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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Blog Tour - Interview and Giveaway: The Secret Betrothal by Jan Hahn


I am thrilled today to welcome Jan Hahn to my blog, as part of her blog tour for her latest release, The Secret Betrothal. I have asked her a few questions about herself and her love of Jane Austen and, of course, about her latest story! My thanks must also go to Jakki of Leatherbound reviews for asking me to be part of this tour.
 
I have very much enjoyed Jan's other two stories An Arranged Marriage and The Journey and I am very excited about this latest story! Jan has also been so kind as to offer 2 chances to win a copy of this story, so watch for the details of the giveaway at the end of this post!
 
Before I get to the interview, here is the blurb - a very interesting road to explore don't you think?

"Why would a gentleman ask a lady to conceal their betrothal?
 
Jane Austen writes of secret engagements in more than one of her novels, and in The Secret Betrothal, author Jan Hahn explores the question of what would happen if Austen’s most famous heroine from Pride and Prejudice reluctantly agrees to accept such a proposal.
When Fitzwilliam Darcy learns that Elizabeth Bennet has committed herself to such an arrangement, his hopes of winning her hand are shattered.  After circumstances continue to bring the two together—from Hertfordshire to Rosings Park to the seaside town of Brighton―he finds he is unable to tame his desire for the woman who has stolen his heart.
Will Darcy’s efforts to win Elizabeth succeed, or will his sworn enemy lead her to the altar?"

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Welcome Jan! Thank you so much for agreeing to this little interview with me. I absolutely love your work, as I think you know, and I am very interested in finding out a little more about one of my favourite authors!

1.     It is evident from the two wonderful stories you have already written, as well as this new release, that you are an avid Janeite and very much enjoy Jane Austen’s work. How did you first come across Jane Austen and fall in love with the regency world of dancing, carriages and courtship?

Back in the beginning of time when I was in high school, I studied Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.  About all I retained from the book were memories of people sitting around in drawing rooms having long conversations.  You must understand that at fifteen, I was about as mature as Lydia Bennet and much more interested in the boy sitting next to me than classic literature.  For some reason, I did remember one name from the book―Mr. Darcy.  (I wonder why!)  Years later, when A&E broadcast the 1995 version of Pride and Prejudice, I met Mr. Darcy again.  Believe me, I woke up when I saw Colin Firth!  From then on, I began to read everything Jane Austen wrote.

I believe the studying of an Austen novel, usually Pride and Prejudice, at school is the way in for quite a few people. I studied it at school when I was 15 myself! Although I loved the book at the time, I can't deny that watching the series didn't help fuel my passion - how could you not 'wake up' when Colin Firth walks on screen?!
 

2.      Of Ms. Austen’s six major novels, need I ask which your favourite is? I assume from your stories that it is Pride and Prejudice. What appeals to you so much about Pride and Prejudice? The characters, the story, the humour?

You are correct, of course; my favourite of Austen’s novels is Pride and Prejudice.  All of it appeals to me, especially the characters.  Austen not only created superb main characters, but memorable secondary characters as well.  No one can forget Mr. Collins’ bumbling attempts at flattery, Mrs. Bennet’s self-absorption, or Lady Catherine’s condescension.  Even though Mr. Bennet proclaims his three youngest daughters silly, each of the five Bennet sisters has her own personality―a difficult feat for any writer to accomplish.  The story will live forever in countless romantic comedies that begin with misunderstandings between a man and woman destined to be together.  Add Austen’s subtle humour and wit to the mix, and each page of the book comes alive.  I must have really been a nit-wit at fifteen not to have recognized the genius I was assigned to read.

You are completely right. As well as the wonderful Elizabeth and Darcy, everyone knows a flirt like Lydia or a gossip like Mrs Bennet; the characters have stood the test of time.
 

3.      Now, aside from Pride and Prejudice, which other work do you particularly like? And which is your least favourite work of Ms. Austen’s, if you have one?

Persuasion is my second favourite book of Jane Austen’s because I believe in second chances, and Mansfield Park is my least favourite simply because I don’t think Edmund deserved Fanny.  I wish he had been a better man.

I am with you regarding Edmund Bertram - he just didn't do it for me either!  
 

4.      In your three stories you take Ms. Austen’s plotline and explore a ‘what if’ idea and take the story down a completely different route. Why did you want to write these variations? Did you want to explore the world of Lizzy and Darcy a little more? I adore reading these ‘what if’ variations as I cannot get enough of Lizzy and Darcy, so please keep writing them!

