I am thrilled today to be part of the blog tour for the lovely Gail McEwen's latest release, Stronger Even Than Pride. My thanks must also go to Jakki of Leatherbound Reviews for asking me to be part of this tour.
I have asked Gail a few questions about her love of Jane Austen and her new story! I always enjoy finding out more about people behind the stories!
About the book:
" “…in his behaviour to me there were stronger influences even than pride.”
When George Wickham speaks these words to an impressionable Elizabeth Bennet, she can have no idea how true they will turn out to be. Stronger Even Than Pride, Gail McEwen’s latest novel, explores whether love can survive the biggest obstacles fate—and a most ruinous stubbornness—can conjure up to separate two people destined to be together. After Miss Bennet refuses to read the faithful narrative of Darcy’s dealings with Mr Wickham, this Pride and Prejudice variation takes an unexpected turn when she chooses to exonerate the wrong man.
Events quickly spiral out of control and Fitzwilliam Darcy is forced to watch helplessly as the woman he loves slips further and further from reach. Can there be a happily ever after for them? Can a love, stronger than pride, redeem even the worst mistakes?"
Welcome Gail! Thank you for stopping by my blog for this interview about your latest release! Although I haven't yet got round to reading one of your stories - so many books, so little time! - they sound interesting!
Thank you for having me, Sophie!
1. Obviously as a writer of Jane Austen fan fiction, 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?
It was the result of the best and worst summer of my life. A dear friend needed to escape a bad situation at home and she came to live with my family for a few months. Along with seven children and a few bags of clothes, she came with movies! ET’s S&S, Paltrow’s Emma and A&E’s P&P taped from television. Almost every afternoon we’d send the kids outside to play, get a tall glass of ice water, curl up on the sofa and indulge. With her seven and my four, we really needed that mental break.
2. Of Ms. Austen’s six major novels, need I ask which your favourite is? I would 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?
It’s the characters. I love the humanity of them – Jane shows us their frailty as well as their nobility, how they fight to overcome their faults yet sometimes fail, honestly portraying flawed but very likeable characters. I also love the constraints that manners required – all the subtle communication when so much had to be said without the freedom to say anything.
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 #2 – I like it more as I get older. My least favourite has to be
. I’m ashamed to say
I have only read it once. I disliked Fanny so much I could never bring myself
to try it again. I’m sure I’m missing a lot by ignoring it all these years…
maybe one day I’ll pick it up and give it another go. Mansfield
4. In your stories you take Ms. Austen’s plotline and explore a ‘what if’ idea and take the story down a completely different route - a darker route in this latest release. 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!
Mostly, I just wanted to see if I could do it! Before this, I co-wrote The Lord & Lady Baugham series with my partner Tina Moncton. They are set in Jane Austen’s world, with Elizabeth and Darcy as important, but not the main, characters. Stronger Even Than Pride is my first full on Pride & Prejudice variation.
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?
They are all brilliant stories (my opinion of MP notwithstanding) and all have great potential for variations – but the truth is, the audience for other story ‘what ifs’ is just not the same. Everyone loves Lizzy and Darcy!
6. Mr Darcy and Elizabeth have to be one of the most famous couples in all of literature. What appeals to you about those characters? Who is your favourite to develop and explore in your stories? Or perhaps you enjoy writing another character, like Wickham for example? Wickham certainly seems to play a big part in the latest story by the sounds of things!
I enjoyed exploring the less-than-wonderful sides of Elizabeth and Darcy. Not that I think either are bad, but they are human (in our minds anyway) and humans are not always perfect. Sometimes they try to do what’s right, but fail. Sometimes they don’t want to do the right thing at all. Sometimes they’re selfish, and sometimes they just make terrible mistakes.
But you're right, I enjoyed writing Wickham very much. I wanted him to be despicable, but not evil, so I had to do a lot of thinking about how to portray him.
7. Stronger Even Than Pride sounds very intriguing! What gave you the idea of having
choose to not read that
oh-so-important explanation letter from Darcy, and consequently taking the
story down a completely different and darker path? Where does your inspiration
come from? Elizabeth
The biggest reason I chose this particular ‘what if’ is that I wanted one that hadn’t been done before. Plus I’ve always been intrigued by Mr Bennet’s claim that Elizabeth would be neither happy nor respectable, and could scarcely escape discredit and misery, if she married a man she couldn’t look up to. I wanted to see what that would look like, and to see if or how she and Darcy could still find their way to each other. I also found it telling that Mr Bennet says this to his favourite daughter after he has already given Darcy his consent. That made me think that he was equally careless with all his daughters, even if he liked some better than others.
8. Of all your stories you have now written, which has been your favourite to write? Or do you not have a favourite and love them all equally?
I love them all for different reasons: I’m very proud of my original novel, To End All Wars… I believe it tells an important story that is too easily forgotten. I love the Baugham stories because I adore Holly and his lordship and my brilliant partner makes writing them a genuine pleasure.
But Stronger Even Than Pride was my biggest challenge and stretched me the most – because of this twist, I had to be very confident in my own mind of every action and thought I gave them, of every decision they made, while keeping their basic character consistent with Miss Austen’s originals. I know not all readers will agree that I have accomplished it, but I’m okay with that. I feel a great sense of accomplishment having finished it according to my vision.
Thanks again for stopping by and best of luck with this latest book!
And thank you! It’s an honour to be featured on your beautiful blog.
It took a few decades, but Gail finally took her English teacher’s advice and “became a writer.” It’s not that she didn’t want to be a writer – she always wanted to be a writer – she just didn’t know how to go about it. Because, truthfully, if one is going to write, one must eventually allow others to read what has been scribbled in that notebook shoved in the back of the drawer.
Gail eventually worked up enough nerve to share her efforts with the anonymous world of the internet, after that she ventured out to college classes, writing contests, and eventually found a publisher.
Gail’s newest book, Stronger Even Than Pride, is a wicked twist on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.
Depending on your measure, her success is either modest or phenomenal – while she is in no danger of growing either rich or famous, she is a published, award-winning author! Gail chooses the latter yardstick.
So it just goes to show – you should always listen to your teachers.
My thanks again goes to Gail McEwen for this interview and to Jakki for setting up this tour!
I wish Gail all the best with this latest release as well as any stories in the future!
Your affectionate friend,