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Interview with Abigail Reynolds, author of The Pemberley Variations

20 Dec


I have a lovely interview with Abigail Reynolds to round out my interview posts for the year! Thanks again for reading these interviews, and I look forward to your thoughts about my 2012 challenge to read all of Austen’s books and relate them to today’s problems.

Have a happy holiday season!

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

Abigail Reynolds: I had no intention of publishing when I started out writing for internet fanfic sites, but readers kept encouraging me to try. Eventually I decided that if I didn’t try to get published, I’d always wonder what might have happened, so I gave it a shot, and here I am!


Carolyn: What ideas led to your books?

Abigail: My ideas for variations on Pride & Prejudice are all different. Sometimes it’s a scene in the original book that drives me crazy, like at the Lambton Inn when Darcy doesn’t tell Elizabeth that he still cares for her because he assumes she knows it. Other ideas are based on curiousity about what would happen if I changed a factor.


Mr. Darcy's UndoingCarolyn: What characters draw your attention?

Abigail: I’m fascinated with both Darcy and Lizzy – I want to know what makes them tick. I think Bingley has unplumbed depths.


Carolyn: What intrigues you about Jane Austen?

Abigail: I love her narrative voice. She mocks people, but it tends to be in a warm way. You don’t get the feeling that she really dislikes her characters – she may find them silly, thoughtless, or manipulative, but she’s never nasty about it.


Carolyn: How do you support yourself financially while writing?


Abigail: Easy answer – I don’t. To make enough money to live on, I’d have to write a lot faster than I do and have a very wide readership. Fortunately for me, my husband has a job that provides benefits, so we don’t have to depend on what I make from writing. I’ve worked part time through all of my writing career to date, but I’m quitting my job soon to write full time.

Mr. Darcy's Letter



Carolyn: And tell us about your blog tour – what is that like?


Abigail: Busy! Blog tours can be a lot of fun, but they’re also like Freshman English on steroids. For my last tour, I had to produce 16 posts of 500-800 words each over 4 weeks, mostly on assigned topics. The fun part is interacting with the readers. The hard part is balancing the time it takes with the need to be writing new fiction.

Thanks for inviting me!

Thanks, Abigail! And thank you for being my wonderful final interview for 2011.


Interview with Jacqueline Diamond, author of 6 Regency novels

14 Dec
Today I’m hosting Jacqueline Diamond, author of several Regency novels. She recently reissued her out-of-print Regencies in digital editions. It’s a thrill for her to reconnect with the Janeite community, so she agreed to answer a few questions!
Carolyn Crist: What motivated you to pursue publication as an author?
Jacqueline Diamond: At age 4, I made my brother teach me to read when he came home from school each day. At age 5, I wrote my first story (it was one sentence long). I don’t honestly remember a time when I didn’t intend to be an author.


After college, I received a one-year playwriting fellowship, which I spent traveling in Europe and writing a play (never produced, but I learned a lot). Then returning to reality, I moved in with my very patient brother in California and got a job with a public relations firm, after which I went into journalism (two newspapers and the Associated Press). At the age of 32, I sold my first novel, a Regency romance. Lady in Disguise is now available for Kindle and Nook.
Carolyn: What sparked the ideas for your books?
Jacqueline: I’ve always felt as if the characters and stories actually exist, but without me their tales would never be told. My challenge hasn’t been getting ideas but shaping and developing them and learning the fiction skills that most writers struggle with: point of view, exposition, story structure, and so on.
Carolyn: How did you first decide to write Regency novels, and why did you decide to reissue them recently?
Jacqueline: I was working at the Associated Press and had been writing novels and plays for ten years after college with no notable success. Then Masterpiece Theatre aired Pride and Prejudice (the series with Elizabeth Garvey). I fell in love with all things Jane Austen. After reading her books, I was in the library one day and discovered Regency romances. Devouring dozens of them inspired me to begin doing researching and writing my own. I wrote two—Lady in Disguise and Song for Lady—before selling them to Walker and Company in hardcover.
Once they went out of print, I requested that all rights be returned to me. Although my agent was able to sell some foreign rights to these, there was no other market until Amazon and Barnes and Noble enabled authors to post their own work. At that point, I had the books scanned, reedited them and put together new covers.

