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Jane Austen’s birthday: Bringing changes to VJA in 2012

16 Dec

Happy birthday, Jane!

There are dozens of blogs and websites celebrating Jane today, which is a powerful thing. Think about all of the topics, guest posts, and online games occurring because of her and her impact. This and events from the past few weeks have helped me to re-think what this site should be in 2012.

The spinoff author interviews were relatively popular on VJA, but most importantly, they’re not what I want to host on here.  I may do one every now and then, but they won’t be the main focus any longer. I’ve really enjoyed them, and I hope you have, too.

But now it’s time to try something new and bring the conversation back!

I started thinking about what I like most about Jane and her world, and it’s her books. I like reading them, and I like highlighting the portions relevant to me at the time. It amazes me how new aspects jump out each time I read them.

For me, it’s all about her books. To be honest, I don’t like many spinoffs, and I don’t care to watch many of the movies. They’re excellent, and I highly support and appreciate the creative minds who make them happen, but I’m a bit of a purist when it comes to Jane. Her own words speak to me the most.

So what does that have to do with VJA and 2012?

I’m embarking on an adventure to read all of her novels again next year — shooting for one novel every two months. On VJA, I’ll regularly post comments and invite discussion. I realize that plenty of blogs host book discussions throughout the year, but I want to see if we can take it a bit further on VJA.

Rather than being just a blog about what’s going on in the world of Jane Austen today, VJA will reflect my own ideas in an attempt to uncover life’s truths in her novels. Instead of a hobby that I regularly update (but sometimes neglect), I’m really going to create a goal to post here on schedule and invite you to help me achieve it along the way. As I explore this aspect of Jane’s world with more excitement and passion, you’ll be able to tell. It’ll make for a much better read.

So here’s to you, Jane. A bit different than the post you’ll find on other blogs today, but I think that’s what I’m aiming for. My gift to her is the simple appreciation of her works and how much they continue to impact our lives. I plan to delve into them and investigate the characters, situations, and words we have grown to love.

Want to celebrate her in this way as well? Join me! I’ll create another post soon with a tentative schedule, discussion topics, and other ideas. Do you have any recommendations for me? Which book should I read first? Is there a particular topic I should emphasize throughout the year? Do you want to be one of my regulars?


Interview with C. Allyn Pierson, author of Mr. Darcy’s Little Sister

2 Dec
I hope your December is starting out well! I have a fun feature for today. Carey Allyn Pierson agreed to do an interview about her book, Mr. Darcy’s Little Sister. You can find her on her own website, her blog, and the Austen Authors site.

Carolyn Crist: What sparked you to pursue publication as an author?

C Allyn PiersonC. Allyn Pierson: I read a book that retold Pride and Prejudice from Darcy’s point of view. It was the first fan fiction I read and I selected it because of it’s good reviews, and I enjoyed reading it, but there were a couple of parts of the storyline that I didn’t agree with. I found myself saying “No! That’s not how it happened. That character would never do that.” Eventually, I realized that I had a specific vision of what “really” happened after the original ended. My eldest son had just gone off to college and I had a bit more time, so I started writing. I did not tell anyone, not even my husband, what I was doing because I did not know how far this would take me.


Carolyn: What ideas led to your books, especially a story about Darcy’s little sister?

Mr. Darcy's Little SisterCarey: I actually wrote my original book as a continuation of Darcy and Elizabeth’s story after their marriage, but Georgiana was a big part of that since she is living with them and she is preparing to make her debut. As the editing process went on, her story became more and more important. When I sold the book to Sourcebooks it was on the condition that I rewrite it as Georgiana’s story and from her point of view. I liked the idea that I could rewrite the book using the things I had learned from self-publishing and make it the book it should have been.


Carolyn: What characters draw your attention?

Carey: I was interested in Elizabeth and Darcy and how they adjusted to marriage, but Georgiana was very interesting- intelligent, talented, but desperately shy and malleable enough for Wickham to convince her to elope, even though she knew it was terribly wrong. She is at a critical point in her development when P&P takes place, and I thought it was interesting finding out what influences her to become she person she is as an adult.


Carolyn: What intrigues you about Jane Austen?

Carey: Jane Austen is the only author of the pre-Victorian era that writes about real people and how they interact. She doesn’t put in melodrama or Gothic details for excitement. Because of this she is very readable even today.


Carolyn: How do you support yourself financially while writing?

Carey: I am a physician, as is my husband. I work part-time since I was doing the primary parenting in our family, and that included raising a son with autism. So, basically, the answer to that question is that my husband’s eye surgery supports me and allows me to do whatever I want with my time. And no, I am not willing to share him!

