I’d like to welcome JAFF author, Jodi L. Covey, to Just Jane 1813. I had the pleasure of meeting Mrs. Covey on Fanfiction.net, where she initially published her “Pride and Prejudice” sequels, titled “Progression,” Volumes 1 & 2: A Continuation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.”
As many readers know, I love “Pride and Prejudice” sequels. For me, they provide new ways to imagine how Darcy and Elizabeth’s lives unfolded once their wedding vows were exchanged. After I read Mrs. Covey’s story, I immediately asked her to consider collaborating with me once she published her sequels. Please help me welcome her to Just Jane 1813.
Good morning Jodi and thank you for joining us today. I know my readers love when JAFF authors spend time sharing their stories and describing their work within the JAFF community. Can you start by sharing with my readers some background about your own life?
I only wish it were more interesting. I was born and raised in Florence, Alabama, a latchkey kid with a relatively normal childhood, but essentially raised by television, especially movies. I have always held a passion for language, wit, good dialogue, and a strong narrative, and have written on and off my whole life, with little having come of it. I graduated from the University of North Alabama in 2002 with a B.S. in Journalism, but have put that degree to extremely limited use. I have a husband and eight-year-old daughter named Lizzie, and, when I’m not writing, work my glamorous job as a customer service representative in a call center.
Please tell us a little about “Progression” Volumes 1&2, including what inspired you to write a JAFF sequel instead of a JAFF variation.
I began writing “Progression” as a result of frustration at not being able to find a continuation to Pride and Prejudice that sufficiently satisfied me! My love for the original began in 2003 when I finally watched the 1995 mini-series. I thought it was the most remarkable love story I’d ever seen, and fell in love with the characters, particularly Colin Firth’s Mr. Darcy. What happens in that story has everything to do with the characters and their respective personalities, their ability to grow and change, to become better people, or to remain exactly as they are.
To me, “Pride and Prejudice” is about choices versus so-called obligations, and I often wondered about the choices made after the wedding. In 2004, I saw Linda Berdoll’s “Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife” in a local bookstore and I snapped it up immediately. I devoured that sequel, and, despite its flaws, give it props for at least endeavoring to continue the story, and to indulge in our fantasies of what the Darcy bedroom might have been like. That book is still a guilty pleasure of mine. Gradually, I began finding more continuations, which are quite scarce compared to the variations, another reason to take on the challenge. I indulged in other sequels as well, and some were rather high on passion, but thin on narrative. After reading some more sequels, I decided to take the plunge and try my hand at my own sequel. One day, in September of 2014, I just began writing. Then I wrote some more…and I just continued writing. I finally decided to answer the questions I had myself, rather than wait for someone else to answer them.
I believe you are working on your third volume in this series. Can you share with us your plans for this series?
I am currently working on a new book, although I am planning on titling it something other than Progression. I will tie up loose ends, but this is a whole new story that I plan to take in a different direction. Darcy is now, I believe, even more improved as a man, but he, like Lizzy, will always be flawed, and there is no such thing as “Happily Ever After.” Life just continues, and the marriage is still in the early stages. I never planned out Progression from beginning to end. As I wrote, I just kept asking myself, “Okay, now what?” What is a likely scene to occur after the previous one? How will this character respond to this new situation? Though readers may feel a bit cheated after the second volume, I truly feel Progression ended where it needed to, and I humbly request any fans of the book to have patience with me and trust in where the story goes from here.
As a new writer, what advice can you share with other writers?
Write what impassions you, no matter what it is, and you won’t quit. My whole life, I’ve begun stories and never even come close to finishing them. It’s like learning an instrument. Most people eventually just get bored and lose interest, because the idea of playing expertly brings more joy than putting in the effort. Once I found joy in the effort, I was finally able to finish a 500-plus-page book. Also, keep to your own unique style, and have a clear understanding of what you want to say, and how you want to say it. I like to be entertained, so I wanted to write something entertaining. I love movies, so I wanted to put a movie in the reader’s mind. Just know, with each chapter, what you want to accomplish.
