Thursday 28 October 2010


 Jack Caldwell is an author, amateur historian, professional economic developer, playwright, and like many Cajuns, a darn good cook. Born and raised in the Bayou County of Louisiana, Jack and his wife, Barbara, are Hurricane Katrina victims, and now make the upper Midwest their home. Always a history buff, Jack found and fell in love with Jane Austen in his twenties, struck by her innate understanding of the human condition.
 Jack uses his work to share his knowledge of history. Through his characters, he hopes the reader gains a better understanding of what went on before, developing an appreciation for our ancestors' trials and tribulations. A devout convert to Roman Catholicism, Jack is married with three grown sons.

As usual, in our "Talking Jane Austen with ... " sessions there's a great giveaway for My Jane Asuten Book Club readers! Leave your comments and e-mail addresses below and two of you will have the chance to win a copy of Jack Caldwell PEMBERLEY RANCH!!! The giveaway is open to US and Canada readers only and will end next Wednesday 3rd November. Enjoy our interview and good luck to all of you!

I'm so glad to host the first man ever on My Jane Austen Book Club. It’s such a rare event! Well, let’s say unique so far.  Quoting from a blogpost of yours … it takes a real man to write historical romance … so please, tell us all how and when you started doing it.
 Maria Grazia , thank you for inviting me on My Jane Austen Book Club.  It’s a pleasure talking with you.

I first read Jane Austen back in the early 1980’s, and I’ve always been fascinated by history.  About ten years ago, I came upon The Republic of Pemberley, the first of many Jane Austen fan fiction sites on the Internet I would visit in the years to follow.  I had no idea that fan fiction existed, and I enjoyed reading what others did with Miss Austen’s beloved characters.  By 2005, my muse had convinced me to take a stab at it, combining my love of Austen with my deep interest in history.  My first story, The Three Colonels, was very well received, and will be published by Sourcebooks in the spring of 2012.  My muse was aflame and I have been writing ever since.

  What do you particularly appreciate in Jane Austen’s work?
 From the beginning, I was struck by Miss Austen’s understanding of the human condition.  She knew how men and women acted and talked, admittedly in her version of the dialogue of Regency England.  From the beginning of time, men and woman have been involved in the great game of love and understanding.  The timeliness of her stories is as real today as it was two hundred years ago.

Also, as a reader, I admire Miss Austen’s genius in turning a phrase.  Is there any opening sentence better than, “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife”?

  As a man, which of her fascinating heroines would you be more pleased to meet and woo?
 Ha!  As I already have met, wooed, and married the perfect woman—my dear wife Barbara—I can’t say I’m fascinated by any one of Miss Austen’s heroines.  Rather, I would say that I admire the wit and brightness of Elizabeth Bennet, the quiet sensibleness of Elinor Dashwood, and the steadfastness of Anne Elliot.  Characteristics that are found in my lovely wife.

Well, you are very lucky Jack. You can say you’ve found a typical Austen ending for your own life! A marriage of love with a real Austen heroine. Which of her heroes do you feel resembles you the most?
I would like to say Fitzwilliam Darcy, but Barbara would say that I’m more like Frederick Wentworth.  Hard working and loyal, but a bit hard-headed.
How do you explain such a great success for everything Austen these days?
 Obviously, the films help.  But I think there is a desire to look back at a simpler time.  Plus, Miss Austen wrote about such wonderful, real characters.  Readers just want to continue hanging out with them.

 Your Austenesque novel Pemberley Ranch  is going to be released in December and it is such an original, different interpretation of our beloved P&P.  You moved the Bennets and their adventures both in space and time.   Tell us something more about it, I’m so curious!
Pride and Prejudice is based upon misconceptions the lead characters have about each other over class, behavior, and motivations.  By moving the story to Reconstruction-era Texas, I’ve kicked the onflict up a few notches.
In my novel, Pemberley Ranch, Beth Bennet is a farm girl from Ohio whose only brother died while serving in the Union Army during the Civil War.  After the war, the family moved to Rosings, Texas to get a new start.  There, she meets and befriends a fellow Yankee, George Whitehead, who works for the occupation government.  She also comes in contact with the reclusive Will Darcy, ex-Confederate officer and owner of the largest spread in the county, Pemberley Ranch.  Beth is both attracted and repulsed by Darcy, for she had vowed to hate Southerners for causing her brother’s death.  Whitehead knows Darcy, and his tales of the former Rebel only intensify Beth’s aversion to the rancher.
 Unfortunately for the Bennets, not everything is as it seems.  Evil is stalking the plains of Texas, and Beth’s family is in deadly danger.  Will Beth set aside her prejudices and place her trust in the man she rejected—the man who is her family’s only hope of salvation?

