Monday, 22 August 2011


Shannon Winslow, her two sons now grown, devotes much of her time to her diverse interests in music, literature, and the visual arts – writing claiming the lion’s share of her creative energies in recent years.
In addition to several short stories (one a finalist in the Jane Austen Made Me Do It contest), Ms. Winslow has authored three novels to date. The Darcys of Pemberley, a sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, is her debut. For Myself Alone, a stand-alone Austenesque story, will soon follow. Her most recent project is a contemporary “what if” novel entitled First of Second Chances.
Shannon lives with her husband in the log home they built in the countryside south of Seattle, where she writes and paints in her studio facing Mt. Rainier.

When I first sat down to write The Darcys of Pemberley six and a half years ago, I had no idea where it would lead me. I’ve since discovered that creating a sequel to a much-loved novel, such as Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice is quite an adventure – one filled with great delights … and some major challenges too.

The delights were easy for me to envision, and my main motivation for writing. I’d come to know and love the characters of Pride and Prejudice. By continuing the story, I’d be able to spend many more weeks and months in the company of the Bingleys, the Bennets, and all the others. I would get to vicariously enjoy the idyllic life of the three Darcys (don’t forget Georgiana) at that mythical paradise called Pemberley, and to guide them safely down the path ahead. How lovely! But, I soon realized that three hundred pages of happily-ever-aftering would not make a very interesting novel.

Every story needs conflict. So, despite my reluctance to torture such dear friends, I had to do it. Mr. Collins was an easy mark, and I thought Colonel Fitzwilliam’s situation offered possibilities. With very little encouragement from me, surely Wickham, Lydia, and Lady Catherine would be willing to stir up some trouble. And I could see that the courtship of Miss Georgiana might prove a rocky road. But what about Darcy and Elizabeth? Well, since no marriage is perfect, they would have to face some adversity in their relationship too. And all this had to take place within the boundaries left by Jane Austen in the final chapter of the original novel, for I was determined not to contradict anything she’d written.
 In addition to having to unravel the ending that my predecessor so carefully knit together, I faced a second unique challenge as a sequel writer: how to keep Pride and Prejudice fans happy. Janeites, myself included, feel passionately protective of her story and characters – our own vision of them, that is. The problem is we don’t all see things the same way. An example of this is the debate over who’s the true Darcy – Firth or Macfadyen (I’m solidly in the Colin Firth camp btw). More evidence: a sequel I read and personally disliked (“That’s not how Jane would have written it!”) has been praised to the skies by other Austen fans.
 With no way to please everybody else, I followed my own vision. The Darcys of Pemberley has been called a purist’s sequel to Pride and Prejudice. I take this as high praise indeed, since my intention was to be true to the original story, and to Jane Austen’s style, characters, and sensibilities. But another author’s interpretation may be just as valid; it will simply appeal to a different segment of Jane’s enormous fan-dom. There’s room for everybody – even zombies, I suppose. 

 After fine tuning the book, the final hurdle was getting it published. Not an easy task under the best of circumstances, let alone in tough financial times. One editor said, “It’s been done.” Another rejected it with, “I don’t like the third person narrative style.” (I would have loved to have been allowed to point out that Jane Austen always wrote in third person.) Fortunately, the NY publishing giants are no longer the only game in town. Technology has paved the way for small, independent publishers and e-publishers to enter the market, giving writers (and readers) more options. That’s what opened the door for me.
Producing The Darcys of Pemberley has not only been the hardest work I’ve ever done. It’s also been a labor of love and the most fun I’ve had in my life. The cherry on top is the satisfaction of now being able to share it with readers.
  Shannon Winslow

What is indispensable for a successful Austen sequel in your opinion? Answer this question and leave your e-mail address to enter this giveaway contest and have a chance to win a signed copy of The Darcys of Pemberley. The giveaway is open internationally and ends on 29th August. Good luck,  everyone! MG
Learn more at Shannon’s website  and blog , and follow her on Twitter (as JaneAustenSays) and on  Facebook.


buddyt said...

I think the main thing in writing a sequel is to stay true to the characters as Jane originally conceived them.

If the book is expanding on minor characters in the original, then of course the writer has more latitude but must then try to ensure that the settings and mores of the time are correctly reflected.

Introducing many new characters is always a problem because the book can then up as just another historical romance (although it might be a good one) and not a sequel.

Thanks for the giveaway.

Carol T

buddytho {at} gmail DOT com

Phoebe's Sisters said...

I think that the most important thing is to stay true to the character of the story that Jane Austen created and, of course, its characters. Also, you have to stay true to the feeling of the time you are describing. When writing an Austen sequel it is imperative that you should think as the person living in that time would, forgetting about your modern day views and attitudes. Of course, using the kind of language and, if possible, different allusions that people in Jane Austen's time and books used is also a must, in my opinion.

Great work, Shannon! I'd like to have a chance to read your book.

Elsina said...

I also think the worst thing would be anachronism. The writer should keep the norms, language and culture of the Regency period in mind. Thanks for the chance!


maribea said...

Dear Shannon,
I'm so happy you were successful and able to publish your book eventually. I agree with you: we cannot please everybody, so best thing is to please ourselves hoping that somebody else will follow!!!
I'd love to read your book.
(who is in love with Pride and Prejudice and Firth's Darcy)

Lúthien84 said...