On a more practical note, I’d like to share an experience that I encountered as I was writing this series. My computer’s hard drive crashed completely halfway into writing chapter 44, which is a pivotal scene that led to White’s with Darcy, Bingley, Thornhaugh, etc. I was able to retrieve every chapter except that one, which was crushing because it was by far the most difficult one to construct. I was beside myself for weeks before I completely re-wrote it (which took a month) and pressed forward. Frankly, I think the second draft turned out better.
If something like that happens, you must deal with it and keep going! And for goodness sake, save every bit of your work elsewhere so it can never be lost forever.
Why do you think people are still so drawn to Jane Austen and her work over 200 years later?
I think it’s all about characterization. The main characters in her stories are so well-done, so real, and so relatable. Even the characters who serve as mere devices are thoroughly enjoyable. And what her characters go through, the feelings they express, are timeless. Any woman in any time period can identify with Elizabeth Bennet the moment she refuses Darcy’s proposal, though in 1813 those feelings were not dared expressed, which made “Pride and Prejudice” so shocking in its day. Any woman, in any time period, can identify with Elinor Dashwood’s reluctance, with Marianne Dashwood’s romanticism, with Anne Elliot’s longing, etc. No one is better at getting into a woman’s head than Jane Austen!
Please tell us about your cover art for this series.
The charcoal drawing I made for the first volume is a small portion of a much larger piece of artwork that I drew especially for this book. I had very little to work with in terms of cover design (just the templates provided by Amazon), and so much of the overall image was lost for the sake of grabbing the reader’s attention. Elizabeth and Darcy share a great deal of passion for one another, which is expressed in the book, so why not personalize the cover with my own artwork? The cover art for volume two is the result of an exhaustive internet search that I feel well encapsulates the content of Progression’s second half.
Do you have plans to write more JAFF stories after this series, and if so, can you share some of your writing plans with us?
I will continue adding to this story until I feel the full story has been told. I have no idea where I’ll go from there. Though I do enjoy reading them, I will likely never do a variation. I just don’t have the interest.
How can readers discover more about you and your work?
You may visit my author page on Facebook (Jodi L. Covey) if you’re interested in just saying hello, finding my contact information, or if you’d like to see the completed artwork for Volume 1.
Today Jodi is also here to share with us a taste of her book, by sharing with us Chapter 22 from “Progression Vol. 1: A Continuation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice” with my readers. Don’t worry, there are no spoilers here, just lots of wicked fun for us to savor!
This was a mistake, Darcy thought; for by the late afternoon, he had already had enough of his mother-in-law’s unguarded prattling in regards to Pemberley’s magnificence and her daughter’s cleverness in securing a rich gentleman like Mr. Darcy. And it seemed when her voice was not heard, it was Caroline Bingley’s in never failing to mention this Thornhaugh chap whenever possible, bitterly reminding him of Mr. Collins and his incessant lauding of Lady Catherine.
Or of Bingley after first meeting Jane Bennet.
Perhaps it truly was a match, though Darcy could scarcely imagine any gentleman of magnitude actually falling for Caroline Bingley given her cold, ungenerous nature mixed with a dogged ambition he had always found at best unattractive. He could fathom a certain type of man courting her, of course—A rake, perhaps, or a fortune hunter; but Darcy was somewhat familiar with the Russell family, had even met Lord Bedford at an event several years ago, and understood the politician to be unquestionably reputable and his estate immense. The marquess, however, he knew nothing about. Perhaps he would have a conversation with Bingley later to see what he knew of the gentleman; but for now, Darcy—and the rest of his guests—would simply endure Caroline’s lovesick fawning over this beacon of perfection that is Lord Thornhaugh.
At a certain point, Darcy took a place in the parlor at the window in an attempt to make the useless conversation less perceptible with his own musings. He knew Elizabeth would not be happy with him and his habitual choice to drown out the world; but he had always found it profoundly difficult to pretend to be sociable where he was not, and, therefore, stood like a statue staring out at the park amidst the chatter of his company. He had not been in his current location long before Colonel Fitzwilliam came to stand next to him and join him in the scrutinizing of Pemberley’s parklands.
