I’d like to welcome Laura Hile to Just Jane 1813. Laura is the author of the “Mercy’s Embrace” Series based on Jane Austen’s “Persuasion. On Friday the 13th, in an act that can only be described as an eerie coincidence, Laura’s latest book, “Darcy By Any Other Name,” which is a “Pride and Prejudice” variation based on a hilarious body-swapping situation, unexpectedly showed up on Amazon’s publishing floor for purchase. Now, eight days later, she’s here to drop by and spend some time with my readers.
Laura, your book is already receiving some really terrific reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, and I am curious to know how you were able to pull together this outrageous scheme in a “Pride and Prejudice” variation. But, before we discuss your writing, can you take this opportunity to share with my readers a little bit about yourself?
I grew up in Southern California, the land of the new, surrounded by old things: antiques, a wooden racing sailing sloop (I watch Master and Commander and feel homesick), a classic car in the garage, and old books. I was always on the watch for a good story, and I hunted through my grandmother’s bookshelves and the local library. Fairy tales were my childhood favorites. In middle school, while friends sighed over boys and pop stars, I was reading Victoria Holt. I was on the lookout all right, not for a teen hottie, but for a gentleman—on horseback, no less.
I now live in the Pacific Northwest with my husband and sons. By vocation, I am a writer, but by trade, I am a middle and high school teacher.
They say all roads lead to Jane Austen. What led you to Austen, Laura?
I began writing Austen-based fiction when the Internet was new—and so was A&E’s mini-series Pride and Prejudice. My friend, author Susan Kaye, was posting Persuasion-based stories on the Bits of Ivory storyboard at the Republic of Pemberley. She and I collaborated together on a Persuasion what-if at Derbyshire Writer’s Guild, and then I launched Mercy’s Embrace, a longish tale featuring Persuasion’s so-arrogant Elizabeth Elliot. Gotta love that girl. She thinks she’s so smart and she just…isn’t.
So, how does an author go about creating a JAFF story with such an outrageous twist and still make it feel like a JAFF story?
Darcy By Any Other Name began with this question: What makes a man attractive to women? Do we love Mr. Darcy because of his looks and his wealth and the lure of Pemberley? Or do cleverness and intelligence and honor play a part?
What if? I wondered. What if I put Mr. Darcy inside an ordinary man’s body? Would that ordinary man begin to change? Would he improve in appearance? Oh, absolutely. The sparkle in his eyes, the shared smile, that clever conversational banter—we love those in a man. And it’s a good thing too. Because if women would only marry a handsome and wealthy Mr. Darcy type, the human race would die out in one generation!
The other night, I was up way past midnight, reading this story and laughing so hard in several places of this story. What can you share with us about the humorous scenes in this book?
I have a brother, a husband, and sons—meaning that I know what men are like. Then too, the contrast between Mr. Darcy and Mr. Collins is striking and fun. The inhabitants of Longbourn and Netherfield provide a bonanza of additional material. I live with my husband and my three sons, so I can relate to your assertion!
How did your love for Austen lead you to writing your own JAFF stories and why did you choose the path of writing a series based on her book “Persuasion?”
I enjoy bringing secondary characters onto center stage and giving them new adventures, all while keeping them in character. That’s the challenge, keeping Darcy as himself, even while trapped in Collins’ body. You mention Persuasion. I began there because so many were writing Pride and Prejudice spin-offs and I wanted to be different. Besides, my friend Pamela Aidan was posting installments of Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman. How could I compete with that?
Why do think after 200 years, so many people are still reading Jane Austen’s books?
Jane’s characters are timeless, and so is their appeal. We recognize them everywhere: at work, at church, in the gym, and even at city hall. I also find that modern readers, wearied by an “anything-goes” morality, are intrigued by social restrictions of Jane’s time. We’re charmed by the idea that a man and woman fall in love through conversation, as minds and hearts unite in surprise and delight. And then they live happily ever after, just like in the fairy tales.
Check out my review of “Darcy By Any Other Name” and giveaway posted today at Just Jane 1813.
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