Our guest today on" Talking Jane Austen" is author Carey Allyn Pierson. My interview is divided into two parts and there will be 2 giveaways of autographed books, one today and the other one next week!
"And This Our Life, Chronicles of the Darcy Family" was C. Allyn Pierson 's first sequel of Pride and Prejudice. It has been purchased by Sourcebooks and a revised version was released yesterday, September 1. It's titled "Mr. Darcy's Little Sister." This revised version concentrates on Georgiana Darcy's story and, in addition, contains an exciting new plot line. The original "ATOL" will still be available until January 1, 2010, when it will be withdrawn from circulation. "Mr. Darcy's Little Sister" is available for preorder now on http://www.amazon.com/ and http://www.barnesandnoble.com./ But if you are lucky enough, you can win one of the autographed copies here on My Jane Austen Book Club, leaving your comments and e-mail address .
The giveaway is open worldwide.
The name of the first winner will be announced next Thursday September 9th.
Now it's time to welcome and thank author C. Allyn Pierson for being our guest today.
You are a biologist and a physician . Nothing’s farther from Jane Austen's world, where women were denied profession and social relevance. What’s the appeal of that world to a woman like you?
Basically, I get enough “reality” in my work, and my husband is an eye surgeon so we both must deal with pain and suffering everyday. I give my patients my entire attention when I see them, but when I am relaxing I want to do something that leaves me feeling good. My husband can do surgery all day and come home and Dostoevsky, and he takes out the stress by playing a lot of tennis. I don’t watch television, so my main relaxation is reading and the occasional video. I can read my favorite books over and over and each time I pick up some subtle nuance, and Jane Austen is, in some ways, very subtle. She looks at the society of her time with a clear gaze and humor and yet they are poignant as well- a very rich mixture but a world that is simpler than our own.
You’re a member of JASNA, of the Republic of Pemberley and you write JA sequels. Can you explain what is the appeal Jane Austen has to so many contemporary readers?
I believe that Jane Austen taps into the basic drives of all humans, even though her time period was so different from our own. When you take away people’s obsessions with technology, our wants and needs are very much the same- we all want to have enough to eat, a warm place to sleep, and most of all, love. You can’t get those things from an iPod or a computer.
How did your meeting with JA and her work influence your life?
I first read Pride and Prejudice in school, but at that time the slow pace of the language and the unfamiliarity with the era left me indifferent. When I had an au pair from England who was wild about Jane Austen I picked her up again and this time I really read it, listening to the language. The final clincher was when the BBC produced the miniseries of Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle. Not only was it beautifully done, but the casting was wonderful on all levels. Here was the story right in front of my eyes with all the costumes from the Regency period. I adore it and I think I must have watched it a hundred times. I have trouble just sitting through a film and feel I am wasting my time. After I have seen it once then I will crochet while I “watch” it and just listen and look up at my favorite scenes. I have a lot of references to the Regency as well as books about Jane Austen. I am sure my husband gets tired of hearing her name!
When and Why did you decide you wanted to write a sequel to Pride and Prejudice?
I had always wanted to be a writer and when I was ten years old I decided to use C. Allyn Pierson for my pen name (Carey Allyn Pierson was my maiden name) A couple of years later I decided to become a doctor and I went from there. After my eldest son left for college I had a bit more free time and decided to read a retelling of P&P from Darcy’s point of view and I enjoyed the books and the writing very much, but I came to the sudden realization that I didn’t picture the characters as the author had and that I “knew” what they should be like. Suddenly, I wanted to sit down and write my version.
Why did you choose little Georgiana as your heroine?
I actually started telling the story of Darcy and Elizabeth’s first year of marriage, and that included Georgiana. As the story developed, Georgiana’s story became more and more interesting, but my self-published book was still told from Elizabeth’s point of view and was called ‘And This Our Life: Chronicles of the Darcy Family”. When Sourcebooks bought the rights to ATOL it was with the understanding that i would change the book to Georgiana’s point of view because very little has been written about Georgiana, while Darcy and Elizabeth’s marriage has been covered extensively. I sat down and rewrote ATOL and ended up with a book which was almost completely different than the original. Georgiana’s marriage at the end is the same, but almost everything else is different. Some scenes I recycled, but even some of those have different characters in the scene and I added a significant new plot sequence, as well. Georgiana is very interesting to me because her name permeates Pride and Prejudice as Miss Bingley constantly praises her to Darcy or uses her to make Elizabeth feel inadequate, but we do not actually meet her until three-quarters of the way through the book, and then Georgiana hardly says a word. We are left with an enigma, but I felt that there was a lot of potential with Georgiana and very few restriction.
|Georgiana Darcy in P&P 1995|
|Georgiana Darcy in P& P 2005|
By the way, Carey, which of the Austen heroines are you most like?
Elizabeth Bennet is definitely my favorite and the one most like me. I like Elinor Dashwood and Anne Elliott because of their common sense and their ability to hide their feelings from the world- there is a lot going on inside them that the world does not see. This strong but reticent character is like me, too- when I was in school people thought I was very reserved until they got to know me and they realized that I had a very dry sense of humor. Also, as a physician, I can relate to the need to keep your thoughts under wraps- sometimes you have to listen to people tell you very sad or very crazy things and keep a straight face.
Georgiana is a teenager ( that part of humankind I so well know as a teacher, mother, aunt ...) How did you get yourself prepared to depict her complexity? And how different it was being a teenager at JA’s time?
In Jane Austen’s time society was much more restrictive on what was and was not appropriate behavior and most children of the upper class were raised by nurses and governesses rather than over-indulgent parent’s. At that time children were not considered to be individuals as much as they were an extension of their parents’ desire to carry on their family name and bring more power and money into their family. That said, humans haven’t really changed much since then, and I am sure that teenagers felt the same insecurity about who they are as modern teens do. I have a lot of contact with teenagers with my work and with my children’s friends, but my eldest son was much more mature than the average teenager, and my younger son is severely autistic, so neither was really “typical.” I mostly drew on my own experiences as a teenager (waaayyyy back in the early 70’s!) for how Georgiana felt.
Ok, Carey! That's all for today. We'll go on with our lovely chat next week, Thursday 9th September. Good luck to our readers for the giveaway!