 What do you think of the many Austen adaptations, I mean, the several different movies and TV series based on her major works? Have you seen any of them? Have you got any favorite one/s?
 Honestly, I have seen almost all of the Jane Austen TV and/or movie adaptations. Most are very, very good.  2009’s “Sense and Sensibility” and 1995’s “Persuasion” were excellent.

My favorite P&P adaptation is the first one I saw—the 1980 BBC miniseries starring Elizabeth Garvie and David Rintoul.  I enjoyed both the Jennifer Ehle/Colin Firth and the Keira Knightley/Matthew Macfadyen versions, but Garvie/Rintoul is the definitive depiction, in my opinion.
 However, my wife and I hold a special place in our hearts for the Bollywood extravaganza, “Bride and Prejudice.”  It’s a hoot!

Would you accept if they asked you to adapt your Pemberley Ranch? Any suggestion for the leads in the eventual casting?
 I would love to have Pemberley Ranch made into a movie.  I’ll leave the casting suggestions to the readers, though.

I’ve asked this several times before but, maybe, you are the right Austenite to ask this. How would you convince my teenage male students to read Jane Austen? I usually face a hard task when I try … my attempts are rarely very successful. Any tips?
 Young men—and men in general—consider Austen “chick lit,” to their detriment.  Jane Austen is one of the giants of English literature.  I have a couple of Ideas.

 Persuasion is the most “male” of Austen’s works—the reader has a greater understanding of who Frederick Wentworth is than they have of Fitzwilliam Darcy in Pride and Prejudice, which is told through Elizabeth’s eyes.  Wentworth is a naval officer, dashing and successful at war.  He is also deeply hurt by what he considers a betrayal by the girl he loves.  What teenaged boy doesn’t understand that?
 Another approach is what was used in the amusing film, “The Jane Austen Book Club.”  To put it bluntly, if a guy wants to understand girls, read what the girls read.  They will get more dates.  Same reason to take your girl to a “chick flick.”  If your girl is happy, the guy will be happy.

Persuasion is my favourite one! I ‘ve always felt Anne is the Austen heroine I can sympathize with the most. But I’ve never thought of it as the most “male” of Jane Austen’s works. Thanks a lot! It’ll be a great pleasure to try. Any other Austenesque future projects?
 I have written or co-written eight novels using Miss Austen’s characters, both Regency and Modern, and I’m in the process of writing a ninth.  Pemberley Ranch  is the first to be published.  The Three Colonels, a Regency sequel to Pride and Prejudice  and Sense and Sensibility, centered on the Battle of Waterloo, will be published in early 2012. 
 Excerpts from this and my other works can be found at my web site, Ramblings of a Cajun in Exile .
 I also invite your readers to stop by Austen Authors , the blog I share with some truly outstanding Austenesque writers.

 Final task, Jack! You’ve got about 50 words to convince our readers to read/buy your PEMBERLEY RANCH.
 Pemberley Ranch – hailed by critics as a “fresh and original” re-imagining of Jane Austen’s classic novel that is “’Pride & Prejudice’ meets ‘Gone With The Wind’!

 Not enough?  How about—William Darcy is a tall, handsome cowboy.  How’s that?
Maria Grazia, thank you.  I’ve enjoyed this very much.
Thank you, Jack. I wish you great success in the  Jane Austen fan fiction world and, in general,  with your writing! I both love P&P and Gone with the Wind so I can’t wait to read your PEMBERLEY RANCH! Now it's your turn, dear readers! Suggest your ideal cast for  a movie adaptation of PEMBERLEY RANCH or just leave a comment and your e-mail address to enter the double giveaway! I'll announce the names of the winners next Wednesday 3rd November. But remember, US and Canada only!

