January 30, 2011
Author Interview: MARY LYDON SIMONSEN and a Giveaway
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…
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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.
AND A GIVEAWAY!
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.
NO EMAIL ADDRESS WITH YOUR ENTRY = NO ENTRY!
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!).