Several months ago, I learned from Lory Lilian that her friend, Andreea Catana, was publishing her first JAFF story. I was thrilled to also learn that Andreea wanted to visit with my readers and share her story with us too. Little did I know her interview would actually make me cry tears of gratitude for the immortal Jane Austen. Meeting Andreea Catana has been like getting to know another Janeite soulmate. We connected with Austen on many levels and you’ll see why after you read our interview.
So grab a cup of coffee or tea, or whatever puts you in a soulful mood, because today I’d like to introduce a new author to the JAFF community and to my Just Jane 1813 readers. Andreea has just published her very first Pride and Prejudice variation this week, which is titled, Meant to Be. Please join me in welcoming her to Just Jane 1813…
Andreea, welcome to Just Jane 1813. I understand you have been a JAFF reader for some time now, and that this month marks your debut as a JAFF author. It’s a real pleasure to have you drop by my blog for a visit with my readers!
As a new JAFF author, I am sure you have a lot to share with us about your love for Austen and the steps you took from going from aspiring writer to a published writer. Would you share with us your own background and tell us about the person behind the writer?
Happy to do it, Claudine! I am a screenwriter for TV Series in Romania, at least this is what I have been doing for the last 8 years. It is a profession that has chosen me, and not the other way around, although I have always been fascinated by stories, in any shape or form, ever since I was a child. My mom was an avid reader of mysteries, romances, but especially the classics. I shall always be grateful to her for putting into my hand, Pride and Prejudice, at the tender age of 10. It was an experience so pleasant that I have reread Jane Austen’s masterpiece almost every summer since, in English or in Romanian, for the translation is quite exquisite.
I am also a history and movie buff, – I know more things than I should about this subject -, Old Hollywood movies – I adore Bette Davis – , art movies, blockbusters, TV series – I really love this Golden Age of Storytelling! I am fascinated by how clever the TV shows are and how smartly they are written. Just imagine being able to pass from Pride and Prejudice to Star Trek just in the course of a few hours. It is a dream come true!
My greatest love these days is my dog, Vega. She is 4 years old, she is my life coach and my yoga master. I do believe we are here to learn every day about Life and Love and she is excellent in making me see what I still have to learn through this journey. I also adore my friends and miss them dearly when we cannot speak daily!
I can only take Jane Austen’s words in this and say: “There is nothing I would not do for those who are really my friends. I have no notion of loving people by halves, it is not my nature”.
I love how Janeites incorporate quotes from Austen into their own lives as a personal mantra. That specific quote is one that guides parts of my life too. Can you please share with us the premise of your new release, Meant to Be, along with your decisions to write this particular story?
It’s funny ‘cause I am fascinated by alternatives. You know, when you debate a certain idea with your friends, you are, sometimes, in the position of offering the other point of view whether they would like to hear it or not. We say: “Let me offer you a new perspective of this or that.” And we all know that Jane Austen is the smartest literary friend any lady writer could have – she wrote each word and each story with a precision that allows no doubt for questions and offers us so much inspiration.
Meant to Be is my imaginary conversation with Jane Austen.
The story of Pride and Prejudice and Meant to Be, is as we all know it and love it. What I tried to do was to re-imagine it, detailing what could have happened with the same set of circumstances, exploring the characters in my own way, expressing ideas in which I believe, taking the situations given in the book a little bit on a different course, and writing within the Regency Era. Also, I wanted to speak about the Elizabeth & Darcy romance; the attraction and the confrontations. And let me tell you that I love the Elizabeth & Darcy confrontations! All of the JAFF writers are so talented at making them say “I love you” when they throw each other harsh words! I am truly amazed by it!
And last, but not least, I firmly believe that when things happen, they happen because they are meant to be in our life.
And since Elizabeth and Darcy are eternal and no human mind can break them apart, I wrote my point of view to establish just that.