Thanks, Carey!

Interview and giveaway: Sharon Lathan, author of Miss Darcy Falls in Love

15 Nov


A treat to get you through the week! I am lucky to be on Sharon Lathan’s blog tour of Miss Darcy Falls in Love. She was able to slot me into her busy schedule, and voila! This is a wonderful interview.

She was also kind enough to include a copy of the book for a giveaway! Leave a comment below about the idea of Miss Darcy falling in love. The deadline for comments is Nov. 21, and I will announce the winner the next day!

Miss Darcy Falls in LoveSynopsis of Miss Darcy Falls in Love:

Noble young ladies were expected to play an instrument, but Georgiana Darcy is an accomplished musician who hungers to pursue her talents. She embarks upon a tour of Europe, ending in Paris where two very different men will ignite her heart in entirely different ways and begin a bitter rivalry to win her. But only one holds the key to her happiness.

Set in post-Napoleonic Empire France, Miss Darcy Falls in Love is a riveting love story that enters a world of passion where gentlemen know exactly how to please and a young woman learns to direct her destiny and understand her heart.





Sharon’s bio:

Sharon LathanSharon Lathan is the best-selling author of The Darcy Saga sequel series to Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice. Her previously published novels are: Mr. and Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy: Two Shall Become One, Loving Mr. Darcy, My Dearest Mr. Darcy, In the Arms of Mr. Darcy, A Darcy Christmas, and The Trouble With Mr. Darcy. Miss Darcy Falls in Love is Georgiana’s tale of love and adventure while in France, complete with a happy ending. In addition to her writing, Sharon works as a Registered Nurse in a Neonatal ICU. She resides with her family in Hanford, California, in the sunny San Joaquin Valley. Visit Sharon on her website: and on Austen Authors, her group blog with 20 novelists of Austen literature:


Carolyn Crist: What motivated you to pursue publication as an author?

Sharon Lathan: Originally it was all about my belief that there were readers out in the world who wanted to continue living with Darcy and Lizzy as I did. That is why I began writing in the first place: My love for these characters and this story, and my desire to stay with them. Posting online was deeply satisfying and encouraging. Those who read my saga loved it, so I reasoned that there must be others who would as well if they could only discover me! Having a novel published, whether via a self-publishing format or with a house, was the best way to reach a wider audience.

Over time I have grown to love writing and the career of a novelist for a host of reasons. It is very difficult at times, but the creativity and connection with readers is marvelous.


Carolyn: What sparked the idea for Miss Darcy Falls in Love?

Sharon:  All through my Darcy Saga series I wrote story lines for the various secondary characters. Mary Bennet, Colonel Fitzwilliam, Anne de Bourgh – they each found love and experienced adventures as subplots to the main plot with Darcy and Lizzy. In truth, I could have expanded on many of their stories and written novels for them. Initially I anticipated weaving Georgiana’s love story into the series just like the others. Miss Darcy, however, had a different idea! Her desires inspired me, and when I met the man she was destined to be with, it instantly became clear that this was a tale worth a whole novel.

This small excerpt gives a hint of how I matured my Georgiana Darcy, the feelings I infused within her, and a glimpse of the man who may be the one to unlock what she has buried deep inside:

“The question hung on the air, Sebastian finally tossing the mutilated twig over the edge and turning to look at Georgiana, his gray eyes hard as slate and his voice firm. “I may not know my entire future, Miss Darcy, but I do know that someday I will be Lord Essenton, with an estate I love as my responsibility. I will have a wife and children. I will serve in the House of Lords. And I will play and compose music. I cannot separate and deny portions of who I am and all that is central to my happiness,” he finished with a shake of his head.

They stared at each other for a long stretch. Sebastian’s countenance was as serious as she had ever seen. Gone was the amused twinkle that perpetually lit his gray eyes and the characteristic lilt to his full lips. Suddenly he appeared years older than three and twenty, intense and sure. It was as if he strained to communicate nonverbally to her, sensing that she would understand his heart. And the oddity was that she did, at least to an extent. As a woman with a set future before her, indulging in pointless whimsies, no matter how passionately felt, was easily tempered.

Or were they?

For years her dreams had been invaded with desires for more. Denial became second nature, knowing that for her, those dreams could never be realized. Mr. Butler, however, was a man, thus having no reason to reject his passions or accept inevitabilities.

She nodded, holding his gaze. “I do understand, Mr. Butler. Perfectly. I applaud your persistence. Perhaps it is my naïveté and optimism, but I think your father will eventually understand and be as proud of you as the others in your family.”

