January 30, 2011

Author Interview: MARY LYDON SIMONSEN and a Giveaway

Today I am pleased to welcome Mary Lydon Simonsen, author of the newly published The Perfect Bride for Mr. Darcy, a romantic, fun and joyful tale of how our beloved Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet may have come together if Anne De Bourgh and Georgiana Darcy had played matchmaker, to Psychotic State Book Reviews. She has most graciously answered some questions about her writing, locations for novels and her advice for struggling writers.

Hi Mary, welcome to Psychotic State and thank you for taking the time to chat with me and my readers.

I recently finished The Perfect Bride for Mr. Darcy and I loved it! In such an oversaturated literary genre, what made you decide to pen your own version of a Darcy and Lizzy story?

MLS: First, may I say how pleased I am to be back at Psychotic State? I love your blog, and it’s the perfect place to wrap up my blog tour. Also, I am so glad you enjoyed my novel. I really value your opinion.  (Note from Lori:  Thank you, Mary!  I am always delighted to welcome you!)

Why did I write my novel? I wanted to tell the story of some of the minor characters in Pride and Prejudice and that is why I chose Anne De Bourgh and Georgiana Darcy to move Lizzy and Darcy’s story forward with humor and understanding.

With their current popularity, did you feel a higher expectation placed on you, taking such beloved characters and rewriting them?

MLS: Whenever you fiddle with Pride and Prejudice, there are always high expectations. I tried to stay faithful to the characters of Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy. On the other hand, we know so little about Mr. Darcy’s sister and cousin that it was like being given a blank slate. To mix metaphors, I took the ball and ran with it.

Speaking of Jane Austen, how long have you been a fan of her work?

MLS: I have been a fan since 1969 when I first read Pride and Prejudice in my high school English class. I enjoyed P&P so much that I went on a reading marathon and read all her completed novels, one after the other. We’ve been friends for more than 40 years now.

The Perfect Bride for Mr. Darcy included a wide assortment of characters from Pride and Prejudice, with wonderful creative license on your part with the character of Louisa Hurst in particular.

MLS: Poor Louisa. Always stuck in the company of her nasty sister, Caroline Bingley. I always thought of her as being a follower, and I thought I would cut her loose and give her some breathing space. Of course, the rascal, Lord Fitzwilliam, gives Louisa the confidence she needs to spread her wings.

Which character did you find most interesting to write and why?

MLS: My original character, Mr. Nesbitt, who becomes Jane’s suitor after she abandons all hope of ever marrying Charles Bingley. In the Northeast, where I grew up, he’s known as a nebbish—socially awkward—always saying and doing the right thing badly. 

Which character was the most difficult for you to express and why?

MLS: I always struggle with Jane. I have five sisters, and believe me, not one of them is as good as Jane Bennet. I know that Jane’s character is Jane Austen’s homage to her sister, Cassandra, but I would have found it difficult to live with someone that good. So I gave Jane an opportunity to vent her frustrations over the cards she had been dealt, and as one reader put it, “grew a backbone.”

How much research went into writing The Perfect Bride for Mr. Darcy?

MLS: About 40 years. Seriously, I have been reading about the Regency Era for that long. I try to be as faithful to that time as possible. However, dialog tended to be verbose, almost like they were making speeches. My dialog is a lot leaner.

What was the most difficult part of writing a Regency era novel?

MLS: You know that you are going to end up with anachronisms, and you usually find out about them as soon as your novel goes to press. Example: I found out too late that couturier was not a Regency term. I should have used modiste for dressmaker. Oh well!

Have you always wanted to be a writer?

MLS: I’ve tinkered with writing most of my life. I wrote neighborhood newsletters and book reviews and a detailed family history, but I don’t think I ever thought I would publish a novel. It didn’t happen until my mid fifties. (That’s a secret—don’t tell anyone.)

What advice would you consider most valuable to an unpublished author?

MLS: Remember why you started writing. Publishing is a difficult business, so concentrate on the pleasure your writing brings to you. If your story or book gets published, then that’s a bonus.

Besides Jane Austen, are there any other writers that inspire you or that you enjoy reading?

MLS: I love Charles Dickens and Larry McMurtry (Lonesome Dove), master storytellers. When I’m not writing, I read non-fiction, especially about World Wars I and II, but my favorite fiction genre is mysteries, especially those set in Britain, such as Charles Todd and Barbara Cleverly.

What is a normal day in the life of Mary Lydon Simonsen like?

MLS: First thing in the morning, I answer e-mails and fan letters (LOL), and then I get cracking on whatever I am working on for about three hours. Back at it after lunch because my granddaughter will be visiting me at 3:00 as she goes to school in my neighborhood. I may work a little bit at night, but I have gotten away from that as I was neglecting my husband. (I think he noticed I wasn’t in the room with him.) I do a lot of volunteer work through my church and that keeps me busy.

