Thursday, 6 January 2011


Mary Simonsen is the author of three novels with Austen tie-ins, Searching for Pemberley, The Perfect Bride for Mr. Darcy, and Anne Elliot, a New Beginning. She is also the author of a modern novel, The Second Date, Love Italian-American Style. She's my guest today to talk Jane Austen with me and to grant you the chance to win a copy of her new release, The Perfect Bride for Mr Darcy. Leave a comment and your e-mail address so that I can contact you, in the case you are the  winner. Enjoy my interview with Mary Simonsen and good luck! 

The giveaway is open only to readers in the US and Canada.

Mary: Thank you, Maria Grazia , for inviting me to spend the day with your readers.

MG: You are most welcome , Mary! Please, could you briefly tell us about your first encounter with Jane Austen?
Mary: I met Jane Austen as a senior in high school way back in 1969. Pride and Prejudice was assigned reading, and I loved the book so much that I went on an Austen marathon and read her other five books one after the other.

MG: Re-reading P&P as an adult, how much has your perspective on the novel changed?
Mary: When I first read P&P, I thought of it strictly as a romance. It was only after I read about Jane Austen that I realized that her intention was to examine the idiosyncracies of a neighborhood of about four and twenty families and the near mayhem caused by adding two single men of fortune into the mix. Because it was not a true romance, learning more about Austen’s intent enriched the novel for me because I could focus on characters other than Lizzy and Darcy.

MG: Since your novels  focus  on Mr Darcy , could you tell us what’s so very special about him to make him a romantic hero beyond time?
Mary: I think Darcy’s appeal is that he is not perfect. Better yet, he is a man capable of alteration. Because of Elizabeth’s rejection of his proposal, he recognizes his defects and makes the conscious decision to change his ways because he wants to be a man worthy of Elizabeth’s love. I had the same effect on my husband, except he didn’t have Darcy’s fortune. J

MG: Is your new novel The Perfect  Bride for Mr Darcy a continuation of Searching for Pemberley, your first novel? Can you tell us about it  with a twitter –sized review?
Mary: The Perfect Bride for Mr. Darcy is a stand alone novel. In brief, after Lizzy refuses Darcy’s hand at Hunsford Lodge, they both think that they will never get together. However, Anne De Bourgh, realizing that D&E are perfect for each other, sets a plan in motion. With Georgiana’s help, they come up with a scheme to bring the couple together again at Pemberley. It’s written with a light touch. No heavy lifting required. That’s about two tweets.

MG: You also re-wrote Persuasion in Anne Elliot, A New Beginning. What is new in this re-take of my favourite Austen novel?
Mary: Anne Elliot is a parody of Persuasion. Because I liked Anne so much, I wanted to empower her. After being declared a spinster by her family, Anne becomes a long-distance runner, and this gives her the confidence to do other things, including employing a Bath street urchin to help her find out what nefarious deeds Mr. Elliot is commiting as well as helping her sisters to reach their full potential. Although a comedy, the love story of Anne and Captain Wentworth is faithful to Austen’s novel.

MG: Captain Wentworth is also the Austen hero I prefer. Have you got a very favourite one, too, Mary?
Mary: My favorite is Captain Wentworth as well. I think I like him better than Darcy because he is a self-made man, i.e., he has a job. Secondly, he stayed true to Anne for eight very long years, and, thirdly, he wrote his famous letter. This is love in its purest form.

MG: Among the libertines or rakes in Austen, have you got one you would redeem and write a novel about?
Mary: I don’t know if Frank Churchill qualifies as a libertine, but he is the only one I think capable of reform. To put it another way, would I want my daughters to date any of these men? No!

MG: Surfing the Net, it seems that the interest in and love for everything Austen is growing and growing. How would you explain her success?
Mary: Austen is successful because her main characters are so well rounded as well as being grounded in reality. I can easily place myself in Lizzy, Elinor, or Anne’s shoes. I can be these characters. I think it helps that Austen wrote during the Regency Era with its gorgeous dresses, and what’s not to like about a man in tight breeches?

MG: Do you think the huge quantity of sequels, spin-offs, mash-ups and movie adaptations have brought more people to read JA’s novels or distracted them from reading the original source?
Mary: I think the adaptations, especially A&E’s 1995 six-hour series, did justice to Austen’s work. After seeing the movie or series, I would hope that people would want to read Austen because she is a master in the use of language and has a great wit. However, if people only know of Austen’s works through film and television that is fine too.