“Perhaps,” he agreed. “Someday.” Then he smiled, the jovial Mr. Butler she was beginning to know well snapping back into place. “Now, we should return to the others before they send out the hounds.”

“Or eat all the food.”



Carolyn: How did you first decide to write Austenesque novels, and what keeps you going? (You’re quite prolific!)

Sharon: Thank you! It all began for me when I saw the 2005 adaptation of Pride & Prejudice.
I fell in love with the movie and then all things Austen. Yet it primarily was the fascination with Darcy and Lizzy that drove me to begin writing. I could not let them go. Now I am at the stage in my career where I simply love creating stories and characters. I adore the Darcys and other Austen characters, but I have also grown very addicted to imagining new people and places. I see no reason why I need to limit myself to the world of Austen. However, I also see no reason to leave the world behind. These characters are now mine, I love them, and I envision living with them for a long while to come.


Carolyn: How do you support yourself financially while writing?

Sharon: I haven’t given up the profession I knew was my destiny when I was nine years old. Writing came to me recently, but being a registered nurse has been my life for over 27 years. I work in a neonatal ICU taking care of ill babies and can’t imagine giving it up. Fortunately I can work part time, adding that income to my royalties and husband’s paycheck. We aren’t rich but we survive! And I can continue to write.


Carolyn: And what are your next steps? (I’m sure enjoying a honeymoon should be one! Any other books starting to form in your mind?)

Sharon: As you intimated, we had a wedding in our family just over a week ago. My daughter
has returned from her honeymoon and the bits and pieces of transitioning are being taken care of. I, of course, am helping her AND attending to a blog tour! Yep, I think I need to laze in a tropical locale for a week. That, however, is not on the agenda. Instead I will be focusing on my next novel which is under contract for a 2013 release. This time I am shining the spotlight on Dr. George Darcy, a character of my creating introduced in Loving Mr. Darcy. He is a remarkable man, if I say so myself! Dwelling in India for over 30 years, George has a lifetime of loves and adventures to share. I am so excited to be granted the opportunity to tell his tale. It is going to be fantastic!

Thank you, Carolyn, for giving me an opportunity to speak with your readers about my newest release. I will check in as often as possible to answer any additional questions anyone has. Good luck with the giveaway!

Sharon, you are fabulous! Thank you so much for this opportunity. I can’t wait to hear what everyone says in the comments below.

Interview with Patrice Sarath, author of The Unexpected Miss Bennet

14 Nov


Welcome Patrice Sarath, author of  The Unexpected Miss Bennet, which is new out this year from Robert Hale Ltd and is forthcoming from Penguin Berkley in December. The Unexpected Miss Bennet takes up Mary Bennet’s story. You can find Patrice on her website.

Her description  of the book:

Unexpected-Miss-BennetPride and Prejudice‘s Mary Bennet gets her own story…

The third of five daughters, Miss Mary Bennet is a rather unremarkable girl. With her countenance being somewhere between plain and pretty and in possession of no great accomplishments, few expect the third Bennet daughter to attract a respectable man. But although she is shy and would much prefer to keep her nose stuck in a book, Mary is uncertain she wants to meekly follow the path to spinsterhood set before her.

Determined that Mary should have a chance at happiness, the elder Bennet sisters concoct a plan. Lizzy invites Mary to visit at Pemberley, hoping to give her sister a place to grow and make new acquaintances. But it is only when Mary strikes out independently that she can attempt to become accomplished in her own right. And in a family renowned for its remarkable Misses, Mary Bennet may turn out to be the most wholly unexpected of them all…
Buy it on Amazon: The Unexpected Miss Bennet

Carolyn Crist: What sparked you to pursue publication as an author? (A former journalist, I’m turning to creative writing and wondering how others have started!)

Patrice Sarath: I also have a background as a reporter. I always wanted to write fiction, and I wrote short stories all throughout my childhood and teen years. In college, I won the short story contest and the first prize was $50! That was pretty awesome money back then, and actually still is. I consider that my first sale. But my focus was journalism – I was a magazine editor – until I got let go from a computer magazine position. I decided to take some time to write fiction and that’s when I began to write seriously.

And then I got a job offer right away, which was both a relief – I was married with a child, and we really couldn’t have me out of work – and a bit of a disappointment.

But I kept writing and started selling short stories, and sold my first novels, which are the fantasies Gordath Wood and Red Gold Bridge, after several years of trying. The Unexpected Miss Bennet is my third novel.