Wednesday 27 October 2010



On October 27th 1811 Jane Austen published her first novel signing it ..."by a lady": SENSE AND SENSIBILITY is 199 years old! Let's start organizing something special for next year, it'll be its 200th birthday anniversary.


JASNA for the 2010 AGM in Portland.  It will take place over the Halloween weekend (October 29-31), very fitting as this AGM will feature Northanger Abbey.  The theme is “Jane Austen and the Abbey: Mystery, Mayhem and Muslin in Portland.”

Universities are not only place were you can study Jane Austen's works academically. For instance,  the  Davidson College Theatre Department  ( Charlotte ) 
 presents Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, adapted for the stage by Joseph Hanreddy and J.R. Sullivan, directed by Professor Ann Marie Costa. Times vary, Duke Family Performance Hall, Knobloch Campus Center. 
  • Thursday, October 28, 2010 @ 12:00 am
  • Friday, October 29, 2010 @ 12:00 am
  • Saturday, October 30, 2010 @ 12:00 am
  • Sunday, October 31, 2010 @ 12:00 am

4. JANE AUSTEN ON  ... 27th OCTOBER 1798 

Cassandra's portrait
 "I shall think with tenderness and delight on his beautiful and smiling countenance and interesting manner, until a few years have turned him into an ungovernable, ungracious fellow."
— Jane Austen, on her three-year-old nephew, in a letter to Cassandra, 27 October 1798


One of English Literature's greatest novelists, Jane Austen, had her work polished up by a male editor who took out her bad grammar and spelling, an Oxford academic has revealed.
Professor Kathryn Sutherland made the discovery while studying a collection of 1,100 original handwritten pages of Austen's unpublished writings.
Prof Sutherland said: "It's widely assumed that Austen was a perfect stylist - her brother Henry famously said in 1818 that 'everything came finished from her pen' and commentators continue to share this view today. ( go on reading)


Now it's time to reveal the name of last week's giveaway winner . First of all, many thanks to Sharon Lathan and Sourcebooks for granting you the possibility to win a free copy of IN THE ARMS OF MR DARCY.
Congratulations to ... ARABELLA VIDAL for being the lucky one!
Till very soon for a new interview and a new giveaway. 
"Talking Jane Austen with..."  is tomorrow!

Thursday 21 October 2010


My guest today is Sharon Lathan,  author of the bestselling Mr. and Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy: Two Shall Become One, Loving Mr. Darcy: Journeys Beyond Pemberley, and My Dearest Mr. Darcy. In addition to her writing, she works as a Registered Nurse in a Neonatal ICU. She resides with her family in Hanford, California in the sunny San Joaquin Valley. For more information, please visit You'll find her at Austen Authors – - and Casablanca Authors – - where Sharon shares the spotlight with other writers.
Read and comment this interview. Sharon will be happy to answer your questions and has granted you a free copy of her latest release 

The giveaway ends next Wednesday 27 October and is open to US and Canada readers only. Don't forget to leave your e-mail address so that I can contact you in case you are the lucky winner.

  Now it's time to welcome Sharon Lathan on My Jane Austen Book Club. 
Hello and welcome, Sharon! Thanks a lot for accepting my invitation. First of all, can you tell us how you started writing your Darcy Saga? I’ve heard it has something to do with 2005 Pride & Prejudice adaptation. (Guess what? That was the first adaptation I ever saw of Jane Austen’s masterpiece! Colin Firth and his 1995 cult performance only came second).
Yes, it is true that I first came to know of the world of Jane Austen through a theater viewing of the 2005 version of P&P. I still adore the movie! I absolutely fell in love with the characters and story. So much so that I instantly rented the 1995 miniseries, read the novel by Jane Austen, and initiated a comprehensive Internet search for all things Austen related. The obsession grew from there. Along the way I discovered online fan fiction, which fed my imagination. The question of what would happen after they married was one I never found the answer to as I envisioned it, so eventually I started writing it myself. The rest is history as they say!

