Are you ready for Abigail Reynolds!
Her answers to your questions are in!
A few questions were similar or the same so I combined two into one so she didn’t have to answer it twice. I hope that’s okay! 🙂
Have you always been a lover of romance or were you a closet romantic when younger?
(J. Dawn King)
I loved historical romance as a teen – mostly Tudor and earlier – and then went through a phase of modern romances but found they lacked something at the time because the heroines were always a secretary or a nurse. Fortunately that’s been changed!
What is it about Mr. Darcy that appeals to you? What about Elizabeth Bennet?(J. Dawn King)
I’m doing an entire lecture on this topic in June! What do I love about Darcy? He fell in love with Elizabeth because of her intelligence and wit, not her looks or figure, and he proved loyal in a crunch. Elizabeth? I love her wit and teasing combined with her warmth.
Did you like Mr. Darcy the first time you read/watched Pride and Prejudice? Did you have to overcome your own prejudice?
(J. Dawn King)
You know, I don’t remember. I read P&P for the first time when I was twelve or so and didn’t catch a lot of the characterization at the time, and by the time I was old enough to understand it, I already knew.
Which Bennet daughter would your Mom say you were most like when young?(J. Dawn King)
Mary. Bookish, quiet, and not quite there on social skills. 😉
If you could play a character in any of Austen’s writings in a new mini-series starring your favorite leading man, which character would it be and who is that leading man?
(J. Dawn King)
Help! I can’t do leading men! As for a character… well, I’d love to say Elizabeth Bennet, but I’m more a Charlotte than an Elizabeth. So I’ll go with Elinor from S&S. J
Abigail, you have written so many fabulous books. Does any one particular book stand out as a favorite? One of mine is Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy, the Last Man in the World, even though I prefer the audio cover.
Which of your own stories is your favorite?
(J. Dawn King)
Among my Regency books, I’d say it’s a tie between Mr. Darcy’s Obsession and Mr. Darcy’s Noble Connections, but my actual favorite is my modern, The Man Who Loved Pride & Prejudice. Readers often seem to like either To Conquer Mr. Darcy or Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy: The Last Man in the World best, so I don’t know what that says about me!
Jen, the audio cover is actually made from the original cover designed for the Sourcebooks edition, but at the last minute the CEO said she didn’t like it and had the new one made. A big mistake, to my mind! I loved the first one.
Love that you continue to write P&P stories, I just can’t get enough of Darcy & Elizabeth! What inspires you to write P&P stories?
I started writing them because I loved reading them and had run out of stories to read. This was back in 2001 when such a thing could still happen! The big thing is how much I love the characters. When I’m writing a book, the characters live in my head for months on end, so they have to be people I really like and can relate to. I’d go crazy if I had Emma living in my head!
Do you write from an outline or does it start with an idea and just flow?
(J. Dawn King)
When I consider a plot line, often a very vivid scene from it will jump into my mind, and that’s what motivates me to write the book. I tried to use outlines at the beginning, but learned that the characters will always hijack the story part way through and it’ll end up going somewhere else. So now I just have a rough idea of the first third or so, then wait to see what the characters plan from there.
Which do you enjoy writing more, modern or historical Austenesque tales?
And, will Alone with Mr. Darcy be coming out as an audiobook, as all of your others have?
Writing modern and Regency is so different it’s hard to compare them. I really love both, and I think being able to go back and forth helps keep writing feel fresh to me.
Alone with Mr. Darcy will indeed be an audiobook, probably sometime this summer. J
Hi Abigail. I’m a big admirer of your work and though my favourites of your titles are your historical variations of P&P I also really enjoyed your contemporary books. Do you have any plans to write any more contemporary novels?
Also, would you consider writing something historical based on one of Austen’s novels other than P&P?
Thanks, Ceri. I do plan to write more moderns, and I even have most of a book finished, but they’re on the back burner because at the moment I’m supporting my family with my writing. Much as I love my modern Woods Hole series, the books don’t sell well. Even many of my loyal Regency readers won’t try my moderns! The same, sadly, is true of non P&P stories. So many people ask for them, but then the sales don’t come through. I do hope to get back to my moderns, but for now I’m just grateful that I also love to write things that do sell!