I’m with you, Sophie.  I cannot get enough of Elizabeth and Darcy.  I delight in seeing them fall in love over and over.  A slight variation at so many places in the story makes for a completely different tale than the original.  So far, I haven’t written a sequel to Pride and Prejudice simply because I haven’t reached my saturation point with the romance of Darcy and Elizabeth’s courtship. 

Well, personally, I much prefer plot variations to prequels and sequels for exactly the same reason as you, and so please do go on writing 'what if's for the time being!
 

5.      Do you think there is another one of Ms. Austen’s stories which would have the potential for a ‘what if’ variation, or do you think that Pride and Prejudice holds the most possibility with the plot and characters for such stories?

Oh, I know the potential exists for ‘what if’ variations of other Austen stories because I’ve read some excellent twists on Persuasion and Sense and Sensibility.  I think most readers are better acquainted with Pride and Prejudice, and that may be why there are so many available.  I have heard there are some who do not care for Emma, and Austen herself says she’s a character ‘no one but myself will much like.’  I happen to like her, and I’ve toyed with the idea of writing a ‘what if’ of Miss Woodhouse simply because there’s a treasure house of characters to play with in the story.

I would agree that Pride and Prejudice is the most well known. And poor Emma - she really does divide opinions, but I also like her a lot and as a reader would most definitely be interested to read an Emma 'what if'!
 

6.      What is your opinion of modern variations of Ms. Austen’s work such as Clueless, or the bollywood Pride and Prejudice or the recent YouTube series The Lizzy Bennet Diaries, or even paranormal variations such as Pride and Prejudice and Vampires? Would you ever think about writing a modern variation, or like me, do you prefer her stories to be kept to the era in which they belong?

I thought Clueless was funny, and I loved Bride and Prejudice simply for the glorious colour, music, and fun of the production.  I haven’t made it through The Lizzy Bennet Diaries, and I’m not a fan of paranormal variations.  I can appreciate a well-written modern take on any of Austen’s work, but a huge part of her appeal for me is the time period in which she lived and worked.  I love the clothes, the hairstyles, the manners, the music and balls, the furnishings, the mansions, and the elegance of the world she created.  I would not want to live in that era because most likely I would have been consigned to the servants’ quarters, but I love to escape into Austen’s graceful world for brief interludes whenever I have a chance.

I agree - reading such stories is a lovely escape to a completely different world, and so I like to keep today's modern world we are living in and Miss Austen's world separate.   
 

7.       Mr Darcy has to be one of the most famous heroes in all of literature and for many the saying ‘searching for Mr Right’ turned into ‘searching for Mr Darcy’ after coming across Pride and Prejudice (well, it did for me!). What appeals to you about Mr Darcy? Is he a fun character to develop and explore, as you do so well in your stories?

It’s obvious that I love Mr. Darcy.  I love his strengths and his flaws.  I’ve never been a member of the school that considers him shy.  I see him as knowing his place in the world, a man of wealth and breeding who is comfortable conversing with people on his level of society.  He inherited a great deal of responsibility early in life and feels the weight of it regarding his sister, the rest of his family, and his material holdings.  He has little patience with fools and in the beginning of Austen’s original, he did come off as arrogant.  In essentials, however, Darcy is a good man, and I love nothing more than to read the story of a good man. 

A gentleman with all the goodness over one with all the appearance of goodness any day, right?  
 

8.      There are many scenes in both your books (and I imagine in this new story as well!) which are highly romantic and had me sighing (and swooning!) with happiness! I really admire you for keeping your novels clean; it just shows how stories can be highly romantic whist remaining clean, unlike quite a few variations out there. How important is this to you? 

Thank you, Sophie.  That’s very kind of you.  Each time I sit down to face a blank screen, I’m attempting to write the kind of story I want to read.  I was happily married a long time before I lost my husband, I have five children, and I certainly am well acquainted with the pleasures of sex.  But the act itself is not what I care to read about.  I understand that some people do, but it’s not for me. I want to experience the intensity of strong feelings and the push-pull of emotions at play when two people fall in love.  To me, sex is not casual.  It’s not just a handshake.  It’s the ultimate expression of love.  If a couple meets and goes to bed together almost immediately, there’s no suspense, no thrill of the chase, no wondering if they will or won’t love each other.  Perhaps that’s why the propriety of Austen’s era lends itself to my kind of writing.  Frankly, I couldn’t write a steamy sex scene to save my life, but I adore reading and writing about pure romance.