“And since Elizabeth and Darcy are eternal and no human mind can break them apart, I wrote my point of view to establish just that.” That sentence really resonates with me too. I think most JAFF readers have this strong desire to believe that we can always count on their love because we want the love in our own lives to have a similar fate for us. I know you recently traveled through what many of us refer to as “Jane Austen’s England,” with your friends, such as Lory Lilian and Ellen Pickels, while you were still writing this story. Do you care to share any of your favorite pictures from this trip and tell us if any of these memories reveal any influences in your own story?
The whole tour is filled with memories, I have no words to express the joy of it! Meeting Ellen, Rita, Mira, Joana, Glynis, Sophie and all the other generous Jane Austen ladies was just priceless! I have taken thousands of pictures and I shall reveal some of them to you because there is a particular story behind each of them. I will start with the one that made the most lasting impression and brought me to tears on that day; it was taken at Chawton, in Jane Austen’s home and although it may seem ordinary, it is really far from ordinary.
This is the table and the small chair on which Jane Austen sat to write her letters or her novels early in the morning. For a moment, I could really picture Jane Austen, wrapping her own shawl around her for some comfort in the cold air and cleverly writing some phrase on an old piece of paper. Even giving a small smile of joy for having found the right tone of voice. For me, it was just a glimpse, like an apparition if you want, but I felt moved by it knowing that after all this time, something that seemed so uninteresting and ordinary to her, still speaks volumes to us today.
The second moment of the tour that I enjoyed fully was visiting Lyme Park and being in Mr. Darcy’s own home and garden. I know that all of us imagine to be Elizabeth Bennet walking through the gates of Pemberley, and I was so happy that the sight did not disappoint. I only wish we could have stayed there longer to walk all over the place, maybe, even spot Mr. Darcy’s arrival back home. I even dressed up for the occasion and Rita Deodato helped me immortalize the moment. But alas, Mr. Darcy was engaged elsewhere.
Wow, I just love this moment Rita captured in this photograph. I remember that exact hallway when I visited Lyme Park earlier this year. It’s just a stunning place. What a wonderful memory for you to have in your collection! Can you tell us if your entry into Jane Austen Fan Fiction was as a reader, and if so, what are some of your most memorable JAFF reads?
I discovered Jane Austen Fan Fiction through my friend, Lory Lilian. She and I met online at the beginning of the 2000s, after we discovered that we shared the same insane passion for the Pride and Prejudice, the BBC series, and of course, Colin Firth. (I love how you say, “Of course, Colin Firth!”) She was the first person I knew to write something related to Pride and Prejudice, and she had confessed it to me. I even saw earlier versions of Rainy Days. I was so proud of her success – and still am – for she is an amazing writer, as are so many within the JAFF community that I have come to know ever since the beginnings. Lory’s ways with words, the profound insight into the character’s lives is impressive. We all know about the mush part, right? You know when something is good it inspires you to try to do the same.
I like fresh storytelling approaches of Pride & Prejudice, – I read modern variations as well- and there are still so many other books I have to read; I like Jenetta James’ elegant writing and her imagination is wonderful, Joana Starnes’s books are so full of “OMG, what will happen next?” I would not want to neglect anyone or think that I have just three names in the bag, but I would like to say that each book I read has helped me fall in love with this particular genre. There is so much talent in the community!
I agree, Andreea. It’s what makes me love JAFF so much! The talent and care based on Jane Austen’s work are so fulfilling as a reader. What motivated you specifically to write a variation based on Pride and Prejudice after so many other writers have written their own variations as well and why do you believe that readers will enjoy your story, Meant to Be?
I consider myself to be just as opinionated as Elizabeth Bennet and quite as determined to see what lies ahead for me. I really do feel that everyone with a creative drive should explore that extraordinary thing that craves to be born into this world. I have many, many, many stories to tell – from different historical ages to variations of Pride & Prejudice – and I intend to explore each one of them.
