I am happy and excited to welcome Mary Lydon Simonsen, author of the newly released A Wife for Mr. Darcy, back to Psychotic State Book Reviews today to discuss her newest release, what Austen hero tops her list and how she pens those wonderful variations.
Hi Mary! Welcome back to Psychotic State Book Reviews! I appreciate you being brave enough to come back for more chatting.
MLS: Thanks, Lori. It’s always a pleasure to visit with you.
You have a new book out - - A Wife for Mr. Darcy. This is your second reworking on the Darcy and Lizzy love story. What is it about them and their story that draws you in?
MLS: That’s easy: the main protagonists. I love Elizabeth Bennet’s personality, especially her confidence and sense of self-worth. At the time of Darcy’s first proposal, he was not worthy of her love, and so she refused him. That took courage. As for Mr. Darcy, who doesn’t like a man that has all his attributes, as well as being handsome and rich, and is capable of change? He probably even asks for directions.
You have tackled Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion. Any chance you will take on another work of Jane Austen’s?
MLS: I already have. I have written a short story parody of Sense and Sensibility: Elinor and Edward’s Plans for Lucy Steele (available for .99 on Nook and Kindle). In this short story, the two lovers plot how to get Lucy to break her engagement to Edward. I also have an Emma parody running around in my head. Thank you for asking.
How does one go from a legal secretary to working in special education to well respected author?
MLS: I did not go to college right out of high school. Instead, I went to work for a law firm and took college courses at night. After my kids went off to school, I wanted to go back to work, but be available to them, so I took a part-time job in the school they attended. When a position opened up in special ed, the principal offered it to me because he knew that both of my daughters had learning disabilities and that I had read a lot about how to help them. Given this opportunity, I was able to help others. As for being a well-respected author, ah, gee, thanks. I always wanted to write a novel, but the pieces didn’t fall into place until I was sidelined by knee surgery. I got bored and started to write something that had been swirling around in my head for years.
How did you get started on your first novel?
MLS: I had written a detailed family history about the town near Scranton, Pennsylvania where my parents grew up. It was a dirty coal-mining town and provided lots of interesting stories about my Irish ancestors. That history gave me an idea for my first novel, Searching for Pemberley. The main character, Maggie Joyce, was from this little town. Maggie eventually ended up in England right after World War II. When she learns that Austen may have based her characters on actual people, she sets out to find the real Mr. Darcy, and in doing so, finds her own.
How do you successfully marry being a wife, a mother and a writer?
MLS: Being a wife and writer is easy. My husband of thirty-five years, Paul, is an easy going fellow who encouraged me to write my first novel. We sit back-to-back in our home office and get along famously, especially since I make him lunch every day. I didn’t start writing until I was 55, but for some reason, it just comes. I have never had writer’s block. The mother part is a little more difficult. Because I work at home, I am accessible all the time, and that means that my older daughter and her two children (Kaelyn, 8, and Skyler, 6 months) will drop by at anytime. But I’ll be a writer forever; they will only be little for a short while.
Do you have any unusual routines or idiosyncrasies when writing?
MLS: I try to write in the morning because I’m pretty sure my grandchildren will be visiting in the afternoon. But I do most of my plotting while cleaning house, especially mopping the floor. I have this cool Velcro mop, and because my dog sheds enough to make a brand-new puppy every day, I have a lot to mop and a lot of time to mull over my next story. (I also have a Tuxedo cat, but she’s shy. She doesn’t like me to talk about her.)
What one “must have” item is a necessity for you when writing?
MLS: A comfortable chair. I can write for hours at a time, and I really need a good chair.
Writing can be a very lonely endeavor. How do you handle the solitude?
MLS: I don’t have solitude. My husband and I share an office. My daughter, who lives at home, is in and out, and my daughter and grandkids visit almost every day. Since I grew up sharing a bedroom with five sisters, I learned early on how to get things done with lots of people around.
What has been your own favorite work and why?
MLS: I really enjoyed writing Anne Elliot, A New Beginning. Because it is a parody, I was completely liberated from the usual restraints imposed on a writer by the societal norms of the Regency Era. In this story, Anne pairs up with a street urchin in Bath to uncover Mr. Elliot’s dark secrets. Great fun!
What inspires you to pick up the pen, so to speak, and put words to paper?
MLS: I love working with Austen’s characters. Although Jane Austen gave us great stories, she left enough details out of her novels so that authors, like me, can take her beloved characters and put them in different situations. There are endless possibilities.
For a fun and random question, please rank Austen’s heroes in order of your preference: Darcy, Charles Bingley, Edward Ferrars, Colonel Brandon, Edmund Bertram, Henry Tilney, Mr. Knightley and Frederick Wentworth. (If you’re feeling brave, explain your order!)
MLS: Captain Wentworth (I like that he has a job), Darcy, Mr. Knightley, Henry Tilney, Charles Bingley, Colonel Brandon, Edward Ferrars and Edmund Bertram.
And finally, what one word best describes A Wife for Mr. Darcy?
Thank you so much, Mary, for returning to me and my readers and best of luck with A Wife for Mr. Darcy!
MLS: Thank you for having me. This was fun.
For more information on author Mary Lydon Simonsen, please visit her blog.
To purchase A Wife for Mr. Darcy, please visit my Amazon store here.
A WIFE FOR MR. DARCY BY MARY LYDON SIMONSEN
When he meets Elizabeth, Mr. Darcy is already courting another young lady and now, in addition to his original qualms, Darcy has a real matter of honor to overcome...
So, readers, here is a question for you. Do you agree with Mary's assessment of Captain Wentworth being the quintessential Austen hero? If not, who tops your list?