I’m a huge fan of your work, both the historical variations and the contemporary series set in Woods Hole. Correct me if I’m wrong but since you write exclusively in the P&P variation genre for Regency setting, would you consider switching to other genres (sequels, retelling, prequels, etc)? Have you considered jumping into another Jane Austen’s novel such as Persuasion, Emma or S&S? Or do you consider her other stories complete that it does not give enough room to play around with ideas?
Somehow writing sequels never appealed to me, but The Darcys of Derbyshire is in some ways a prequel as well as a variation. I’ve considered a retelling, but I’m afraid I wouldn’t be able to stick to Jane Austen’s plot line the whole way. My characters have ideas of their own about what should happen!
I do have a secret yen to write a variation on Mansfield Park…
Do you have plans for any more books set in or around Woods Hole? It doesn’t even have to be Darcy related.
See above. J
Have you considered creating The Darcys of Derbyshire into full-length novel?
No, I haven’t. I wish it were longer, but the story fit just perfectly in novella size, and I didn’t want to add anything extraneous just to make it longer.
I am totally entertained by both your contemporary and Austen variations. I am a huge Austen fan as well, and often find it strange to see how upset some fans get over sex in Austen variations. I love reading it if it’s tastefully written. Do you feel that the sexual tension between Darcy and Elizabeth is something that Austen fans love to read about or do we want to go further and read about their lovemaking, undying love for each other?
Your question is a very good one. Clearly some readers love books with intimate scenes and some don’t. The question of why we can’t all co-exist happily, each reading the kind of books we like, and not judging each other’s taste is one that makes me want to bash my head against the wall, so I’d probably better stop here before I get myself in trouble! 😉
Abigail, I’m pleased you’ve agreed to this, and look forward to reading all the fun questions and responses! Darcy has a great deal of passion below the surface in your novels. Did reading of other Austen-inspired novels influence that persona? What other reasons caused this mental image that brought us all those steamy scenes?
I’ve always seen Darcy and Elizabeth as very passionate people with a certain disregard for some social rules. Not the big ones, just the little ones – women should always be chaperoned (unless they really want to take a long walk); single men should never write to an unmarried woman (unless it’s really important); a gentleman should not attempt to meet a woman privately while walking on an estate (unless he really, really wants to); gentlemen should never say things to ladies about admiring their figures (unless they’re Darcy). They don’t pitch all the rules out the window; they’re just both perfectly comfortable bending them when it suits them.
Elizabeth understands about passion. When she hears about Lydia’s elopement, she has a lot of questions about why she put her passions before her rationality, but she never asks why Lydia would want to do such a thing. She gets it why her sister would want to run away and sleep with Wickham, and that tells me she knows those feelings for herself.
And Jane Austen tells us Darcy and Elizabeth are passionate and physical, if we only know how to read what she says. Suppose she wanted to tell us Darcy kissed Elizabeth, but by the rules for a single lady writer, she couldn’t use the words kiss, touch, lips, embrace, any physical sensations, or anything else describing physical contact. Why, she’d have to say something like, “he expressed himself on the occasion as sensibly and as warmly as a man violently in love can be supposed to do.” Wait a minute, she did say that! Readers in Regency times would have understood the code words for physical action – code words like ‘not very fluently’ being used for a woman who always has a quick response ready. So try reading this paragraph from the second proposal again with my annotations:
Elizabeth, feeling all the more than common awkwardness and anxiety of his situation, now forced herself to speak; and immediately, though not very fluently [Elizabeth is always fluent; this is a clue that she didn’t use words], gave him to understand [she spoke before, so this has to be something other than speaking] that her sentiments had undergone so material a change, since the period to which he alluded, as to make her receive with gratitude and pleasure his present assurances. The happiness which this reply produced, was such as he had probably never felt before; and he expressed himself on the occasion as sensibly and as warmly as a man violently in love can be supposed to do. Had Elizabeth been able to encounter his eye [and why can she suddenly no longer encounter his eye? Hmm?Maybe because her face is pressed into his chest?], she might have seen how well the expression of heartfelt delight, diffused over his face, became him; but, though she could not look, she could listen, and he told her of feelings, which, in proving of what importance she was to him, made his affection every moment more valuable.
Or, to offer a quick translation: Elizabeth, feeling all the awkwardness of the situation, said, “Oh, no! My feelings are…” Too embarrassed to say more, she held out her hands to him. He didn’t need a second invitation and kissed her, then held her tight while he murmured words of love.
