Today I’d like to welcome C.P. Odom to Just Jane 1813 as he visits with my readers today as part of the Meryton Press blog tour. Mr. Odom is certainly no stranger to the JAFF community, having published A Most Civil Proposal (2013), Consequences (2014), and Pride, Prejudice, and Secrets (2015). His fourth novel, Perilous Siege, was recently published in the second quarter of 2019. As a long time fan of Jane Austen Fan Fiction, Mr. Odom is one of the few men to write JAFF, which I think lends an intriguing perspective to his works. Please join me in welcoming him to my blog!
Colin, as a four-time published JAFF author, I am sure you bring a lot of knowledge about reading and writing in this sub-genre. Would you begin by sharing with us some of your background and tell us about the person behind this story?
I’m made my living as an engineer working on mapping radars for aircraft before I retired in 2011. I also was a bit of an athlete in high school (football, wrestling, and track) and did a stint in the Marines. I came late to the Jane Austen novels only because my late wife loved them so much that I felt I had to at least read them after she passed away from cancer. One thing led to another, and I published some fanfiction before getting an offer from Meryton Press to publish “A Most Civil Proposal”.
Can you offer readers a brief description of your story and tell us why you chose to set your story in the Regency era as well as in an alternate universe?
My primary desire was to put an observer from the future into the world of Pride and Prejudice. I thought that might lead to some interesting thoughts on his part has he observed the wacky goings-on with a modern eye. But I couldn’t use the venerable concept of time-travel to go back to 1809, because Austen’s world was imaginary. But, if you postulate an infinity of alternate universes, surely ONE of them would be populated by Darcy, Elizabeth, Colonel Fitzwilliam, and all the rest.
Would you share with my readers what the “Siege Perilous” is and why you picked the title “Perilous Siege”?
The Siege Perilous was the vacant seat at King Arthur’s Round Table at Camelot, and Merlin said that no man who was not pure enough to successfully search for and find the Holy Grail could sit in it. Six of Arthur’s knights tried and died. Or, so goes the legend. Another take on the Siege was that it didn’t kill those who disappeared. Rather, it sent them to the world where they would best fit in. So that was my means of getting my observer back to a world something like Regency England.
How did the experience of writing this book compare with the experiences of writing your first three novels?
There’s been a long break between my third novel, “Pride, Prejudice, & Secrets” (2015) and this one. A good part of that time was because I just couldn’t resolve a host of contradictions, and I had to make the cold calculation to throw away tens of thousands of words when I finally managed to make things fit together. The whole way in which Darcy and Elizabeth finally marry bears absolutely no resemblance to four or five chapters I’d previously written but could not be twisted around to match up with what came before. The characters had changed too much in getting to that point. Also, I’d never encountered writer’s block before and thought it might just be imaginary. Hah! It’s not!
I usually have a fairly complete plot outline well settled before I start serious writing, and that kind of organization makes it much easier to generate the text. And I ALWAYS have the ending well detailed before I start. Well, for this book, the Epilogue and the last chapter indeed got written early on, but the chapters just before that got re-written about a dozen times before I finished. This one was a tough book to complete.
This story was originally nearing 190,000 words as a first draft. Can you describe what this editing process was like for you, as well as your editor?
I knew that was much too long for my publisher. It was much too long even for me! This isn’t “Gone With The Wind,” after all, which had 423,575 words, according to Amazon. GWTW was written in another time and culture (no TV, for example, and usually only one movie theater in a lot of small towns). So I had to start cutting, which often involved rewriting substantial blocks of text in order to say the same thing in fewer words. The manuscript I delivered to the publisher came in at just a hair under 160,000 words, and my editor and I finished up at 141,000 words. Losing some of that text hurt, since even being aware of the dangers of an author falling in love with his own writing can’t always prevent it from happening!
What would you say to the reader who may be a bit hesitant about giving this story a try if they are unsure about the combination of the story taking places in these two settings? How will the story connect to JAFF readers?
First of all, remember that I’ve loved Pride and Prejudice since seeing the 1995 BBC miniseries and reading the book (a number of times!). But Jane Austen did have a tendency to have a lot of coincidences in her storylines, which is made to order for someone like me to take one of those coincidences in a different direction but still keep the characters true to Austen’s story. That was more true for my previous novels than this one, in which I had some fun getting to the same places but not at all on familiar paths! Then too, remember that I have a romantic streak in me, despite being a “retired” Marine and former football player who thought a sport that allowed me to knock the snarf out of an opposing player was really neat! I even like some chick-flicks (not all, of course, but some, including The Princess Bride, You’ve Got Mail, 27 Dresses, Shakespeare in Love, and others. Couldn’t stand Pretty Woman ora Titanic, however.)
Am I allowed to share that you have another book that’s in the process of being published this year? Is there anything you can share with us about this story?
Yes, it’s one called “A Covenant of Marriage”, which I previously wrote (in a substantially different form) as fanfiction. I start the editing process this month with Debbie Styne, who also did the editing for Perilous Siege. It should be available in the third or fourth quarter of this year. As for sharing something, I was just asked if I had a preliminary blurb for it for the Meryton Press website. I didn’t have one, but I pulled the following out of thin air:
“A covenant is defined as a formal, solemn, and binding agreement or compact, usually used with regard to relations among nations or as part of a contract. But it can also apply to a marriage, as Elizabeth Bennet learns when her father binds her to a marriage with a man she dislikes. To her protests that she cannot be bound against her will, she is informed that she still lives under her father’s roof and under his control, so she has nothing to do with it. After such an inauspicious beginning, how could two people joined in such a manner ever make a life together?”
The best place would probably be my Facebook page (link below). I’ve described myself as being a Facebook moron studying to be a Facebook idiot, but this publication cycle has at least broadened my capability with this piece of, IMO, badly written software. My wife and daughter are whizzes at Facebook, but they always say, “Come watch me do that.” And when I go over, their Facebook page doesn’t look ANYTHING like mine!
Thanks for hosting this author interview, Claudine! I really think those of you who run blogs (with no recompense, by the way!) don’t get as much credit as they deserve. So, thanks again!
What is the Siege Perilous, and how does it affect the lives of everyone in the Regency universe of Pride & Prejudice?
When a man dressed in bizarre attire suddenly appears in a field on his Pemberley estate, Fitzwilliam Darcy has little inkling of the many and startling changes this man’s strange arrival will have on his life, his family’s lives, and indeed, his whole world.
Mysteriously sent to the Regency world of Pride and Prejudice, this refugee from a future Armageddon is befriended by Darcy. How will the presence of Major Edward McDunn influence the events of Jane Austen’s signature work, especially the tangled courtship between Darcy and the complex and endearing Elizabeth Bennet?
Thank you for visiting with my readers today and best wishes on the release of your latest book!
April 8 / My Jane Austen Book Club / Guest Post
April 10 / My Vices and Weaknesses / Book Excerpt
April 12 / Austenesque Reviews / Character Interview
April 13 / Just Jane 1813 / Meet C.P. Odom
April 14 / Margie’s Must Reads / Book Review
April 15 / Babblings of a Bookworm / Book Excerpt
April 16 / From Pemberley to Milton / Vignette
April 17 / Diary of an Eccentric / Book Excerpt
April 18 / More Agreeably Engaged / Guest Post
It’s Giveaway Time!
Terms and Conditions:
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A big thank you to all of the bloggers who supported this tour, as well as Meryton Press and C.P. Odom.
This book is available on Amazon and through KindleUnlimited.