Welcome to my Austenesque
Author of the upcoming Jane Austen Sequel:
His Good Opinion!
Nancy, you recently took a trip to lovely England. Was this your first visit? Any highlights you would like to share?
My last trip to England was over 13 years ago and I hardly left London. When you put those two facts together, this was my first trip for all practical purposes.
I spent the first three days in Winchester and rural Hampshire—the heart of Jane Austen country. In Winchester, I visited her grave in the cathedral and walked by the house she lived in for the last few years of her life. Of course, the highlight was the Jane Austen’s House Museum in Chawton. Nothing could compare to seeing the little table where she wrote.
Did you find your trip contributed to your Jane Austen-inspired writings?
Absolutely! Jane is much more alive to me now that I’ve seen her home and the countryside she loved. When I was in Hampshire, I paid special attention to things she mentioned in her novels with an eye to improving the accuracy of my own.
The best research answers the questions you didn’t even know you had. For instance, I’ve read Pride and Prejudice dozens of times, but I never really considered why the estate of Longbourn is also called a village. I noticed that Austen used the terms almost interchangeably, but the full reason for that never occurred to my American mind.
Now I understand. Chawton is both the estate and the village that grew up around it. At one point, the villagers would have been tenants of the estate. This is just one example of how my trip broadened my understanding of Jane and her world.
When did you know you wanted to be a writer of Jane Austen novels?
Every November, I participate in National Novel Writing Month. This is a crazy, month-long challenge to write a 50,000 word novel. In the summer of 2008 I happened to be listening to Pride and Prejudice while I was looking for my plot for that fall.
At the beginning of Chapter 33 when Elizabeth laments that Darcy seems to show up everywhere in Kent—even on her favorite walk!—I heard Darcy’s voice in my head. In mortified tones, he explained that he had not realized that was meant to be a warning, rather than an invitation.
For a man described as taciturn, he certainly had a lot to say once he got started. With the book in one ear and Darcy’s voice in the other, I knew I had my plot.
Your novel is called: His Good Opinion. What will be the premise of the Pride and Prejudice sequel?
His Good Opinion is Darcy’s story. What has made him so disapproving of everyone he meets, and how does Elizabeth capture his attention without even trying? After she rejects him, how does he work to gain her good opinion?
Since Darcy’s voice came through so clearly when I listened to Pride and Prejudice, this became more than just a retelling of the story from his point of view. Pride and Prejudice is largely Elizabeth’s tale. Although Darcy is definitely a main character, she is the protagonist. In His Good Opinion, those roles are reversed and we learn much more about what made him unique.
Would you like to continue to write Jane Austen-related books or will try your hand at another genre?
Colonel Fitzwilliam, Captain Wentworth, and Frank Churchill are all vying for my attention at the moment, and I am open to writing more Austenesque novels when I finish their stories, should the muse allow.
However, I do have at least one other iron in the fire. Last November I wrote a very rough draft that took the characters from Robin Hood and put them down in the Spanish Main, ca 1740. When I get a break between Austen stories, I’d like to come back to Robin Hood, Pirate* and finish it off. *Working title only
What does your family and friends think of your writing career? Are they supportive?
Everyone of my acquaintance has been amazingly supportive, my family particularly so. They’ve encouraged me on each step of the road toward publication, always wanting to know what I’m writing and when it will be available. When I’m struck with the “am I crazies,” it’s great to know they’re here for me.
What encouragement can you give to up and coming writers?
Get to know other writers. When you start wondering, Can I actually do this? What was I thinking?? it helps to know we all feel this way. And when you tell yourself, All the real writers know their work is good; I am such a talentless hack… one of the “real writers” can smack some sense into you.
Beyond the camaraderie, you might actually pick up a few tips on the writer’s life. Your colleagues can help you find balance, learn what voice is, and when the time comes, decode the publishing world.
Oh, and by the way—we are your colleagues. If you write, you are a writer. You don’t need to run a gauntlet before you can talk to us. We don’t bite—honest!
If you had the chance to speak to Jane Austen…what would you ask or say to her?
If I met Jane Austen, I’d be so torn between greeting her like a fan or a fellow author that I wouldn’t know what to say. However, if pressed I think I would ask what she thinks of the various adaptations of her works—screen, stage, and book. Are there any that strike her as on target? Way off base? Charmingly quirky?
As an author of one of those books, I know the tricky thing about adaptations is balancing the original work with your own voice. That said, I admit to a hope that Jane would approve of His Good Opinion.
Thank you for the great interview Nancy! Anticipation awaits for the release of your Austenesque novel His Good Opinion! Myself and my readers, send our warmest congratulations to your literary Austen-inspired writings!
About the Author:
Nancy is a life-long book lover. She is a library worker by day, author by night. His Good Opinion is Nancy’s first novel. It will release in the Fall of 2011.
Contact Nancy Kelley on Twitter: @Nancy_Kelley or on her blog site: http://austenaspirations.blogspot.com/