 You wrote “Mr and Mrs Fitzwilliam Darcy” and imagined our beloved couple live happily ever after. Can you tell us at least part of the secrets of their successful ménage?

Mr. and Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy was written because I believe in happily ever after. Not necessarily in the perfect fairytale way, but certainly in the sense of a couple having a long marriage where joy abounds. The secrets? Commitment, faithfulness, open communication, romance in all the ways it can be expressed, devotion to the other, selflessness, appreciation for the blessing of finding your mate. It isn't always easy, as anyone married for a while will attest, but a marriage can thrive rather than shrivel away. Those who say this is not true, that my vision for Darcy and Lizzy is a fantasy, who do not believe two people can remain passionate past the honeymoon, or who deny that a couple from any era can actually enjoy being with each other are simply wrong. It isn't a "secret" at all! Just read my story to discover how it can be done!

 For what we know of her personality, what do you think Jane Austen would appreciate more in your continuation of her novel?

I think Jane was a believer in love and marital felicity, and wanted that for her hero and heroine. I think she would appreciate that although I take her characters in a direction perhaps she never imagined, even going into the bedroom where she never entered either in her writing or real life, I do so out of a deep love and devotion. I think she would be very pleased to see them living a full, happy life, unlike the examples of poor marriages that she clearly disapproved of.  

What is your personal interpretation of Darcy’s appeal?  How did you imagine him as a loving husband? Does he keep any of the traits of his proud countenance, those he showed in the first chapters of P&P?
Lots of questions here that I could, and have, written whole essays on! Darcy's appeal is multifaceted, but I honestly believe much of it has to do with his enigmatic quality. We know little of him within Austen's text so can paint a man to fit our personal image. However, what we do know of him once his true character is revealed is positive and appealing. He is loyal to a fault, proud but in a natural sense, loving, generous, selfless, forgiving, willing to change, and so on. All of this combined paints a man who is as close to perfect as is possible!

To me it was already shown within the original text that he would be a loving husband. Just look at what he does for Lizzy after being rejected and with no hope of winning her heart. Look at his devotion to Georgiana. Look at his concern and commitment to Bingley. Look at his care and generosity to Pemberley and the people who support him. Add this to the fact that a gentleman of this era was expected to respect, honor, and care for his wife and there is no way to assume otherwise! 

I don't interpret Darcy's pride as the horrible trait some do. Considering the era, his upbringing, and the nearly scandalous behavior of the Meryton crowd a portion of his attitude is understandable! Plus, I think he was awkward and shy, thus being largely mislabeled and misunderstood. My Darcy is a man who still is not socially adept and remains a bit uncomfortable. Like it or not he is in a social class that is high above others - as standard for the time period - so this does not change. But he is certainly loosened up with a lively wife like Lizzy!

The marriages of convenience were often targets of Jane Austen’s satire and I’m convinced this is not the case but … how would you answer those who suspect that Elizabeth married Darcy because,  after visiting  Pemberley , she became suddenly interested in his patrimony?  
Really? I don't see that at all. I mean let's face it Lizzy is only human! She would have been a fool to not recognize the benefits that she rejected. That is why I love the laugh Keira Knightley as Elizabeth Bennet releases when she sees Pemberley for the first time. Nevertheless, I don't believe that drove her change of heart since she knew from the beginning how wealthy Mr. Darcy was. If this was her mindset she would have accepted his proposal the first time around, or thrown herself at him with a bit more vigor while at Pemberley or when he returned to Hertfordshire later.

" In the Arms of Mr Darcy” is another  installment in this saga.  How would you invite our readers to buy /read this second novel in let’s say no more than 50 words?

Precisely, In The Arms of Mr. Darcy is the fourth volume of my Darcy Saga series! After Mr. and Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy: Two Shall Become One came Loving Mr. Darcy: Journeys Beyond Pemberley and then My Dearest Mr. Darcy. The first three novels covered the initial year of the Darcys' marriage in a gradual, thematic pace and can be found in bookstores everywhere. In The Arms of Mr. Darcy moves faster and spans just over one year in their life. I think the synopsis from the back cover sums it up the best so I'll share that and hope it serves to entice readers--  

Darcy and Elizabeth are as much in love as ever—even more so as their relationship matures. Their passion inspires everyone around them, and as winter turns to spring, romance finds nearly everyone.