Well the level of romance in your books is perfect for me, as the strict rules of propriety in this era is another strong appeal of Miss Austen's stories for me as well!
 

9.      I have thoroughly enjoyed reading both your previous stories, The Journey and An Arranged Marriage, and I was thrilled when I saw that your third story was now published, The Secret Betrothal. The routes you choose to explore in your first two stories are both very interesting, but I believe the premise of this newest story is the most intriguing for me. What gave you the idea of having Elizabeth agreeing to a secret engagement to Wickham? Where does your inspiration come for?

Inspiration for my latest story probably came from my own life.  Many of us chose the wrong man the first time and lived to regret it.  People will say that Elizabeth was too intelligent to fall for Wickham, but smart women make foolish choices every day of the week when it comes to matters of the heart.  Elizabeth was young and inexperienced and really didn’t know what love was at the beginning of Austen’s novel.  She thought she was a good judge of character, but she was fooled by Wickham for over half of the book until she read Darcy’s letter and learned the truth. I also was fascinated by the secret engagements in Emma and Sense and Sensibility.  Breaking an engagement could be traumatic in that day and time.  Men were sometimes sued for breach of promise, and a woman could become known as a jilt, which didn’t do much for her reputation.  I wanted to see if Darcy’s love was strong enough to survive the gossip that would surround Elizabeth once her secret was made known.

The secret betrothals have also always held an interest for me, and so I am really looking forward to seeing how you play with the idea in the story and seeing how it all turns out - although I have no doubt that Darcy's love will be strong enough to overcome even the scandal of a secret engagement!  
 

10.  Of the three stories you have now written, which has been your favourite to write? Or do you not have a favourite and love all three equally?

My favourite story is The Secret Betrothal, but my favourite book to write was An Arranged Marriage because it was the first novel I wrote in first-person.  I felt like I found my voice when I wrote in first-person.  The Secret Betrothal is written in third-person, and it was much harder to write and took longer to complete.

That is interesting as I would thought it would have been more difficult writing in first-person and having the whole story written from only one person's point of view!  
 

11.  I will wrap up the questions now but there is one burning question that we all want an answer to; any further ideas for another story? Any clues or at least any assurances that there will, sometime or another, be a third story for Darcy and Lizzy for us to look forward to? You must excuse my impatience, for I realise that your third story has only just been released, but I had to ask!

Oh, my, you are such a dear to ask for more!  I do have another story just about ready, but I haven’t discussed it with my publisher yet, so I’ll have to say let’s wait and see. 
That is good news! Thanks for sharing!
 
Thank you so much for having me as a guest, Sophie.  I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my visit to your lovely site.  And I must say I’m thrilled that you are such an ambassador for Jane Austen.  Being as young as you are and such a great fan of Austen just proves that her gift truly is timeless.
You are most welcome Jan - thank you for stopping by! And thank you for such kind words. I discovered Jane Austen at 9, fell in love with Jane Austen at 15, and I am now 18 and completely lost to the wonderful world of the genius that is Miss Jane Austen - there is no going back now!   
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As I mentioned above, I am very lucky to be able to offer a giveaway of 2 copies of her book; one paperback and one ebook (Kindle or Nook), both open internationally.

To enter please leave a comment below and include your email address so that I can contact the randomly selected winners.

The giveaway will end on the 23rd of April, so that I have time to contact the winners and then pass on the necessary details by the 26th.

Good luck!

My thanks again goes to Jan Hahn for this interview and to Jakki for setting up this tour.

I wish Jan all the best with this latest release as well as any stories in the future! Keep an eye out for my review of this story which I hope to post in the next few weeks!


Your affectionate friend,
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Monday, April 14, 2014

My Latest Purchase!


 

I have just returned from a lovely trip to the beautiful Yorkshire Dales! Although a little chilly, it was still a lovely break!


(This was our back garden!)










Whilst I was away I made two purchases...




My first was of this lovely set I rescued of Jane Austen's novels (The Folio Society edition). As well as the 6 novels, there is a lovely 7th book which contains all her shorter and unfinished works which is nice to have them all in one book - the only thing missing is her letters.












