Do you want to get a chance to win a papeback copy of Pride and Pyramids (my review's here)? Read my interview with Amanda Grange, leave your comment + e-mail address and ... fingers crossed for you! This giveaway contest is open internationally and will end on July 16 when the winner is announced. Good luck!
First of all welcome back to My Jane Austen Book Club, Amanda. It’s an honour and a pleasure to feature such a talented writer and a fond Janeite here at my blog.
Hi, it’s good to be back!
My first question is: your story in Pride and Pyramids takes place after 15 years from Darcy and Elizabeth’s marriage. What is their menage like after all those years?
Darcy and Elizabeth have six children, all with very different personalities. The oldest, fourteen-year-old Elizabeth – who is always called Beth – is like her aunt Jane in temperament, being calm and seeing the good in others. The second child is William, who takes after his father. He’s honourable and serious, inclined to be arrogant and haughty at times, but the other children don’t let him get away with it! Then comes John – names after Mr Bennet - who takes after Col Fitzwilliam and longs to join the army. After John come the terrible twosome of Laurence and Jane, who are both inclined to wild behaviour and take after their aunt Lydia. Last, but not least, is little Meg, who at six years old is the youngest.
Darcy’s character has softened a little. He isn’t the arrogant man he was in Pride and Prejudice, but he’s not completely different, either. He’s still proud, honourable and sometimes exasperated by his very lively family, who are allowed far more liberties than he himself was allowed as a boy. Elizabeth, too, has mellowed somewhat. She’s settled into her new life very comfortably and she;s enjoyed raising her family at Pemberly, but at the start of Pride and Pyramids she finds herself tiring of domesticity and longing for more excitement in her life.
After re-writing Mr Darcy several times in your novels, did you come to discover what the secret of his never-ending charm is?
I think if I ever discover the secret, it will vanish! There’s something elusive about it, I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I love writing about it, and about him.
The expedition to Egypt to find a hidden tomb and treasure was a brilliant device which brought about this incredible new adventure for the Darcys . What inspired you such an original turn in their lives?
Jackie and I were emailing each other one day – we’ve known each other for years - and chatting about this and that, and the subject of Egypt came up. Jackie had used it as a background to her novel The Scarlet Queen, which I really loved, and suddenly I thought, Why not send Darcy and Elizabeth to Egypt? I knew it was accurate for the time because Egyptology was a huge craze in Regency times, in fact many wealthy men included it in their Grand Tour. The British Museum was filling up with artefacts sent back by Belzoni and others, the Rosetta Stone offered a real possibility of scholars being able to decipher the hieroglyphs, and Egypt was much in the news because of the French invasion and the subsequent British victories there. It just seemed to offer such huge possibilities that I couldn’t wait to start writing.
Which other characters from P&P join them in this new adventure?
Mrs Bennet is certain that a trip to Egypt will be good for her nerves. She tries to persuade Elizabeth to take her on the trip because she’s bored now that her daughters are all married, but Elizabeth refuses. So Mrs Bennet goes to see the Darcys off and fails to get off the ship in time, accidentally on purpose. There are also cameo apperances from Jane, Bingley and their growing family, as well as larger roles for Wickham and Lydia. We also meet some new characters connected to Pride and Prejudice: one of Charlotte Lucas’s sisters and Colonel Fitzwilliam’s brother.
Absolutely. It takes them away from their normal life, away from domesticity, and into a new and exotic landscape where they can recapture the magic of first being in love.
You wrote this novel with Jacqueline Webb, author of The Scarlet Queen and Dragonsheart. How was the experience of 4-hand writing ?
It was surprisingly easy. Neither of us had ever writen with anyone before and we agreed before we set out that if the whole thing was a disaster we would call a halt. But in fact it was very inspiring. When I ran out of steam I sent the book off to Jackie, and then watched my inbox eagerly as I waited for her follow-up. It was always exciting to see her name pop up on an email and know that the next segment of the book was ready for me to read. It really combined all the best bits of being a writer and being a reader.
Did you visit Egypt in order to write about the very special setting of your tale or did you carry out a more traditional research in libraries and museums?
No, I didn’t visit Egypt. One of the difficulties inherent in writing historical novels is that places change, and seeing a place as it is today can actually be distracting. Sometimes it helps, but sometimes it hinders. So I found it more useful to visit museums and to read books written in the Regency period about Egypt. I particularly loved Travels in Egypt and Nubia by Belzoni. It was an account of his travels in Egypt in 1815, the year of our book, and the artefacts he uncovered and sent back to the British Museum.
What did you discover about Egyptology in the Regency?
It was actually rather like Indiana Jones! The French and the British were competing for treasures and there was a lot of skulduggery involved. The French and the British often took credit for their rivals’ discoveries, and the artefacts often formed part of the peace treaty negotiations. For example, the Rosetta Stone was found by a French soldier but it passed into British hands under the Capitulation of Alexandria. Both sides were willing to pay for antiquities, which led to some notable hunters including Giovanni Belzoni.
What about the new characters? Paul? Edward? Sophie? Are they all inspired to minor figures we meet in Austen or completely new?
They are all completely new. Paul is an impoverished artist who goes along to make a pictorial record of the journey, hired by Mr Darcy. Edward is fanatical about Egypt and infects the others with his enthusiasm. And Sophie is a quite young woman,who has just been jilted and is feeling very uncertain about herself and about life. So they all form a contrast with the familiar characters.
What percentage is romance and what instead adventure in the novel?
I would say it’s about half and half.
How would you present your tale to our readers in about 50 words?
Elizabeth and Darcy are happily married but, after fifteen years living in domestic bliss at Pemberley, they are ready for adventure. They join Darcy’s cousin on a trip to Egypt, where the romance of the desert contrasts with the eeriness of an Egyptian doll, an ancient curse and buried treasure.
My grateful thanks, Amanda, for taking the time to answer my questions and for your new extraordinary Austen-inspired tale.
Thanks for inviting me!
International bestselling author Amanda Grange and Egyptology expert Jacqueline Webb team up to create a breathtaking historical tale set in the land of the Pharaohs. Sourcebooks Landmark is proud to present Pride and Pyramids: Mr. Darcy in Egypt (ISBN: 9781402265341, July 2012, $14.99 U.S., Trade Paperback, Fiction). The beloved Darcy family takes on the pyramids of Egypt in this unique Pride and Prejudice sequel.
“Grange provides a really intriguing possibility as to what may have been going on in Darcy’s head throughout it all… Amanda Grange does a great job of keeping both the language and the behavior authentic to Jane Austen and the early 19th century... she is one of the best at doing so that I have found....” --Epinions.com
Pulled into the craze of Egyptology, Elizabeth, Darcy and their lively children embark on an expedition to Egypt with Colonel Fitzwilliam’s younger brother. Romantic interludes between Darcy and Elizabeth intertwine with the unraveling of a mystery dating back to an ancient Egyptian woman. They find long-hidden treasure thwart a theft and betrayal by the ever-villainous George Wickham, and lay to rest an ancient ghost. The Darcys’ adventures at the hands of these talented storytellers open up whole new realms of exploration for lovers of Jane Austen and the Regency world.
Amanda Grange is a bestselling author of Jane Austen retellings that are from the point of view of Austen’s men. She has sold more than 150,000 copies of her novels and is branching out into other areas of historical fiction. Jacqueline Webb is an expert in historical Egyptology and has written two novels published in the UK. Both authors live in England.
Find out more about Amanda Grange and Pride and Pyramids by visiting her website at http://www.amandagrange.com You can also follow her on Twitter @hromanceuk and find her on Facebook.