Confirmed bachelor Richard Fitzwilliam sets his sights on a seemingly unattainable, beautiful widow, Georgiana Darcy learns to flirt outrageously, the flighty Kitty Bennet develops her first crush, and Caroline Bingley meets her match.

But the path of true love never does run smooth, and Elizabeth and Darcy are kept busy navigating their friends and loved ones through the inevitable separations, misunderstandings, misgivings and lovers’ quarrels…

What is your opinion on the huge success that Jane Austen’s world is experiencing nowadays?

I think it is fantastic! I firmly believe that anything that brings classic literature to the attention of new readers is terrific. Thousands of people, such as myself, who never knew the beauty of Jane Austen's world now do because of a new cinema offering or published fan fiction novel or even a mashup! Austen's stories and characters are timeless. Their problems and personalities are relatable to a modern audience, hence why they fit well in adaptations like Lost in Austen which I loved.

 What is instead that attracted you to that world at first?

First and foremost I was captured by the love story between Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy. It was portrayed excellently by Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen. This is where my heart was ensnared and what I wanted to explore initially by reading the novel and delving into online discussions. Very quickly I became fascinated by the Regency Era, the history and fashion and society intriguing me. I am a romantic and a lover of history, so this is where I focused my devotion initially. Next came a greater appreciation for Austen's incredible writing and her storytelling genius.  

 I’ve recently re-watched Lost in Austen, which I find a brilliant parody of P&P. Amanda ends up living in her favourite Austen novel. If you were given the same chance, which novel would you choose? Which characters would you be bothered to meet? Which instead would you be glad to meet?

Naturally I have to pick Pride and Prejudice! How could I resist? Especially if I was lucky like Amanda and Mr. Darcy fell in love with me! I would not want to meet Mr. Collins since fools irritate me. Lady Catherine would probably scare me to death, so I would avoid her. Yet, romance and fancy estates aside, I think the one Austen character I would most relate to and enjoy chatting with is Elinor Dashwood from Sense and Sensibility. I am very like her.

Are you working on a new project?

Yes I am! But before I tell you about that, I would like to talk about the finished novels. A Darcy Christmas is an anthology that was also released this month and is available everywhere. My novella, "A Darcy Christmas," joins those by Amanda Grange and Carolyn Eberhart in this holiday, Pride & Prejudice-themed book. In my story the reader visits with the Darcys in a series of Christmas memories over 25 years as their family matures. It is really fantastic if I say so myself! In April of 2011 the fifth volume in the Darcy Saga series will be released. The Trouble With Mr. Darcy sees the return of Mr. Wickham for the wedding of Kitty Bennet with some dramatic consequences!

My newest project that I am still writing is Miss Georgiana Darcy and will be released in the fall of 2011. This is a companion novel that tells the tale of Darcy's sister Georgiana as she travels through post-Napoleonic France and falls in love. Are you intrigued? I hope so!!  

I  am! That's all for now , Sharon , thank you so much for accepting my invitation to Talk Jane Austen with me.  Best wishes  and good luck! 
 Thank you, Maria Grazia. I appreciate your invitation and look forward to chatting more with your readers. Fire away! I am happy to answer questions and talk more about my saga.

Wednesday 20 October 2010


A rapid blog tour to highlight interesting Austenesque posts!

1. Austenesque Reviews features an interesting interview with Jane Mullany. Meredith and Jane talk about "Jane and the Damned" .
Janet Mullany has worked as an archaeologist, waitress, draftsperson, radio announcer, performing arts administrator, proofreader, and bookseller. She was reared in England on a diet of Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer, and now lives near Washington, D.C. 

