November 30, 2012

Interview with Jane Odiwe

Today I am thrilled to welcome Jane Odiwe, author of the newly released Searching for Captain Wentworth as well as Mr. Darcy's Secret, Lydia Bennet's Story, Willoughby's Return and contributor to the short story anthology, Jane Austen Made Me Do It, back to Psychotic State Book Review. 

Hi Jane, welcome back to Psychotic State Book Reviews!  I think you have just claimed a record here for the number of author appearances!  J     
Thank you so much for inviting me, Lori-it’s lovely to be back!

You recently released Searching for Captain Wentworth - - which I loved!  I found an interesting comparison between your first novel and Jane Austen’s early work to Searching for Captain Wentworth and Persuasion.  Both seem to go from lighthearted, somewhat frothy fun to a more mature love, full of longing and heartache. 
What inspired you to pen a modern day take on an Austen classic?

I wanted to do something different from my usual sequel. I love time travel stories and I thought how much I’d love to be able to travel through time myself. When I’m in Bath, it’s easy to imagine how that might be possible and whenever I’m there, I spend a lot of time in the “past”! Writing a modern day love story appealed to me because I could create my own characters and watch them interact with those inspired by Jane Austen’s novel, Persuasion.
I adore time travel novels and themes.  One thing that I certainly appreciated with Searching for Captain Wentworth was the flawless interchanges between present day and the Regency era.  Was it difficult to write from both perspectives?

I did find it difficult at times - because I’m so used to writing in the past, I found writing the dialogue in modern times a bit of a challenge on occasion. I had to really “switch hats” and think about the way my heroine and hero would speak to one another in both the past and present. My daughter, Olivia, was an invaluable help to me in this - if something sounded too stiff or a little too Regency sounding in the present, she’d tell me!
In your previous books, you took characters that Jane Austen created and wrote new or extended stories for them.  In this book, you took Jane Austen herself and wrote about her, including a secret romance.  What led you to give Jane a dashing leading man of her own?

Well, I’m convinced she had one and I also think he was a leading man that no one (except Cassandra) knew about. Jane Austen always comes across as a very private person and I doubt that she would have shared such personal matters with anyone but her sister. I also think she couldn’t have written Persuasion without experiencing that kind of longing and passion herself. Recently, a turquoise ring that belonged to Jane came up for auction. I can’t help wondering if it was an engagement ring - if only it could speak! 
Did you base Sophie, Sophia, Charles and Josh on real people?  How much of yourself do you put into your characters?

There’s probably quite a lot of me in Sophie and Sophia - I lost my Mum like Sophie (and Anne Elliot) and it had a great impact on my life. Sophie’s reactions to situations are quite similar to my own, I think. I literally stood in her shoes when deciding how she might behave. I love the idea of knowing more about the generations of women before me. Sophia was created because of this fascination I have with the past. With Sophia, I spent a lot of time thinking about how exciting it would be to meet Jane Austen, but as in the case when you meet a “celebrity” they often turn out to be just like you with the same fears and hopes.  
Without giving too much away about Josh and Charles, I drew on the most inspiring man I know. That’s my husband. He has Josh’s charm and good manners, and Charles’s sweet nature and ambition. I also read as much as I could about Charles Austen who I think must have been a fun young man to know!

What was your favorite part of Searching for Captain Wentworth?  (either to write or to enjoy as a reader)
This is so hard because I enjoyed writing every bit. But, I always love writing ball scenes with lots of description. I loved imagining how Charles and Sophia would look and enjoyed thinking about their conversations as they danced together and fell in love.

I think Bath and Lyme Regis were more than just locales - - they were vital characters to Searching for Captain Wentworth.  I fell in love with them through your book!  You have very personal experiences with Bath.  Can you share them with us?
I am very lucky to live in Bath - it really is a wonderful city and has inspired my writing hugely. I can see Jane Austen’s garden of her Sydney Place house from my bedroom window and live close to the pub that inspired “The Pulteney Inn” where Sophie goes for lunch with Josh. The Holburne Museum is round the corner and a short walk takes you into Bath itself where places like the Pump Rooms, the Assembly Rooms and the Jane Austen Centre are just minutes away. You can literally follow in Jane’s footsteps with a copy of Persuasion or Northanger Abbey!

I like to visit Lyme whenever I can - I’ve been going there since I was a little girl! It is a beautiful part of the world and you can see all the places Jane describes in Persuasion. Walking along the Cobb reminds you of the wonderful scenes Jane wrote about and I really enjoyed adding some of my own. 
Many readers favor Pride and Prejudice from Jane Austen’s works.  What is it about Persuasion that speaks to you?

Persuasion is my favourite of Jane Austen’s novels. It wasn’t always - as a younger girl I loved Pride and Prejudice. As you say, Persuasion’s themes and tone probably reflect Jane Austen as a more mature writer and I think, for the first time, we glimpse a lot more of what is happening in the heroine’s head. We make more of a connection with Anne Elliot on an emotional level and this was something I wanted to explore in my own book whilst echoing some of the themes in Persuasion. The idea of a powerful love, lost for a while and then found again resonates with me on a personal level.  
So it would be Captain Wentworth for you over Mr. Darcy?

Yes, I love Frederick Wentworth - he’s worked hard for his success and his fabulous personal qualities are irresistible!
Your Austen inspired novels really are gems.  Can you pick a favorite out of them?

I don’t think I can. They’re like children - every one is a favourite in some way or other.
How much input do you have on your book titles?  How about the book covers?  (The cover for Searching for Captain Wentworth is truly gorgeous).

With the exception of Willoughby’s Return, my titles are all my own. Searching for Captain Wentworth had a few titles before I ‘found’ this one but it seemed to fit. My lovely husband designed the cover for this book - I am very grateful to Anne Rice who owns the beautiful portrait of Jane Austen for giving me permission to use it on the cover. 
If you could step into Sophie’s shoes and time travel back to Jane Austen’s time and spend an afternoon with her, what would you most like to ask her or know?

I’d like to know if she had ever experienced true love. I wouldn’t necessarily want to know with whom but would just be happy to know that during her short life she’d enjoyed the happiness that love brings.   
So what is next for Jane Odiwe?  Can we expect a new novel from you?

I’m working on something for Christmas-though I’m not sure whether it will be released in time for this Christmas-maybe next. I also have another book in the works - Time Travel with a Pride and Prejudice twist! 
Finally, if you had to describe Searching for Captain Wentworth in five words or less, what would you use?

Time Travel, Secrets, Enduring Love.
Thank you Jane for taking the time to sit down and chat with me and my readers.  Best of luck with the wonderfully charming Searching for Captain Wentworth!

Thank you very much, Lori, I’ve loved visiting you once more and answering all your delightful questions!
For more information on author Jane Odiwe, please visit her website or her blog.
To read my review of Searching for Captain Wentworth, please go here.
To purchase Searching for Captain Wentworth through Amazon, click here.  I am an Amazon affiliate.  If you make a purchase through my link, I will receive a small commission. 


Krista said...

Great Interview!!!!

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