MG: You’ve got a personal blog,  Austen Inspired Fiction by Mary Simonsen, and you also collaborate with a new fantastic blog,  Austen Authors. What has the web added to your experience as a writer? Is it more an intruder, a distractor, or a helpful marketing system?
Mary: All of the above. I could not have written my novels without the web because I am dependent upon it for research, most especially when I was writing my historical novel, Searching for Pemberley. I would have sold fewer books without the internet’s amazing reach. But it is also a distraction. I will literally be in the middle of a paragraph and click on a news blog to see what’s happening in the country or read quirky things, like a sailboat made out of plastic bottles in Sydney Harbor. I can be like a dog who sees a squirrel go by. I’m off and running.

MG: What is it that JA didn’t write or finish writing and you would have loved reading, instead?
Mary: I would like to read a story about the eight missing years in Captain Wentworth’s life or a prequel to Sense and Sensibility. But I’m pretty content with the body of work that Austen left us.

MG: That's all for today,  Mary. I hope to meet you again here at My Jane Austen Book Club. I wish you and your new book great success in this new year.
Mary: Thanks again.

Now it's your turn! If you live in the US or in Canada, just leave a comment and your e-mail address. You might be the lucky winner of a copy of Mary Simonsen's  brand-new novel. Giveaway ends January 12th.


Mystica said...

Thanks for this interview but always fan fiction is with restrictions!!!!

Maria Grazia said...

I guess it can be very disappointing if you live in other parts of the world. But stay tuned, Mystica. Next week there will be a new giveaway open worldwide here on My JA Book Club.
The decision to open or not the giveaway internationally is not up to me, you know.

Alexa Adams said...

I've been looking forward to this book. Usually I rush to buy the new releases, but my reading is so backlogged right now that I'm not making any knew purchases until I get through the huge TBR pile on my desk, giving me the opportunity to enter the giveaway! Thanks for the interview ladies, and the giveaway opportunity! alexa(dot)adams96(at)gmail(dot)com

Maria Grazia said...

Why not, Alexa? Good Luck!

Linda said...

Very interesting interview. I loved the comment re. the distraction of the internet - a dog seeing a squirrel run by. I can identify with that. Would love to read this novel. Thanks for the giveaway.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I agree about the appeal of Mr. Darcy! Please enter me!

nbmars AT yahoo DOT com

Daniel and Katherine said...

Very enjoyable interview! I can't wait to read the book! Please enter me into the drawing.

Maria Grazia said...

@Daniel and Katherine
Could you, please, add an e-mail address where I can contact you in case of your winning the book?

Marcie said...

Thanks for the interview. I love the idea of Anne and Georgina scheming to get Elizabeth and Darcy together. Please enter me in the giveaway.

Margay Leah Justice said...

I love Jane Austen variations because I feel there was so much more to tell and she didn't have enough time to tell it!

Mary Simonsen said...

Hi Maria, Checking in from Arizona. Thank you for having me as a guest on your blog, and thanks to everyone for reading our interview. Good luck with the drawing!

Cassandra said...

Great post!

I'd like to enter:
My email address is:


Laurel Ann (Austenprose) said...

Great interview Maria. Don't enter me in the drawing, cuz I have a copy already, but I do recommend Mary's novels to others. Good luck everyone.

Ann Marie said...

I have recently discovered this wonderful word of Jane Austen lovers and authors. I would love the opportunity to win this book!

My email address is:


Amy C said...

I would love to read this novel.

ames318 at gmail dot com

Jessica M said...

This is a great interview, I'm definitely putting this one on my to-read list. I'd love a chance to win a copy. :)

jmartinez0415 [at] gmail [dot] com

terie said...

Congratulations on the new book.
Thanks for the insights in your interview.

Mary Simonsen said...

Thank you to all who read my post and commented. I wish you all good luck in the giveaway. It's been a pleasure visiting with Maria and her readers.

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed the interview. Your questions were intriguing and Mary's answers as always insightful. I have read her first two but not this one. I can hardly wait to read the latest. Each hits a different note of delight. Anne Elliot, A New Beginning is so humorous. Sometimes a person needs a lighter hearted read for a change. Captain Wentworth is my favorite hero also.

Anonymous said...

oops my e-mail address is schafsue at gmail dot come. sorry..just in case you know

karenk said...

a wonderful posting...thanks for the chance to read this fabulous novel :)

kmkuka at yahoo dot com

Onge said...

Sounds like an interesting book. I love Jane Austin and would love to read this version of Pride and Prejudice. Thanks for the giveaway!!

The Twisted Red LadyBug / Anda Alexandra said...

I agree totally! Captain Wentworth has written the most wonderful letter and we should raise him praises :) he is much better than Darcy :)

Unknown said...

It's probably way too late.... but I'd like to sign up :)
I love Pride and Prejudice and am looking for sequels/tie-ins hehe