2. Actions Speak Louder Than Words: Movie Discussion of Pride and Prejudice 1995


Regina Jeffers writes about Pride and Prejudice 1995 on

"In reading Jane Austen, one can easily imagine the Austen children acting out a play created by the boisterous Jane. Her novels have all the elements of drama: a small cast, limited settings, and no special effects. In this manner, Austen writes cinematic novels..."  (go on reading )

  • You have a chance to win signed copies of both "Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict" & "Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict."
  • Take a two-minute break to watch Episode 19 of Sex and The Austen Girl, "Clothes Make the Man," and enter the giveaway!!! 
  • More details on how to enter at


 In celebration of the bicentenary of Jane Austen’s arrival at Chawton in Hampshire, the Jane Austen Short Story Award 2009 Competition was sponsored by the Jane Austen House Museum and Chawton House Library. Dancing with Mr. Darcy is a collection of winning entries from the competition. Comprising twenty stories inspired by Jane Austen and or Chawton Cottage, they include the grand prize winner Jane Austen over the Styx, by Victoria Owens, two runners up Jayne, by Kristy Mitchell and Second Thoughts, by Elsa A. Solender, and seventeen short listed stories chosen by a panel of judges and edited by author and Chair of Judges Sarah Waters. 


My latest interview in the " Talk Jane Austen with ..." series is was with Monica Fairview and commenters from the US and Canada had the chance to win her latest publication, THE DARCY COUSINS,  thanks to Sourcebooks,  her publisher.
The lucky winner is ....

Congratulations !!! Enjoy your new Austenesque read.
Thanks to  Monica Fairview and Sourcebooks!
I'll wait for all of you tomorrow. My  new "Talking Jane Austen with ..." interview will be with Sharon Lathan

A new interesting chat and a new GIVEAWAY!!! 
Till tomorrow then. MG

Tuesday 19 October 2010


Last week Adriana Sales Zardini was my guest. Do you remember her guest post? Today it was my turn, I was her guest on JASBRA Blog. 
I wrote about ME & JANE AUSTEN and Adriana posted my text with some pictures in two parts.  I'm flattered and honoured. Many thanks, Adriana! It's such a pleasure to be part of this huge enthusiastic international community. And many thanks to "Auntie Jane" for being the reason and the inspiration of such enthusiasm!

I started like this ...

"When I was 14 I  hungrily read everything I found in  my relatives’ libraries : classics, children’s books, modern romances, history books, essays. I had been reading books since I was 8 and I still remember my first one was L. May Alcott’s Little Women. What I can’t forget is when I happened to read Pride and Prejudice. One of my aunts had given it to me saying, “Maybe you’ll find it a little boring”. Boring? I can still see my “little me”  identifying herself  with Elizabeth and experiencing her proud contempt for Mr Darcy, sympathy for Wickham, then her regret for her  wrong first impressions,  her acknowledging her affection and esteem for Mr Darcy little by little and,  finally,  her having the chance to marry him. It was so exciting!"

Go on reading if you wish ...

Thursday 14 October 2010


Monica Fairview writes novels set during the Regency period: Jane Austen-inspired novels, and Regency romances.  Before she started to write, as a literature professor, she enjoyed teaching students to love reading. Now she  enjoys writing books for people to read.
She is currently based in London, UK. In her former life as a student and professor she wandered the USA and  lived in Illinois, Los Angeles, Seattle, Texas, Colorado, Oregon and Boston. 

Monica Fairview is with us today to talk Jane Austen with me and to grant you a free copy of her latest work, THE DARCY COUSINS, if you live in the US or Canada. The giveaway ends on October 20th. Don't forget to add your e-mail address to your comments!


 First of all, thank you Maria Grazia for inviting me to join you here on My Jane Austen Book Club. It’s a pleasure to be here and answer some of the original and challenging questions you’ve posed. I can tell at once that you’re a rather tough teacher!
 Do you really think so, Monica? Maybe my students will agree with you! Here we go, now. First question. You were a literature professor who tried to teach her students the love for reading, then you started writing.  Was writing your dream job or was it just an escape from a rather stressing career?
I had to laugh at this question. Yes, teaching is a stressful career, far more stressful than people credit. Teachers are the unsung heroes of society. But I wish things had been that cut and dry. My road to writing meandered through training to be an acupuncturist, then the recognition (bells finally ringing) that I’ve really always wanted to write, and it was about time I got round to doing it. Certainly, writing is my dream job, but it took me a long time to discover the fact. Having found it, of course, I would have a terrible time giving it up, because writing is truly addictive. 