Carolyn: How did you support yourself financially while writing?

Jacqueline: As mentioned above, I worked for about a year in public relations and then for about ten years in journalism. Since I sold Lady in Disguise, I’ve gone on to sell 90 novels. Some years I earn a fulltime income and some years not. Contrary to what the public often assumes, romance writers don’t necessarily rake in big bucks, and I’ve continued to receive rejections.
In fact, some of my favorite non-Regencies, including the paranormal romance Touch Me in the Dark and the darkly funny murder mystery Danger Music, took years to sell. I’ve reissued these for Kindle and Nook also.

To finish answering your question, I also teach writing (through And my husband of 33 years, an IT business analyst, brings in his share of the income. We have two sons in their twenties.

Carolyn: And what are your next steps?
Jacqueline: A big fan of Grey’s Anatomy, I’m currently writing a series of medical-themed romances, Safe Harbor Medical, for Harlequin American Romance. The sixth book, The Surgeon’s Surprise Twins, came out in October 2011 and the seventh, The Detective’s Accidental Baby, is due (pun intended) in February 2012. An earlier release, Falling for the Nanny (book number five), was just nominated for an award by Romantic times. Next, I need to put together a proposal for another three books and hope Harlequin buys them!
Also, since I own the digital rights to eleven of my early Harlequins, I’m reediting and updating them. These are contemporary romantic comedies. So far I’ve reissued Old Dreams, New Dreams, about a hairdresser pursuing her dream of working in Hollywood.
There’ll be more romantic comedies after the first of the year. I hope people will visit my website at, where I post free writing tips and updates on my books. I also provide tips and publishing industry news on Twitter as @jacquediamond.

Thanks, Jackie! You’re an inspiration.

Interview with Michelle Franklin, author of the Haanta Series

9 Dec

Hey Austenites,

I took a small hiatus from interviews for a few days, but now I’m back! Today I’m hosting Michelle Franklin, who wrote the Haanta Series. It’s a bit different when you think about “Austen fiction,” so read ahead!

Carolyn Crist: What sparked you to pursue creative writing?

Michelle Franklin: I was so horrid at everything else, I felt as though I didn’t really have a choice but to write. I have been forever writing since my first taste of storytelling in grade 4. I wrote a horrendous story about cat people. From there, however, I moved onto the bigger and the better, and have never stopped since.


Carolyn: What ideas led to the Haanta Series?

Michelle: Everything has always been giants and warriors and kings with me. I just finally had the good sense to put it all together. I was also laid off work during the recession and had little else but myself, the computer, and the walls to furnish me. That helps creativity: when one is left with nothing but one’s own imagination. I began writing stories of a woman and a giant, and eventually their relationship blossomed into 30 books and over 100 characters.

The series begins when Commander Boudicca MacDaede must make a last stand to defend her kingdom. She finds Rautu imprisoned in the armoury where she is stationed and asks him to help her turn the tide of the war being fought between her nation of Frewyn and the neighboring nation of Gallei. They win the current battle and Rautu is asked to stay to win the war. Thus begins the first book in the series.


Carolyn: Why do you describe it as “Austenesque, with giants”?

Michelle: Many critics describe my style of writing as Austenesque. This is probably due to the fact that the only books I enjoy are classics. Classical style narrative is all my delight, which is very much discouraged in authors nowadays. I haven’t enjoyed a book that was published after 1950 in some time, and therefore my style reflects the books I enjoy most, Jane’s work being of the highest on my list.


Carolyn: What characters draw your attention?

