Nov 4, 2009

Interview with Jane Odiwe, Author of Willoughby's Return

Jane Odiwe, author of Lydia Bennet's Story (click link for my review) and most recently Willoughby's Return (review forthcoming), took time out of her busy schedule answer a few interview questions.

Please welcome Jane Odiwe.

Most authors dealing with classic characters fell in love with them early on, but wanted something more.  Is this how you felt about Willoughby, and what is it you sought to do that Jane Austen had not?
Rather than falling in love with Willoughby, I suppose it was really that ideal of romantic love that I fell in love with early on, and the relationship that Willoughby first shares with Marianne Dashwood. Jane Austen painted him initially as the epitome of the dashing hero and that is very attractive!

I wanted to discover if Marianne had truly recovered from the heartbreak that he caused and wondered how she might react if he re-entered her life. I also felt we needed to know more about Marianne’s relationship with Colonel Brandon who is her husband, a subject Jane Austen hardly touched upon.

Willoughby is often considered the villain of Sense and Sensibility, is this what attracted you to writing about his character or was it something more?  

He is a villain, but I think his character is more complicated than that. I think a little part of me wanted to believe that he was not all bad and even Jane Austen made him remorseful in Sense and Sensibility. What was more important to me was examining the way Marianne perceived him – we see him through her eyes – and I wanted to take her feelings on a journey.

Many readers are eager to know which character or characters authors most identify with, so in your latest novel, which of the characters do you identify with and why?  

I’d like to say Marianne or Margaret Dashwood, both romantic and passionate heroines who think with their hearts not their heads. Like Marianne, I can wax lyrical on a falling leaf from the sky and a picturesque scene, but that’s where the comparison ends. I think these days I probably identify more with Mrs Jennings, the interfering busybody friend of Colonel Brandon – I have a habit of asking totally outrageous and embarrassing questions of my children’s friends much to their great mortification!

Why choose Jane Austen novels versus other classic authors' novels?  

I just love them – I’m actually obsessed, as my family will tell you. Jane’s writing is the best and her books work on so many levels. I’m still discovering new wonders in every one, which is just as well, as there are only six.

Who is your favorite Jane Austen hero and why?  

Captain Frederick Wentworth. The story of Persuasion has a special significance for me and that’s why he’s my favourite. It is the most wonderful love story – whenever I go to Bath my husband and I like to stroll along the Gravel walk and follow in the footsteps of Anne and Captain Wentworth. I also think Colonel Brandon would be gorgeous and I have to include Mr. Darcy in this trio of equally splendid heroes.

Do you have any obsessions that you would like to share?  

I just asked my youngest son what he thought for an answer to this question and he immediately answered – your computer! I’m afraid it’s true, but it’s really my writing that is the obsession. I also Google anything and everything on Jane Austen every day – I told you I was obsessed!

Which books have you been reading lately, and are there any you would like to recommend?  

I’ve been reading Jane Austen’s Letters and Persuasion, Emile Zola’s The Ladies’ Paradise, Samuel Richardson’s The History of Sir Charles Grandison, Sarah Waters’ Dancing with Mr Darcy, and Sue Wilkes’ Regency Cheshire. I’d recommend them all.

Finally, following Willoughby's Return, do you have any other projects in the works? Do they deal with other classic literature or do you see yourself flourishing in the Jane Austen market?   

Sourcebooks will be publishing my next book, Mr. Darcy’s Secret, in the Spring 2011, so that’s exciting to be having a third book published by them. I have started two other books which are both Austen related. I have other non-Jane books I want to write, but I’m really happy living in Austenland at the moment. I’d be really interested to hear what kind of books your readers would like to see – more Jane Austen inspired fiction or maybe another classic author. What do you all think?

Stay tuned for my review of Willoughby's Return on Nov. 5.  In the meantime, Sourcebooks has sponsored a giveaway for U.S./Canada residents.  You can win 1 copy of Willoughby's Return.  To Enter:

1.  Leave a comment on which classic author you think Jane should take on next or if you think she should continue with Jane Austen.

2.  For a second entry, leave a comment on my review tomorrow.

3.  Blog, tweet, or otherwise spread the good word about this giveaway (@SavvyVerseWit) for a third entry.

4.  If you follow, I'll give you an extra 5 entries.  If you are a new follower, you will get 3 extra entries.  Be sure to leave a comment and let me know.

