Thursday, 21 October 2010

TALKING JANE AUSTEN WITH SHARON LATHAN & GIVEAWAY

My guest today is Sharon Lathan,  author of the bestselling Mr. and Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy: Two Shall Become One, Loving Mr. Darcy: Journeys Beyond Pemberley, and My Dearest Mr. Darcy. In addition to her writing, she works as a Registered Nurse in a Neonatal ICU. She resides with her family in Hanford, California in the sunny San Joaquin Valley. For more information, please visit  www.sharonlathan.net. You'll find her at Austen Authors – www.austenauthors.com - and Casablanca Authors – www.casablancaauthors.blogspot.com - where Sharon shares the spotlight with other writers.
Read and comment this interview. Sharon will be happy to answer your questions and has granted you a free copy of her latest release 
IN THE ARMS OF MR DARCY!





The giveaway ends next Wednesday 27 October and is open to US and Canada readers only. Don't forget to leave your e-mail address so that I can contact you in case you are the lucky winner.

  Now it's time to welcome Sharon Lathan on My Jane Austen Book Club. 
Hello and welcome, Sharon! Thanks a lot for accepting my invitation. First of all, can you tell us how you started writing your Darcy Saga? I’ve heard it has something to do with 2005 Pride & Prejudice adaptation. (Guess what? That was the first adaptation I ever saw of Jane Austen’s masterpiece! Colin Firth and his 1995 cult performance only came second).
 
Yes, it is true that I first came to know of the world of Jane Austen through a theater viewing of the 2005 version of P&P. I still adore the movie! I absolutely fell in love with the characters and story. So much so that I instantly rented the 1995 miniseries, read the novel by Jane Austen, and initiated a comprehensive Internet search for all things Austen related. The obsession grew from there. Along the way I discovered online fan fiction, which fed my imagination. The question of what would happen after they married was one I never found the answer to as I envisioned it, so eventually I started writing it myself. The rest is history as they say!


 You wrote “Mr and Mrs Fitzwilliam Darcy” and imagined our beloved couple live happily ever after. Can you tell us at least part of the secrets of their successful ménage?

Mr. and Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy was written because I believe in happily ever after. Not necessarily in the perfect fairytale way, but certainly in the sense of a couple having a long marriage where joy abounds. The secrets? Commitment, faithfulness, open communication, romance in all the ways it can be expressed, devotion to the other, selflessness, appreciation for the blessing of finding your mate. It isn't always easy, as anyone married for a while will attest, but a marriage can thrive rather than shrivel away. Those who say this is not true, that my vision for Darcy and Lizzy is a fantasy, who do not believe two people can remain passionate past the honeymoon, or who deny that a couple from any era can actually enjoy being with each other are simply wrong. It isn't a "secret" at all! Just read my story to discover how it can be done!


 For what we know of her personality, what do you think Jane Austen would appreciate more in your continuation of her novel?

I think Jane was a believer in love and marital felicity, and wanted that for her hero and heroine. I think she would appreciate that although I take her characters in a direction perhaps she never imagined, even going into the bedroom where she never entered either in her writing or real life, I do so out of a deep love and devotion. I think she would be very pleased to see them living a full, happy life, unlike the examples of poor marriages that she clearly disapproved of.  


What is your personal interpretation of Darcy’s appeal?  How did you imagine him as a loving husband? Does he keep any of the traits of his proud countenance, those he showed in the first chapters of P&P?
Lots of questions here that I could, and have, written whole essays on! Darcy's appeal is multifaceted, but I honestly believe much of it has to do with his enigmatic quality. We know little of him within Austen's text so can paint a man to fit our personal image. However, what we do know of him once his true character is revealed is positive and appealing. He is loyal to a fault, proud but in a natural sense, loving, generous, selfless, forgiving, willing to change, and so on. All of this combined paints a man who is as close to perfect as is possible!

To me it was already shown within the original text that he would be a loving husband. Just look at what he does for Lizzy after being rejected and with no hope of winning her heart. Look at his devotion to Georgiana. Look at his concern and commitment to Bingley. Look at his care and generosity to Pemberley and the people who support him. Add this to the fact that a gentleman of this era was expected to respect, honor, and care for his wife and there is no way to assume otherwise! 

