Sep 28, 2009

Sara Angelini Speaks About Writing

Sara Angelini, author of The Trials of the Honorable F. Darcy, is stopping by the blog today to discuss writing. If you missed my review of her novel, check it out. Also stay tuned for a giveaway of her novel.

They say the first rule of writing is to write what you know. In my first book, The Trials of the Honorable F. Darcy (a modern adaptation of Pride and Prejudice), that’s exactly what I did.

Like my Elizabeth Bennett, I am a young attorney who works in San Francisco and drives a MINI Cooper. I have had my share of encounters with cranky judges. What’s that, you say? Well, er, no, I didn’t actually meet a swoonfully handsome judge, romp around England with him while engaging in hot monkey sex, break up and make up, and strut myself down the aisle with him. Not precisely. Maybe I fudged that part a bit. So sue me. I dare you. *grin*

Aside from the obvious parallels of an attorney writing a story about an attorney, my job influenced my writing in a more roundabout way. You see, I already write a tremendous amount for my job. I write letters, memos, briefs, and appeals on a daily basis. Unfortunately, legal writing is challenging, technical, and mind-numbingly tedious. When I go home at the end of the day, I want to unwind with something light and fluffy.

Enter Pride and Prejudice 1995 and Colin Firth. After a rainy weekend of repeatedly rewinding “In vain I have struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you,” followed by fast-forwarding to that dreamy Pemberley gaze (you know the one I’m talking about!), I found myself randomly perusing the interwebs in search of completely unwholesome, empty-calorie Colin Firth brain candy.

Apparently, Colin Firth is the Willy Wonka of Jane Austen Fanfic Candyland. I found a virtual sweetshop chock-full of red-hots, dark chocolates, savory caramels, and even nut-filled nougats. Some stories were discarded after the first bite, some were set aside to savor after dinner, but mostly I gorged like a five-year old on his first Halloween binge. And like said five-year old, I felt mighty sick on Monday morning.

After the initial sugar rush had worn off, I discovered that most of what I was reading on the internet was, well, not very good. I found myself rolling my eyes at plot foibles or gnashing my teeth at ridiculous character inconsistencies. I muttered under my breath “Had I ever learned to write romance, I would have been a true proficient!” Convinced of my own genius, I decided to give it a whirl.

I of course found that writing romance was easier said than done; I started off with a Regency that was rife with purple prose and stiff dialogue. I hacked out a paranormal short story (which is still close to my heart) but wanted to do something meatier. That’s when I remembered the golden rule of writing: write what you know. I sure as hell didn’t know Regency, so I decided that it would have to be a modern re-telling of Pride and Prejudice.

What could I write that would do justice to Jane Austen’s creation while being true to myself? How could Darcy and Elizabeth translate to modern characters? If Regency mores about intermingling social circles and pre-marital sex are no longer relevant, where would the conflict arise?

In Pride and Prejudice, the main conflict is the practically unbridgeable social gulf between Elizabeth and Darcy, which is not relevant in today’s world. How could I write an appealing Darcy who remained aloof and reserved in a world where social circles overlap and mix freely? How? HOW??


Go back to what you know. Lawyers are bound by a strict code of ethics. Really. All lawyer jokes aside, ethics is a big deal to the legal community. We’re well aware of our reputation as cold-blooded, unblinking, cartilage-skeletoned sharks. We try hard to be nice. Ever see a shark try to smile? It ain’t pretty. But I digress…

A character like Darcy (proud, rigid, but with a good moral compass) would make a perfect contemporary judge. From there, it all fell into place. A courtroom romance would create an ethical violation with very real, possibly career-ending, consequences. The struggle to resist temptation, and to ultimately give in to that temptation, provided the conflict. The characters’ willingness to compromise provided the resolution. And Lou Hurst provided the comic relief.

Satisfied with my original idea for Judge Darcy, I took another gander at Jane’s (yes, I was now on a first name basis with her) Pride and Prejudice. And there, on page 94 of my annotated version, Miss Bingley says to Darcy:

“Do let the portraits of your uncle and aunt Phillips be placed in the gallery at Pemberley. Put them next to your great uncle the judge.”

Aw, shit.