Michelle: Characters who have the heart of their authors. TH White’s character of Lancelot from Ill-Made Knight is an excellent example: a character that at first we sympathize with and then is dragged through unutterable hell but is ultimately redeemed in the end. Most of Jane’s characters are the same, I feel: they begin in a mess and then are all reconciled by the end. I do my best to reconcile all my characters. They are my family, and I cannot let them suffer for long without having myself suffer in return. Any character who is worthy of redemption draws my attention.


Carolyn: What intrigues you about Jane Austen?

Michelle: Jane often went her own way, and her style is so unique that it’s maddening to think so little else is like to it. She does very well to delve into the mind and describe sensibility as no one else can do. Many authors are taught this rule of “show and don’t tell”, but Jane tells us a great deal, and her only enemy on this point was Mark Twain. She knows more about love and the female mind than anyone else in the literary world. I can only contrive to discover a fraction of what she knows.


Carolyn: How do you support yourself financially while writing?

Michelle: I live on a small income, as most great hermits of the world must do. I have much support from family and friends, and pity from readers who are so good as to buy and read my books.

Thank you, Michelle!

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 with Eirlys Penn, Austen crafter at

30 Nov


Today’s interview comes straight from Bath!

I love her bio: Eirlys Penn once worked in literary publishing but ran away to retrain in soft furnishings. She now combines her loves of reading, writing and creating from discarded textiles in the beautiful city of Bath. More information at

I asked a few questions, and she responded in a wonderful guest blog format! See what she has to say:

From Eirlys Penn:

I love Jane Austen. But in a low-key way. In fact, I’m not at all sure I’d pass the interview to become a proper Austenite. I don’t, for instance, attend much (if any) of the annual Jane Austen Festival in my hometown, though my heart is always lifted by the chance sighting of a fan in costume, particularly if she is fishing a mobile phone from her reticule, or wheeling a pastel suitcase behind her. I studied Pride and Prejudice at school as a teenager and adored it, vicariously thrilled by Lizzie’s independence of spirit and wit, as any self-respecting teenage girl should be. I whisked through Austen (all too briefly) when I read English at Oxford a few years later (or rather, failed to read English … I was fairly dismal at getting through the reading lists), and finally arrived quite late at Persuasion just a couple of years ago. I’m glad I waited. It’s a novel with a mature theme of disappointment, life compromises made, etc, and I was definitely ready to identify with Anne by then (I probably wouldn’t have been as a young woman). Anne’s wait is so long, so unbearably poignant. And, when I reached that letter from Wentworth which sets the novel tilting finally towards hope … My goodness! How powerful that is, and what a huge relief.


Half agony craft

And that’s when the idea for the ‘I am half agony, half hope’ labels hit me. I’d been selling shorter labels saying simply ‘I love you’ which people were buying to sew into Christmas gifts for loved ones (who wouldn’t welcome a pair of socks with ‘I love you’ labels sewn inside? Or a beautiful vintage garment with one cross-stitch-applied ‘I love you’ label at the neck?), and I thought how romantic it would be, if you happened to be in love with a fan of Jane Austen, to give them an object sporting this label which would almost do the work of proposing for you. Almost.

Half-agony labels

Just before I came to live in Bath 8 years ago I read a wonderful Austen biography by Carol Shields which dented my illusions slightly because it explained that Jane hadn’t had a good time here at all. The city was a busy, bustling place, designed for showing off and socialising, and not able to supply the peace, quiet and opportunities for reflection which Jane needed in order to write. Her output duly dried up, though the experience must have gifted her much raw material in the form of social observation. Odd to think that even the buildings then would have jarred; when new they were dazzlingly bright in the sunshine, not the mellow, honeyed hues we think of today. Jane managed to escape the city, though, with regular walks to places such as Charlcombe, just north of the city. There is still an ancient church there today: St Mary’s, to which the novelist Henry Fielding eloped several decades before Jane was in Bath. I’d recommend any fan of Jane to bring walking boots and seek out that ancient, romantic little church (you can always take a bus up the worst part of the hill) as it’s still a magical semi-rural place of peace.