And secondly, I was finally able to spend the money I had been saving up on a regency writing slope, c1820!











I saw a few writing desks in an antique shop in Yorkshire last summer when I went, and I decided that I would save up and buy one when I went again the following April - and I did!







A Regency writing desk which belonged to this V. Warren Low who I am going to try and find out more about - it is thought that he was a military man! 

The Kingwood the desk is made of is rare and unusual and it's in wonderful condition.








I have filled it with my own - modern - writing things... (I will be on the look out for some more authentic stationary to fill it with though!)












I've got my ink well, a quill and some blotting paper and wax and a seal...












My writing paper and envelopes in there...











And my current letters - I have a few regular pen friends - which I need to reply to in there!



It is a shame all my things look so modern!







Your affectionate friend,
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Friday, April 04, 2014

Pride and Persistance Giveaway Winners!



Congratulations to....

Melissa, winner of the paperback copy of Pride and Persistence!

 and to....
 
 LĂșthien84, winner of the ebook copy!
(evangelineace2020@yahoo.com)


 

 
I really hope that you both enjoy the story! I have myself sent you an email and I have also passed your emails onto Jeanna who will be in contact with you soon.
Thank you to everyone who entered and I wish you could all have won! But, I still recommend this book - it is worth the money!
Thank you again to Jeanna for offering this giveaway!
 
Your affectionate friend,

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Sunday, March 30, 2014

Pride and Persistence by Jeanna Ellsworth and giveaway!


I am very excited and honoured to be reviewer number one for Jeanna Ellsworth's newly published book, Pride and Persistence!  I read her first story, Mr Darcy's Promise (review here), quite a few months ago and it was brilliant and so I have been looking forward to the next story from this author for a long time!

"Undaunted by a threatening storm, Fitzwilliam Darcy of Pemberley insists he must deliver his letter to Miss Elizabeth Bennet–– then tragedy strikes. Riddled with guilt, Elizabeth comes to the aid of the comatose Mr. Darcy and stays by his side until he regains consciousness. She soon learns that although Mr. Darcy has awoken, he has not returned to himself. And with no memory of his first disastrous proposal, he has concluded that there is nothing he wants more than to propose to Miss Elizabeth.  This humorous journey of love leaves one asking, does persistence pacify prejudice? Can Elizabeth see the real gentleman behind the injury, a man who persists in professing his love to her every chance he gets? In this Regency variation of Jane Austen’s beloved Pride and Prejudice, Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet both learn the value of persistence."

If you would like to find out a little more about the author as well as the latest story, then have a look at my interview with her from a few days ago here.

My first reaction after finishing the story: brilliant! This was an amusing, yet romantic, journey to love for Darcy and Elizabeth, under very different, and difficult, circumstances.  The premise of the book intrigued me as I had not come across a story involving memory loss resulting in multiple marriage proposals before!

There is so much I could, and wish to, say about this book but I do want to give anything away, so you shall just have to read the story for yourself.

I shall mention a few things, however, to wet your appetite...

If you are anything like me with Pride and Prejudice variations, you want the most important people in the story, Darcy and Elizabeth, to have centre stage for most of the book. If this is the case, then read this book. Darcy and Elizabeth have plenty of screen time - or rather page time - due to the nature of Darcy's injuries confining him to one room, one room which Elizabeth is very rarely not in.  The relationship between the two of them is very unique and most certainly far from conventional, or proper; Darcy struggles with a broken ankle and memory problems and Elizabeth seems to be the only one who can calm Darcy in his confused state. As Elizabeth feels rather responsible for the accident, she refuses to leave his side and does all she can to help his recovery, even if it means enduring a  marriage proposal and declaration of love every day!  Seeing how Elizabeth's opinion and view of Darcy changes as she sees him for who he truly is, his real character becoming more evident and clear in his confused state, is touching. We are also able to see the more caring and compassionate side to Elizabeth's nature. It is possible to learn so much more about someone when the rules of propriety are abandoned due to extraordinary circumstances!

As well as having a very different relationship with Darcy, Elizabeth also has interesting relationships with other secondary characters in the story. A few favourites of those for me would be with Colonel Fitzwilliam, and two new additions; Madeline, the nurse in charge of Darcy's care, and Mrs Wilkinson, the Collins's cook.

