Pemberley by the Sea (which I reviewed), has written other variations of Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice characters and situations. In her latest novel, Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy: The Last Man in the World, Reynolds examines what would have happened had Elizabeth Bennet not refused Mr. Darcy's proposal.
Abigail took time out of her busy schedule to answer a few interview questions for her tour stop here. Please give her a warm welcome, and stay tuned for giveaway information.
1. Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy: The Last Man in the World is just one of a number of Pride & Prejudice variations you've written. Is this the first one you've published through Sourcebooks? How did that come to pass?
The first variation I published through Sourcebooks was Impulse & Initiative, and this is the second. There are four more on the way, including the brand-new Mr. Darcy’s Obsession coming out in October 2010. I took an unusual road to publication. I wrote the variations for fun and posted them on the internet, then eventually self-published them just for myself and for some of my online readers. To my astonishment, Deb Werksman, acquiring editor of Sourcebooks, found them on the self-publishing site and bought the publication rights. Now Sourcebooks is gradually bringing out the entire series. I’d never have guessed in a million years that I’d be published!
2. Your variations on Pride & Prejudice look a significant turning points in Jane Austen's novel and asks the question "What if?" (such as the ill-fated proposal from Darcy to Elizabeth, which she promptly refuses). Do you have other major scenes from other Austen novels in mind for a similar series of books?
I love all of Austen’s novels (well, maybe I don’t exactly love Mansfield Park, but I admire it), but none of them play out in my head the way Pride & Prejudice does. Part of the appeal is that I love the characters so much. When I’m writing, my characters take up residence in my head for months on end, so it’s helpful if they’re characters I like! I’m not sure I could put up with, say, Emma in my mind for such a long time, given that I always want to strangle her when I read Emma.
3. Do you have any particular writing habits, like listening to music while writing or having a precise page count to reach by the end of each day or week?
I tend to write late at night, often with solo classical piano playing in the background because it puts me in a Regency frame of mind. I often pick up Pride & Prejudice or Jane Austen’s letters and read a couple of pages to get the rhythm of her language going, and sometimes I even type some of it out to get myself started.
4. Who is your favorite Jane Austen hero and why?
Mr. Darcy, with Colonel Brandon as a close second. Darcy’s shift from his early unpleasant behavior to his later changes fascinates me, and of course his devotion to Elizabeth for her wit and intelligence rather than her beauty is a major item in his favor!
5. Most authors using classic characters and stories to spur their own creations fell in love with those characters and stories early on, but wanted something more. Is this how you felt about Pride & Prejudice? What motivated you to craft your own tale based upon Jane Austen's story?
I’ve always thought that Pride & Prejudice was too short for my taste, and I wish Jane Austen had written out all those scenes she refers to in passing, just so I could have a little more Elizabeth and Darcy. You won’t be surprised to hear that Pride & Prejudice is my favorite book, and it’s gotten to the point where I sometimes talk back to the characters. One day I was re-reading the scene at the Lambton Inn for the umpteenth time. When Darcy left giving Elizabeth only a long, serious look, I wanted to scream, “No! Don’t do it! Tell her how you feel! Give her some hope! She can’t read your mind, idiot!” I was so annoyed with him that I sat down and started writing From Lambton to Longbourn, just to show Darcy what I meant. Yes, sometimes I’m a little too obsessed with Pride & Prejudice!
6. Why choose Jane Austen novels versus other classic authors' novels.
Sheer love of the characters and of Jane Austen’s voice and world view. As one of my characters says in Pemberley by the Sea, I like my coffee with cream and my literature with optimism. There isn’t that much classic literature that deals with loveable characters and ends happily ever after. I like books that can be comfort food of the soul. I don’t think I could take the darkness of Charlotte Bronte for long, for example.
7. Which books have you been reading lately, and are there any you would like to recommend?
I’ve just finished Marilyn Brant’s delightful According to Jane, which tells the story of a modern young woman who has Jane Austen giving her advice in her head. Another recent favorite is Robin Kaye’s hysterically funny Romeo, Romeo. I’ve also been reading Maria V. Snyder’s Poison Study series with my teenage daughter. I’d happily recommend all of those!
8. Finally, following Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy: The Last Man in the World, do you have any other projects in the works? Do they deal with other classic literature or do you see yourself flourishing in the Pride and Prejudice market?
I’ve finished the first draft of another Pride & Prejudice variation, and I have some ideas for a Pride & Prejudice sequel in my mind. I’ve been working on a series of modern novels that continue the story of Pemberley by the Sea (which is being re-released in mass market paperback in Spring 2010 as The Man Who Loved Pride & Prejudice) but aren’t directly Jane Austen-related, but it remains to see if those will ever see the light of day because the market for general contemporary romance isn’t strong these days. I write for love more than for the market, so I write whatever my muse sends me, but the Pride & Prejudice related stories are the ones that are most likely to be picked up by a publisher.
Thanks for inviting me!
Thanks Abigail for answering my questions and for writing fun novels with our beloved Elizabeth and Darcy!
FTC Disclosure: Clicking on image and title links will bring you to my Amazon Affiliate Page; No purchase necessary, though appreciated.
Sourcebooks is offering 2 copies of Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy: The Last Man in the World to U.S./Canadian readers of this blog.
1. Leave a comment on this interview about what you would like to ask Abigail Reynolds.
2. Leave a comment on tomorrow's review of Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy.
3. Blog, tweet, Facebook, etc. this giveaway and leave a link here.
Deadline is Jan. 11, 2010, 11:59PM EST