Bath is a small city of just about 80,000 people today. A recent poll by a travel magazine ranked it as Britain’s most litter-free city (a curiously prosaic accolade) and the UK’s 3rd most popular (also the kind of faint praise which would have amused Jane). It’s really more of a large town than a city, though it’s got small helpings of almost all I really need or want. The hardened metrophile might find it a slightly restricting fit, but after many years in London I found it pleasantly cosy. London is so very huge, so full of hassle, and all its offerings strung so far apart and relatively inaccessible. Bath’s compactness feels friendly and convenient in comparison, built to human scale. After all, you can walk from one side of the city to the other in a couple of hours. It’s a lovely place to bring up children (I have two school-age sons); there are, for instance, about 30 different museums which tend to work hard on their child-appeal. Planning restrictions minimise new, insensitive building, so the period character of the place is pretty much intact; I can still round a corner and feel time melting away by 200 years. The city’s also surrounded by hills, so one of the joys of being here is that you can always see distant tree-topped hills – in full leaf or perhaps under snow – signposting the seasons. And turning a trowel in a Bath garden invariably lifts shards of blue-and-white china, which I save like buried treasure. Aren’t they magical?

Shards from Bath

Shards from Bath

Which brings me to Scrapiana, a whimsical combination of my interests in making (mostly using discarded textiles), collecting historic sewing artifacts, and writing about a mixture of the two. ‘Scrapiana’ would have been a word Jane knew as it was a late 18th century term for literary scraps or cuttings. It struck me as a wonderfully grandiose name for the compilation and reworking of textile scraps, too, and I’ve extended it (at least in my own mind) to mean the most elegant re-use of overlooked and unloved material leftovers. Besides selling items I’ve made, I source all sorts of old and traditional-style sewing aids and whimsies. I’ve also begun to teach sewing classes, which is the greatest fun; my current favourite is strawberry needle emeries, a traditional sewing box item which (again) Jane would have recognised, especially if made in their original red satin. I’m sure Jane, who was an accomplished needlewoman, would have sharpened her needles with something very similar.

Thanks Eirlys! This is so interesting and makes me want to break out my crafts 😀

VJA successes and some updates

29 Nov


I haven’t written a post in awhile to thank you for all of your fabulous support. Vicariously Jane Austen regularly draws more than 100 views per day, with some as high as 172 or 188. Many of the posts pull in dozens of Facebook and Tweet shares, and I regularly receive mail about the site. Thank you so much.

Can you believe that I initially doubted the success of the site or my ability to keep it going? As a journalist, I fully believe in updating content daily, but it has been a huge job for me to cover while maintaining a full-time job and other tasks.

But don’t worry, VJA isn’t going anywhere. I’m having tons of fun posting the interviews and other topics. Speaking of which, to make the site more accessible, I changed around the navigation bar a bit this weekend. As you can see, now all of the past VJA interviews are available on one page, and I’ll add more about Austen and her books soon. I also created a tab for the Austen fantasy team so players can find each post. I’ll create additional sections in the future as the site expands.

For ongoing posts, I pledge to bring back the fun Twitter questions and the mini Jane series that features the figurine I have. I fell behind a bit as Thanksgiving approached, but I’m ready to bring those back as we roll into December.

As I explained in my last post, I’m going to extend my National Novel Writing Month success by working on another book in December. This time, I’ll create a nonfiction one, more of a “how to” book called “31 Days to become a Jane Austen super fan.” I’ve started drafting ideas about what it means to be an Austenite, how Austen changes lives and how everyone can find their own Mr. Darcy.

I think I’ll have fun writing interactive chapters. I’ll post a few here and there in December, but I think I’ll ultimately debut the book in January once I complete it. It’s going to take a good bit of work, but I tend to write well on deadline pressure and support.

What do you think about the book? Post ideas below, and I’ll dedicate a chapter to you! I may even contact a few of you for quotes, sound good?