“Your wife is giving you the eye, Darcy,” murmured the colonel.
“I do not doubt it,” Darcy said just as cautiously, and with a heavy sigh asked, “Why did I agree to this, Richard?”
“Because you love her.”
Darcy cut a sharp eye at his cousin. “I was speaking of having everyone here.”
“So was I,” said Richard.
Darcy resumed his gaze out the window, at which point the colonel further opined, “It is not all noise, Darce. Georgiana and Miss Mary are enveloped in conversation over sheet music. Your father-in-law is trying Mr. Hurst’s patience with no little wit in explaining the advantages to reading over hunting. Your wife and Mrs. Bingley are happily discussing married life. And I daresay Miss Catherine seems to have taken quite a shine to Matty, already.”
“Indeed?” Darcy asked with genuine interest.
The colonel nodded. “He is talking to her of Shakespeare. Not sure she fully understands of what he’s talking, but she is certainly captivated. You, of course, would know all of this if you would participate in what is known as mixing socially with others. Fraternizing, if you will.”
“I do not need a lecture, Richard.”
“The very response I expected; however, I would like you to think on one thing. Where were you a year ago?”
Darcy recalled his situation last December when he was in London, hiding away in his townhouse with only a despondent Georgiana to keep him company whilst he tried to convince himself he harbored no intimate feelings for Elizabeth Bennet and could never condescend to court her. He remembered his long conversation with Bingley in which he—along with a conniving Caroline and Louisa—labored to persuade his miserable friend that Jane Bennet was not in love with him. By the time that visit was over, Bingley had looked how Darcy felt; and he could not help soon regretting what he had done, despite his conviction that it was all in the best interest of both men. Now Mr. and Mrs. Bingley were both smiling, Georgiana was jollier than she had ever been, and he himself was a thousand times more content than he was that winter.
“Your point is well taken, Cousin.” Darcy turned his head to find his wife, who was sitting on the settee with Jane. As though sensing his eyes on her, she gave him an arch glance that reminded him of those days in Hertfordshire when he continuously wondered what was going through her lively mind, what form of mischief was behind those remarkable eyes. Darcy turned back to the window. “I will try. Though it may pain me to make the effort, I will try. I can offer no more than that.”
“Of course not,” said the colonel. It was not one minute later when Bridges with one of the young stablemen approached Darcy, careful not to attract attention.
“Mr. Darcy, Sir,” said Bridges, “they’ve spotted the carriage, and Mr. Wickham is within.”
“Dear God, you were right,” said Fitzwilliam to Darcy, who was all severity when he addressed the youth.
“Where is it exactly?”
“Up the lane about half a mile, Sir.”
“And it is stationary?”
“Stopped, man,” said the colonel.
“Yes, Sir. They’ll not go further without a word.”
“Thank you, Benny.” The young man quickly left, and Darcy and Fitzwilliam exchanged firm glances before politely excusing themselves from the rest of the party, hopefully without arousing any suspicion. In near perfect alignment, the two gentlemen marched outside together, where Mr. Armstead was waiting for them with two of Darcy’s fastest horses.
“You owe me, Darcy,” said Fitzwilliam as he mounted. “You know I should dearly love to throttle the bastard within an inch of his life.”
“Perhaps in due course,” said Darcy. “But today, let us focus on removing what little leverage he thinks he has.”
“Never mind that what you are asking of me is wildly improper. Suppose I am unable to lure her.”
Darcy gave a knowing smirk. “I am not at all concerned, Richard. Given the opportunity and inclination, I know you capable enough of charming any woman.”
The two men cued their respective steeds into a full gallop, racing side-by-side up the lane toward the parked chaise in the distance. As they got closer, Darcy could see Wickham pacing back and forth in apparent frustration with three of Darcy’s lookouts—all burly groundskeepers—surrounding the carriage.