The Colonel is a wonderful character, as he generally is expected to be! He plays an interesting role in the story and even turns his hand to match-making! The bond of trust and the sense of openness which he and Elizabeth build throughout the story is sweet, as well as results in some rather amusing situations!

Madeleine is a very caring lady who comes to know Elizabeth very well due to the amount of time she spends in the sick room with Madeline, thanks to the positive effect only Elizabeth seems to be able to have on Darcy. Madeline also begins to entertain thoughts about the true nature of the relationship between these two young people before her...

Mrs Wilkinson was a favourite of mine. She becomes, in a way, the mother Elizabeth never had, as she is able to confide in her very easily, and in turn, Mrs Wilkinson has some very beneficial advice for Elizabeth. They share a very special relationship, regardless of the fact that her skills as a cook are sadly lacking! 

You will find Lady Catherine to have a very interesting and interfering role in the story, as you would expect, but you also learn the truth about her past ,which, I can assure you, you will not be expecting!

You will also find Mr Collins to be a very silly character and this story will provide you with some... lasting images, let's just say. Mr Bennet, too, brings his share of the humour to the story, however with Mr Bennet you will be laughing with him, rather than at him as you with Mr Collins.

Something which I loved about this author's first story was the use of metaphors and symbolism throughout the story. There were similar metaphors to be found in this second story, thanks to Colonel Fitzwilliam in this one. The Colonel's metaphor of the 'storm' is a very clever metaphor and it is extremely important for Elizabeth and her relationship with Mr Darcy - but I shall not ruin it for you! I loved how the metaphor is slowly explained, little by little, throughout the story. The clever use of symbolism and metaphoric language is one of my favourite aspects to this author's style of writing.

I have often remarked on the humour in this story, however it is also a very romantic story (whilst staying completely clean, which is how I like my stories to be.) While Darcy continually forgetting the fact that he has already proposed to Elizabeth, multiple times, is amusing to read (at times during his confused state I just wanted to hug him he was so sweet!) it is also very touching to see how his proposals are improving each time, making it harder and harder for Elizabeth to refuse him.

However you can be assured that it all works out eventually! Something I particularly enjoyed in Mr Darcy's Promise was that the understanding was reached between Darcy and Lizzy before the last page of the book, as is the case with many stories. I like to read about the occasional stolen kiss and the intimate and open conversations between the pair once the majority of the obstacles have been overcome.  So, of course, I was thrilled to find that this was also the case for this second story; it was not 'they kiss, they marry, the end', all on the last page!

As well as this, there is a delightful epilogue, set not long after the conclusion of the story (which I much prefer to skipping to years and years later) and never has an epilogue made me smile so much! All loose ends and the futures of the characters we have come to love are tied up in a very neat, satisfactory and perfectly appropriate way considering all the events of the story - I defy anyone not to smile and sigh with contentment whilst reading the concluding pages of this wonderful story! Who doesn't love a happy ending?

Read chapter one of Pride and Persistence here, as well as find out about her other stories due to be published soon here.

A thoroughly enjoyable read, particularly when you need a good book to cheer you up, and it is the perfect book for curling up with after a trying day at work; brilliantly funny and wonderfully romantic which will leave you feeling perfectly content and with a huge grin on your face - well I did anyway!
 
**GIVEAWAY - ends Friday, April 4th**

In celebration of the release, the lovely Jeanna is offering 1 paperback copy (US only) and 1 ebook copy (international) of her story.

To enter, leave a comment below and the two winners shall be picked randomly.
Please leave your email address and state whether you will be entering for the paperback or the ebook. I will then pass on the winners email addresses to Jeanna who will be in touch.

This will only be a short giveaway - I'm going on holiday! - and so it will end Friday, April 4th!

Good luck, and thank you again to Jeanna for offering this giveaway! And good luck with the book!

Your affectionate friend,
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Monday, March 24, 2014

An Interview with Jeanna Ellsworth

Today I have the very great pleasure of welcoming the wonderful author Jeanna Ellsworth to my blog. Jeanna is the author of the brilliant story Mr Darcy's Promise (read my review here) and she has her second story coming out very soon, Pride and Persistence, which she will be telling us a little more about in the interview. I cannot wait for this second story for it sounds like a lot of fun...  