Meant to Be was a sort of therapy for me, an homage to Jane Austen but also an act of rebellion against some personal fears. In short, it was a profound personal experience with writing and a creative desire to say something that is truly mine.
I do hope people will enjoy it, for the story was written to honor Jane Austen, above all.
But also, to honor Elizabeth and Darcy who keep making us believe that by being ourselves, even in our flaws, we are to find love eventually. Even if it is with ourselves first.
The story of Pride & Prejudice is there, in the book, but there are some twists you won’t see coming and also I do believe it is a funny book. For I like a really good laugh more than anything 🙂
I am always curious to know why after 200 years, so many people are still reading Jane Austen’s books? What are your thoughts on this question?
This one is very easy:). Jane Austen will be read till the end of time because she speaks for every generation. I remember my mom reading Jane Austen and speaking of her novels as if it were the daily column. I know senior ladies who are still crazy for the Mr. Darcy of their youths, and my young niece who just started reading her will know of her writing as well, I can promise you this. Jane Austen is relevant because she speaks of human emotions, of values, of honesty, of bonds between people, either it’s family, or romantic interest, of finding the right home… and this cannot be erased.
I have always thought – and I shall never cease to believe it – that Jane Austen was proud of her work, was proud to be a woman who wrote, all in all, a creative human being. She is and forever will be an inspiration for anyone who needs to know that in the silence of your small room, you can create things that will travel all over the world and change it utterly.
Oh, my. Andreea… You actually made me cry right here. I can connect with every word you just said about Jane Austen and why she transcends time, cultures, etc. She is such an inspiration for people everywhere!
What can readers do to support your work?
Read the book without any preconceived ideas; enjoy it as much as possible and I promise to be grateful for each comment or review. I am not opposed to any kind reviews – I mean, that’s the rule of the game – I shall only take them as a means of improving myself and improve my writing. Thank you so much for your attention and your reading time! Thank you, Claudine! It is an extraordinary adventure being a guest here!
Where can readers connect with you?
Andreea is sharing with us below an excerpt from her story, Meant to Be, but first I am sharing the book description:
What if Mr. Bingley rented Netherfield nine months later than in the original?
What if Elizabeth Bennet met Mr. Darcy first at Rosings while she is staying with her friend Charlotte Collins and he is visiting his aunt, Lady Catherine? What if Elizabeth is as attracted by Darcy’s fine eyes as much as he is by hers?
When their mutual attraction is tainted by pride, prejudice, misunderstandings, and false accusation, how will they reconcile their feelings when they meet again in Hertfordshire? Follow this Regency Pride and Prejudice variation that takes you into a different—yet much the same—journey through the beloved story of Elizabeth and her Mr. Darcy.
Excerpt from Meant to Be…
The several minutes spent with Mr. Bingley showed Elizabeth that, whatever malicious plans his sister might have regarding Jane, he did not share them. His interest and admiration were genuine, and he treasured every moment in her company. That was a strong foundation; Elizabeth had no remaining doubts.
Back in the house, Elizabeth entered the parlour and relaxed on the sofa. A maid immediately entered, asking if she could be of use, but Elizabeth dismissed her kindly. She stood up again and paced the room nervously. Through the window, she saw her sister and her admirer continuing their stroll. She prayed that Jane’s heart would not be broken and wished to return home, safely away from danger.
“Miss Bennet,” she heard suddenly. “Are you feeling ill?”
Elizabeth startled and turned, only to see Mr. Darcy in front of her. She felt her cheeks burning and clutched her hands nervously, struggling to keep her thoughts and words under control. When she answered, her voice sounded harsher than she intended.
“I am perfectly well, sir. I am waiting for my sister, and we shall leave soon.”
Mr. Darcy was not intimidated by her coldness and drew near her, studying her closely.
“You do not seem fine,” he replied. “May I bring you something?”
Elizabeth looked at him with wonder; it was the first time she had heard the gentleman speak with any warmth in his voice.
“Allow me.” Before she had time to protest, Mr. Darcy helped Elizabeth to the sofa then sat himself next to her.
