Today I’d like to welcome our first guest, Leslie L. Diamond, to the newly redesigned Just Jane 1813 blog. Leslie is the author of four “Pride and Prejudice” variations, whose titles include “An Unwavering Trust,” “Rain and Retribution,” and “A Matter of Chance.” Her next book, “Particular Intentions,” which will be released tomorrow, is a new twist on Elizabeth and Darcy’s time together at Netherfield Park. I can’t wait to share my review of this book, along with Mrs. Diamond’s very generous giveaways, later this week!
Leslie, I know that many JAFF readers love your stories, and I can’t wait to share more about your upcoming release. Would you mind first giving us a glimpse into Leslie L. Diamond, the person behind the writer and share with my readers a little bit about yourself?
Wow, the hardest question first! I am originally from Louisiana and spent the first 30 years of my life living an hour from New Orleans. I’ve been married for the last 17 years to my own Mr. Darcy and we have three wonderful children (When they aren’t arguing with each other, that is. 😉 ). We’ve been living in England for the last two years where I’ve been visiting as many historical places I can. I’ve had a great time letting the atmosphere influence my writing.
Please share with us the premise of your upcoming release, “Particular Intentions,” and anything else you’d like to share with us about your decisions to write this particular story?
“Particular Intentions” sprang from two ideas. The first was a wish to make Bingley more of his own man. Every time I read “Pride and Prejudice,” I get a bit more annoyed with Bingley. How could he love Jane so much if he was dissuaded from her so easily? I wanted him to be Bingley—a happy, amiable man—but able to stand up for himself.
The second idea was a scene, which I previewed a month ago on Austen Variations, in which Caroline Bingley locks Elizabeth and Darcy in the Netherfield library. I fell in love with the scene and couldn’t wait to write it. I was so excited I even shared it with some fellow writers at Jane Austen Regency Week last year—something I never really do. I’m usually extremely tight-lipped until the release. My betas don’t even know what they’re getting until they read it. I want their honest reactions, which helps me immensely when getting the book ready.
I love the cover for “Particular Intentions.” Can you describe for my readers your process for designing this cover?
This one was tricky. For my first three books, I used a photo I took for the cover. I put together a quick photo shoot for the rose on Rain and Retribution. A Matter of Chance’s cover is a watercolor I painted in art school, and An Unwavering Trust was a photo I took in a walled garden behind the Ely Cathedral. The Earl’s Conquest changed things a bit. I was looking for ideas to describe Georgian gowns and stumbled across the portrait that I used for the cover. I loved that cover so much that I wanted to use something like it for this one, but had a really hard time finding a painting. Most of the Regency portraits that resemble most people’s idea of Elizabeth Bennet have been used in some form or fashion, so I wanted to find something different. I searched Pinterest for a while using different search parameters until I found this painting called “Pea Blossoms.” The girl in the painting seems more of a Georgiana to me, but I liked that when I used a detail and omitted most of her face how she could be anyone. She could be Elizabeth, Georgiana, Jane—anyone. I think that is what drew me to this painting over the others I found.
The back cover was a search for a painting that reminded me of Netherfield. I started with a search on Constable and found the painting I used. It was so bright compared to the front that I used a black overlay. It allowed for not such a huge contrast between the front and back covers as well as made it easier for any text to be seen without augmenting the photo other than isolating the part that I wanted and a pesky sky shadow in the water that was distracting.
LOL! I’m sure that’s much more than you wanted to know, but that’s the story.
I know that your love for Austen began with a viewing of “Sense and Sensibility,” which happens to be my second favorite story by Austen. Do you have any plans to write any sequels or variations based on her other books?
I have an idea for a modern “Persuasion” that came to me while I was visiting Bath with my family in March, but I was in the middle of “Particular Intentions” at the time. When I get the time or the inclination, perhaps I’ll play around with it.
You are part of a group of writers named Jane Austen Variations. Can you tell us about your membership in this group and what has been your experience working with a group of similar-minded writers?
I joined Austen Variations at the beginning of last year, and I can’t say enough how much I enjoy working with the authors in the group. A large group of us met at Jane Austen Regency Week last year and had a great time. We have a Pride and Prejudice: Behind the Scenes, which should be coming out sometime this year as well as Persuasion 200, which should not be far off as well. I have loved contributing to these books and look forward to their release.
Everyone at Austen Variations is extremely supportive. I’m fortunate to be a part of the group.
Why do think after 200 years, so many people are still reading Jane Austen’s books?
I think there are multiple reasons people are still reading Jane Austen’s books after all this time. I know Jane Austen herself wrote “I could not sit seriously down to write a serious Romance under any other motive than to save my life…” but she indeed wrote wonderful love stories whether she intended to or not. Who wouldn’t want to read about a man who would go to such lengths as Darcy did for the woman he loved? What woman wouldn’t want a man who with as steadfast a heart as Captain Wentworth? They are definitely swoon-worthy.
Jane Austen is also simply timeless in so many respects. We all can recognize Jane Austen’s characters from our everyday life. We all know a Mrs. Bennet, an Elizabeth Bennet, an Anne Elliot, or even a Marianne Dashwood. I know people who resemble these characters and I am certain most of the readers do as well. If you read Jane Austen’s letters, you should recognize Jane Austen’s characters in the people she knew and loved as well.
Socially, we still have stigmas and prejudices against certain classes of people, so her social satire still rings true today. Caroline Bingley thumbs her nose at the Gardiners for being in trade, yet her money came from trade. Class prejudices are not something that has ever gone away, but have simply changed with time.
As an American who has recently moved to England in the past few years, what have you come to love about living in England and what do you still miss from America?
There is a lot to love about England. We’ve actually spent two years here and have yet to leave the island. We’ve seen so much just travelling around England. I love going to the National Trust houses and English Heritage sites. We can go just about anywhere easily as well. There is so much history in every village or town. I simply enjoy walking in many of the places we have gone. In fact, we did that in Bath. We took the train to Bath and then walked everywhere. You can’t do that in the U.S. while many of the villages and towns are made to be walked. I love that.
As for what I miss about America, I miss my family and the ease of travelling to visit them when I want. Sometimes a nice big parking lot would be welcome as well.
What can readers do to support your work?
Readers can support authors in a few ways. Reviews are probably the easiest and greatest bit of support we can receive. The review doesn’t even have to be long. Just a quick sentence saying they enjoyed the book. I always appreciate when people leave me messages on social media about how they love my books. It always makes my day to receive such nice compliments. It inspires me to write as well.
I will say that JAFF fans have to be some of the most supportive. I am active in the online forums and I’ve known of fans to find a plagiarized story online or published, and the fans are doing their best to stand up for the author. It’s awesome and I appreciate that loyalty greatly!
Thank you, Leslie, for dropping by as my first guest to the new blog. I loved learning about your work as a writer, and being able to share this interview with my readers! I wish you a great launch with the new book and I look forward to reviewing “Particular Intentions” later this week.
To connect with L.L. Diamond, check out the following links:
Blog: L.L. Diamond’s Blog
Dear readers, I know Leslie would love to hear from you too! Please feel free to ask her any questions in the comments below and don’t forget to visit this week when I review “Particular Intentions!”