Cousins, best friends, and sparring partners, Darcy and Fitzwilliam have never parted company. Fitzwilliam is the only one who can help Darcy fix his marriage and the only one to help Fitzwilliam out of an increasingly dangerous entanglement is Mr. Darcy…Welcome to my Austenesque Author Interviews…
Author of Darcy and Fitzwilliam: The Tale of a Gentleman and an Officer!
R: Why did you choose a Jane Austen sequel to be your first novel?
K: Sometimes I really believe it chose me. I was actually trying to write something else entirely and this story kept banging away in my brain, pushing at me. I would say to myself as soon as I finish writing this first thing I will have to do this other‘whatever it is’ about Pride and Prejudice. It was driving me crazy. Finally I realized I had to drop the first story – I couldn’t wait another moment to begin Darcy and Fitzwilliam.
R: You are also a retired accountant and a best-selling author–did you always want to be a writer?
K: To tell you the truth, I had a deep feeling many years ago that this would happen and I never forgot that feeling. However, until we retired to Florida, I didn’t have that much time to read for pleasure. In my early thirties I had gone back to Weekend College at Loyola University in Chicago to get my degree, then I studied for my CPA, then I studied for real estate – I always seemed to be studying for school or work with no time for pleasure reading. Also, when we initially got to Florida we spent a great deal of time with Sister Nora and her mission to help the homeless and poor in our area. It wasn’t until about five years ago that I finally gave into that feeling I had so many years ago. I finally sat down and wrote a book.
R: You are also apart of an organization that helps immigrants to learn to read. Tell us about this amazing charitable foundation?
K: Project Light of Manatee is an all volunteer organization that was begun by a Franciscan Sister, Nora Brick, about fifteen years ago. She is very well-known in our area for her work with immigrants and especially the migrant workers who are brought to Florida to work in the strawberry fields and for the tomato growers. Their days are long and grueling, the work low paying and exhausting. They are doomed to that existence without the basics of English and reading – it is a form of slavery. So sister would go into the camps, pray with them and teach them English late into the evenings. With the help of donations, after a short period in the back of a garage, we were able to purchase a small building; the classes grew and the students began functioning in better paying jobs, providing for their families and taking pride in their accomplishments. There is no real way out of poverty except education. The rewards of this work are immeasurable!
R: Thank you Karen! There is certainly more happiness in giving than there is in receiving! What you do for Project Light truly is a blessing! I wanted to ask you further about your first published work called Darcy and Fitzwilliam. Can you tell us the plot of the story?
K: With pleasure. The story begins a few months after Fitzwilliam Darcy and Lizzy have married. They are deliriously happy and in love. His cousin Richard Fitzwilliam, has just returned from years of being on campaign with Wellington and has no clue what to do with his life. Fitzwilliam is a carefree second son with no real plan for a life after the Army. Darcy is now a besotted married man with responsibilities that are growing daily. Even though they are opposites in personality and life stations, they are close as brothers. They fight, they bicker but they loyally stand up for each other in a fight.
When Elizabeth becomes pregnant, Darcy becomes fearful for her. Between his hovering and her hormonal emotions their marriage becomes rocky. Then Fitzwilliam falls in love with a woman and decides to clean up his life, become respectable, settled down. The lady he loves cannot commit so Fitzwilliam charges like a bull into the fray to help her solve her problems.
Lady Catherine de Bourgh is on hand to lend her exasperating help wherever she can, wanted or not, along with her daughter Anne, the scheming Caroline Bingley and a small boy named Harry. It is always great fun, a little bawdy at times, and very tender.
R: Do you think Darcy and Fitzwilliam may appeal to more male readers of Jane Austen novels?
K: I don’t know but I hope it does. I pray mostly that it finds an audience outside of the Austen community as well as within. It is not really a ladies’ type of book with Almack Assemblies and batting eyelashes and furtive meetings in the library. It is more about authentic feelings and new marriage, about actual life problems that arise between men and women. In that way it is very unique among the Pride and Prejudice sequels. It’s also very funny; I have begun describing it as “Pride and Prejudice” meets “Tom Jones“.
R: Do you have a favorite sentence, line or quote from Darcy and Fitzwilliam?
K: I remember one line that came from real life. Our nephew was married several years ago and we saw him about four months after the wedding for the first time. Sitting down with him, my husband Richie asked, so how’s married life Ronny? Ronny shook his head, rubbed his chin and said I have never fought so much in my entire life. My husband and I laughed until we were blue in the face. I had Fitzwilliam tell that to Darcy when Darcy asks him about his new marriage.
F: I would be interested in how different her writing would be in this era. She was writing very modern stories for her day, very up to the minute. She was so witty too and so sympathetic to her heroines. With the full license we now have of saying anything, writing anything, how much more exciting would Pride and Prejudice be today; if we saw that story for the first time and she could write truthfully instead of insinuating situations. I bet it would have been explosive, a real page turner.
Also, you realize that Austenites are pretty well divided into two camps – the Colin Firth camp and the Matthew Macfadyen camp for who plays Darcy. The competition among the women is fierce and sometimes hotheaded. We P&P women are very passionate about our Darcy. In the end I would ask her the question I am often asked – If they make a movie of your book, which man would you rather play Darcy? Firth or Macfadyen. I would love to hear her answer to that.
R: What encouragement can you give to up and coming writers?
F: I would say don’t ever give up and read, read, read. Also, have a passion for what you write; write something you yourself would love to read. It’s your little universe you are creating – have fun.
Thank you Karen for this wonderful interview. You are an inspiration to all us writers and aspiring authors! We look forward to your future novels and your incredible work with your charitable organization!
Karen V. Wasylowski is a retired accountant living in Bradenton, Florida. With her free time not only does she write novels but also volunteering alongside her husband at the St. Vincent DePaul Society and Stillpoint House of Prayer. These are both charitable organizations that assist the poor living in the Bradenton community.
Follow Karen via Twitter @KarenWasylowski or Web page: http://www.karenwasylowski.com
Karen would like to offer TWO readers of this blog a chance to WIN a copy of her novel…
~Darcy and Fitzwilliam~
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Contest is open until May 31st…
ALL THE BEST!