Welcome back, Monica, and thanks a lot for accepting this interview. Here’s my first question: what inspired you to write your new Pride and Prejudice variation, Allow Me to Tell You? Was it something you read or saw?
The idea popped into my head one day when re-reading the section of Pride and Prejudice in Netherfield where Caroline Bingley praises Mr. Darcy for his letter-writing skills. I love this scene in the novel because Caroline is so transparent in her compliments. In a way, she is like Mr. Collins with his ‘little elegant compliments’!
Anyway, it got me thinking about Mr. Darcy’s famous letter to Elizabeth after she turns down his proposal. From there, I began to wonder what would happen if Darcy decided it would make more sense to propose to Elizabeth in a letter rather than in person. After all, his letter-writing skills are so wonderful, it makes perfect sense, right?
Of course not. In fact, I could not think of a worse way to propose! The question for me was, how would this change the story?
I had so much fun imagining how Elizabeth would react, I decided to sit down and write the first chapter at once.
What can the reader expect? Romance, comedy, drama, mystery, fantasy?
Originally, Allow Me was intended to be a short comic novella similar in style to Longbourn Entanglement. But while I wrote it, I was dealing with the terminal illness of a dear friend I’d known for forty years. As a result, Allow Me turned out less farcical than intended. It also became a full-length novel.
I would describe it as a sweet, light romance with comic elements. There are some very funny scenes, but the novel romantic in tone.
Is Mr. Darcy still the last man in the world whom Elizabeth could ever be prevailed on to marry? Without giving away too much, how does he win her favour?
Oh, yes. The proposal is abysmal!!! If anything, Elizabeth has even more reason to dislike him than in canon. At the beginning of Allow Me, Darcy is so sure that all he needs to do is hand Elizabeth the letter and she will swoon with delight!! That’s not what happens at all. Elizabeth doesn’t even get a chance to finish reading it. Mr. Collins discovers Darcy passing on a ‘love note’ and rushes to tell Lady Catherine. Of course, given the uproar that happens, Elizabeth can’t help blaming Darcy for putting her in such a difficult situation.
He wins her favor because he is prepared to sacrifice his own happiness for hers. I can’t say any more.
Is Lady Catherine De Bourgh there to make it hard for them to be together? Is she the antagonistin Allow Me To Tell You?
In the original Pride and Prejudice, Lady Catherine drives all the way to Longbourn when she finds out there is a possibility of Darcy marrying Elizabeth. She tries to intimidate Elizabeth, but Elizabeth refuses to back down. Lady Catherine really doesn’t have a way to control the situation.
In Allow Me to Tell You, Darcy makes the fatal mistake of writing a letter to an unmarried young lady. This is enough to ruin Elizabeth, and Lady Catherine has the evidence. She uses this to her advantage, threatening to ruin Elizabeth and the Bennet sisters if Darcy doesn’t marry Anne. Of course, Elizabeth is resentful. She didn’t want to marry Darcy in the first place, but now suddenly her future depends on Darcy marrying his cousin.
Out of curiosity, how do you figure Darcy out in your mind while writingabout him? Does he look more like Colin Firth or like Matthew McFadyen? Or is he even completely different?
This is a very loaded question, Maria! There are so many heated discussions about which Pride and Prejudicemovie is better. I really wouldn’t want to wade into the quagmire by choosing one or the other. The fact is, I enjoy both versions of Mr. Darcy. Colin Firth’s Mr. Darcy is the perfect image of the handsome, arrogant upper-class gentleman who is struggling to hide his roiling feelings under astiff, formal exterior. When he finally gets to smile, it’s like the sun coming out on a gloomy day. Matthew McFadyen’s Mr. Darcy is adorably vulnerable and shy. Who can possibly resist that stammering proposal of his, as the rain plasters down his hair, and trickles down his face in little rivulets?
At some point, though, as a writer, you need to move away from these two interpretations of Darcy’s character and find your own. When I first began writing Allow Me, I was watching Zen, a detective series set in Italy [coincidentally!] and starring Rufus Sewell as AurelioZen. I liked him a lot as Lord Melbourne in the series Victoria, so I had him in mindas Mr. Darcy while I was writing. I love how his emotions are understated, yetyou can see his intelligence working as he finds his way through difficult situations. He observes everyone and reaches his own conclusions. I can’t help thinking of Darcy as he observes Elizabeth.
In Allow Me to Tell You, Darcy knows he must tread a fine line if he is going to save Elizabeth and her sisters from being ruined. He has already made one major mistake. He cannot afford to make another. So he bides his time and prepares to deal with the situation as it develops,giving Elizabeth the chance to choose her own destiny.
Is your next Elizabeth-Darcy tale already in the works? Let us know as soon as it’s ready!
Yes, I’m working on the next two books of Mr. Darcy’s Magic at the moment. They were originally one novel, but as I got further into the writing, I realized there were two distinct stories and they both deserved to be developed fully. I’m aiming at the end of August for Book 3. For those of you who haven’t read the first two, the series is Pride and Prejudice with a magical twist. Elizabeth and Darcy are part of an Academy of Royal magicians fighting to save the Kingdom from an invasion by Napoleon.
The writing is going really well, and I can’t wait to get the book out.
Meanwhile, if you haven’t already heard about it, I teamed up with a group of other Austenesque authors to write a full-length Pride and Prejudice-inspired novel called Mr. Darcy and the Enchanted Library. This was available on our Magical Austen website for several months. I don’t know if you remember this, Maria, but I was part of a similar group project a while ago, The Darcy Brothers, which was very successful.
We are currently in the process of revising Mr. Darcy’s Enchantment, so it should be coming out this summer. If you didn’t read it when it was serialized, you’re in for a treat. I’m really excited to present it to our readers. It’s a delightful fairy-taletype of story in which Georgiana Darcy is dying of a curse. Elizabeth and Darcy set out on a quest to find a way to cure her. It involves a magical library [the title gives that part away] and some magical creatures. I think you’ll love it.
ABOUT THE BOOK
When Fitzwilliam Darcy makes a complete mess of his proposal by writing a letter, there is more at stake than his injured pride. Lady Catherine gets hold of the letter and threatens to ruin Elizabeth Bennet and her sisters if Darcy doesn’t marry his cousin Anne. What is Darcy to do, when Elizabeth blames him for the situation, and categorically refuses to marry him? He does not want to force her into a loveless marriage when his own actions led to this situation.
A solution presents itself when Colonel Fitzwilliam steps in and asks Elizabeth to marry him. Is it an offer she cannot refuse under the circumstances?
Or can Darcy find a way to undo the harm he has caused and earn Elizabeth’s love?
Allow Me to Tell You is a sweet, full-length Pride and Prejudice variation that follows Darcy and Elizabeth through their journey as they learn about each other and discover romance.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Author of Pride and Prejudice variations and Magical Austenesque fantasy, Monica Fairview has been publishing since 2009. In the past, she worked as a literature professor and an acupuncturist. Now she spends her life in Regency England, interacting with strong ladies in bonnets and handsome gentlemen in cravats and waistcoats. Some of them have magical talents.
Born in London, Monica lived in the USA for many years. She now resides close to Box Hill, where Jane Austen's Emma went for a picnic.
Monica loves to read until past midnight, chuckle, and visit historical places. Sometimes she enjoys doing nothing at all.