, she spoke. “Yes. My sister and her friend wished me to play dance music for them, but there is not enough space for dancing.”

Fitz gave a short laugh. “I thought so as well!” He cleared his throat. “You must be Miss Mary Bennet.”

The young lady dabbed at her eyes with a corner of the handkerchief, which was still fairly clean despite its tumble to the stones. “Yes. The two elder Miss Bennets are the pretty ones, and the two younger Miss Bennets are the lively ones. I am the one in the middle—neither pretty nor lively.” Her hand immediately flew to her mouth. “Oh, dear me! That sounded terribly bitter, did it not? I apologize, Colonel.”

Ah, he suspected that he had now uncovered the reason for her tears; such sentiments might be particularly acute on the day one of her sisters married. Fitz took the liberty of seating himself next to Miss Bennet. “Do you fear to offend my delicate sensibilities?” He batted his eyelashes absurdly, provoking laughter. “Only apologize if you are speaking an untruth.”

Her lips thinned into a flat line. “No. I always speak the truth.”

“No, you do not.” This caused her eyes to raise to his face in bewilderment. “You are quite pretty, perhaps not in the same way as your sisters.” Mary’s lips parted slightly, and she appeared, if anything, even more bewildered. Had no one ever said as much to her? “And if by ‘lively’ you mean that your sisters chase men wearing red coats, then I am quite pleased you are comparatively sedate.” This elicited a giggle from the young lady. “Your presence is quite restful, and so far your conversation is vastly more interesting.”

She blinked rapidly at him as if not understanding his words. Surely someone else had thought to tell her how pretty she was? Then a deep blush spread itself over her face and the part of her neck revealed by her gown’s neckline, much higher than today’s styles. Why did a simple compliment provoke such a reaction?

“Thank you. It is very kind of you to say.” Her voice was almost a whisper. Mary fixed her gaze on a number of blossoms in her lap.

“I did not say it to be kind. It is what I observe.”

Blushing an even darker red, she glanced about the clearing as if hoping to be rescued from this conversation. She was not only unaccustomed to compliments but also exceedingly shy, Fitz decided. She resembled Georgiana a bit, although Miss Bennet must be at least two or three years older.

Apparently deciding that no help would be forthcoming, she returned her gaze to the hands tangled in her lap. She cleared her throat. “Mr. Darcy said you are recently returned from the peninsula.”

Fitz blinked, a bit surprised at the abrupt shift in topic. Did she wish to direct the conversation away from the personal? “Yes.”

“I have been following the war in the papers,” she murmured. Fitz raised his eyebrows. A woman had never broached this topic with him. “Do you believe those accounts to be accurate on the whole?”

Fitz leaned toward her slightly. “Are you certain you wish to speak about this? Many women find the topic to be…distressing.”

A crease formed between her eyebrows. “Sir, the events of this war will affect our country for generations to come. It will influence the futures of my nieces and nephews. Faced with such weighty matters, I do not understand why anyone believes I should care about the latest designs in lace!”

Abruptly, she bit her lip and blushed. “I apologize for that outburst. I have had a trying day. I am overwrought.” She stood quickly, straightening her skirts. “I will trouble you no—”

Without forethought, Fitz seized her hand in his. “Please do not leave just when you are proving to be an interesting conversational partner.” He remained seated, hoping it would encourage her to stay. “I think I must.” She stared at the ground.

“Miss Bennet, if you will allow me to be frank, the majority of my visit has been occupied by your younger sister and her friend admiring the fine handiwork of the buttons on my uniform.” Her shoulders shook; had he provoked laughter? “Intelligent conversation about the happenings in the world would be quite welcome.”

Slowly, Mary’s head lifted. Her eyes traveled down her arm, paused on her hand—which he had not released—and then rose to meet his eyes. Whatever she saw there caused her body to soften slightly. Fitz took the opportunity to tug on her hand, encouraging her to sit once more.

It was wildly inappropriate to be holding her hand, although they both wore gloves. If anyone should happen upon them, their proximity could lead to all sorts of difficulties, including an accusation of compromising her reputation. Yet he could not bring himself to leave; he was too intrigued to allow the conversation to end.