Carolyn: What ideas led to your books, especially a story about Mary?

Patrice: I was always intrigued by Mary Bennet from Pride & Prejudice. Here she is, shy, bookish, socially awkward – just like me, in fact. And I never understood why she was never Mr Collins’ first choice for a wife. She would have been perfect for him. So instead, I created a different life for Mary, in which she grows up and changes and sees life a little differently. I also provide a sweeter love interest for her than a stodgy vicar. (Apologies to all vicars out there, stodgy or otherwise.)

As for my other books, I am drawn to and fascinated by what I call “real magic.” That is, magic that exists in our mundane world, but it’s quiet and not flashy, and is transformative without being an attention hog. I also love stories in which heroes go to another world. So that’s what Gordath Wood and Red Gold Bridge are about – a mysterious portal transports two heroines to a dangerous fantasy world.


Carolyn: What characters draw your attention?

Patrice: Nice guys, the kind who are competent and good at what they do, but they wouldn’t dream of being a spoiled alpha male. I am so over alpha males. I like the “still waters run deep” hero and heroine.


Carolyn: What intrigues you about Jane Austen?

Patrice: Her genius as a novelist puts her on the same level as Shakespeare, yet she is absolutely unpretentious and accessible. Six books, all of them some of the best writing in the English language. Plus, she’s funny, and timeless and her characters are recognizable.


Carolyn: How do you support yourself financially while writing?

Patrice: I’m an industry analyst for a business information company. The day job offers security and routine, which is absolutely essential for the kind of writer I am. When things are unsettled, I can’t write. If I’m worried about money, I can’t write.

That said, I can’t come home from work and sit down and write. I have to give it a few hours and then settle in after 9 pm or so, and I write for a couple of hours a night.

Thanks for the interview! I enjoyed it!

Thanks, Patrice! I really admire what you do and can’t wait to read more.

Wicked author Gregory Maguire doesn’t ‘get’ Austen appreciation

10 Nov

Entertainment Weekly ( Shelf Life featured an interview with  Gregory Maguire, author of Wicked and his newest novel, Out of Oz.

EW asked Maguire about several books and authors, and he mentions The Diamond in the Window, Maurice Sendak, Proust, and War and Peace. It’s worth the read. I’ve always enjoyed Maguire’s work, but this one caught me off guard:

Stephen Lee: What’s a classic or much-hyped book that you’ve never quite understood the merits of?

Gregory Maguire: That’s an easy one to answer. I don’t get everybody’s devotion to Jane Austen. I think Jane Austen makes great movies [laughs]. For a long time, I would have answered Pride and Prejudice as the book that I said I’d read but hadn’t, but I finally read it about a year ago, and I think Pride and Prejudice has some very funny parts, but to me, it’s about three times too long — and look who’s talking, somebody who writes 500-page novels! The humor in it is funny, but the situations seem to me very repetitive and run into one another, yet almost all the critics I know think that the great writers who I really do admire from the 19th and 20th century descended from Jane Austen — and we must all bow to her and kiss the hem of her garment — but I’ve never gotten it. I think I’m missing the Jane Austen molecule or something.

Wait. Hold up. Really? Vic Sanborn thought the same yesterday on Janeites on the James. I understand that some people don’t understand Austen quite the way we Austenites do, but this really intrigues me.

I’ve tried digging into his comment, and it makes me wonder if people truly read her novels with a modern mindset. How can you not read her work while thinking about life at that time and simply what it meant for her to write and publish novels like these?

Interview with Amanda Grange, author of Mr. Darcy’s Diary and Mr. Darcy, Vampyre

31 Oct

We’re honored to host Amanda Grange as a Halloween treat today!

Jane Austen Award nominee Amanda Grange was born in Yorkshire, England. She spent her teenage years reading Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer whilst also finding time to study music at Nottingham University. She has had more than 20 books published including six Jane Austen retellings and Mr. Darcy, Vampyre.

Amanda Grange now lives in Cheshire. Visit Amanda at her website Amanda Grange, on Twitter as @HRomanceUK, and on Facebook as Amanda Grange.

Carolyn Crist: What sparked you to pursue publication as an author?

Amanda Grange: I’d always loved writing, ever since I was a little girl, and as I grew older it became an ambition of mine to have a book published. I didn’t always finish my books when I wrote for myself, and I thought that aiming for publication would encourage me to finish a book, and to write the best book I possibly could.


Carolyn: What ideas led to your Jane Austen books, especially Mr. Darcy, Vampyre and Mr. Darcy’s Diary?

