Thank you Pamela Lynne for supporting the “Salute to our Veterans” event at Just Jane 1813. I have to say that I love the darker portrayal of Colonel Fitzwilliam in “Sketching Character.” I think it was a bold move as an author, and I love reading JAFF stories that have a focus on Colonel Fitzwilliam. What made you decide to focus a large part of your latest book on Colonel Fitzwilliam?
I didn’t sit down with the purpose of making Richard (in my mind he is always Richard) a central figure. I followed the Muse and that’s where she took me. Given that we pretty much follow the canon timeline and much of the story takes place in Kent, he had to play a key role.
In your book, you create a Colonel Fitzwilliam who is a bit darker and more mischievous in his actions towards other characters. Why did you make this decision? It’s not an approach to his character that other JAFF authors have often taken, so why did you decide to tackle this challenge?
Again, the Muse dictated Richard’s actions, but I would not have developed him the way I did if it wasn’t feasible. There is the train of thought out there that Fitzwilliam knew exactly what he was doing when he told Elizabeth about Darcy’s interference with Bingley and Jane. If he did, then what were his motives? I don’t think it is a big leap to think he might have felt some jealousy as the second son. The challenge was to not make him a caricature. His motives had to be believable.
What was the hardest thing about writing this book? How did you, as a writer, overcome these challenges?
There were so many challenges with this one. Writing Sketching Character is one of the hardest things I have ever done. I got discouraged early on and set it aside for over a year before I picked it up again. I started working on the sequel to Dearest Friends, but SC kept talking to me and eventually took over. Once I started again, I continually got bogged down in the narrative. When that got to be too frustrating, I had to just step back. When I did, I was able to relax and just let the words come. Other than that, the biggest obstacle was getting over the fears that I could not do the story justice and that it would not be well received by readers who loved Dearest Friends.
My only disappointment in Andrew Davies 1995 adaptation of “Pride and Prejudice” was that he didn’t include any scenes that included dialogue between Darcy and Elizabeth during their walks at Rosings Park. What made you decide to focus on these walks in your variation?
Darcy and Elizabeth both needed time away from civilization to just feel what they needed to feel. Her heart was already broken over Lydia and she found it increasingly difficult to put on a brave face. Darcy, as we know, was all about the brave face when he was in front of people. They could not have connected the way they did in a drawing room. They needed the freedom the woods provided.
What inspires you to write JAFF?
I’m inspired most by canon. I first read Jane Austen over twenty years ago and there is still more to explore. You can truly drop those characters into any situation and any period of time and they will be relevant. Even though SC was a tough journey for me, I really fell in love with writing through this process. I don’t think I could stop now that I have.
How do you find JAFF books that you enjoy reading?
I’ve come full circle in my JAFF reading journey. I started on Amazon, found the forums and now I’m back on Amazon. I’m following one story, Brief Encounters, on Austen Underground and I am looking forward to reading An Unexpected Harvest and Darcy and Elizabeth—A Promise Kept, once they are complete. It’s too hard to follow stories in progress now, that’s why I’m back to buying completed novels on Amazon. I just can’t take the stress of the cliffhangers. I am also very fortunate that many of my friends are writers and are generous enough to send me paperbacks and ebooks and will share snippets from time to time. I love these friends; they are some of my favorite people in the world. Unfortunately, reading takes a backseat to writing and my TBR pile continues to grow.
Darcy’s relationship with Colonel Fitzwilliam has always been one that I have enjoyed reading about in JAFF books. What are your feelings about their relationship and why have you focused on it in your book?
I’ve said before that I love what the fandom has done with Richard. I still do, even though I took an alternate path this time around. I think canon gives us a great beginning with him. We don’t see him much, but we know he is a trusted friend. Darcy obviously confides in him and the elder Mr. Darcy liked him enough to make him co-executor of his will as well as co-guardian of Georgiana. That tells me a lot about the colonel. I love reading about Darcy and Richard being best friends and took them down that path myself in Dearest Friends. But, the what-if was too strong to ignore so I delved a little deeper and went a little darker for Sketching Character. No matter the nature of the relationship, I think Darcy’s friendship with Richard is an essential part of JAFF, at least in my little corner of it.
Jane Austen is tremendously popular 200 years after the publication of her work. Why do you think she is so popular today and what do you think, in regards to Austen, really resonates with modern audiences?
Austen created characters that you just can’t get out of your head. Even if you don’t like how they have behaved, you can relate to them on some level. When I read Pride and Prejudice the first time in 1993, I was a 17 year old girl in rural Arkansas but I looked at these people in Regency England and recognized my own family. Through the years, as I have re-read her works, I’ve found more reflections of myself and people I know. There are many other reasons why she’s timeless, but for me, that’s the big one.
Tell us a little bit about your cover art. Who designed it? Why did you go with that particular image?
The Sketching Character cover was actually a bit of a happy accident. I realized earlier this year that I needed to create a brand. I contacted JD Smith Designs and asked her to re-do the DF cover. One of the final mock-ups she sent was perfect for SC, so much so that I actually cried. I can’t wait to see what she comes up with in the future. Jane is such a pleasure to work with and I highly recommend her. I liked this image because we don’t see her face. It’s important to me to leave the image of Darcy and Elizabeth open to the reader. We all have our perfect pictures in mind and until Colin Firth agrees to model for me, I’ll use profiles or backs.
What can we expect from you in the future?
I still plan on finishing the sequel to DF, Family Portraits. I have two other bunnies trying to get my attention, one Regency and one set in another time, so we’ll see what happens. I learned this year that you shouldn’t fight the Muse.
What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?
Reviews are so important. Not only do they let other readers know you liked the book, but we authors need to know that you want more. Also, Cat and I love having so much reader participation at our book events. That gives us so much encouragement and fuels our desire to do more.
How can the readers discover more about you and your work?
I am currently working on developing a new blog. In the meantime, you can find me on Facebook and under Twitter handle @pamelalynne1.
Thank you Pamela Lynne for this insightful interview. I love the idea of these walks through the woods being a time for Darcy and Elizabeth to leave their public masks behind them, allowing them to connect on such a personal level.