“Perhaps you would like some refreshment. I can call someone to help you. Or I can have your sister sent for.”
Elizabeth gently shook her head. “There is no need. The maid has just been here. Jane will finish her walk soon. She will return shortly.”
Mr. Darcy looked nervous, as if trying to find a subject and continue talking. At last, he said, “Are Miss Bingley and Mrs. Hurst with her?”
“No, they seemed not to enjoy our company.” Elizabeth stopped, realizing she might reveal something of importance to a man who looked for weakness in them. She simply said, “I think we ought to be heading home. I fear we have over-stayed our welcome.”
“Not at all, I assure you. We…Bingley was quite excited about your visit—as was I. I hope you have no reason to presume otherwise.”
Elizabeth looked at Mr. Darcy, puzzled and attempting to understand what lay behind his words. Still, she could not read him; Mr. Darcy was a difficult man to grasp. No, I cannot tell him of my distress, nor trust him with my belief that Miss Bingley and Mrs. Hurst spoke without Mr. Darcy’s approval, she thought.
Mr. Darcy sat in silence, and Elizabeth allowed herself to look at him once more. He was tense, and his eyes were now almost dark blue. Elizabeth recalled an earlier time when she had seen him like that—the evening at Rosings while he was reading the letter. Mr. Darcy suddenly turned to face her, and Elizabeth was startled by his move. Even more surprising was the shadow of remorse on his face and his apparent uneasiness.
“Miss Bennet, I…it is not…as I said, I hope you have to reason to believe that your visit is anything other than pleasant to us.”
“Thank you, sir,” she replied and waited for him to continue.
It was obvious that he had more to say, and he seemed to struggle with the words. At last, he simply declared, “My friend seems to enjoy walking.”
She gazed at him and met his changed countenance. A little smile narrowed his lips, bringing dimples to his cheeks and a light to his eyes. Elizabeth felt suddenly flustered.
“So does my sister,” she admitted tentatively.
“May I bring you some tea?” He repeated his earlier offer clumsily, and Elizabeth’s face coloured with amusement.
“Yes, thank you,” she replied. She followed him with her eyes as he poured some tea then brought the cup to her. She took it from him, and their fingers touched briefly. His skin burned her more than the hot cup.
“Are you feeling better? You look a little flushed,” he said with genuine concern. She averted her eyes and tried to speak lightly.
“Yes, I am, sir; thank you.” She eventually lifted her eyes and met his. It was a while before he began to speak again, but when he did, Elizabeth’s surprise and distress increased.
“Miss Bennet,” he finally spoke again, “I would like to apologize for the last time we saw each other. I believe you were right to address me the way you did that night. I was rude, and my manners were inappropriate. I realize that now, but there were circumstances, which I am not at liberty to reveal, that forced me to act as I did. Please accept my regrets, for they are offered in earnest.”
Elizabeth nodded gently and locked eyes with him again, unable to utter a response. Her own feelings were so confused—a proud man admitting to her that he was wrong! Even if she wished to reply, she could not have done so. She was determined to say something, however, to clarify the subject that had caused so much torment, but she could not gather herself to do it—not at that moment, at least. She remained silent, lost in his blue eyes until she noticed Miss Bingley and Mrs. Hurst’s arrival. Mr. Darcy stood and walked away from Elizabeth as the ladies frowned at her.
What a delicious excerpt! Thank you for sharing this one, Andreea.
We’d love to hear your thoughts on this post, so please feel free to share below in the comments section. Every reader who leaves a comment by midnight, ET on October 29, will be entered into our giveaway for one of the two eBooks of Meant to Be, which Andreea is offering for my Just Jane 1813 readers.
Thank you, Andreea Catana, for visiting my blog today. It’s been a pleasure to connect with you as a Janeite and as an author. I’d also like to thank you for your generous giveaways. I can’t wait to read your story and share it with my readers!
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