Amanda: My first Austen book was Mr Darcy’s Diary. I remember it very clearly, even though I wrote it about eight years ago. I was reading Pride and Prejudice again, and it occurred to me that it was a very modern book in many ways. It had a lot of short chapters, a lot of dialogue – both things that editors love today. But in one way it was very different to novels published today, because it didn’t have any sections written from the hero’s point of view. I started writing some of the scenes from Mr Darcy’s point of view and couldn’t stop, so that’s how I ended up writing Mr Darcy’s Diary (the UK hardback and the audio download are both called Darcy’s Diary, by the way).

With Mr Darcy, Vampyre I wanted to write a book in the tradition of the Gothic novels that Jane Austen read, books like The Mysteries of Udolpho by Mrs Radcliffe. I’d had the idea of making Mr Darcy a vampyre for some years, ever since watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer, because something about the Buffy/Angel dynamic reminded me of the Lizzy/Darcy dynamic. So when I had the idea of writing something in the great Gothic tradition, the two ideas merged and led to Mr Darcy, Vampyre.


Carolyn: What characters draw your attention?

Amanda: I like characters who are strongly drawn and who are true to themselves, like Lizzy Bennet. I like them to grow and develop throughout a book, and so I liked seeing Lizzy learn that she had been wrong to ridicule Mr Darcy and believe ill of him with very little reason. That’s also why I love Mr Darcy, because he changes. He’s proud and arrogant to begin with, but in the end he realises that Lizzy was right to reject him the first time round and confesses: “By you I was properly humbled.” I think it took a lot of courage for him to face his faults and change, and his ability to do that makes me really admire him.


Carolyn: What intrigues you about Jane Austen?

Amanda: I’m fascinated by the way she writes such different novels, even though they are all about the same subject matter. Pride and Prejudice is light, bright and sparkling whilst Persuasion is elegiac and Mansfield Park is more serious in tone. Northanger Abbey is a spoof of the Gothic novels popular at the time, Sense and Sensibility is dramatic and Emma confines itself entirely to one neighbourhood. So within six novels there is an enormous range.


Carolyn: How did you support yourself financially while writing?

Amanda: I had a day job, which is essential for most writers as it can take years to get published and then many more years to get established. I wrote in the evenings and at weekends, and sometimes in the early mornings as well. It’s a lot harder than most people think to get published, and to stay published. I admire anyone who wants to achieve that ambition, but I think it’s necessary to be realistic. Publication doesn’t necessarily mean earning a living, so it’s important to have a reliable source of income as well.


Carolyn: Tell us a bit about your piece in Jane Austen Made Me Do It!

Amanda: It’s about Mr and Mrs Bennet’s courtship. The story starts on Lizzy and Darcy’s wedding day, which reminds Mr Bennet of his own wedding day and the events leading up to it. I’ve often wondered why Mr Bennet married the silly Mrs Bennet, and so this story sets out to explain how it came about. There’s a lot of humour in it and we get to meet Mr Collins’s parents, as well as Mr Collins as a baby!

I also have another book coming out at the end of October, the UK paperback of Colonel Brandon’s Diary. I love this book. Colonel Brandon is such a romantic figure, and he has a tragic back story. A lot happened to him before he met Marianne, and Colonel Brandon’s Diary shows his life before and after he met her. It’s available from bookshops in the UK or from Amazon.

Thank you, Amanda! We admire how much you’ve achieved as an author, and we’d love to hear more tips when you have a chance!

Interview with Maya Slater, author of The Private Diary of Mr. Darcy

28 Oct

Happy Friday, Janeites!

Today’s interview is with Maya Slater, author of The Private Diary of Mr. Darcy, which is known as Mr. Darcy’s Diary in the UK.

Check out Maya’s website and enjoy the interview!

Carolyn Crist: What sparked you to pursue publication as an author?

Maya Slater: I’ve been a voracious reader since I was five, and I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was perhaps 12 years old and obsessed by Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights (Jane Austen came a little later). However, for my ‘day job’, I was an academic, lecturing in French Literature at London University. Of course I wrote academic books and articles, publishing several books on, and translations of, great French writers (see my website, Meanwhile, in private, I was writing fiction, too, but I didn’t try to publish anything, which was perhaps foolish, but find I can’t write seriously unless I’m able to dedicate myself to it completely – impossible when you’re trying to be a wife and mother as well (I was married to a doctor and bringing up two daughters).

Gradually the urge to write fiction grew irresistible – my girls had grown up and left home, so I took early retirement and got started.


Carolyn: What ideas led to your Jane Austen books, especially Mr. Darcy’s Diary?