I don't interpret Darcy's pride as the horrible trait some do. Considering the era, his upbringing, and the nearly scandalous behavior of the Meryton crowd a portion of his attitude is understandable! Plus, I think he was awkward and shy, thus being largely mislabeled and misunderstood. My Darcy is a man who still is not socially adept and remains a bit uncomfortable. Like it or not he is in a social class that is high above others - as standard for the time period - so this does not change. But he is certainly loosened up with a lively wife like Lizzy!


The marriages of convenience were often targets of Jane Austen’s satire and I’m convinced this is not the case but … how would you answer those who suspect that Elizabeth married Darcy because,  after visiting  Pemberley , she became suddenly interested in his patrimony?  
Really? I don't see that at all. I mean let's face it Lizzy is only human! She would have been a fool to not recognize the benefits that she rejected. That is why I love the laugh Keira Knightley as Elizabeth Bennet releases when she sees Pemberley for the first time. Nevertheless, I don't believe that drove her change of heart since she knew from the beginning how wealthy Mr. Darcy was. If this was her mindset she would have accepted his proposal the first time around, or thrown herself at him with a bit more vigor while at Pemberley or when he returned to Hertfordshire later.


" In the Arms of Mr Darcy” is another  installment in this saga.  How would you invite our readers to buy /read this second novel in let’s say no more than 50 words?

Precisely, In The Arms of Mr. Darcy is the fourth volume of my Darcy Saga series! After Mr. and Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy: Two Shall Become One came Loving Mr. Darcy: Journeys Beyond Pemberley and then My Dearest Mr. Darcy. The first three novels covered the initial year of the Darcys' marriage in a gradual, thematic pace and can be found in bookstores everywhere. In The Arms of Mr. Darcy moves faster and spans just over one year in their life. I think the synopsis from the back cover sums it up the best so I'll share that and hope it serves to entice readers--  

Darcy and Elizabeth are as much in love as ever—even more so as their relationship matures. Their passion inspires everyone around them, and as winter turns to spring, romance finds nearly everyone.

Confirmed bachelor Richard Fitzwilliam sets his sights on a seemingly unattainable, beautiful widow, Georgiana Darcy learns to flirt outrageously, the flighty Kitty Bennet develops her first crush, and Caroline Bingley meets her match.

But the path of true love never does run smooth, and Elizabeth and Darcy are kept busy navigating their friends and loved ones through the inevitable separations, misunderstandings, misgivings and lovers’ quarrels…

What is your opinion on the huge success that Jane Austen’s world is experiencing nowadays?

I think it is fantastic! I firmly believe that anything that brings classic literature to the attention of new readers is terrific. Thousands of people, such as myself, who never knew the beauty of Jane Austen's world now do because of a new cinema offering or published fan fiction novel or even a mashup! Austen's stories and characters are timeless. Their problems and personalities are relatable to a modern audience, hence why they fit well in adaptations like Lost in Austen which I loved.

 What is instead that attracted you to that world at first?

First and foremost I was captured by the love story between Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy. It was portrayed excellently by Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen. This is where my heart was ensnared and what I wanted to explore initially by reading the novel and delving into online discussions. Very quickly I became fascinated by the Regency Era, the history and fashion and society intriguing me. I am a romantic and a lover of history, so this is where I focused my devotion initially. Next came a greater appreciation for Austen's incredible writing and her storytelling genius.  

 I’ve recently re-watched Lost in Austen, which I find a brilliant parody of P&P. Amanda ends up living in her favourite Austen novel. If you were given the same chance, which novel would you choose? Which characters would you be bothered to meet? Which instead would you be glad to meet?

Naturally I have to pick Pride and Prejudice! How could I resist? Especially if I was lucky like Amanda and Mr. Darcy fell in love with me! I would not want to meet Mr. Collins since fools irritate me. Lady Catherine would probably scare me to death, so I would avoid her. Yet, romance and fancy estates aside, I think the one Austen character I would most relate to and enjoy chatting with is Elinor Dashwood from Sense and Sensibility. I am very like her.

Are you working on a new project?

