Friday 26 December 2014


Sometimes the courage to face your greatest fears comes only when you've run out of ways to escape.

Hello Katherine and welcome back to My Jane Austen Book Club. Your Lizzy & Jane is a revisitation of two Austen heroines  in a present-day urban context. Can you tell us more about the Bennet sisters protagonists of your new novel?

Lizzy and Jane Hughes are a bit more antagonistic than the Bennet sisters. You always get the feeling in P&P that Lizzy and Jane Bennet have “each others backs” and always put the other first. These two have lost some of that, if they ever had it, and need to learn to see and love each other again. So the Lizzy & Jane reference is more how their mother saw them or the dream of what they can become rather than a reflection of who they are.

How much of their original personalities can we still recognize?

Ah… Probably not much at the beginning. Lizzy Hughes may have Lizzy Bennet’s “fine eyes” and sharp wit, but I’d hate to go up against Austen in those categories. At the end, you’ll see more. My sisters begin to understand each other and develop a more playful, loving relationship.

Why did you decide to have Lizzy be a talented chef?
 Food is so relational. I think food first entered the story as a reflection of my family life – and Lizzy working as a chef became an extension of that. We cook every Sunday – almost every day of the week, really. The kitchen is where my family connects, cooks, eats and shares best. It started when we lived in Ireland. We and another family got together every Sunday and cooked multi-course meals that took the whole day, post church, to prepare and enjoy. When we moved back to the States, we continued that tradition ourselves.

Monday 22 December 2014


Resolved to forget Elizabeth Bennet during a winter in London, Fitzwilliam Darcy writes a letter in bitterness of spirit. Frustrated by her growing obsession with the arrogant man, Elizabeth commits her thoughts to paper. But angry people are not always wise, and secret thoughts do not always remain secret. Compelled to face their selfishness and fears, their actions encourage those dearest to them to change as well.
December 10, 1811
Darcy House, London
8:30 am
Fitzwilliam Darcy tore through the contents of his desk drawer again. I must find it! He lifted every single piece of correspondence from his letter tray. His usual fastidious standards did not help today, as there seemed no hope of finding the object of his search. 
The letter was not on or in his desk, or among his personal files. He considered he may have burned it after all, but soon rejected the notion. His earlier drafts were crumpled and in the waste bin. Surely if he would have burned the final product, he would have burnt all the evidence. He could only face the truth and the likely consequences of his actions. The letter he had written to Miss Elizabeth Bennet the night before had vanished!

Monday 8 December 2014


I have a soft spot in my heart for historical fiction novels set in England during the Georgian and Regency eras. Why? There are so many reasons, but I’ll condense them down to eight:

1. I love stepping back in time.

Reading a novel set in the past is like discovering your own personal time machine. I love being immersed in all the sights, sounds, and smells of a time gone by, and experiencing, through the characters’ eyes, thoughts, and feelings, what it was like to live in another era. The Georgian and Regency eras are particularly appealing to me because it’s the time in which Jane Austen lived and wrote. Jane grew up during the Georgian era, which began in 1714 and spanned the reigns of the first four Hanoverian kings of Great Britain who were all named George. The Regency (which we more readily associate with Austen) was a brief sub-period of the Georgian era between 1811 and 1820, when King George III was deemed unfit to rule and his son, the Prince of Wales, ruled as his proxy as Prince Regent

It’s such fun to read about the way people lived then, and to spend time with them in their country houses, where even the poorest of the gentry class had servants to wait on them. Nobody in Austen’s novels is ever seen doing anything we’d recognize today as work. They ride horses, drive in carriages, play cards, play music, sing, read, sew, embroider, draw, paint, hunt, take long walks in the shrubbery, and dance at balls. Of course, it took servants to make all that leisure time possible—but what fun it is to lose ourselves in what seems like a lovely, fairy tale existence.

Thursday 4 December 2014


“Three or four families in a country village is the very thing to work on…”
-- Jane Austen’s advice to her niece Anna on writing novels

Ever since I penned my first multi-page story at the age of six, I knew I wanted to be an author. Always drawn to stories set in the past, I loved authors such as Louisa May Alcott and L.M. Montgomery as a girl, before I discovered Jane Austen as a teenager. I felt destined to pen similar stories of love and self-discovery, set in fascinating eras of history.

Despite writing throughout my younger years, I was in my twenties before I knuckled down to finish a book. After I completed my first full-length historical, I began to write a sequel. Featuring a jilted female minor character from the first book, I planned to have a vicar help her through her process of recovery, and have the two characters fall in love through her healing. The book never went anywhere – the heroine was weak and insipid and I soon lost steam. But the hero, the vicar, remained in the back of my mind.

The next book I wrote was a contemporary, and even through that process the vicar would not leave me alone. His character developed almost against my will. He kept telling me tales of his mercy missions in the seedy parts of London. He told me about how he was given a living in a small village, but that he would much rather be sailing the seas to adventures in exotic lands. I was moved by his compassion, his earnestness, and his heart. I wrote the opening pages of what would become “The Vagabond Vicar” as a shiny new idea while I was supposed to be focussing on editing and finishing the contemporary. I knew I had to find him a heroine worthy of his affections; one he would not be able to keep away from despite his ambitions.

Monday 1 December 2014


Monica Fairview is giving away one e-copy of MR. DARCY’S CHALLENGE (international) and one paperback copy (USA, UK or EU only). 

For a chance to win a copy, you need to leave a comment answering the question at the end of the excerpt. Remember we also need an e-mail address to contact you in case you are one of the winners! Deadline December 9th, 2014.

Meanwhile, to whet your appetite:

Book Blurb

In this humorous Pride and Prejudice Variation, Mr. Darcy is determined to win Elizabeth Bennet's hand in spite of her rejection and he has a strategy worked out. He will rescue Lydia Bennet from Wickham and will return to Longbourn to convince Elizabeth to marry him. But when a chance encounter prompts Darcy to propose once again to Elizabeth before he has rescued Lydia, his plans go horribly wrong. 

Broken hearted, disillusioned and bitterly regretting his impulsive action, Darcy sees no point in assisting Miss Bennet. After all, rescuing Lydia might save Elizabeth’s reputation, but why should he care when they have no future together? His code of gentlemanly conduct, however, demands that he fulfill the terms of his promise to her. Once again, Darcy finds himself faced with impossible choices: helping Elizabeth when she is certain to marry someone else, or holding onto his dignity by turning his back on the Bennets once and for all.