Maya: It happened by accident. It was summertime, we were on holiday, sitting round a table by candlelight when someone said, ‘What would be the book you’d most like to read, if it had been written?’ I immediately replied, ‘Mr. Darcy’s Diary’. Everybody laughed, and I thought nothing more of it. But somehow the idea sat at the back of my mind and wouldn’t let me alone, till I decided to try it. Incidentally, the title in the US is The Private Diary of Mr. Darcy. This book and my story for Jane Austen Made Me Do It are the only Austen works I’ve written.


Carolyn: What types of characters do you like the most?

Maya: Difficult one – in Jane Austen I love feisty, witty characters like Elizabeth Bennet, the Crawfords or Mrs Croft, but I do also find myself drawn to more reserved, private characters who keep their emotions secret, but feel them all the more deeply in consequence. I’m thinking of Anne Elliot, Fanny Price or Jane Fairfax. The trouble with such characters is that they are difficult to write – I’ve tried, and they come out
repressed, neurotic and not good to read about.


Carolyn: What intrigues you about Jane Austen?

Maya: First, how did she do it? I’ve been to her house at Chawton, and seen the tiny round table she wrote at in the parlour, where she must have been continually disturbed and interrupted. Secondly, how did she achieve her amazing ear for dialogue, so sparkling and fresh? I find myself lingering over every speech, by Miss Bingley, or Isabella Thorpe, or Mrs Norris, wishing I could begin to emulate her. She must have been amazingly sharp as a person. Wouldn’t one love to meet her?


Carolyn: How did you support yourself financially while writing?

Maya: I don’t live off my writing, but regard my earnings as a bonus. It’s incredibly difficult to write for a living, and you tend to have to choose a genre and then stick at it. I feel lucky in that I can write what I want to, and can spend as long as I need polishing it up – at the moment I’m working on a novel set during the Second World War.


Carolyn: And, of course, tell us a bit about your piece in Jane Austen Made Me Do It.

Maya: My story is ‘Letters to Lydia’. The letter-writer is Lydia Bennet’s young friend Maria Lucas. During my careful reading of Pride and Prejudice for my novel, I had become fascinated by the idea that the love affair of Elizabeth and Darcy was conducted against a background of friends, relations, servants. Maria is present during Elizabeth’s stay at Hunsford, where Darcy first proposes to her and is turned down. It seemed to me only too likely that an inquisitive teenager with nothing much to occupy her would try to find out what was going on. Maria was also nearby during the episode of Lydia’s elopement. Jane Austen depicts her as naïve and silly, but she remains a very minor character in Pride and Prejudice, so I had a free hand to turn
her into a wrong-headed, muddled teenager with an obsession with romance. I really enjoyed building up her character, and retelling the events with a new twist.

Thank you, Maya! I can’t wait to read “Letters to Lydia.”

VJA interview with Jane Odiwe, author of Mr. Darcy’s Secret, Willoughby’s Return, Lydia Bennet’s Story

15 Oct
Austen lovers,
Yay for another Austen author interview so soon! I hope you like the fantastic answers. I’ll feature Jane for the weekend and have another post set for Monday, so get ready! Enjoy.
Jane Odiwe(From her website) Jane Odiwe lives in North London and Bath, with her husband, family, and two cats. More than anything she loves a house full of people, music, and good books, which is just as well, because that’s the norm! She is the author of Effusions of Fancy, Lydia Bennet’s Story, Wiloughby’s Return, and Mr. Darcy’s Secret. When she isn’t writing, she loves painting watercolors, especially of Jane Austen and the world in which she lived. Visit Jane at her website Austen Effusions, at her blog Jane Odiwe – Jane Austen Sequels, and on Twitter as @JaneOdiwe.
Vicariously Jane Austen: What sparked you to pursue publication as an author?

Jane Odiwe: I’ve always loved writing and still have a box of stories I wrote when I was very young. As I got older I didn’t have the confidence to pursue my dreams and was busy being a teacher and a mum. Being published still remained a dream, but it wasn’t until I first self-published a picture book with letters I’d written as though from Jane Austen’s sister that I actually thought about trying to write a whole novel. In the end I decided to prove to myself that I could do it, and wrote Lydia Bennet’s Story. The feedback I got from friends and other writers like Amanda Grange and Diana Birchall really spurred me on, and thanks to them my dream of getting a publisher came true when Sourcebooks took me on.

VJA: What ideas led to your Jane Austen books, specifically the latest one, Mr. Darcy’s Secret?