This is something I must ask. Did you have any secret strategy in coping with many students’ refusal for engaging activities such as reading novels?
You’re addressing a question that was close to my heart as I’ve always been very text-oriented, and I did my best to reward students who’d actually done the reading. I had a very tricky strategy which involved not asking questions on tests or exams that could be gleaned from notes or class lectures. You could only answer if you’d read the book yourself. Coming up with these kinds of questions required inventiveness and strategic planning (one could almost say cunning), but in retrospect it was quite fun. I did earn the reputation for being a teacher who ‘made you do the reading,’ so probably students who didn’t want to do that avoided my classes. At university level students do have that choice.

 In your first book,  “An Improper Suitor”, you wrote a  Regency romance  with original characters. Then you turned to Austen-sequels, The Other Mr Darcy and The Darcy Cousins respectively with Caroline Bingley and Georgiana Darcy as their heroines. Can you tell us how you came to write these novels, the three of them? Did you carry out any special enquiry, study, research to get ready to portray the Regency society and propose JA-style witty prose?
A tremendous amount of research goes into writing a novel with a historical setting. In my case, years of reading Regencies, of reading about the period, and getting to know about everything from clothes to carriages and food was then supplemented with specifics I needed to do with the timeline of novel. I was careful to match external historic events with events in the characters’ lives. This usually involved specific research about things that were occurring on a particular day. For example, in The Darcy Cousins, I have a scene in which the characters row out to see Napoleon held as captive off the English shore. I read every account of it I could get hold of, and looked at paintings made of the scene before I felt comfortable enough to start writing. I was then able to provide simple details like the exact time that Napoleon appeared on deck and was seen by the characters. You’d be quite astonished at how research you may need for just a tiny detail. I’ve sometimes had to hold up my writing for several days because I needed to find out something that looks quite trivial, or something the reader may not even notice. Sad, but true. 

What is your favourite Austen heroine? Does she resemble you in anyway?
I don’t have one particular heroine I’m attached to because through my writing I’ve come to discover “hidden depths” to many of Jane Austen’s characters. I used to like Eliza best, but over time I’ve come to appreciate all Austen’s heroines, except for Fanny Price, I must admit.
Maybe it’s the rebel in me, but I can’t help feeling for some of the supposedly “bad girls” like Mary Crawford and Isabella Thorpe. I feel they’re given a raw deal. And of course, I liked Caroline Bingley enough to want to write her story. Caroline is really quite remarkable because she came from a trade background but was obviously holding her own in quite “elevated” company, and I always wonder, if Eliza hadn’t come along, would Darcy have married her? He fancied her well enough at the beginning – if you read the account of the Meryton dance that’s pretty clear -- and even much later on he invites her to Pemberley. It would be fun to write a ‘what if?’ novel along those lines.
Darcy is a recurrent name in your titles. Is he your favourite Austen hero? What makes him such a cult figure?
He’s a cult figure because Jane Austen created in him the prototype of the rich, powerful, unattainable man who succumbs to the charms of a relatively ordinary woman. He’s the embodiment of chivalry as well – he rides to the rescue (quite literally) of the heroine’s sister who has been abducted by an “evil knight” even though he has no real hope of winning her favor. Add to it a passion that we know is simmering behind that haughty exterior, and you’ve got a sizzling hero! 

As a mother with her children, you must be very proud of your “creatures”, your books. What is special to you in each of them?
People often compare women’s books with children. Do they do the same with men’s books? I don’t really feel they’re like children at all. Having said that, the act of creating a book never fails to amaze me because of all the things that humans are capable of, I think creating a book is one of the best. I must have a very skewed view of things, but I find it mind boggling to think that typing a series of letters over the course of two or three hundred blank pages produces living, breathing characters who mean something to complete strangers across the world. It’s absolutely fantastic that this can happen. In that sense, the act of creating a book is quite miraculous. As a writer it takes my breath away.
To answer your original question: each book is quite different. I enjoyed writing An Improper Suitor because it was a galloping, cheerful kind of novel, and it has some very interesting side characters. I loved The Darcy Cousins because it really made me laugh as I wrote it,  whereas The Other Mr Darcy was more intense, but it was fun seeing Robert Darcy slowly unravel Caroline Bingley’s defenses.