Yes I am! But before I tell you about that, I would like to talk about the finished novels. A Darcy Christmas is an anthology that was also released this month and is available everywhere. My novella, "A Darcy Christmas," joins those by Amanda Grange and Carolyn Eberhart in this holiday, Pride & Prejudice-themed book. In my story the reader visits with the Darcys in a series of Christmas memories over 25 years as their family matures. It is really fantastic if I say so myself! In April of 2011 the fifth volume in the Darcy Saga series will be released. The Trouble With Mr. Darcy sees the return of Mr. Wickham for the wedding of Kitty Bennet with some dramatic consequences!

My newest project that I am still writing is Miss Georgiana Darcy and will be released in the fall of 2011. This is a companion novel that tells the tale of Darcy's sister Georgiana as she travels through post-Napoleonic France and falls in love. Are you intrigued? I hope so!!  


I  am! That's all for now , Sharon , thank you so much for accepting my invitation to Talk Jane Austen with me.  Best wishes  and good luck! 
 Thank you, Maria Grazia. I appreciate your invitation and look forward to chatting more with your readers. Fire away! I am happy to answer questions and talk more about my saga.

18 comments:

Elegant Female said...

I agree with Ms. Latham, Mr. Collins is the last character I'd want to meet. Lol!

I'd love to have a chance to win. Also I look forward to A Darcy Christmas!

felicialso@gmail.com

Felicia

Sharon Lathan said...

Hi Felecia! Thanks for coming by. Good luck with the giveaway!

damsell said...

Hello Mrs. Lathan,

I am a great admirer of your work. P&P has been my favorite novel since high school and I read it at least once a year (if not more when I pull it off the shelves to just get lost in it before bed). It has been one of my escapes for a while now, having needed it while getting through my BA, MA, and now Ph.D. Your books have joined the list of books I use to escape as well. That was me on Facebook, waiting till my dissertation draft was done before delving into In The Arms of Mr. Darcy. It really didn't help that I got my copy of A Darcy Christmas shortly thereafter. I read both on my first free weekend. It's a good thing too since I'm back to edits and rewrites of my diss. Thank you for sharing your wonderful stories with us. I loved the development of the story in your latest novel and the glimpses into the future that you gave us in A Darcy Christmas. I look forward to reading more of your work!

Monica

(P.S. Although I have copies of all your novels, I am being selfish in that I would love a signed copy *LOL* My email address is dams@hotmail.com)

JessiKay89 said...

I love hearing about the inspiration for this saga! I've never read it, but it's been on my to-read list for sure!

I love the relationship between Lizzy and Mr. Darcy, but I also love the relationship between Lizzy and her sister Jane. Not having read your books before, do we get to see this relationship in your books? Or do they primarily focus on the Darcys?

I would love to be entered into this contest, and I'm looking forward to checking my bookstore for A Darcy Christmas!

My email is countrygirl922@verizon.net

Jess Michaelangelo

Pemberley said...

Dear Sharon,
Almost done with In the Arms of Darcy. It is so wonderful, please keep writing we will keep buying. Loved that Caroline found someone. I read that part 3 or 4 times.

email: specialk_aide@hotmail.com
Pam Myers

Sharon Lathan said...

Congratulations on the dissertation draft getting done, Monica. Wow! What an accomplishment! Best of luck with that endeavor. Somehow I imagine it is way tougher than writing a whole novel! Hopefully the relaxing weekend with the Darcys revitalized you! I appreciate your support.

Hi Jess. I know all about those TBR piles that get higher and higher by the moment. LOL! As far as my Saga goes, the first book is almost exclusively Lizzy and Darcy, although family visits for Christmas. That was on purpose to focus on their relationship. However, beginning with Loving Mr. Darcy and increasingly with each successive novel the other members of the family - some from Austen and some of my own creation - play a larger role. Jane and Bingley are major players, naturally, but not more so that the others. That has been a challenge when you consider how many secondary characters there are in P&P! I have tried very hard to give them all moments to shine. Of course, Darcy and Lizzy are the main ones I center the story around.

Thanks Pam! I was happy to give Caroline a future. Somehow I think it fit her. :-) Maybe someday I will expand her story, you never know!

LadyDoc said...

Thank you for the interesting interview and the introduction to another author of P&P continuations! I would love to win a book and will likely be looking for the whole series.

ladydoctw at hotmail dot com

Margay said...

Even after reading Pride and Prejudice (more than once), seeing the movies (a lot more than once!) and reading many variations on the theme, I still can't get enough of the love story of Darcy and Elizabeth.

Margay1122(at)aol(dot)com

terie said...