Interview with Kim Izzo, author of the Jane Austen Marriage Manual

28 Nov


Kim IzzoI hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving, if you celebrate. I had a long weekend of not posting much, so I bring you a fresh post with Kim Izzo, author of The Fabulous Girl’s Guide to Decorum and The Fabulous Girl’s Guide to Grace Under Pressure. She also has a forthcoming book, the Jane Austen Marriage Manual.

I hope you enjoy! With November coming to a close, I have some great ideas for December and January as far as posts go. I hope you’ll tune in and let me know what you think.

The Fabulous Girl's Guide to Grade Under PressureCarolyn Crist: What sparked you to pursue publication as an author?

Kim Izzo: I think this was a lifelong dream. I always wanted to write fiction/novels and screenplays for movies. Journalism was something I fell into and it snowballed. So I see my novel as finally fulfilling my childhood/teenage and young woman dreams!



Carolyn: What ideas led to your forthcoming book, the Jane Austen Marriage Manual?

The Jane Austen Marriage ManualKim: I found myself on the eve of my 40th birthday and looked around my life and wasn’t where I wanted to be. My family home had been sold due to financial difficulties in my family, I was without a steady job and in a relationship that wasn’t making me happy. I felt a renewed kinship to many an Austen heroine and lamented to friends that I wish I’d just married a wealthy man when I was younger and had the chance! It was a joke at the time but the more I thought about it, the more I wondered if at 40, I was too old, if indeed marrying “well” was an option! So I thought it was a fun idea for a fictional character to pursue this notion of “How old is too old to marry well?” My character, a journalist, gets an assignment to see if Austen’s “rules” can still apply to modern women. Set in the recession my character, Kate Shaw, embarks on a globe hopping journey to track down and marry a rich man. Did I mention The Jane Austen Marriage Manual is a romantic comedy? It is!


Carolyn: What intrigues you about Jane Austen?

Kim: Her wit and insight into the social codes of male and female relationships as well as those of family and society as a whole. And the fact that all of her wit and insights have lost nothing over time and are as timeless and applicable to today’s social mores as in her day.


Fabulous Girl's Guide to DecorumCarolyn: Also, tell us a bit about The Fabulous Girl’s Guide to Decorum and The Fabulous Girl’s Guide to Grace Under Pressure — what sparked you to start these books?

Kim: I was raised by my English grandmother, so you can imagine that I was raised with a definite importance placed on manners. As I became a twenty-something single woman I saw that many, many women and men did not share these values and that civility was not what it should be. Basically, I saw enough bad manners that I had to comment on it. When my co-author and I began to write about it, first as a column in The Globe and Mail, Canada’s national newspaper and then in the books, we had no idea what a nerve we’d strike! But it remains a great topic!



Carolyn: How do you support yourself financially while writing?

Kim: I’m the deputy editor/beauty director at a national magazine called Zoomer. So my journalism keeps a roof over my head but writing fiction too means I don’t have much of a social life!  Having said that I recently became engaged so that’s not always true! LOL.

Kim, thank you so much! This is great, and we can’t wait to see the Jane Austen Marriage Manual.

Interview with Raquel Sallaberry Briao, author of the Jane Austen em Portugues site

25 Nov

Austen fans,

Today I’m interviewing Raquel Sallaberry Brião, who runs the Jane Austen in Portuguese blog. She lives in São Paulo, Brazil. She is retired but continues to work at home with her handmade journals and bijous/crafts, most of them inspired by Jane Austen heroines.

Her virtual shop: Antiguinha

Her blogs: Jane Austen em Português and Lendo Jane Austen

Her Biblioteca Jane Austen is on standby to switch platform next year.

Carolyn Crist: Why did you start your web site?

Raquel SallaberryRaquel Sallaberry Brião: One day, in 2008, I was looking for some text in Portuguese about Jane Austen and I found nothing relevant. So I thought: if the Jane Austen Brazilian domain (.br) were available I could write about Jane. The domain was available and I started writing and searching slowly until I realized that there were more people interested in the same subject than I could imagine.

From then on I have started to write more often and there is a rare day that I do not write a line at least.