Jane: Effusions of Fancy came about because there are not many images of Jane and her family. I wanted to see a young Jane having fun, and falling in love. I painted pictures and accompanied them with ‘Cassandra’s letters’.

Lydia Bennet's StoryLydia Bennet’s Story appealed to me because she was a heroine not many people would like (which is how Jane had approached her novel about Emma) and I wanted to see if there was any chance she might reform-even slightly. I also wanted to find out why Lydia was so naughty and thought writing about her would give me an opportunity to write a comic novel.

Buy it now on Amazon – Lydia Bennet’s Story: A Sequel to Pride and Prejudice""

Willoughby's ReturnWilloughby’s Return was inspired by Sense and Sensibility. Mr. Willoughby returning to the area where Marianne lives with Colonel Brandon was an idea I couldn’t resist. I wanted to find out if all passion between Willoughby and Marianne was truly over, and if Marianne had married the right man.


Buy it now on Amazon – illoughby’s Return: A tale of almost irresistible temptation

Mr. Darcy's SecretMr. Darcy’s Secret was inspired by the idea that even when we fall in love, and know we have chosen the right person there is still a lot to learn about them. Darcy and Elizabeth are always portrayed as the perfect couple, but it occurred to me that at the end of Pride and Prejudice they don’t really know very much about one another. I wondered how much Darcy had really changed, if all his pride was a thing of the past, and I wanted to know if he’d allow his sister the same freedoms in choosing a life partner. What would happen if Elizabeth discovered something about Darcy’s past that she didn’t know about? And although Elizabeth had also changed over the course of Pride and Prejudice, I wanted to explore her character too. How would she deal with problems that might arise?

Buy it now on Amazon: Mr. Darcy’s Secret""

VJA: What types of characters do you like the most?

Jane: I like the imperfect ones as they give you something to really explore. I think most of Jane’s characters, even the good ones are imperfect, which is what makes them so real. I love expanding on characters like Mr. and Mrs. Bennet, Mrs. Jennings, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, William Collins, and of course heroines like Marianne Dashwood, Lydia and Elizabeth Bennet. I also love inventing my own characters, particularly heroes. In Willoughby’s Return I found a gorgeous young man for Margaret called Henry Lawrence, and Georgiana gets a lovely man too though I shall keep you guessing about him!

VJA: What intrigues you about Jane Austen?

Jane: I’m intrigued by the mysteries in Jane Austen’s life, there is so much that we don’t really know about her. Did she ever really fall in love? What did she really look like? Was she as much fun as I think she would have been? Why did Cassandra burn all those letters, and what I wouldn’t give to find copies of her journals or a painting that has “This is me, signed Jane Austen” on the bottom.

VJA: How did you support yourself financially while writing?

Jane: Good question! I’d like to say straight away that most writers do not make fortunes as is the public perception, and that if you are considering being a writer don’t hand in your notice on the day job unless you’re given an enormous advance. I work with my husband in his graphic design company, and produce anything from illustrations to designs for posters and menus, but I am very lucky to spend most of my time writing. I am married to the most wonderful man in the world. He totally supports my writing, and without him I simply couldn’t spend all the time I do writing my books.

VJA: Tell us a bit about your piece in Jane Austen Made Me Do It.

Jane-Austen-Made-Me-Do-ItJane: My story is called ‘Waiting’, and to my immense pleasure it’s the second one in the book! At the end of Persuasion I wanted to know what would happen next. Anne and Captain Wentworth have waited almost nine years before finding one another again, and falling in love. How would her family react to their news? Would they be pleased for her? I had such fun with characters like the snobbish Sir Walter Elliot, and Anne’s sisters, Elizabeth and Mary. Writing scenes between Anne and Frederick when they first meet was something I’d wanted to do for a long time and I loved writing them. The stories in the book are fabulous-all different, and there’s something for everyone!

Buy it now on Amazon: Jane Austen Made Me Do It: Original Stories Inspired by Literature’s Most Astute Observer of the Human Heart

Thanks Jane! We can’t wait to talk to you some more!

If Elizabeth Bennet were at a party, which character from another Jane Austen book would she interact with?

14 Oct

Today’s fun Twitter question: If Elizabeth Bennet were at a party, which character from another Jane Austen book would she interact with?