Oh well, I went with the idea anyway, and The Trials of the Honorable F. Darcy was the result. Thank you, Ms. Austen.

Does your job influence what you read or write?

Thank you Sara for stopping by the blog today. Sourcebooks is offering my U.S. and Canadian readers a chance to win 1 copy of Sara Angelini's The Trials of the Honorable F. Darcy.

To Enter:

1. Leave a comment on this post telling me what part of this guest post you enjoyed most.

2. Leave a comment on my review and leave a comment here that you did so.

3. Blog, Tweet, or Facebook this giveaway and leave me a link.

Deadline is October 9, 2009 at 11:59 PM EST

Check out the rest of the blog tour here:

September 24

The Good, The Bad, The Unread Guest Blog

September 25

Romance Junkies Guest Blog


September 28

Savvy Verse & Wit Guest Blog

September 29

Yankee Romance Reviewers

September 30

Pop Culture Nerd Guest Blog

October 1

A Journey of Books Guest Blog

October 2

Fallen Angel Reviews Guest Blog


October 5

The Long & Short of It Reviews Guest Blog

October 6

Love Romance Passion Guest Blog

October 7

The Serenity Gate Interview

October 8

A Bibliophile’s Bookshelf Guest Blog

October 9

Books and Needlepoint Interview


October 13

Books Like Breathing

October 14

Romance Reader at Heart’s Novel Thoughts

October 15

Fresh Fiction Guest Blog

October 16

Booking Mama Guest Blog


A Bookshelf Monstrosity said...

"Apparently, Colin Firth is the Willy Wonka of Jane Austen Fanfic Candyland."

That line is priceless!

amanda n.

A Bookshelf Monstrosity said...

I also linked this post to my blog:

amanda n.

Pam said...

I'd have to agree with A bookshelf monstrosity - Colin Firth's comparison to Willy Wonka brought happy images to my mind!

melacan at hotmail dot com

Pam said...

commented on your review

melacan at hotmail dot com

Julie P. said...

I can't wait to read this book! The author sounds so funny!

Anonymous said...

I loved this whole post, but the gorging on Colin Firth was a favorite ;)
stacybooks at yahoo

Mystica said...

I just adored the tongue in the cheek humor of the interview and think the book would be absolutely gorgeous. Colin Firth has done so much for fantasy that I think he should be awarded by book bloggers worldwide!!!

The interview was so very spell binding that you want to get your hands on the book.

Please count me in. Never needed a book as much as this!



Mystica said...

I just saw that this is restricted to US and Canada only so please delete me from the competition. So sad!!!! but my comments stand...


Care said...

OK, I'll be on the lookout for this book. Also, this is the second time in 2 days that I've seen reference to 'purple prose'. Had to go look it up, so now I know! Thanks for the little bit of education. :)

sara said...

Hi, everyone! Just wanted to pop in and say thanks for your comments, it really feeds the And Mystica, you're totally right. I think Colin Firth really launched the Jane Austen Fan Fiction movement; he should get royalties! Thanks again, posting here was so much fun!

Patti said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anna said...

It is totally true that much of fanfiction is awful.

I've commented on your review, and I've added the giveaway to my sidebar.

Diary of an Eccentric

Bridget said...

Hi! Just posted about this on Win A Book. Don't enter me, though.

Haleyknitz said...

this sounds cute!

i posted on twitter:

haleymathiot at yahoo dot com

Jenny N. said...

What I found interesting is that Sara also read internet Pride and Prejudice fanfiction. I read a lot of fanfiction so was nice that she mentioned that in her guest post.


Jenny N. said...

Commented on the review


Stephanie said...

I liked the paraphrasing of Lady Catherine as well as the fact that Ms Angelini calls Jane Jane because I do too. I also left a comment on your review.


Melanie said...

I can think of no other place where a modern day Elizabeth Bennet would be at home more than a courtroom.

holdenj said...

Great interview! I've been wanting to read this and waiting forever for the library!
I love the attorney angle and how they are bound by ethics as strongly as Regency folk were bound by certain niceties!
Thanks for the chance to win!

holdenj said...

I left a comment on your review! Thanks for the extra chance to win!