Your writing has influenced many current Austen-inspired writers, since when many of us got into reading JAFF, there were less than 100 books out there, and you had a good half-dozen, when it was rare for a writer to have published more than one. Now, hundreds are published each year. What differences do you see in the JAFF novels and readership in the last five or six years? How has that influenced your writing?
LOL, when I got into publishing, there were half a dozen books out there, and we wouldn’t have dreamed of a day when there could be a hundred! As far as the readership, it’s certainly grown dramatically with more books being published. As for the novels, I can’t say much about the difference because I can’t keep up with most of them anymore!
In most ways it hasn’t affected my writing process. I’m still trying to write the best book I can and always to improve my writing skills. The only big change is that now I run into writing problems from the pressure to conform to the ‘No Sex, We’re JAFFish’ school of thought. My Muse seriously objects to being told what to write or what not to write, and it definitely hinders my creativity when I have to consider the backlash if I let a story take its natural course. Sometimes it’s a non-issue when the book I’m writing wouldn’t have had sex scenes anyway, but when the characters and the Muse are pushing forward and I have to block them, it creates writer’s block and, IMHO, leads to an inferior book because I’m ignoring the true characterization.
Were you the originator of the steamy scene that was kissing only, that I called “The Kissing Challenge” on AHA?
I’m not quite sure what you’re thinking of, but there are a couple of scenes I wrote with the deliberate intent to show that a G-rated scene can be very hot. It was an exercise to show that the reason my sex scenes were evocative wasn’t because I was depicting sex, but because I was depicting a passionate relationship.
I started reading JAFF with your stories. I love them! Would you consider making a collection of them?
Since Sourcebooks has the rights to some of my books, so I could only do a collection of my White Soup Press books, which are pretty cheap to start out with. But if you think readers would like it, I’ll look into it!
Have you and the other authors consider a sequel to the Darcy Brothers project?
Yes, we’ve discussed a sequel. I’m hoping we’ll be able to talk about it more at Jane Austen Regency Week in June when all five of us will miraculously be not only in the same country, but the same place! Usually we have to cope with living in 3 different countries, 2 continents, and 4 different time zones!
What can I expect to add next to my row of books by Abigail Reynolds?
(Betty Campbell Madden)
I always get in trouble when I answer that question since my Muse can be quite unpredictable! But I can tell you I’m about ¼ of the way through the first draft, and in an ideal world, I’d hope to have it out sometime next winter.
What is your favorite place to visit in England that is Jane Austen related?
(J. Dawn King)
I love Jane Austen’s House Museum in Chawton and the Steventon church – both give me goosebumps. But in some ways I feel even closer to Jane when I’ve followed in her footsteps off the beaten JA tourist track, like when I walked from Rowlings House in Kent where she stayed with her brother along the footpaths she took to pay calls at Goodnestone Park, or when I visited Hertingfordbury, where Jane Austen stayed when she visited Hertfordshire and which may have been her model for Longbourn. Me, obsessed? Why, what makes you say that? 😉
If you were caught with Mr. Darcy in a snowstorm for a few days with only an onion, some dried apples, and assorted odds and ends, would you cook or would he?
(J. Dawn King)
Definitely me! If I have to eat it, I don’t want him cooking it!
How has stardom affected your kitty? Is she more demanding? Does she require a lady’s maid of her own? Is she a more refined eater? Just asking.
(J. Dawn King)
She has always known she’s a star! She’s actually quite undemanding, but does have her own dressing room, which used to be my walk-in closet but is now Snowdrop’s special room.
As for eating… well, Snowdrop likes food. She likes all food. She likes lots of it. We have 6 cats. Snowdrop weighs under 5 lbs. The next smallest is 9 lbs, and after that they’re in the 12-18 lb range. She eats 1/3 of the food we put out, and the other 50-odd lbs of cats split the other 2/3. But she does eat with an odd delicacy, like a bird pecking at food!
Don’t forget!!! Abigail is offering one e-book of The Darcy Brothers AND one e-book of Alone with Mr. Darcy for giveaways! We can have two winners this month! If you have an e-book of one of these marvellous titles, please let me know and I can omit you from that drawing. 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 has a question for Abigail!
Final date for comments to be entered into the drawing Wednesday, 20 May.
Winner will be announced Friday, 22 May!