“Ah, thank God, Darcy,” said Wickham in good humor as Darcy and the colonel slowed their stallions to a halt a few yards in front of the carriage. “Could you please inform your men that we are here by invitation? For some reason, they seem to think we mean to rob the place.”
Darcy knew immediately that Wickham was feigning outrage in front of his wife—who sat indignantly inside the carriage—with the expectation that Darcy would not dare make too much of a fuss in the presence of Elizabeth’s sister. As he approached, Darcy sneered at Wickham’s flashy wardrobe bought with funds provided by himself and creditors no doubt won over by his charisma yet ignorant of his reputation. But instead of approaching Wickham directly, Darcy turned toward the single gelding pulling the chaise and stroked its muzzle. This seemed to baffle Wickham, but before he could make any inquiries, Colonel Fitzwilliam walked his own horse over to the side of the carriage and peered inside.
“Mrs. Lydia Wickham, I presume?”
Lydia put her head out of the window to look up at the colonel smiling down on her from astride one of Darcy’s prime hot-bloods. “Yes?” She answered, already taken in by Richard’s dashing appearance in his regimentals.
With a bow, he said, “Colonel Richard Fitzwilliam, at your service.” He dismounted and reached out to take Lydia’s hand, which she immediately gave him. “Also Mr. Darcy’s cousin and fellow guest here at Pemberley for the Christmas holiday.” He then kissed her hand reverently and held it. “And I understand you are to honor us with your presence, as well?”
Darcy cracked a smile, but managed to hide his expression behind the horse’s large head. Meanwhile, Wickham looked on in utter bewilderment.
“I am,” said Lydia, entranced by the handsome soldier. “I am Lizzy’s—I am Mrs. Darcy’s youngest sister, though I married months before her and Jane.”
“Of course, you did,” said Fitzwilliam, his smile never wavering. “I thought you might like a personal escort to the house while Darcy and Wickham see to their boring old business. Shall we?” The colonel gestured toward his horse; and Lydia was not lost on his suggestion, for the girl squealed with delight as she exited the carriage.
“Oh! So exciting! I have never ridden as a passenger to an officer’s rider before!”
“Lydia!” Wickham cried. “You mustn’t, my dear! It is not…it is not safe for you to—“
“Oh, nonsense! You never like to have fun, anymore! I shall be perfectly well with Colonel Fitzwilliam at the helm. Shall I not, Colonel?”
Fitzwilliam re-mounted and reached down to help her so that she may settle herself behind him. “Indeed, you shall, Mrs. Wickham. I give you my word on that.” The colonel paused just long enough to shoot a contemptuous glance in Wickham’s direction, then promptly rode off with Lydia holding firmly onto his waist. Darcy watched as they headed toward the house.
“There goes your bargaining chip, Wickham.” Darcy turned and faced his adversary of many years, maintaining a comfortable distance so that he may not be tempted to box his ears. He then instructed the three groundskeepers to unload all the luggage but for the one trunk, which Darcy knew to be Wickham’s. As the broad-shouldered men silently followed their master’s order, Wickham grew even more restless.
“Surely, Darcy, you are not turning me away—not after a three-day journey! You truly expect me to go straight back home to Newcastle?”
“No. I expect you to go straight to the Lambton Inn for the night. This horse needs water and rest. Were you not so bloody negligent, you would heed the fact that this carriage was built for two horses. I shall see to Mrs. Wickham’s return after the holiday. And on any subsequent visits to Pemberley, I shall see to her arrival, as well.”
Darcy reached up to the hitherto confounded postilion still straddling the horse and handed him a whole quid, after which the simple man smiled and thanked him. Running low on methods, Wickham endeavored a bit more gallantry.
“You really expect me to leave without my wife?”
“You have no choice in the matter.” Darcy started back toward his own mount. Wickham glanced at the brawny men eyeballing him as a warning from the roadside, and his tone became desperate.
“She is an albatross around my neck, Darcy!”