Carolyn: What do you like about Jane Austen?

Raquel: I like a lot of things in Jane Austen’s works. But what I like most is her caustic, and yet elegant, humor. I love Mr. Darcy because my good opinion too, once lost, is lost forever and Mr. Collins is the absolute owner of my good humor. I fell in love with Henry Crawford. It is beyond my control! I’m fascinated by the frankness of Persuasion’s narrative, one example is poor Dick Musgrove. Well, I could write a book about being so fond of Jane Austen!


Carolyn: How do you come up with original and new content for your web site?

Raquel: There is vast content about Jane Austen in English and I try not to translate everything because it would be impossible, but I try to tell to Brazilian readers what is going on about Jane in the English world. And the most important part is I read the novels, watch the movies and then I write about them giving my opinions and my doubts, sharing them with my readers, who in turn suggest other matters.


Carolyn: How do you bring people to your website?

Raquel: I write every day and, when it is appropriate, I add my opinion on the the subjects, most of them are from English that I translate small bits of the text. I always reply to my readers’ comments. I am very proud of my regular readers, they are smart and good humoured in their comments.

I do almost nothing in addition to publicize on Twitter and Facebook. I think the Mountain View’s people like me and always find my Jane’s Blog!


Carolyn: Do a lot of fans like to read about Jane Austen in Portuguese?

Raquel: Yes, a lot of people from Brazil and from Portugal, too. I have observed that many of them first know the movies – at least the new generation. Soon, after seeing the movies, they look for more information and then they discover the books and how wonderful they are!

Thanks for sharing, Raquel! Your work is an inspiration.

Interview with Barbara Tiller Cole: Fitzwilliam Ebenezer Darcy

24 Nov

Happy Thanksgiving, Austen lovers!

I bring a special treat as you dig into a delicious casserole and turkey. I’m interviewing Barbara Tiller Cole, right in time for the holidays. On Halloween, she released Fitzwilliam Ebenezer Darcy, which is a Pride and Prejudice meets A Christmas Carol crossover story.

Darcy has fallen into self-loathing and despair when he believes that he has lost forever the chance to marry the only woman he has ever loved—Elizabeth Bennet. Seeing her son in such a state, the Ghost of Anne Darcy reaches out to him, informing him that three ghosts would visit him and give him hope.

Barbara Tiller Cole is an Atlanta native (same as me!) and the author of White Lies and Other Half Truths. The time around, her novel is a combination of the best of her two favorite authors, Jane Austen and Charles Dickens.

Barbara has generously offered a giveaway with this post! In the comment section below, write about the crossover story you’d love to do. Would you fuse a Jane Austen tale with another author’s, and which stories would you use? Post by Dec. 1, and I’ll announce the winner!

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

White LiesBarbara Tiller Cole: Beginning to write and pursing publication were actually two separate inspirations. As far as writing goes, my husband is a professional writer, and has been writing since he was18, when he was on the night desk writing obits for his home town newspaper. He was a combat correspondent in Vietnam, and then a CLEO award winning creative director in the advertising business. But he is SO talented that I wanted him to use his talents to write a book. He said he didn’t think he had the time to do it.

So I began writing after hours and on the weekends to prove to him that it could be done no matter how much time he might have. I finished a book but didn’t know that I would ever have the courage to publish it. Then it came to a point when we needed the extra income. So the inspiration to publish was kind of a boring one. We needed extra money.


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

Fitzwilliam Ebenezer DarcyBarbara: As far as the inspiration to write Jane Austen inspired works, it began with Colin Firth and the 1995 A&E Mini Series. I might as well say that I am an obsessed fan. Colin led me to discovering Pride and Prejudice fan fiction. I started reading incomplete stories and found myself writing the ending in my head. I discovered I had some pretty creative ideas and eventually decided to try to put one to paper. Fitzwilliam Ebenezer Darcy is my second book. My parents were also part of my inspiration. My father would read A Christmas Carol each holiday to the family, and my mother inspired me to improve my mind by extensive reading, aka Jane Austen style. The idea for putting the two together actually happened in 2008 while I was watching the Bill Murray version of A Christmas Carol, Scrooged.
Buy it on Amazon — Fitzwilliam Ebenezer Darcy: ‘Pride and Prejudice’ meets ‘A Christmas Carol’


Carolyn: What characters draw your attention?

