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I love making new friends in the JAFF community and today I have the pleasure of sharing a new friend of mine with my readers; the talented Alexa Adams. Mrs. Adams is not new to JAFF, after publishing several of her own books, but this is her first visit to Just Jane 1813 and I’d like to ask you to join me in welcoming her here today as he has generously allowed me to share an interview with her with my readers.
Welcome to Just Jane 1813, Alexa.
Thank you so much for having me, Claudine! I’m excited to be here.
It’s my pleasure to speak with you today and share our conversation with my Just Jane 1813 readers.
Alexa, this new story, Darcy in Wonderland, is quite a departure from any other JAFF story you have written. Can you share with us why you decided to move in this direction with your newest JAFF story?
I always like to explore something new and different. With so much JAFF being produced, it can be a challenge to find something unique to write. This idea emerged in a variety of ways. First and foremost, I wanted to work on something lighthearted. My earliest books were highly humorous, but then I produced some very dark material. My last novel, The Madness of Mr. Darcy, totally drained me emotionally. I needed a laugh. Then last year I was so fortunate as to attend my first Jane Austen Festival in Bath. It was marvelous meeting so many Janeites I had only previously spoken to online, and many of them asked what I was working on next. I was determined to participate in NaNoWriMo that year, having missed out the previous because of my grand overseas move to Switzerland (took a while to settle in and be able to write again), but I didn’t have an idea. I just kept saying that if I didn’t come up with anything better, I would shove Darcy down the rabbit hole, and the idea was met with great enthusiasm, so I went for it.
This story is truly a blend of Jane Austen, Lewis Carroll. I am really curious about what your writing process looked like for this story, especially as you have included several pieces of poetry into your story that resemble Carroll’s work. Can you tell us about this process?
The Carroll part of the book is encapsulated within a Pride and Prejudice continuation, set many years after the Darcys were married. That part was like writing any of my other books, in essence. Once Darcy and Alice fell into Wonderland, I kept a copy of Carroll’s book constantly beside me for reference. I don’t do a lot of planning when I write, as my characters tend to run off in whatever direction they choose (I just follow), but I wanted this to be Alice’s journey, just with Darcy there as a foil to the absurdity. I stuck pretty close to the original sequence of events. Whenever there was an opportunity to insert some Austen, and all of her novels and some of the juvenilia make appearances in the story, I threw in references. The poems were a great opportunity for this, especially as Carroll’s originals are pretty non-sequitur. They are direct parodies, following his meter (his were almost all parodies too), but with an Austenesque twist.
For example, this one directly references the walk to Beechen Cliff in Northanger Abbey:
‘Tis the voice of the Lobster: In tones not muted,
‘Take no pleasure in novels? Intolerably stupid!’
Like a lady when shopping for muslins and lace,
Our minds shout agreement, even as our hearts race.
‘Little boys and girls should be tormented,’ he said,
But only so long as it is good for their heads:
‘To torment or instruct: words found synonymous.’
All precision of language has now simply gone amiss.
I passed by his garden, and to my surprise,
Something shocking indeed was happening inside.
‘Indeed! Of what nature!’ The questions were fret.
‘More horrible than anything we’ve met with yet.’
‘Good heaven! A riot? Give me peace of mind!’
‘I expect murder and everything of that kind.’
Laughing, ‘The riot is only in your own brain!
The confusion there might drive anyone insane.
It’s all nonsense, but so are Carroll’s verses. I had a blast writing them, though poetry is way outside my comfort zone.
I love the dialogues between your characters because they make me feel up-close and personal with your characters. Can you share with us any thoughts about how you develop your dialogues?
As I said before, I don’t do a lot of planning when I write. The characters just sort of take off where they will, and I scramble to keep up with them. This is particularly true in the dialogues. One character says something, and I just know what the other would reply. It’s one of the reasons it is so much fun writing JAFF because the personalities are already fully developed. They really have minds of their own. I’m just manipulating the circumstances. It’s all very intuitive for me.
The Darcys have several children in this story. Can you tell us how you developed each character and if there were any challenges in creating a Darcy child that would have the personality of a Darcy and the curiosity of Alice from Alice in Wonderland?
