Leap of Hope: Write What You Love
Who hasn’t wondered at least once how life would have changed by making an alternate choice at some crucial moment in the past? Where would you be today if you’d turned right instead of left at an important crossroads or been able to sidestep a particular misfortune? Or perhaps you’ve daydreamed about a different life altogether, in a different place and time.
That’s what the stories of my new Crossroads Collection are all about: turning points, possibilities, and second chances. Each book features a new hero/heroine who’s given the extraordinary gift of a second chance at life, the chance to answer for themselves the intriguing question “what if?” The first two books feature Ben Lewis (a struggling minor-league baseball player) and Hope O’Neil (an Austen-obsessed college student). Their contrasting personalities and choices take them on radically different adventures.
Maria Grazia has graciously offered to host both these new novels on blog tour today – Leap of Hope here, and Leap of Faith over at FLY HIGH!
Leap of Hope: Chance at an Austen Kind of Life
At the Crossroads Center, they’re in the business of granting second chances. And their newest client is Hope O’Neil – college student and Jane Austen devotee, who always believed she’d be more at home in Regency England, wearing corsets and courted by men in cravats. But can a modern girl really fit into a world with no electricity, cell phones, or indoor plumbing? Hope is about to find out when her wish for an Austen kind of life is unexpectedly granted. Although she envisions her second chance will be like something straight out of Pride and Prejudice – complete with her own Mr. Darcy and a romantic happy ending – she gets more than she bargained for in this delightful romp through Regency England… a lot more.
Leap of Hope bridges the gap between what I’ve written in the past and the other book in this new collection. Like the hero of Leap of Faith, Hope lives in the modern day and goes on a time-travel adventure in pursuit of a better life. But Hope chooses a historical destination, ending up in Jane Austen’s time, the setting for my five previous novels.
Over on Fly High, I spoke of how Leap of Faith fits with the philosophy “Write what you know.” Usually, however, I follow more of a “Write what you love” pathway. That’s unlike Jane Austen (normally my model in all things literary), but then she didn’t have much choice. She had to write about what she already knew or could find out, and her resources for finding things out were pretty limited compared to today. She couldn’t pop on the internet to look something up, watch movies/TV shows/documentaries about life in a different social stratum, or catch a flight to visit another part of the world. The modern author can.
So I don’t feel confined to stories about people like me living in places like my home town. Not at all. The whole world is my oyster! Now if only I had a time machine too. But that’s where imagination comes in.
So I write what I love, in this century or another, whatever interests and inspires me most. It takes months to produce a quality novel, and there wouldn’t be any joy putting that much time and effort into something that didn’t really get my creative juices flowing. Passion shows in the finished product, and I’ve absolutely adored writing every one of my seven novels!
Leap of Hope gave me a writing assignment with the best of both – what I love and what I know. I would be telling a story about a modern girl with contemporary ideas, a Jane Austen devotee like myself. Also like me, she has a lot of knowledge (or thinks she does) about Regency England, most of it gleaned from her primary source: Jane Austen – her books and the movies made from them. So whenever Hope ran up against a new situation, all I had to do was ask myself what I would have done/said/thought in her shoes, drawing on my equivalent JA frame of reference.
I just now opened the book at random, looking for something to demonstrate my point, and found a perfect example on my first try. I hope you enjoy this little excerpt from when our optimistic heroine must leave her adopted Regency home with her adopted Regency mother:
I was sure the journey itself would be enjoyable. There was the scenery, of course – the beauty of the English countryside I had always longed to see – and more quality time to spend with my mother. But when we ran out of conversation or she dozed off, I entertained myself by sometimes thinking about Jane Austen’s heroines and their travels. It seems to me that Jane must have enjoyed traveling herself because she gave her characters a positive attitude towards it too.
Lizzie Bennet went to Hunsford to see Charlotte, of course, and then later to Derbyshire with her aunt and uncle, in absolute raptures over the promise of seeing ‘rocks and mountains.’ Catherine Morland was just as thrilled at the chance for adventure in Bath and Northanger. And Anne Elliot is famous for saying how she had traveled so little that any fresh place would be interesting to her. But this trip of mine and Mama’s felt most like when the Dashwood females had to leave their beloved Norland for an unknown future in Devonshire. They were leaving against their wills and forever. Lizzy could return to Longbourn, but we couldn’t ever go back to live at Laurelwood again.
I didn’t mean to let that thought get the better of me, though. I still pictured myself as the heroine of my own Austen-worthy story. And like what Jane wrote about Catherine Morland, I believed that something must and would happen to throw a hero in my way. If not in Carding, then maybe in Staffordshire.
Would the same kind of thoughts have been running through your head if you were in Hope’s shoes? Do you ever find yourself drawing on JA wisdom, applying it to modern life? Extra credit if you noticed the title of one of my other books in the excerpt!