Some great responses:

SalonJaneAusten 11:01am via Web

@VicariouslyJane Emma! Girl fight! One is too controlling, and Lizzy is so rebel…. 😛

grannyuser 11:07am via Twitter for iPad

@VicariouslyJane I think she would interact with Fanny Price of Mansfield Park.

margecavani 12:26pm via UberSocial for BlackBerry

@VicariouslyJane I know, for sure, she wouldn’t be friends with Emma. Maybe… Elinor Dashwood?

margecavani 12:28pm via UberSocial for BlackBerry

@SalonJaneAusten Had the same feeling about Emma and Lizzy @VicariouslyJane

margecavani 1:02pm via UberSocial for BlackBerry

@VicariouslyJane Elinor is patient, calm, impartial, a good listener and a smart girl, Lizzy would bond with her immediately

ModernMrsDarcy 5:04pm via Web

@VicariouslyJane I’d like to think she’d hit it off with Anne Elliott. But I’m not sure Anne’s fast enough with the one-liners. #ifonly

You guys crack me up!

3 Minute-Interview: Mary Simonsen and her latest book, Mr. Darcy’s Bite

11 Oct

Mary Simonsen’s new book, Mr. Darcy’s Bite, is taking a blog tour around some of the best Jane Austen review sites out there, and I was able to catch up with her for a few minutes before she heads to the Jane Austen Society of North America annual general meeting next week in Fort Worth. I wish we could attend! I’ll definitely follow by Twitter and update everyone.

This begins the first part in a series with Mary Simonsen. Read a bit about her and Mr. Darcy’s Bite here, and I’ll post an excerpt, review and full interview in coming weeks. I hope you enjoy!

Vicariously Jane Austen: Tell us about yourself!

Mary Simonsen: Hi Carolyn. Thank you for inviting me to join you on your blog. Before I started writing at the age of 54, I was an executive secretary in New Jersey, a legal secretary in Texas, and a special education assistant and tutor in Maryland and Arizona. I am also the mother of two grown daughters and the grandmother of two. When I retired, I decided to try my hand at writing. The result was Searching for Pemberley, a three-era historical novel that was published by Sourcebooks. Since that time, I’ve been a busy bee, and I have written short stories, novellas, and novels for both Sourcebooks and published independently.

Mr. Darcy’s Bite
A Wife for Mr. Darcy
The Perfect Bride for Mr. Darcy
Searching for Pemberley

Independently published:
For All the Wrong Reasons
A Walk in the Meadows at Rosings Park
Mr. Darcy’s Angel of Mercy
Darcy and Elizabeth: The Language of the Fan
Elinor and Edward’s Plans for Lucy Steele
Anne Elliot, A New Beginning
The Second Date, Love Italian-American Style

VJA: What sparked you to start Mr. Darcy’s Bite?
Mary:  I had never read a werewolf story until there was a work-in-progress posted on a fan fiction site that was drawing hundreds of comments with every chapter. The author had done a terrific job at creating a sinister environment, but I was bothered by Darcy keeping his other nature a secret from Elizabeth until after they had married. Because I had other issues as well, I decided to write a short story of my own for Halloween 2009. The response was so great that I expanded it to a full-length novel, and Sourcebooks bought it. I really enjoyed this departure because I knew nothing about werewolves.

VJA: What is the basic premise of the story?
Mary: Darcy had become a werewolf as a result of a bite he had received when he was 13 from a she wolf in the Black Forest. Because he is a creature of the night, he never thought he would fall in love with someone fully human, but that was before he met Elizabeth Bennet. After calling on her for six months, he invites her to Pemberley for the purpose of sharing his dark secret. At first, it doesn’t go well. The thought of being married to a man who is part beast is repellent to Elizabeth. But while Darcy is out roaming the Pemberley estate, Anne de Bourgh and Georgiana Darcy are working on Elizabeth. Are the scheming pair of ladies successful? Of course. But there are complications—there are always complications—danger of exposure, another woman vying
for Darcy’s affections, a renegade member of his pack, etc.

VJA: What do you hope for the future of Mr. Darcy’s Bite?
Mary: After a year on the New York Times Bestseller list, I would like for Mr. Darcy’s Bite to be made into a full-length motion picture starring Richard Armitage as Mr. Darcy. It will have a world-wide release and be awarded a Palme D’or at Cannes.

Seriously, I hope people will read Mr. Darcy’s Bite because it is a love story. In my novel, Darcy and Elizabeth are as close as a two people can be because they must protect each other from a world that has nearly eradicated wolves and would harm Darcy if is lupine nature were to be discovered. No matter what form Darcy takes, a tall, elegant Regency gentleman, or a furry, fanged, four-footed hunk, we all love Fitzwilliam Darcy of Pemberley.

Thank you for having me.

Thank you, Mary!

Everyone, feel free to post any questions or comments below, and I’ll include them in my full interview with Mary soon.