I based the children loosely off of the Bennet sisters of Longbourn, except the eldest. Bennet is the only boy and is totally his grandfather, but with more of a Darcy sense of responsibility and stewardship. The next is Eleanor, or Ellie, and she is very much like Jane, though with a bit of a stronger personality. Then comes Helen, the Mary of the group. She’s shy and studious. Rose (or Rolie, as Alice calls her) is the most like Elizabeth. She’s very fun-loving and caring, but with a somewhat mischievous sense of humor. The second youngest is Cassandra, or Cassie, and she is something of a Lydia/Kitty blend: more peevish than the others and with an inflated sense of self-importance. Alice, of course, is Carroll’s creation. I used my own six-year-old daughter as a model for her behavior at Pemberley (Eliza is rather precocious herself), but it is totally believable that Elizabeth would have been rather similar as a child: a bit too smart for her own good and insatiably curious.
What can we expect from you in the future regarding future JAFF stories?
I’ve been working for several years on Being Mrs. Bennet, the story of a modern Janeite who is in a car accident and wakes up inhabiting the body of Mrs. Bennet. Determined to set that lady’s wrongs to right, she inadvertently changes her favorite novel’s storyline. It then becomes a battle to set things straight, both within the Bennet family and between Darcy and Elizabeth. I had no idea what I was getting into when I started the book, as it is definitely the most complicated story I have attempted, but I hope to publish it sometime next year (I am expecting a new baby just after New Year’s, so that might be wishful thinking). You can read the latest version of the story at A Happy Assembly, but it will be rather significantly altered in the final rewrite.
I also intend to clean up and publish Mr. Darcy’s Christmas Present, (I am thrilled to hear this news!) a short continuation of The Madness of Mr. Darcy, in time for the holidays. It is also available at A Happy Assembly and was written at the behest of readers who were clamoring for a bit more of the tale. And I hope to revive my Twisted Austen stories this year, which I write for Halloween (though I haven’t managed it since the move). My leading thought is to write something from Lady Catherine’s perspective, though I have yet to decide exactly what.
How can readers support your writing and how can they connect with you online?
My books are all available in English at Amazon. I’m a contributing member of AustenAuthors.net and I also blog (not as often as I used to, unfortunately) at alexaadams.blogspot.com. I’m active on Facebook (facebook.com/AuthorAlexaAdams), Twitter (@ElegantExtracts), and am a Goodreads author. I can’t do more than that. Too much social media and not nearly enough time!
I’d also like to direct readers to my sister’s scientific illustration website: www.wiedemannillustrations.com. She did such marvelous artwork for this project. It was delightful working with her.
Thank you so much, Claudine! I thoroughly enjoyed answering your questions and really appreciate your hosting me today.
Twinkle, twinkle, amber cross!
For a chain, it’s at a loss.
Heavy links or simple loop,
Do not dunk it in your soup.
The worlds of beloved authors collide as Fitzwilliam Darcy, Jane Austen’s immortal hero, finds himself thrust into the topsy-turvy world of Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland.
Many years have passed since Elizabeth Bennet became mistress of Pemberley, and the Darcys’ six children stand testament to their enduring love. As the eldest prepare to enter the world, Alice, the youngest and most intrepid of the brood, ensures that life at Pemberley never grows dull. Her curious mind and penchant for mischief often prove trying, but never more so than when her father follows her down a mysterious rabbit hole, disrupting his orderly world in ways never before imagined. A treat for the young and the old, Darcy in Wonderland is both an adventure and homage to two of literature’s greatest minds.
I was so curious to read this latest release by Alexa Adams, after loving her story, The Madness of Mr. Darcy. Filled with twists and turns down rabbit holes upon the vast and lush grounds at Pemberley, Alexa Adams’ new story, Darcy in Wonderland is a whimsical blend of two very different writers, Jane Austen and Lewis Carroll. I can assuredly state that I have never experienced reading a JAFF story like this one, which is mainly focused on Darcy’s adventures with his most precocious and youngest child, Alice, who shares with him a madcap adventure similar to the one told in Carroll’s classic story, Alice in Wonderland.