Hi Sharon,
I am one of your biggest fans. I have your first three books of which I have read numerous times and the cover art is so beautiful.
I work at Barnes and Noble and I am constantly recommending your book to customers.
I so agree with what you said in your interview:

"Commitment, faithfulness, open communication, romance in all the ways it can be expressed, devotion to the other, selflessness, appreciation for the blessing of finding your mate. It isn't always easy, as anyone married for a while will attest, but a marriage can thrive rather than shrivel away."

I have been married over 26 years and this is so true.

I look forward to each and every book you write.
thanks,
Terie
lighthousem516@sbcglobal.net

Sharon Lathan said...

Thanks for recommending my novels to customers, Terie. That is really fantastic. I love going in to a B&N or any other bookstore and seeing my novels, and those of my friends, sitting upon the shelves. It is strange how mine and theirs always end up with the covers facing out after I visit. Quite mysterious how that happens. ;-)

I love it when those who have committed marriages speak up. I know the life I paint for the Darcys isn't beyond the realm of possibility, but it is great to have it confirmed elsewhere!

Hello Margay! Yes, we never can get enough of Darcy and Elizabeth!

LadyDoc, nice to meet you too! I do pray that you enjoy my sweet vision for Austen's characters. Let me know!

Pemberley said...

Oh Sharon,
You have outdone yourself. It was/is amazing. I have to admit maybe my favorite our of the four. Oh my Richard and Simone!!! I is fantastic. I truly love how you take us there. The places, the costumes, you allow us to be a fly on the wall and see into their world..Great!!!

Pam Myers
specialk_aide@hotmail.com

Vee said...

Loved reading this interview thanks Maria!
I have loved Sharons novels for a long time. They just keep getting better. Darcy & Lizzy will always be my favourite characters and even more so now becasue Sharon has given them the kind of blessed loving life I always dreamed for them!
Sharon I think you're spot on about Lizzy not being mercenery. I think she was already in love with Darcy and was happy to see his home was as beautiful as the man himself.
Lost In Austen is a fav of mine too. I laughed through most of it. So very clever!
TSBO devotee
Vee

Sharon Lathan said...

Ah, thanks Pam. I'm blushing! I am pleased you were happy with the outcome for Richard. Some were routing for Georgiana. I did toy with going that direction for a while, but her perfect mate had already presented himself to me and was begging for a story of his own. I am happy to say Georgiana's love story will arrive next fall.

Hello again Vee. I totally agree that Lizzy was already seeing Darcy in a new light before she viewed Pemberley. Love was beginning and was cemented when she spent time with him there.

Eliza said...

"In the arms of Mr. Darcy" really sounds intriguing to me. I have always wondered what kind of man Kitty and Miss Bingley would marry.

I really should stop reading blogs and interviews, I already have so many unread books here. :-D

arabella_vidal said...

You know why I want this book? 'Caroline Bingley meets her match'. Such an intriguing statement!

I agree that Lizzy was already changing her opinion about Darcy before her Derbyshire visit. Austen's description of Lizzy reading that pivotal letter and her gradual change of regard for Darcy is masterful, in my opinion, and leaves no room for doubt. As for the impression that Pemberley's facade gave to Lizzy, it did upgrade her better opinion of Darcy but more in the contrast that it made to the artificial Rosings. If I remember correctly, her first view of Pemberley showed how much the manor was in harmony with nature and, by extension, the man. It just got better when she went inside.

suwaida.siddiqi@gmail.com

Sharon Lathan said...

LOL Eliza! I know what you mean about too many unread books. I gave everyone the right person for them, or at least my vision of it!

Arabella, Caroline's man is something, let me tell you. I have had a few requests to write more about the two of them. I might give the idea some thought. I loved your analysis of Lizzy's evolving affections for Darcy. I completely agree. One of the reasons I loved the choice of Chatsworth for Pemberley in the 2005 movie was the visual of how beautifully the manor blended with the environs. The sculptured gardens meld perfectly with the natural, wild surrounds. Truly breathtaking. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

C. Allyn Pierson said...

Sounds great, Sharon, but I think I will see if I can win it before I buy it! :-) bligard@frontiernet.net

Susan Kaye said...

I agree with Carey. Unless I sell a boatload of books in Portland, then I'll splurge.