Thank you for joining us at Just Jane 1813. It’s a real pleasure to review your “Pride & Prejudice & Assassinations” series on my blog. I’ve enjoyed this series a great deal, and I truly hope that more JAFF fans pick up and read this series too. The title of this blog event is “Austen at War: Love is a Battlefield,” and I created this theme because I wanted to highlight some fan fiction that takes a closer look at the events surrounding the Napoleonic Wars, since these wars were so prevalent in the lives of the people who lived during Austen’s lifetime.
What decisions led you to combine the elements of love and war to make them the focus of your series?
After deciding to help my youngest daughter become an author by learning the process along with her, I chose Pride & Prejudice as a starting point. In a letter dated February 4th, 1813 Jane Austen laments on the cheeriness of the novel. In this manner, Jane Austen gave me the idea of the series. In the letter, Jane states that she wished she had mentioned “…Buonaparte, or anything that would form a contrast, and bring the reader with increased delight to the playfulness and epigrammatism of the general style.”
When I came upon this line it suddenly occurred to me that Jane had written her novel at the height of the Napoleonic wars, and I had to wonder what her novel could have been like if she had thrust her characters into that setting.
Your series has seven mid-length books and two novellas, so it’s a rather long series. Can you tell us what made you decide to take on the challenges of writing this series?
The series began as a simple endeavor to work alongside my daughter and help her learn the writing profession. One of the techniques we learned was to write a series. The method attracts readers, gives continuity of the story and characters, and can be a lot of fun. I liked the idea. So I began this series with no definitive endgame. To be honest, I can certainly see it going a lot longer than seven books, (20 or 30 books or more). I concluded book seven by finishing a lot of the open plots but left room for expansion in case readers wanted more.
Throughout your books, you include a lot of information about how various government and some rather radical operations operated during the Napoleonic Wars. What did the research process look like for you in regards to incorporating this information into your stories?
This part was fascinating. I was able to watch documentaries, chat with my children about what they learned in school, purchase reference books, and do research online. It’s interesting how fun history can be when you don’t have to learn it the way it is taught in school. So, my time was spent fantasizing about the characters while reading various tales and stories of the early 1800’s. From there, the plotlines simply flowed. LOL, I remember how surprised I was to learn that one of the world’s ten greatest master spies was William Wickham. What a perfect little detail to add to the story. That’s life I guess.
This series includes a pretty intense triangle storyline and I love that it’s such an original one. We don’t have two men vying for Elizabeth Bennet here, we have two women who come to be very protective and involved with Mr. Darcy. I also love that the triangle storyline isn’t quite ever resolved, even through all of the ups and downs of this series. Can you tell us what motivated you to write this storyline?
Now that is an intense question. I love Marianne Dache just as much as I love Elizabeth Bennet, and I truly enjoy the interactions between all of them. As to why I created this love triangle…. I suppose I wanted to give Darcy another quality woman to choose from. In the original P&P, there is only one woman Darcy could end up with because not a single antagonist was in Darcy’s league. In this novel, Miss Dache is bright, intelligent, mature, graceful, and the daughter of a Lord. In many ways, she is Elizabeth’s better, but Darcy’s heart flows to the more innocent, kinder, and gentler Miss Bennet. Why did I write Miss Dache…? Have you ever had two loves? Both so alike but also different. How would you choose? And once you chose, what would your life be like? I explore that with Darcy, Elizabeth, and Marianne.
I loved the way you based a few of the supporting characters in your series on some of my favorite characters from “Sense and Sensibility.” What led you to make that decision and can we expect to read more about these characters in the future?
When I started the series I thought about incorporating a lot more stories into the same world. eg. Sense and Sensibilities and Spies, Emma and Emissaries, etc. So far that has not come to fruition, but the groundwork has been laid. I may add more, but that will come down to the popularity of the series.
Please tell us a little bit about your cover art. I understand you’ve recently revised some of your covers as well. Can you tell us more about the images you selected for each book and the style you selected to help brand your covers?
That really comes down to helping my daughter, playing with photoshop, and learning the art. Originally I selected a more ornate font, but my daughter and I learned to keep things a bit simpler, which is why I revised the script as well as alternating cover colors. Book one is now black, book two white, book three black again, etc. The nice thing about having direct control is that an author can make a change on Monday and it will take effect on Tuesday. Of course, we also kept it simple because we were just learning the process, but I must admit that I like the covers. Many books seem to go fancier and fancier with their designs. These are simple but effective.
How can readers discover more about you and your work?
My website is a great place as well as my facebook page. Beyond that, I also take emails. I have received many ideas from readers and enjoy conversing on the topics.
Thank you Leo for joining me today at Just Jane 1813. I hope that readers will look into reading your series, especially once they’ve read this interview and learned about your inspiration for this very creative series.