"Undaunted by a threatening storm, Fitzwilliam Darcy of Pemberley insists he must deliver his letter to Miss Elizabeth Bennet–– then tragedy strikes. Riddled with guilt, Elizabeth comes to the aid of the comatose Mr. Darcy and stays by his side until he regains consciousness. She soon learns that although Mr. Darcy has awoken, he has not returned to himself. And with no memory of his first disastrous proposal, he has concluded that there is nothing he wants more than to propose to Miss Elizabeth. 
This humorous journey of love leaves one asking, does persistence pacify prejudice? Can Elizabeth see the real gentleman behind the injury, a man who persists in professing his love to her every chance he gets? In this Regency variation of Jane Austen’s beloved Pride and Prejudice, Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet both learn the value of persistence."


~~~~~~~~~

Welcome Jeanna! Thank you so much for agreeing to this little interview with me. I absolutely love your work, as I think you know, and I am very interested in finding out a little more about one of my favourite authors and about your upcoming release!

1. It is evident from both your first story and this new release that you are an avid Janeite and very much enjoy Jane Austen’s work. How did you first come across Jane Austen and fall in love with the regency world of dancing, carriages and courtship?


Thanks for having me! I admit that I am a young Janeite, just reintroduced in January 2012. I had loved the 2005 movie and even owned a copy of the book Pride and Prejudice that I got from a garage sale but did not earn the title of Janeite until my sister KaraLynne Mackrory started writing JAFF and would send me her chapters to read. Since she was not able to satisfy my thirst fast enough (an author can only write so fast) she would tell me to read other JAFF books that were published. One book led to 50, which led to more, which led to writing! It is a slippery slope, so readers, beware! You have been warned!

How well I understand this! Once I had read one JAFF story I was lost, completely and utterly addicted!

2. Of Ms. Austen’s six major novels, need I ask which your favourite is? I assume from your stories that it is Pride and Prejudice. What appeals to you so much about Pride and Prejudice? The characters, the story, the humour?


You need not ask, Pride and Prejudice is by far my favorite. I love it mostly because the moral of the story (and I kind of like books with morals to the story) is that in order to attract a Mr. Darcy, you kind of have to be an Elizabeth. And in order to attract an Elizabeth, you have to be willing to be a Mr. Darcy!  The other reason I am obsessed with Darcy is because he represents to me how a devoted, persistent man can earn the love and respect by doing only that which life requires of all of us . . . change. I like the saying that if you do not like the results you are getting, than change how you do things. I enjoy cooking and so it correlates that there is no reason to think that if you use the same ingredients that you will come out with a different dish! Darcy had no guarantees or even any hope that changing himself would alter Elizabeth’s view of him, but it did!

That is precisely what I love about Pride and Prejudice, or more specifically, Darcy and Lizzy - they both change for the other.

3. Now, aside from Pride and Prejudice, which other work do you particularly like?

Since I have three girls, the oldest full of sense and logic, the middle daughter with a strong passion for life, and a youngest who can be found exploring at any given time, I admit that Sense and Sensiblity if my next favorite. It is even the last Jane Austen book I read. I had a date night with my girls and watched the movie the other day and they giggled at the similarities.

Well I can see why this comes second! I have a special love for Sense and Sensibility for a similar reason actually; my older sister is very much like Elinor, and I am rather like Marianne!   

4. In your two stories you take Ms. Austen’s plotline and explore a ‘what if’ idea and take the story down a completely different route. Why did you want to write these variations? Did you want to explore the world of Lizzy and Darcy a little more? I adore reading these ‘what if’ variations as I cannot get enough of Lizzy and Darcy, so please keep writing them!


I wrote because I was questioning my sanity. Truly. I had a psychology class in nursing school and even though it was 15 years ago, I’m pretty sure that hearing voices in your head was a bad thing. Ha Ha. I had read so much Jane Austen Fan Fiction that the characters were literally alive in my head (and heart!) I had plots and entire scenes playing out in my head. I would dream about “what if’s” and I decided that I should either start writing them down or start taking medicine! It has been nonstop ever since I wrote the first plot outline. I’m currently half way through with my fifth book and it has only been 2 years since writing. I love it and will probably never stop so I’m glad you can’t get enough.

Miss Austen's characters are so well written and known to us that I can understand how the characters could come alive in your head - you just know very easily what Mrs Bennet would say, or how Lady Catherine might act!

5. Do you think there is another one of Ms. Austen’s stories which would have the potential for a ‘what if’ variation, or do you think that Pride and Prejudice holds the most possibility with the plot and characters for such stories?

