I’d like to say a big thank you to Wendi Sotis for being our Ask the Author guest this month!
For those who have somehow missed Wendi’s impressive list of accomplishments, she is the author of Foundation of Love, Dreams and Expectations, Promises, All Hallow’s Eve, The Gypsy Blessing, The Keys for Love
Before I post Wendi’s answers, don’t forget to leave her a comment at the end of the post for a chance to win an e-book copy of Foundation of Love!!! Those of you who have asked questions already have their names in the pot, leave a comment for a chance to win, or if you asked a question, a second chance to win!
Anyway, on to the questions and answers!
Why do you write JAFF? What is it that draws you to Jane Austen’s work and characters?
Thanks for having me here, Leslie, and thank you to everyone who participated by asking questions!
What draws me in? I love the manners, language, and propriety of Regency times, though I don’t think I would have liked to have lived back then. Jane Austen has a “voice” that’s almost musical to me. How she weaves her romantic tale in with masked statements about society.
Why do I write JAFF? For years, I kept re-reading Jane Austen’s works, and I wanted more. One day, I searched online to see if there was a Jane Austen fan club, and found several JAFF forums. It was like a dream come true! I guess I had been reading a LOT of JAFF and started literally dreaming new storylines. I was going to jot them down in a plot-bunny thread on one of the forums, but I had always dreamed of becoming a writer, so I decided to write one of them myself.
You have triplets and a husband. When do you find time to write?
(J. Dawn King)
Hi, Joy. The kids catch every illness that’s going around, and in turn, I come down with it, too, so if I was working outside the house, I’d end up getting fired for taking too many sick days. I write pretty much every day instead. It’s something I can do from home and keep an eye on sick kids.
I used to get up at 4 a.m. to write before the kids woke up and write again after they went to bed. I don’t get up that early anymore, but I still do write after dinner instead of watching television. It’s been years since I knew what shows are on!
What I find the most difficult is when I’m interrupted. Switching gears from “living” inside one of my Regency stories to the real world doesn’t always work as quickly as they’d like. Someone will ask me a question, and I’ll just stare at them blankly for a minute as I my brain changes time periods! It’s a little easier with modern stories.
What do your children think of seeing Mom’s name in print?
(J. Dawn King)
At first, they were very excited about it, but with six books out, they’re kind of used to it now.
I have to say that Catherine is not very happy with Lady Catherine’s character, though 😉
Of all of Jane Austen’s characters, who do you identify with the most?
(J. Dawn King)
I’d like to be more like Elizabeth Bennet, of course, but I’d have to say my personality is naturally more like Jane Bennet or Anne Elliot. I think the two characters are very much alike.
Do you write with an outline or fly by the seat of you pants?
(J. Dawn King)
Although I really do try to write with an outline, the resulting story rarely ends up being anything like the original outline! I also tend to write while jumping around during the story, meaning I might write a scene at the beginning, then jump to a scene in the middle that connects to it somehow, and later fill in what happened in between. It makes posting a WIP to a forum rather difficult until a good part of the beginning is solid!
I do make an outline as I go to keep track of when things happened. That’s important since I don’t write consecutive scenes – I have to remember who knows what and when! Another reason is, for example, keeping track of all the drawings/photos in The Gypsy Blessing and Foundation of Love. I had to plan out what would happen before Elizabeth received the drawing or photo, but then I had to keep track when those things would actually happen.
We promise to keep your secret, which is your favorite time period to write? Regency? Modern? Future?
(J. Dawn King)
Do you have a preference on modern adaptations or regency?
Hi Joy and Dung. A double-shot question! I like to read all of them, that’s for sure. Up until recently, I had only written Regency, but I really enjoyed writing the modern stories, too. It’s actually more challenging for me to write modern, probably because I’m not as used to writing it. Keeping myself from writing Regency speech patterns in a modern story is very difficult! Most of the plot-bunnies I have on the back burner are modern, but I’m sure more Regency stories will pop into my head one of these days.
Wendy, you have such a variety of genres in your stories. Is there any one that you favor?
(Jen Red) (PS Hope you are staying healthy these days.)
Hi Jen. I think most of them have a bit mystery and suspense in them, or more than a bit, though there is paranormal in three, as well. Romance is first and foremost. I’d love to write a story set in the future, but that must be a tough genre to write. In All Hallow’s Eve, I had to come up with a different society that could work in the background of Regency society, but to predict what might happen in the future… people who do write this genre amaze me!
I’m good, thanks! It’s sweet of you to ask, Jen!
If you had Mary, Kitty, and Lydia as your three, what steps would you take to improve their character?
(J. Dawn King)
I think this is the hardest question of all, Joy! I did have Lydia change in Foundation of Love after her experience with Wickham. She had such a lackadaisical and selfish attitude toward her behavior that no matter who tried to tell her she was acting too wild, it didn’t help. Unfortunately, she needed an extreme situation to occur where she really could have lost everything before she could realize her behavior had been wrong.
Mary is usually more sensible in my stories than she was in the P&P movies, though I think they exaggerate her character from the book. When Kitty is in one of my stories (sometimes she isn’t,) as soon as she is separated from Lydia, she becomes a different person.