Can you tell us what you’re working on now? Any chance you may be working on another Austen-themed novel?

MLS: I just finished editing Mr. Darcy’s Bite for Sourcebooks (in stores in Fall 2011) which is a major departure for me. In it, Mr. Darcy is a werewolf. Despite the fur coat, our beloved Darcy maintains his humanity, but he must convince Elizabeth that a little thing like canine teeth should not stop them from being together. I also have a book out over the summer, in July, called A Wife for Mr. Darcy.

If you could sit down with Jane Austen and ask her what future she would have written for one of her characters, which character would it be?

MLS: Elinor Dashwood. I would like to think that she was happy with Edward Ferrars, but really, he was so wishy-washy. I could see him hesitating over taking out the trash. Did their marriage work out? I would have the same question for Marianne Dashwood. Did you really fall in love with Col. Brandon or was it gratitude? I anticipate hearing from Sense and Sensibility advocates.

And lastly, if you could use one word to describe The Perfect Bride for Mr. Darcy, what would it be?

MLS: Witty. Thanks, Lori. This has been such a pleasure. I hope to be back here in July with the release of A Wife for Mr. Darcy.

Thank you so much, Mary, for taking the time to answer my questions and I wish you the best of luck with The Perfect Bride for Mr. Darcy!  I also look forward to having you back in July with A Wife for Mr. Darcy.  


If the two of them weren’t so stubborn…

It’s obvious to Anne De Bourgh that the lovely Elizabeth Bennet is her brother’s perfect match, but Darcy’s pigheadedness and Elizabeth’s wounded pride are going to keep them both from the loves of their lives.

Georgiana Darcy agrees, and she readily agrees to help her accommodating cousin, Anne de Bourgh, do everything within their power to assure her beloved brother’s happiness.

But the path of matchmaking never runs smoothly…


Mary Lydon Simonsen’s first book, Searching for Pemberley, was acclaimed by Booklist, Publishers Weekly, and RT Book Reviews. She is well loved and widely followed on all the Jane Austen fanfic sites, with tens of thousands of hits and hundreds of reviews whenever she posts. She is also the author of two self-published works: Anne Elliot, A New Beginning and The Second Date, Love Italian-American Style. She lives in Arizona where she is working on her next Jane Austen novel. For more information, please visit http://marysimonsenfanfiction.blogspot.com/ and http://www.austenauthors.com/, where she regularly contributes.


Thanks to the lovely Danielle Jackson at Sourcebooks, I have not one but TWO copies of Mary Lydon Simonsen's The Perfect Bride for Mr. Darcy to give away!  This is a fantastic retelling of Mr. Darcy's and Lizzy's courtship and I encourage you to get lost in Mary's retelling of Pride and Prejudice.  Please check back with me this week as I post my review of this lovely book.

To enter, simply leave me a comment and let me know if you agree with Mary - - is Edward Ferrars wishy washy and would his marriage to Elinor have been successful?  And what about Marianne?  Did she really fall in love with Colonel Brandon or was it simple gratitude? 

Me personally, I am a hopeless romantic at heart and I believe that Marianne found a solid, mature and fulfilling love with Colonel Brandon and that the Brandon marriage was just as successful as the Edward-Elinor marriage (and perhaps Elinor and Edward even loosened up and got a little wild and crazy!)

U.S. and Canada only (my apologies to our overseas friends) and no P.O. boxes.


Contest to end on Sunday, February 13, 2011 at 11:59 P.M. PST and the lucky winners drawn by randomizer.org on Monday, February 14, 2011 (how fitting that it will be Valentine's Day!).

Good luck!


Mary Simonsen said...

Hi Lori, Thanks again for hosting me on your blog. I'll be popping in and out for the next few days. Just wanted to say hi.

Lori Johnston said...

Hi Mary! Many thanks for stopping by. I hope we get a lot of interesting comments on the book and the "big" Elinor/Edward and Marianne/Colonel Brandon debate.

Happy Monday!

Meredith said...

Lovely interview, Lori! Great questions! A sequel that focuses on Elinor and Edward is sorely need in the world of Austenesque literature. I feel more convinced of Marianne and Brandon's happiness than Elinor and Edward. Jane Odiwe wrote a very gratifying sequel that portrayed the marriage between Brandon and Marianne.

Unknown said...