Deadline is Nov. 11, 2009, at 11:59PM EST.


Nana Fredua-Agyeman said...

This is an interesting review. I haven't read any Jane Austen books though I believe I have one or two on my 100 books to be read in 5 years list. Also, I have limited knowledge of classical authors so cannot make a suggestions.

However, I would want to know why Jane Austen and Jane Austen related books are so common? Is it that she was a brilliant writer or her romantic novels are extraordinary...?

Serena said...

Nana: I really love Jane Austen's work. I have only 2-3 more of her novels to read.

I'm not sure why there are so many of Austen's novels and spinoffs on the market. I think she is one of the most well-known female writers from that period who lived an unusual life--choosing to be independent and write, rather than marry for money and position.

I'm just hypothesizing though.

Anna said...

No need to enter me, as I've borrowed your copy. I've added the giveaway to my sidebar, though.

I think Odiwe should ride the Jane Austen wagon as long as it lasts, especially since she enjoys Austen novels and characters so much. After that...hmm...I like Odiwe's writing, so I wouldn't mind seeing a novel of her own creation!

Diary of an Eccentric

Serena said...

Anna: I agree that I would like to see a book of Jane's own creation.

Laura's Reviews said...

Great interview! As Jane loves Persuasion and Captain Wentworth (my favorite as well!), I would love it if she would continue her Austen trek and wrote a Persuasion inspired novel. Also, I love the Bronte sisters and would love it if she wrote a book inspired by any of their works. I especially love Anne Bronte's novel, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall and would love to see more to that story.

I would love to be entered in this giveaway. My email address is laarlt78(at)hotmail(dot)com. I am already a follower!

Margay said...

I think Jane should continue with Austen - for now. There's always tie to take on another classic writer in the future.

I tweeted this contest.
I am a follower of this blog.


Jane Odiwe said...

Hi Serena and everyone!
I just thought I'd stop by to say thank you for all your lovely and thought provoking comments.

Nana - I think both the fact that Jane was a brilliant writer and her extraordinary books combine to make her the standard for our writing. She only wrote six books and I think a lot of us carried on because we wanted more! Another factor has been the explosion of films and adaptations bringing the books to people who may not have read them before. They have inspired some writers to write their own sequels.

Thank you Anna and Serena for your very generous comments - I have some ideas for books of my own - I hope to get to them soon!

Persuasion and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall - those should keep me busy - thanks for the suggestions, Laura.

Thanks for tweeting Margay and for your kind comments.

It's so nice to meet you all - thanks for having me along!

etirv said...

I think JO should continue with Jane Austen! Match made in heaven!


etirv said...

Already follow!


Melanie said...

Austn left so many possibilities with her novels. I love reading contemporary authors takes on Austen's stories. Keep going with Austen!

Laura Hartness said...

Oh yes, keep on with the Austen sequels! Or even prequels! I agree with Margay-- there's plenty of time for other classic authors!

Other entries:

I also commented on your review- very interesting!

I added a note on my blog sidebar about your contest (

I Tweeted about it today (@LHartness)

And of course I'm a follower!

Thanks for the chance to enter!

Laura Hartness

Jane Odiwe said...

Thank you Etirv, Melanie and Laura for your support and encouragement. I have just signed a contract for my next book - Mr Darcy's Secret!

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

No need to enter me. I'm dropping in to say thanks for the e-mail, babe. I've got this posted at Win a Book.

Jemima said...

I would love to see a different classic author chosen. There are so many good ones that it seems like Austen and Dickens get overdone with spin-offs and movies. What about Edith Wharton, Henry James, Elizabeth Gaskell.

Please enter me: thereadingjourney[at]gmail[dot]com

Jemima said...

I am a new follower: thereadingjourney[at]gmail[dot]com

lag123 said...

By all means, continue with Jane Austen.
I am a new follower.

Jenny N. said...

I think Jane should stick with Jane Austen.


Jenny N. said...

Tweeted here:

And I'm already a follower of yours


MoziEsmé said...

I'll go with the popular vote and say Jane Austen again...

janemaritz at yahoo dot com

Marie said...

I would say to stick with Jane -- she's my favorite :-)

I am a new follower.

Laura Hartness said...

Thanks so much for the contest! I'm looking forward to reading the book and posting a review!