Barbara: I have long been a person who likes to observe intricate characters. I don’t know that I have ever been as wrong in my judgement of someone as Elizabeth Bennet was in Pride and Prejudice when she first attempted to make out the character of Fitzwilliam Darcy. Perhaps I have. But the more intricate the character the more I enjoy studying them. Fitzwilliam Darcy is by far my favorite character in all of Austen’s literature. I enjoy studying Colonel Brandon, George Knightley and Captain Wentworth as well. I enjoy the characters of Elizabeth Bennet, Emma, and Eleanor Dashwood the most among the female heroines of the stories. If I had a favorite villain, I guess it would be Willoughby, as I don’t know that he was really a villain just a coward.


Carolyn: What intrigues you about Jane Austen?

Barbara: I guess what intrigues me the most is that she took aspects of herself and put them into her characters, without the characters truly becoming her. I love the fact that she was successful as a writer in a time when women were to keep to the drawing rooms and net purses and cover screens. She, like her character Elizabeth Bennet, was determined NOT to do that. I find it sad that in her own determination not to marry except for the deepest love, that she never did. But if she had, I would suspect that we would not have her writings today.


Carolyn: How do you support yourself financially while writing?

Barbara: I am a therapist, currently in clinical management. I travel a lot currently for my job, and time alone in hotel rooms allows me the freedom to write undisturbed. It also gives me the money to pay my bills. If I was ever granted the success in my writing to be able to quit working I am not completely sure that I would. I like having a full and well rounded life. But it would be wonderful if I did not HAVE to work.

Thanks, Barbara! It has been fabulous getting to know you, and we can’t wait to see what else you contribute to the Austen world.

Interview with Jen Karsbaek, author of Devourer of Books blog

23 Nov


I have some great interviews lined up for the next few days to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday. I hope you enjoy!

Today’s interview is with Jen Karsbaek, who operates the book review blog Devourer of Books at

Carolyn Crist: What sparked you to start your website, and what keeps you going?

Jen Karsbaek: Basically I wanted another outlet to talk about books, I felt that most of the people in my life were getting slightly tired of hearing about what I was reading and I thought that perhaps the internet would care. Turns out, the internet did care, and it wanted to tell me about everything IT was reading too! Win-win.


Carolyn: What interests you the most about book reviewing?

Jen: I am very much an external processor, so I always understand my own feelings about a book much better after talking or writing about it; the process of writing a review helps me engage with the author much better than if I just read it and move on. Also, I have OPINIONS and I like to share them.


Carolyn: How do you continue to find intriguing books and content to post on each day?

Jen: Well, I receive far more books than I could ever possibly read from publishers and authors, so it is mostly sorting through what I have and seeing what appeals, but I also read publisher catalogs to learn about upcoming books. I also find out about exciting new stuff from Twitter and other book blogs.


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

Jen: My favorite characters are the ones who are just flawed enough. Basically, they need to seem like real humans so that the reader can relate to them.


Carolyn: How do you support yourself financially while blogging?

Jen: I have a regular day job.


Carolyn: And tell us a bit about marketing and promotion of your site, if you don’t mind. A few early bloggers (myself included) are sorting through all that is Twitter, e-mail subscriptions and Facebook.

Jen: I don’t really look at it as promoting my site, but I do want to make it easy for people to read my blog (posting links on Facebook and Twitter, making RSS subscription options simple), and I take the opportunity to introduce myself to new readers whose tastes might overlap with mine whenever possible. It is important to be genuine and social, if you are on a social media platform simply for promotion people can tell and you are not going to be successful in engaging them.

Thanks, Jen! I’m looking forward to your upcoming reviews.