At this time I’m sticking with Pride and Prejudice, however, I’ll let you in on a little secret. I have this little urge to try a non JAFF regency romance with all original characters! It feels scary but kind of a fun challenge too!

Oh how exciting! It would be a challenge to come up with all your own characters but it would also be fun!  I hope you do try this one day.

6. What is your opinion of modern variations of Ms. Austen’s work such as Clueless, or the bollywood Pride and Prejudice or the recent YouTube series The Lizzy Bennet Diaries, or even paranormal variations such as Pride and Prejudice and Vampires? Would you ever think about writing a modern variation, or like me, do you prefer her stories to be kept to the era in which they belong?


The hardest part about many of the modern takes is they lose the innocence of the Regency romance; the stolen looks or touches that exaggerate the attraction. There are some great ones out there but I imagine it would be hard to write a modern take on P&P without letting the relationship turn into something modern. It is so common place now to kiss and even sleep with who you date, but there is just something so much more romantic and long lasting (and are we not wanting to read a happily ever after?) when the relationship is based on respect and friendship. I’m not saying it isn’t possible to write a modern take without the sex, but there are not many who keep it off the page. I certainly enjoy reading it when the authors let my imagination do all the work!

7. Mr Darcy has to be one of the most famous heroes in all of literature and for many the saying ‘searching for Mr Right’ turned into ‘searching for Mr Darcy’ after coming across Pride and Prejudice (well, it did for me!). What appeals to you about Mr Darcy? Is he a fun character to develop and explore, as you did so well in Mr Darcy's Promise?

My daughters do not fully grasp the man Mr. Darcy is and who he represents to all us who adore him. I tell them he is the perfectly-imperfect gentleman. By that I mean, he is sooooo imperfect, but like our smartphones, he autocorrects into something that is just right. And just like autocorrect, he occasionally makes a big mistake (Hunsford) and has to atone for his sins. But he does it like a real gentleman. He realizes that his pride and prejudice are his greatest hurdles to finding happiness and his every action from that realization on are efforts to humble himself. He changes into a man who is worthy of the woman he loves, but only after realizing that she was worth changing for. A man who can love so deeply and passionately that he makes the change within himself without any promises of securing her hand is a man worthy of an Elizabeth.
 
That is a very interesting comparison! But what you say is actually very true - he does autocorrect into something just right. He really is the 'perfectly-imperfect gentleman', as you say, which is why we love him!

8. Now aside from Mr Darcy, which other characters do you enjoy developing in your stories? The humorous Colonel Fitzwilliam perhaps, or the rather shy Georgiana? Who do you find the hardest to write about? And the easiest? 


Colonel Fitzwilliam is my favorite minor character. In Pride and Persistence, he is downright loveable! So wise and so smart and has such tender (friend-like) moments where he helps Elizabeth through the trauma of Darcy’s head injury and helps her find humor in his multiple proposals. He is the main character of the book I am writing now, called Hope For Fitzwilliam. I do love Georgiana and Charlotte too. I can’t say I’m all that fond of Bingley (don’t respect a man who will not fight for the love of his life) or Jane who always feels so weak. I find them hard to write because I don’t love them. This logic doesn’t hold true with every character I do not like. I admit I kind of love writing scenes with Caroline Bingley even though I hate her character, but she is just so nasty! It is too much fun to write her set down!
 
I also love Colonel Fitzwilliam - I look forward to your story where the Colonel takes centre stage! And I always love to see Caroline Bingley getting a set down!

8. There are many scenes in your book (and I imagine in this new story as well!) which are highly romantic and had me sighing (and swooning!) with happiness! I really admire you for keeping your novels clean; it just shows how stories can be highly romantic whist remaining clean, unlike quite a few variations out there. How important is this to you? 


Even though Mr. Darcy’s Promise was a forced marriage scenario where it would be appropriate for them to make love, I found that leaving that stuff off the page was fun, even forcing me to get creative! I have to admit I have ulterior motives as well. One, my kids read my books and I do not want them to imagine their mom writing love scenes. Yuck! Two, I’m single and getting sexually frustrated is not pleasant! Ha ha! I started keeping a list of all the clean books I have read on my website that I feel represent what I would be willing to let my daughters read. Check out my Recommended Reads page on my website, www.heyladypublications.com I am always willing to add a book if it is clean and entertaining and since I started the list after I read so many JAFF books, it is not all inclusive. I do not intend to omit any of the good clean ones intentionally and love recommendations from other readers who appreciate all the sex and language being left off the page.

9. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading Mr Darcy's Promise and I was thrilled when I saw that your second story was being published soon, Pride and Persistence. The routes you choose to explore in your first story was very interesting, but I believe the premise of this newest story is the most intriguing for me. What enticed you down the route of head injuries and memory loss? Where did your inspiration come for? 

I am a neurological ICU nurse and one day I was trying to take a nap before a night shift and suddenly I started giggling to myself because I was imagining Mr. Darcy with a frontal lobe injury. I was imagining scene after scene where he lacked memory, emotional control, reasoning, and logical complex thought. Pride and Persistence starts out with a tragic accident where Mr. Darcy gets a head injury but as his limitations become apparent, the tragedy becomes more than just a little humorous. Many events that occur in the book are true to life events or behaviors that a real patient with a frontal lobe injury would have. To be honest, my inspiration comes from every single experience I have in life. It could be a sermon at church, it could be a grocery store janitor, it could be the man who flipped me off, either way, I see stories all around me, and I feel compelled to write them. Head injuries can be the hardest thing to cope with as a patient or family member so my goal in writing this book, and writing it as a romantic comedy, was to help those who struggle see and feel the hope at the end of recovery. I even dedicate the book to those patients and families as well as the staff of Neurological ICUs.

How wonderful! It is brilliant where your inspiration comes from, particularly for Pride and Persistence, in that many of the situations and events which occur as a result of the head injury are actually things you have seen in real life! I really can't wait to see it!

10. The story to Pride and Persistence sounds like a lot of fun. Although your first story had its share of humour, would you say that this was more of a comedy than your first story? I believe you have described it as "Pride and Prejudice meets 50 First Dates"? 


It could be called 50 first proposals! I wrote so many proposals, with them showing subtle improvements each time (showing Darcy’s condition was improving) that I now almost cringe when it is time to write a proposal. But I admit this is by far the funniest book I have written. My fellow author JAFF addict junkie, (My sister KaraLynne Mackrory who has published 3 JAFF books) deems this her favorite of all my books. Although it takes a few chapters to get past the initial suspense of the accident and his precarious condition, soon the world of finding joy, laughter, and healing in head injuries opens up. It was a very fun book to write.

I always love humour in a book, as well as romance, so I am sure this will be just up my street! (I highly recommend KaraLynne Mackrory's stories as well!)

11. I will wrap up the questions now, but one final thing; I think I see from your website that you have some other stories written or are in the process of writing? You must excuse my impatience, for I realise that your second story has only just been released, but I had to ask!


Yes, since I self-publish, it takes a bit of time to get my work to the public. I firmly believe that I should not go into debt to fund the editing or cover so I use the royalties from the previous book to fund the next book. I also am rather addicted to having an original painting done for the cover that I can hang in my living room and that takes months to paint. Pride and Persistence should be published by April 1st, if not sooner, and my third book, To Refine Like Silver, is tentatively planned for a November 2014 publication. My fourth book is the first in a series of 4 books called The Hope Series. I am hoping to publish them fairly close together which means they may not start publication until a year or more from now. I do like to post them on the online communities like Darcyandlizzy.com and Meryton.com because the readers have such interesting comments and it is very rewarding to see how each chapter influences them.
 
I will be keeping my eyes out for all your other stories!

Thank you so much for interviewing me! They were wonderful questions and I hope you all will get a chance to read Pride and Persistence when it comes out! I always love to hear from my readers! This is one way I get one step closer to you all! Thank you so much for this opportunity, Sophie. It is amazing how this world that Jane Austen created 200 years ago is affecting so many people today. I can only imagine her being in awe at the scope of her influence.

Thank you again for participating in this interview with me. Good luck with your new book – it will be just as successful as your other story, I know it will. I cannot wait to read it! And I completely agree with you; it is amazing how Ms. Austen's work can bring so many people together 200 years later!
 
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I really look forward to reading this story when it is (hopefully!) published April 1st! Keep an eye out for my review which I should be posting in a few weeks. Thank you again to Jeanna Ellsworth and good luck and all the best for future stories! To find out more about all her stories - published and works in progress - visit her website !

Your affectionate friend,
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