“Of your own making,” Darcy said calmly. “And you agreed to the terms of the negotiation.”
“Under false pretenses! Had I known your objective was to secure Elizabeth Bennet, I’d have never—“
“You’d have driven a harder bargain, but the end result would have been exactly the same, keeping you out of debtor’s prison, keeping collectors from hunting you down like a woodcock.”
With that, Darcy considered this pointless argument closed, but Wickham’s belligerence meant to further test his limits would not give way. “Admit it, Darcy! You never even fancied her till the discovery that she preferred me over you, and now you’ve seen fit to shackle me to this insufferable chit as part of your revenge!”
Darcy shook his head, wondering how on Earth this fool ever managed to gain the favor of so many. “If that is the prism through which you view it, Wickham, I will not bother to argue, nor do I care to. Now leave these grounds, and do remember this time never to return.”
As Darcy said the last words, Fitzwilliam came riding up at top speed, but less one passenger. The colonel quickly dismounted, never taking his wrathful gaze off of Wickham, and proceeded to charge toward the man.
“Richard!” Darcy called out.
Wickham scarcely had time enough to stumble backward when Richard caught up to him and laid the man down with a right hook, causing Wickham to hit his head upon the pebbly road hard enough to render him unconscious. Fitzwilliam then pointed to the shocked postilion. “You there! Help me get him into the carriage! Quick, man!”
The frightened driver hesitated but a moment before dismounting and rushing over to where Wickham lay. The colonel hoisted Wickham up by his underarms as the postilion took his legs. Richard then glanced over at his cousin, who was watching in vexation at the scene before him. “Darcy, could you get the door please?”
Darcy grudgingly walked over and jerked open the door, at which point Fitzwilliam all but threw Wickham into the chaise and slammed the door shut as Darcy repeated his order to get the carriage to Lambton at once. Catching his breath, Fitzwilliam reached into his pocket and gave the fatigued and addled driver half a crown.
“Thank you, Sir,” the man said excitedly, for he had made more money in the last five minutes than he probably had doing a month’s work.
“Thank you,” Fitzwilliam replied. “Certainly gave you quite the show today, didn’t we?”
The man tipped his hat at the gentlemen and proceeded to follow the orders given to him as Darcy and Fitzwilliam strode back to their horses.
“You may have concussed the man,” said Darcy.
“Then it is to be a merry Christmas, indeed,” said the colonel flippantly.
Later that night, when Darcy finally retired well after all the guests had, he crept into Elizabeth’s room to find her already fast asleep as opposed to her usual lying awake in bed—usually curled up with a book—waiting for him. As he slipped under the covers, he realized how exhausted she must be after all her efforts to see that both she and he have a joyful Christmas holiday. For Darcy, that only meant having her and his sister near him, but for Elizabeth, it meant surrounding herself with loved ones, and Darcy simply had to find a way to overcome his disdain for crowded affairs. Elizabeth would both be seen at and hosting balls soon, and he would have to be the gentleman on her arm who was eager to—not keep her under glass—but display her proudly. He thought for a moment of going back to his own room to sleep, but quickly decided against it. Once again, he was already in a comfortable bed and was certainly tired himself after the day’s events. Why give the servants more linens to tend to in the morning? He had just closed his eyes when Elizabeth rolled over and cuddled up close to him.
“Oh, Mama!” Elizabeth moaned reproachfully in her sleep—for even in her dreams, Mrs. Bennet gave her daughter no end of embarrassment. Darcy put his arm around her and held her even closer, breathing in the scent of her hair.
“I will try, my Darling,” he whispered. “I will try.”
Thank you to my Just Jane 1813 readers for joining us today. This week I will be back to share my review and a giveaway of “Progression Vol. 1: A Continuation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice” with my readers, which is already receiving some wonderful reviews on Amazon. I also want to thank Mrs. Covey for joining us today and for sharing this deliciously fun chapter!
Please feel free to comment below and let us know your thoughts about today’s interview and excerpt.