Tuesday 22 January 2019


Hello Soniah and welcome to My Jane Austen Book Club. Thanks for accepting my invitation! My first question for you is, when was your first encounter with Jane Austen and what was it like? How did the idea of writing Unmarriageable come to your mind?

Thank you so much for inviting me. When I was around fourteen years old, my Aunt Helen gifted me a gorgeous red and gold hardback copy of Pride and Prejudice. I remember skimming through it, mesmerized by the illustrations. I finally read it cover to cover when I was sixteen and promised myself then and there that I would do a retelling set in Pakistan. Growing up there were no novels in English set in Pakistan and so I’d just grown used to imaging everything I read terms of my miliue. I find it interesting that the desire to do a parellel retelling of Pride and Prejudice stayed with me versus any other book.   

Was it difficult to blend a story originally set in Regency England with a modern-day Pakistani context?

No and Yes. No beause Austen’s was a patriachal culture as is Pakistan’s to this day. I think one of the reasons Unmarriageable resonates so strongly with women everywhere is because they intuitively understand the constraints of living under ‘a man is more important and knows best.”  Also, the morals and manners of Regency England such as maintaining a good repuation and landing a great catch is still very much the expectation in Pakistan, although, thankfully, the world has opened up for Pakstani women on career options and divorce is no longer the great stigma is used to be.
Yes because mirroring some of the plot points was very challenging. For instance, Netherfield Park is a house the Bingelys rent and one which Jane Bennet stays at after she catches cold, and where a ball is thrown. In Unmarriagable I needed an equivalent setting, however a house did not make sense. Turning Netherfield Park into Unmarriageable’s multi event wedding, called NadirFiede, by  joining together the names of the couple getting married (Nadir Sheh and Fiede Fecker), was a huge bingo moment.

Thursday 3 January 2019


Thank you for having me as a guest, Maria Grazia!  In some ways, Darcy and Deception was one of my most challenging books to write.  I started it nearly two years ago and then set it aside when the plot wasn’t working out, but I kept thinking about.  This summer I figured out how to solve the biggest problem plaguing the story and recently finished it. 

I didn’t plan to write two Napoleonic War spy stories this year (the other is TheUnforgettable Mr. Darcy), but that’s how it worked out.  Fortunately, the research for one benefitted the other.  Despite the similarity of the espionage theme; however, the two books are quite different—with Darcy and Deception ending up as more of a mystery story.  I hope you enjoy the excerpt below!

Book Blurb

Returning home from Kent, Elizabeth Bennet is still distressed over Mr. Darcy’s insulting marriage proposal.  However, her attention is diverted by the local militia commander who asks her to observe Wickham, now suspected of being a French spy.  Pretending to be besotted with Wickham, Elizabeth accompanies the regiment when they relocate to Brighton. 
Darcy arrives at Longbourn with the intention of making amends to Elizabeth, only to discover that she is now at Brighton with Wickham.  Desperate to save her from the scoundrel, Darcy follows her to the seaside, where he hopes to woo her away from the other man.   
Deception piles on top of deception as Elizabeth attempts to carry out her mission without betraying confidences—or breaking Darcy’s heart.  However, the French plot runs deeper than she knows; soon she and Darcy are plunged into the confusing and dangerous world of international espionage.  Can Darcy and Elizabeth escape with their lives and their love intact?

Wednesday 2 January 2019


Evil Jane!

Giving you flowers or giving you the finger?

As a reader (okay, addict) of Austen fanfiction for over a decade I have, like many of you, consumed a lot of JAFF over the years, and have seen all sorts of wild liberties taken with the characters and storylines we love so dearly.
One of my favorite tropes in fanfiction is raising antagonists to Supervillain Status, and it’s been done with a lot of characters from Pride & Prejudice – Lady Catherine, Caroline Bingley, and George Wickham (the usual suspects) are often upgraded to evil masterminds with nefarious schemes against our dear Lizzy and Darcy. Even characters like Mr. Collins, Lydia Bennet, and Mrs. Bennet, who are more chaotic-neutral (or idiotic neutral?) than true evil, have taken their turn as villains, as have revered supporting characters like Mr. Bennet, Georgiana Darcy and Colonel Fitzwilliam. So why not the angelic Jane Bennet?