So in real life, if they were my children? (Thank goodness I don’t have to worry about having troublemakers as children in real life!) In modern times, I’d separate Lydia and Kitty, for sure! If they shared a room like my girls do, it would only lead to trouble. I’d get all three involved in activities they are interested in – after school clubs and activities, and encourage them to follow their own paths, but I’d also make sure they actually went there. My triplets were not allowed to be in the same classroom until they were in middle school, so they developed their own friends and interests. If I was their mom in the 19th century, I probably would have sent Lydia away to a very strict school. I think Kitty would have been okay at home once Lydia was gone.
The premises for your books are so intriguing. How do you come up with the concepts for your stories both modern and regency?
Hi again, Dung. The ideas often come from dreams… Yes, I dream in JAFF! Another way is when I get stuck on a story I’m writing, I often go searching the web for writing prompts. Sometimes I’ll put several prompts together and my imagination goes wild!
Fleshing out ideas usually comes to me while I’m doing mundane tasks, like folding laundry or waiting in line at the supermarket. The shower is a great place to “write.”
Once I sit down to actually get the ideas into the computer, the characters tend to take over and write the story themselves. I know it sounds strange, but it’s the way it works for me.
Did you have a particular basis in reality for All Hallow’s Eve? Was there a particular old religion or mythology that you used for inspiration?
Halloween was coming up, so I did some research into the history of it. I ended up getting lost in the research. I found it was based on ancient Celtic rituals and beliefs, some of which are practiced today by some people. Some of what is in All Hallow’s Eve is based on those traditions, and some I made up. The herbs mentioned in the book were really used at one time or are still used today for those purposes, some by people practicing Wicca but there are other groups as well. I did get creative with them. For example, some might be used as an oil, but I had the characters throw a dried herb into a fire. I tried to stay within European traditions, but I ended up using some Native American traditional uses for herbs as well when I couldn’t find one that suited my purposes.
Were you a fan of Dark Shadows? I kept thinking of Sandor and Magda throughout The Gypsy Blessing.
Hi Kneyda. Really? No, I never saw it – I had to look it up to see what you were talking about. Where have I been? This is right up my alley. I can’t believe I never heard of it before because I do love science fiction and paranormal. My husband got me into shows like Twilight Zone and Outer Limits when we first met.
I see it’s on Netflix, and I’m excited to order those disks. It’s a good thing they don’t stream it, or I’d be watching one right about now instead of answering your question! Thanks for the recommendation.
Out of all the stories you have written, all the scenes in each – what stands out as your favorite of all and why?
Oh my goodness, Sarah, that’s a tough one, but I’d have to say the Netherfield library scene in Promises is my favorite. I don’t know why, really, it was just so easy to write, but one of the most emotional for me to write. I still get teary-eyed every time I think of it.
My question is similar to Sarah’s…which story (not just scene, but story) you have written is your favorite and why?
I know it sounds like a cop-out, but I really do think my favorite is always the one I’m working on, Zoe.
Do you currently have a new tale in the works? If so, do you have any idea when we’ll be able to read it?
There’s a fabulous narrator, Veronica Leckie, recording All Hallow’s Eve right now. She’s the same lady who did The Gypsy Blessing audiobook. I’m not sure of an exact date, but All Hallow’s Eve audiobook should be out on Audible, Amazon, and iBooks before the fall.
And I’m actually writing three stories right now, Leslie. Whenever I get stuck on one story, I switch to another.
I’m not sure whether the titles will change, but I’m using these for now. I’m very bad at making up titles! I’ll probably ask readers to help me name them.
The JAFF Regency starts out with a revised version of a short story I wrote years ago, A Lesson Hard Learned, and continues from there. I wrote the short in answer to a question: What happened to Darcy to make him change? (Other than Elizabeth’s refusal, of course.) Darcy has a Scrooge-like dream and realizes Elizabeth was right about him. I’ll begin posting that soon at BeyondAusten.com.
The JAFF modern story, Safekeeping, is romantic suspense. I already posted the first chapter on BeyondAusten.com: A woman finds she’s alone in the world and recognizes nothing. Who is she? Why does she have this feeling of impending doom? And why does she feel so safe with a man she’s just met, Darcy Fitzwilliam?
I’m also almost ready to begin posting the non-JAFF Regency, tentatively called The Pact, on BeyondAusten.com. This started out as a JAFF story, but it ended up being so far from Elizabeth and Darcy, that I changed it to non-JAFF. I don’t have a blurb for this yet, but here goes: The Earl of Westbury is running out of money and makes a pact with two men whose lives he saved while in the army. He arranges the marriage of his son, Viscount Eagleton, and his grandson, James Aldridge, to the gentlemen’s daughters, who have generous dowries, Miss Victoria Sharrington and Miss Celia Colton. Mr. Colton’s only addition to the contract is to allow Celia the enjoyment of a normal season in London before being forced to marry, therefore the pact is kept a secret. Celia and James are close until stubbornly-independent James finds out about the arranged marriage.
Good luck with the giveaway to everyone who chimed in with questions and responses!
Thanks so much, Wendi! Now, don’t forget to comment!
Wendi is offering one e-book of Foundation of Love as a giveaway! Usual rules apply – Every person who submits a question gets one chance entered into the pot. If you submit a question and a comment on the final interview you get two chances!
I hope everyone will welcome Wendi with a question or two!
Final date for comments to be entered into the drawing Wednesday, 18 March.
Winner will be announced Friday, 20 March!