I feel the any sequel authors should respect the original concept of the main characters and try not to use modern attitude or language. Stick to the time period and culture of that era.

If you have to change the whole idea, I think it best to write an author's note acknowledging what you have done so that fans don't need to raise a heckle and denounce your book.

Thanks for this opportunity. I hope I can win it. Congrats on your success, Shannon.


Gabriella said...

I think the most important thing should be an enormous love for Jane Austen and her work. Everythnig follows: the rispect for her charachters and the language, the historical accuracy and so on.

Petra said...

To write a JA sequel, I think, we should respect some necessary rules:
Love for Jane Austen, Respect for her works, Sense for historical details of her Era, Sensibility for her incomparable style and Live the characters and the events of her novels as they are real part of our life.

Thank you for this post! :)
I'll follow your blog!

Anonymous said...

I love these comments, and wanted to add my enthusiastic "yes!" to each one! I hope you will all find that I have respected the original author and story, and succeeded in capturing the feel of the time period in the use of JA style language.

Unknown said...

I think, that a sequel needs to stay true to Austen's characters and to have something of her voice.

marilyn said...

The sequel must be true to the original story with a similar setting. The characters must not change. There should always be a new conflict to drive the plot. Elaboration on secondary characters in the original story adds flavor.

Faith Hope and Cherrytea said...

for me it's accuracy of characterization and language/dialogue. nothing worse than reading contemporary colloquialisms in a JA sequel! or someone acting out of character...
blstef1 at mts dot net
great question!

Stiletto Storytime said...

For me it's accuracy and staying true to Austen through and through. I have to feel that their is a love and respect for Austen and her work by the author or else I am turned off from the very beginning. Also they have to know their stuff...any inaccuracies or character changes really can ruin everything for me.

stilettostorytime at gmail dot com

Anonymous said...

Yes, I myself am so put off by inaccuracies and character changes, especially imposing modern language and mores onto that time period. So, although I'm sure someone will still detect an error somewhere, I tried my best to avoid them. One preventive measure I took was to buy a giant dictionary that notes the origin of each word and the aproximate year it entered common use in the English language. For that reason, I had to give up the word "ubiquitous," even though it was perfect for a particular situation otherwise. A small sacrifice for the sake of a higher principle.

Literary Chanteuse said...

Character development is always good but the main core must stay the same as well as language and wit. If not I think the sequel will not be believable. Thanks for the giveaway!


Sissa said...

I think for a sequel to be a success it has to stay true to the characters. You almost have to ask "WWJAW" OR what would jane austen write? If it seems like something Jane would agree with than it's probably heading in the right direction. ^^


maribea said...

Dear Shannon,
what a great idea, the dictionary I mean. For Jane it was easy to say 'we're acquainted with', but it might be a bit tricky for us!!! And I like the fact you joined our debate here. I think I will have a look at your website soon. Congratulations again on your effort. We share a true love for Jane Austen.

Jennifer W said...

I can't wait to read the book!

Jo's Daughter said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Claudia said...

That's an hard question but I agree with the sentimental current: I believe that unbounded love for Jane is basic. Readers perceive the difference between those who write for job and those who write for passion (not only sequels). Thanks for sharing with us a little of your uneasy task for getting published, I bet it must have been disheartening. Thanks for the giveaway, the cover is so cute :)

Margay Leah Justice said...

The most essential thing for me is that the characters have to remain true to the way Jane Austen wrote them and the main characters (Darcy and Elizabeth, Jane and Bingley) have to end up together. They must have their happy ending!


Anonymous said...

I trust that my love of Jane Austen and her characters shines through, and I can promise a happy ending!

phastings said...

Keeping true to the characters personalties & mannerisms is probably a recipe for success. Although zombies and vampires...I wonder what Jane would think.

Amanda said...

Oh interesting! I think I agree with her that I love a good conflict - must totally be engaging and suck me in until the end.

Kris said...

It's hard to say when everyone has already put there two cents in. I believe sticking to what Jane Austen usually writes is vital but then again, there is only one Jane Austen and the best sequel involves an authors personal interpretation or in my opinion, every girl wants more mr Darcy! Firth Darcy, strong willed and utterly handsome! Give us Darcy, a conflict or two, a situation involving his pride (which is why we love him) and romance. And don't forget that happy ending :)

I'm already dying to read this now as I love my Austen sequels! All fabulous in their own way as they have these qualities I described without trying too hard to make a perfect sequel to make it look as though Jane wrote it

I love all your sequels! Please keep them coming as you are amazing writers!
I would especially love this book!


Rachel said...

Hello Grazia! At first congratulations for spreading Jane in the wholeworld! It's a marvelous action because so many people doesn't have the oportunity of having her new books. I think a sequel to be successful should be what we have in our romantic hearts like an Elizabeth and Darcy's successful wedding, Mary becoming a nice girl and marring,Georgiana too, Darcy as a lovely husband and things like these.:)))Now, let me tell you I'm Rachel and I do the blog(our) with Mahrian.Like we are 2 we don't know if we could enter this giveaway both of us.So she told me to enter this time and I'm loving your blog, dear. I've posted this on our sidebar too.Have a nice time! :))) Rachel