This was a great review! I loved reading it, and am adding this book to my TBR list. Mary Lydon Simonsen sounded like she knows and loves her characters very well, which makes for great books. :)

As for your question: I think Elinor and Edward's marriage was successful, purely because they are both steadfast. As far as Marianne, I'm not too sure. I could see her as being just content with Colonel Brandon for most of her life, until it turns into love at some point down the road. I'm dying to know, now!

penelopelolohea {at} gmail {dot} com

Monica Fairview said...

Great interview, Mary. Sounds like a lovely story. I agree -- an Elinor and Edward sequel would be very appealing

Mary Simonsen said...

Isn't this interesting? Meredith and Penelope think the two S&S couples have different chances of being happily married, which is what makes these discussions so engaging. I'm not sure about either couple, but I know for Meredith, hope springs eternal. Jane Odiwe's book is Willoughby's Return.

Chelsea B. said...

I have a romantic's heart, so.... You know ;-)


Unknown said...

I agree that Edward is rather wishy-washy, but I think Elinor will help him overcome it. Edmund Bertram from Mansfield Park on the other hand... I think that he and Fanny Price are hopeless. :) I already won a copy of this book in a different giveaway, but I am entering again to see if I can get one for my local library, which unfortunately does not have a copy.

LisaS said...

Well, I guess this is a case of hope springs eternal for me. My very last chance to maybe win the book. =D If at first, or third or 5th you don't succeed... teeheehee

As for the couples in S&S it is so hard for me to say. I could easily be persuaded either way by a good continuation. Edward's actions in the book always bothered me. He shouldn't have been 'courting' Elinor in the first place. The only right thing he did was stand up to his mother regarding the very unfortunate secret engagement he made and yet to defend his relationship with Lucy??? Gaahhh! I'd like to think that with Elinor in his life he becomes a better man but...

As for Brandon and Marianne, I was never a fan of Marianne and her 'romantic' ways either. Again, my hope with this relationship is that with Brandon by her side she would become a more stable woman but...

So, in summary, I like Elinor and I like Brandon. I never really liked Edward or Marianne but because they ended up attached to Elinor and Brandon, I really want them to be better people.

All the best Mary and thank you!

slapshinyhappy at yahoo dot com

Anna said...

No need to enter me, as I already have the book. Just wanted to pop in and say I really enjoyed this interview. I love what Mary did to Jane and Louisa, and Mr. Nesbitt was a hoot!

I can't say anything about Elinor and Marianne because it's been 15 years or so since I last read S&S. Time for a re-read!

Mary Simonsen said...

Hi Chelsea and Anna. Thanks for stopping by. Congratulations, Leider Manchen. Hope you enjoy the book. Hey, Lisa. I agree with you on S&S. There's always a "but" with those two couples. I'm not sure that either experienced marital bliss. Good luck.

The Crazy Cat Lady said...

Well, first and foremost, if I don't win, I'm BUYING this BOOK!

Thank you for the opportunity to win ~ I'm quite positive I've just found a new favorite author.

I think Elinor and Edward will be happy in their marriage ~ Edward stands up to his mother and sister and shows a passion toward his wife that takes even her by surprise. Meekness isn't necessarily weakness.

Marianne, on the other hand, has to learn the hard way and has to grow to love her husband. I don't think she's over Willoughby at the end of the book. I wondered if Colonel Brandon was just the rebound. So many different avenues and paths that you could take, I'm positively chomping at the bit!

kjv1611as at gmail dot com

Mary Simonsen said...

Thank you, Amanda, for your comments about my book. I agree with you 100% about Marianne and Brandon. I think she is mistaking gratitude for love, but she could do worse, and nearly did. And you are right about Edward standing up to his mother and sister, but it has always bothered me that he kept Lucy on the hook for 4 years. I don't think he would ever have married her. :)

BRNTerri said...

Please enter me. I'd so love to read this.

brnterri at gmail dot com

skyla11377 said...

Loved the interview and The Perfect Bride For Mr. Darcy sounds fantastic. I have ALWAYS LOVED Mr. Darcy and Lizzy's story. I have ready several books that had continuing escapades between them both. I would so love to win a copy of Mary's book.

I didn't find Edward Ferrars wishy washy I actual found him to be a very noble individual. Now a days what person would honor a commitment they made so long ago. Even after he was stripped of his inheritance he still remain steadfast in his decision. To me that shows great depth of character. As for Marianne and Colonel Brandon I would like to believe that in time she realized how great Colonel Brandon was and realized not everthing has to have an over abundance of emotions put into it. Not everything in life would be as she has read it in books and I would hope that given time she realized that.


Kimberly said...

Edward is a bit wishy washy I think :) I like to believe that Marianne did fall in love with Colonel Brandon and it wasn't just out of gratitude. I'm a romantic :)
Kkrasowski at comcast dot net