She allowed him to pull her down on the bench beside him, and he instantly released her hand. “I pray you, ask your questions.” Mary regarded him warily, a wild animal that might be easily startled. “What did you wish to ask me?” he asked gently.

“Did you fight at Salamanca?” He nodded. Her eyes lit with interest. “The papers all claimed Wellington’s strategy was brilliant, but they never described the details. What did he do?”

Fitz was momentarily in the uncharacteristic position of being at a loss for words. This was her most pressing question? He expected a query about the Spanish people or Wellington’s character. Instead, she asked about…battle strategy?”

Giveaway:

Victoria is generously offering one ebook copy of When Mary Met the Colonel to my readers. To enter, simply leave a comment with your email address and tell me what intrigues you most about this novella. Entries will be accepted through Sunday, February 28, 2016. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments. Good luck!

© 2016 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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mr. darcy to the rescueI’m thrilled to welcome Victoria Kincaid back to Diary of an Eccentric to celebrate the release of her latest novel, Mr. Darcy to the Rescue, which I had the privilege of editing.  Victoria is here to talk about humor in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice:

The Importance of Laughter

So, I wrote a Pride and Prejudice variation in which Elizabeth actually becomes engaged to Mr. Collins. Why was I motivated to write such a plot? Well, there are multiple reasons, but one is because my son (then 11 years old) thought Mr. Collins was funny. My son laughed at the guy when he read the Pride and Prejudice graphic novel and even more when we watched the 1995 adaptation (He also does a wicked impersonation of Mrs. Bennet: “You have no compassion for my poor nerves!”). His reaction made me think about Mr. C as more than just a plot contrivance.

When writing P&P variations, authors like me tend to focus on the romance, which makes sense. It’s a beautiful, compelling, timeless love story. Just the fact that P&P can sustain so many wonderful variations is a testament to how well-written it is and how well-drawn Darcy and Elizabeth are. But it’s easy to forget that it’s also a wicked social satire. My son’s reaction reminded me that humor is an essential element of the novel.

And, although Collins isn’t a very nice person, he’s a great source of humor. I had a great time writing scenes with him because he’s so egregious in so many ways. And unexpectedly, those scenes set the tone for the entire novel; the rest of it became fairly light and humorous despite the drama inherent in Darcy and Elizabeth’s romance. Darcy himself even reveals a sly sense of humor when dealing with Caroline Bingley’s insults to Elizabeth.

Writing Mr. Darcy to the Rescue taught me something about Austen’s novels: the importance of laughter. Although her characters often face worrisome dilemmas, the thread of humor helps remind us of a valuable tool in facing the difficult world. Elizabeth encounters some awful people, like Collins and Lady Catherine, but her sense of humor prevents her from growing too angry and resentful toward them (and probably helps her avoid an ulcer). She could easily become bitter, but instead she is amused.

Along with tremendous insights into the human character, laughter is one of the gifts Austen gave us in Pride and Prejudice—and it’s one I flatter myself 🙂 I have been able to share with the readers of Mr. Darcy to the Rescue.

About Mr. Darcy to the Rescue

When the irritating Mr. Collins proposes marriage, Elizabeth Bennet is prepared to refuse him, but then she learns that her father is ill. If Mr. Bennet dies, Collins will inherit Longbourn and her family will have nowhere to go. Elizabeth accepts the proposal, telling herself she can be content as long as her family is secure. If only she weren’t dreading the approaching wedding day…

Ever since leaving Hertfordshire, Mr. Darcy has been trying to forget his inconvenient attraction to Elizabeth. News of her betrothal forces him to realize how devastating it would be to lose her. He arrives at Longbourn intending to prevent the marriage, but discovers Elizabeth’s real opinion about his character. Then Darcy recognizes his true dilemma…

How can he rescue her when she doesn’t want him to?

Giveaway: Victoria is generously offering one ebook copy, in any format, open internationally. Simply leave a comment about why you want to read Mr. Darcy to the Rescue and/or whether or not you find Mr. Collins to be a humorous character, and please include your email address. This giveaway will be open through Sunday, August 23.

© 2015 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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