 I’m sure you’ve wondered why everything Austen seems to have such a warm popular  response among nowadays readers or viewers. What is the appeal of Regency to our world?
Part of the appeal at least is a matter of contrast. We live in a world where we’re bombarded by images, noises, smells and sensory messages competing constantly for our immediate attention. We rush around trying to accomplish a half-dozen things on impossibly short schedules.
In contrast, the Regency (as we perceive it) was an oasis of calm. The Regency was the final farewell to the rural feudal world where everything had a certain place and order, before the smoke of industrialization came and blew chaos into our lives, upsetting our social and ecological systems. In almost a literal way, seeing the Regency on-screen or reading about it is a breath of fresh air. If you look at Jane Austen adaptations, a lot of emphasis is placed on open green spaces, on being outside alone or with very few people around you, or, as in the famous ‘wet shirt’ scene, of communion with nature. Even the ballroom scenes, despite being crowded, are “redeemed” because of the orderly nature of the dancing. Order, an unhurried (and unharried) pace of life, and the pastoral – these are our idealized images of Jane Austen’s world, which is a large part of its appeal.
The same holds true of our concept of courtship, which was so much simpler when the rules were clear, and “honourable” gentleman still existed.
It’s a nostalgic view of a by-gone era, very much in the same flavour of the “retro” in which the past seems to offer a more manageable dose of life than the present.
But again, we have to remember that it’s Jane Austen who weaves this fairy tale for us, and her combination of hard-headed realism, wit, and elegant language is really the ultimate secret of her appeal.

Final task for you! Tweet-sized descriptions of your novels.

The Other Mr Darcy
 Ms Bingley falls apart at Darcy wedding, Robert Darcy witnesses & becomes nemesis. Ms B must shed inhibitions & learn to love.

The Darcy Cousins
Georgiana Darcy tries to be cool like cousin, but finds herself in competition for same man Can she learn to trust her instinct and steer out of trouble? 

Brilliant! That's all for now, Monica.Thank you so much for being my guest today. Till your next release. Enjoy  writing!
Now it's your turn, dear readers and friends! Leave your comments and e-mail addresses to enter the giveaway. Thanks to Sourcebooks and to Monica Fairview for this great chance!
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Wednesday 13 October 2010


Ana Maria, Adriana & Pollyana , co-founders of JASBRA
Meet Adriana Zardini. She is one  of the kindest and more active blogger buddies I've met online. We share many passions . First of all our love for Jane Austen's World. Adriana is the   founder of Jane Austen Society in Brazil (JASBRA),  and the  translator of Mansfield Park and Sense and Sensibility into Portuguese. I asked her to tell us about her love for Jane Austen...  Read her guestpost.

Adriana and Claudia
I read Austen for the first time in 1999 when I was taking a course about English Literatura (XIX Century) in the University here in Brazil (Federal University of Minas Gerais). I read Emma and as the movie with Gwyneth Paltrow was a great success I saw it too. I should confess that although I loved Jeremy Northam character I had my doubts about Gwyneth. I really don't know why I didn't like her as Emma. I saw other Emma's adaptations too (1972, 1997 and 2009) and the last one is my favorite!

In 2001 I went to New York, to study English at CUNY (The City University of New York) for 6 months. There I had a lot of time to read, so I found three Austen's books in the NY Public library shop (Emma, Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice). It was a fantastic time to meet Mr Darcy and Lizzy, The Dashwoods and re-read Emma again!
I soon fall in love with those books! But, it was in 2005 with Pride and Prejudice movie that I started talking and discussing about Jane to other people. The social network called Orkut was a success here in Brazil, and people started some communities about this movie. I meet lots of new friends there! We kept in contact since then, and in 2009 while we're in a café here in Belo Horizonte (my city) we decided to start a Jane Austen Society in Brazil. We took 2 months to prepare everything and had our 1st National Meeting with 15 people from all over Brazil!
 Since then Adriana has never stopped spreading the love for Jane Austen and her work and she's one of the most enthusiastic and active Janeites I know!

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Adriana occasionally writes on Jane Austen in Vermont and Jane Austen's World