Thank you, Maria Grazia, for inviting me to launch the tour for my debut book, Obstacles, on your blog. For this launch post, I thought your readers would like to learn about the inspiration for this book.
The inspiration for Obstacles came soon after I finished posting my second story, Paper Jam, when I was thinking about what to write next. My sister and I were having dinner at a friend’s house, who happens to be a horse breeder and trainer, when she told us about the foal she wanted to import from Germany and all of the issues she was having with the stable that was currently housing her horses. Like us, she was a middle class woman who was struggling to pursue a dream with only a few resources, while the rich and powerful gloated about their insanely expensive Grand Prix horses and achievements that can usually only been obtained with tons of money. As I listened to her, I thought, “Wow! This would make an excellent setting for a Pride & Prejudice story.” I mean, what a better backdrop for a battle of the classes than the equestrian world? While more and more people around the globe practice equestrian sports, it still remains the one most associated with wealth and royalty.
My own history with horses started when I was really small, about five years old. We lived in the suburbs of Buenos Aires and, believe it or not, my father bought us—my sister, brother and me—a mare. ‘Tintera’ was her name, which could be translated into English as ‘Inky’ because she was black. The mare didn’t stay much longer at home—you can’t just keep a big horse in the backyard—but that’s when my love story with horses began. After that, I took riding lessons and spent most of my time atop of my horse whenever we went to the farm that my family owned in the country. A long time has passed since I last rode a horse, but my heart still flutters whenever I watch a horse jumping championship.
From the very beginning, I wanted Obstacles to follow the Pride and Prejudice storyline closely so that it felt familiar to readers. I wanted this so much that I chose a title that would repeat the first letter of each word, and named the story ‘Obstacles to Overcome’. The originality of the story came from changing certain characters, such as making Lydia a horse, and adding circumstances that would make the Bennet family less ”respectable” in modern times. I also wanted to emphasize the age gap between Elizabeth and Darcy and explore not only their social differences but their maturity levels in how they face certain situations. Elizabeth is young and naïve, and Darcy is…well, Darcy. For someone so worldly, he really has no clue what makes the world spin.
As a native Spanish speaker, one of my fears when I first posted this story was not being true to British idiosyncrasy. Unlike my previous stories, one Regency and the other happening in an imaginary country in South America, Obstacles takes place in modern England; a country I didn’t visit until almost twenty years after writing this story. It was the year 2002, and all I knew about England came from movies and TV shows, which happened to be translated into Spanish. There was no YouTube, and with dial-up Internet, so there wasn’t much information I could obtain online, so I bought books and searched everywhere to learn more about the modern Brits and the international show jumping world. As information became more accessible, and my English improved with constant practice—and the help of my very kind and patient betas—Obstacles has evolved to what it is now, and I have finally fulfilled my dream of becoming a published author.
I hope this little back story about my novel and about me inspires you to get into the pages of Obstacles’.
Not all obstacles are restricted to the show-jumping arena… Though Elizabeth Bennet lives an uneventful life instructing young equestrians at Longbourn, the family farm, she dreams of winning a show-jumping competition on Liddy, her spirited mare. But her life is upended when a team of world-renowned riders arrives at Netherfield, the neighbouring estate, and uses it as their training headquarters. As she assists the newcomers and their prize-winning mounts, she meets William Darcy, a wealthy and arrogant—albeit talented—rider with Olympic aspirations. He first insults and then ignores Elizabeth, and her feelings teeter between disgust at his hauteur and admiration for his equestrian prowess. As she discovers first-hand the rigors of a world for the elite, will Elizabeth change her perspective about love, trust, and the foibles of her own family?
Originally known as “Obstacles to Overcome,” Obstacles pays homage to Pride and Prejudice in the highly competitive world of equestrian show jumping.
Belen Paccagnella’s Biography
Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Belén Paccagnella discovered the world of Jane Austen fan fiction after watching the 1995 BBC miniseries of Pride and Prejudice. In her teens, she lived in Brazil when her family moved to the city of Curitiba due to her father’s work. She moved back to Buenos Aires a few years later, where she studied agronomy but finally pursued a different career and started working in the development administration of shopping centres.
In 2001, she started writing both Regency and modern stories adapted from the Pride and Prejudice storyline, merging drama, humour, and adventure while creating characters with unique traits.
Belén still lives in the suburbs of Buenos Aires, where she shares her home with her daughter and her pets while spending her time working, reading, and writing.
Meryton Press is offering eight eBooks copies of Obstacles. The giveaway runs until midnight, September 30, 2018.
Terms and Conditions
Readers may enter the drawing by tweeting once a day and daily commenting on a blog post or a review that has a giveaway attached for the tour. Entrants must provide the name of the blog where they commented. If an entrant does not do so, that entry will be disqualified. One winner per contest. Each winner will be randomly selected by Rafflecopter and the giveaway is international.