As the Darcys are preparing to host a ball for their eldest daughter Ellie, a lot of planning is taking place at Pemberley to orchestrate this perfect event. Before their extended family, all gather to Darcy’s and Elizabeth’s home, the immediate family spends some quiet time catching up with one another. Darcy’s heir, Bennet, a serious young man who suffers from an over abundance of sisters, both within his own family and in regards to the women being frequently thrown into his path by his scheming friends and acquaintances, can barely tolerate the shenanigans of his youngest sister, Alice. Bennet is not afraid to inform his parents that they indulge her whimsies more than they should, and yet, it seems both Darcy parents are enthralled by their youngest daughter.
When Lady Catherine shows up at Pemberley to “help” the Darcys prepare for their daughter’s entrance into society, Alice’s behavior finds her once again in hot water with her parents. Determined to teach Alice a lesson in order to curb her impertinence, Darcy and Alice spend an afternoon at home alone and accidentally wind up in Wonderland; a magical place of potions, well-tailored animals, and nonsensical games. A place where being Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy may not be a benefit to them after all:
“Hush,” Darcy said and cleared his throat.
“I am Fitzwilliam Darcy of Pemberley, and this is my youngest daughter.”
The Caterpillar looked down at her questioningly but said nothing, so Darcy continued,
“We are lost in these woods and need to find our way home. Do you know Pemberley?”
Once they realize the situation for what it is, they are torn between enjoying this singular experience and finding a way back to their beloved Pemberley. Over time, it becomes clear that locating their way home will be a greater challenge than anticipated:
“And I’ve just taken the highest tree in the wood, and just as I was thinking I should be free of them at last, and having gone through all the trouble to get Lady Gouldian to quit it, they must needs come wriggling down from the sky! Ugh, serpent!”
“A likely story indeed!” said the Pigeon in a tone of the deepest contempt. “I’ve seen a good many gentlemen in my time, but never one with such a neck as that! Can you imagine the size of the cravat you’d require? No, no! You’re a serpent, and there is no use denying it. I suppose you’ll be telling me next that you never tasted an egg!”
“I certainly have, but not a pigeon egg, that I can assure you!”
“As if my eggs weren’t good enough for him!” the Pigeon muttered to itself. “I’ll have you know a great many serpents are interested in my eggs. They are admired throughout the neighborhood!”
“So I understood,” he (Darcy) sighed wearily.
“You see! You are looking for eggs. I know that well enough. It is a truth universally acknowledged that a serpent when hungry must be in want of an egg! Be off with you, I say! We don’t need any more serpents in our neighborhood,” the Pigeon ended in a sulky tone and settled down in its nest, looking very much put out.
As Alice and Darcy encounter one set of Carroll-inspired characters and scenarios after the other, it becomes clear that they may never return to their lives at Pemberley, let alone in enough time before Elizabeth becomes frantic about their disappearance. Can the magic of Carroll and the good sense of Austen preserve them after all and allow them to remain with their heads intact?
Alexa Adams has written a clever story that transports Austen readers to a place even more magical, yet in every way, zanier than Pemberley. This story combines the charms of Austen’s characters along with the antics and wordplay of Carroll. It is clear that Ms. Adams knows her Carroll tale, as well as Austen’s, as her charming, playful prose and amusing story development, are to be commended. Where one tale begins and the other one starts, I can dare not say! It would be an act of utter madness to try to separate the two.
Readers should sit back and enjoy this tale as the humorous and absurd delight that it’s intended to portray. I do believe it’s important to note that this isn’t a JAFF story that has romance at the center of its story. Readers looking to enjoy new forays into JAFF, combined with the wit and mayhem of Lewis Carroll, will be enthralled. Some may even be inspired to read Lewis’ tale as a companion story. I believe it would be a wonderful pairing!
This is also one of those heartfelt stories where we’re able to catch up with the Darcys many years after their wedding, and not only enjoy their happiness, but also see how the bonds of parenthood have changed them throughout the years. Readers are reminded once again why we have such high hopes for their marital felicity when we close the final pages of Pride & Prejudice. Alexa Adams’ new story allows us to experience their parenthood in a highly imaginative way.
It’s Giveaway Time!
Alexa Adams has kindly brought a readers’ choice giveaway with her to Just Jane 1813. Please leave a comment on this blog post no later midnight, ET on August 18 to enter a giveaway of either an eBook or a paperback copy of this story. The winner will be announced on this blog after this date. This giveaway is open to international readers too!
Thank you to Alexa Adams for your time with our interview and your generous giveaway for my readers. I hope readers enjoy this combination of Austen and Carroll.
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