|Victoria reading Jane Austen|
Victoria Connelly was brought up in Norfolk and studied English Literature at Worcester University before becoming a teacher in North Yorkshire. After getting married in a medieval castle in the Yorkshire Dales, she moved to London where she lives with her artist husband and a mad springer spaniel. She has had 3 novels published in Germany - the first of which was made into a film. She is the author of "Molly's Millions". Today her latest Austen-inspired novel, "A Weekend with Mr Darcy", has been released and she is here to celebrate the great event with us .
Welcome , Victoria and thank you so much for being with us today! Here's my first question: “Dr Katherine Roberts couldn’t help thinking that a university lecturer in possession of a pile of paperwork must be in want of a holiday".
Your novel,” A Weekend with Mr Darcy”, starts with the words above. What are you in want of, Victoria, instead? Success, money, a Mr Darcy, a holiday or what?
At the moment, I live in the suburbs of London but it is my dream to live in the countryside – somewhere beautiful and quiet with rolling hills and close to the sea like Dorset, Devon or Sussex in the south of England. I’d love to surround myself with animals there – lots of dogs and chickens and maybe some pigs!
Where would you spend your ideal weekend with your Mr Darcy?
Again somewhere quiet and beautiful where we can take long walks together with our dog – a romantic cottage with a real fire would be wonderful – somewhere like the Highlands of Scotland or the north Norfolk coast.
If I’m not wrong, you are a teacher of English like me. So, you are the perfect person to whom I can ask for devices and techniques to convince my teenage male students to read Jane Austen. Do we need a miracle? Have you ever succeeded?
I’ve never had the pleasure of teaching Jane Austen in school but I would tell the boys that – if they want to be successful in love – they have to read Jane Austen! Girls will love them if they know their Austen!
The heroines of your novel, Katherine and Robyn, are in search for a Mr Darcy. What makes him a cult? An evergreen dashing hero?
I think Mr Darcy is a hero for all time because he isn’t afraid to admit to his mistakes. He’s also willing to change for the woman he loves and that’s irresistible! And he cares deeply for Elizabeth and does all he can to safeguard her and her family.
Robyn and Katherine are both Austen addicts. Are they inspired to real ladies you know?
I recently went on a holiday with ‘Pride and Prejudice Tours’ and met some amazing Jane Austen addicts – they’d read all the books and knew all the different film adaptations. I’ve been an Austen addict for years too and never tire of the stories so I’ve used a lot of my own passions in my two heroines.
Who’s your favourite and least favourite Mr Darcy on screen?
My favourite Mr Darcy is Colin Firth – his face is so expressive but I loved Matthew Macfadyen’s gentleness and vulnerability too – I love the scene when he stumbles over the words ‘I love you’. I don’t think I have a least favourite one although I’ve seen clips from an old BBC version where Mr Darcy looks very severe indeed!
Who’s your favourite Austen heroine? Does she resemble you in anyway?
I think it would have to be Elizabeth Bennet because she’s so fiercely loyal to her family. She has a great sense of humour and isn’t afraid to speak her mind – to Mr Darcy, Mr Collins and Lady Catherine – she’s amazing! Am I like her? I think we all like to imagine we have Elizabeth’s spark, don’t we?
What’s the appeal of Jane Austen’s world to you? Did it influence your lifestyle somehow?
There’s something very special about Jane Austen’s books. I love her wit and her wisdom and the fact that her characters make mistakes but are allowed second chances like Anne Elliot in Persuasion. It gives you hope. Has it influenced my lifestyle? Well, I’m a writer like Jane Austen and I adore storytelling and believe in happy endings.
If you could time travel and live in the same era as Jane Austen, what would you miss the most? What would you like the most?I feel the cold terribly so I don’t think I would get on with the fashions the women wore in Jane Austen’s time. I like my nice warm trousers and big walking boots! I’d also miss travelling by car although I do like the idea of a horse and carriage! I’d also miss the internet and email. I’d have to become a great letter writer like Jane and her sister, Cassandra. But I’d love to see the men dressed in Regency fashions – they’re so much more elegant than today’s baggy jeans and scruffy trainers!
When did you read your first Austen novel and which one was it?
I read Pride and Prejudice when I was 17 and Sense and Sensibility when I was 19. I was hooked for life!
If you could change the fate of one or two of Jane Austen’s characters, who would you help to be happier?
It would have to be Charlotte Lucas – Elizabeth Bennet’s friend who marries Mr Collins in Pride and Prejudice. Poor Charlotte! Although she says she’s not looking for love in marriage, I can’t help feeling sorry for her.
A Weekend with Mr Darcy is the first in a trilogy dedicated to the adventures of contemporary Austen addicts. Can you tell us about this project of yours?
I’m writing three separate novels about Austen addicts with each book set in a different Austen location: Hampshire, Lyme Regis and Bath. I first had the idea last summer and got very excited about it because it was a great excuse to read all the books and watch all the films again! I’ve also been visiting all the settings too like Jane Austen’s cottage in Chawton and Lyme Regis and Bath. All are so beautiful – I’ve put lots of photos up on my website http://victoriaconnelly.com/ I’m loving writing these books.
A Weekend with Mr Darcy has been released today, 16th September, in the UK and in July 2011 it'll come out in the US. How would you invite people to buy and read it in ... let’s say... 50 words?
A Weekend with Mr Darcy is a romantic comedy about two couples who meet and fall in love at a Jane Austen conference in beautiful rural Hampshire. But there’s more than one person hiding a secret and my heroines, Katherine and Robyn, have a few battles to fight before finding true love.
My novel, Molly’s Millions, is going to be translated into Turkish and A Weekend with Mr Darcy is being offered for world rights at the moment. I’d love to be published in Italian – it’s such a beautiful language. My second novel published in Germany was set in Venice so Italy is very special to me.
Thanks a lot Victoria for your kind answers and I wish you great success with "A Weekend with Mr Darcy" ... which I'm going to read and review soon!
You're welcome , Maria Grazia. These are really great questions and I had great fun answering them. Thank you!