I have a confession to make. I usually organise the questions and email them to the author on Saturday morning. I have sent them out late, but never completely forgotten–until Saturday!
Fortunately, Joana copied all of your questions and answered them because she’s a star! Thank you so much, Joana!
Don’t forget to leave a comment after Joana’s interview! You could win an e-book
of one of Joana’s wonderful books!
Many thanks Leslie for the kind invite, and thanks everyone for the exciting questions, I had lots of fun answering them. So, without further ado…
Question for our dear author: In The Unthinkable Triangle, as well as many other works of JAFF, authors seem to love to make Darcy suffer, far more than we learn he suffers in canon. Why is that, do you suppose? What is it about Jane Austen’s hero that leads authors to torture him? (Linda Beutler)
Yes, some of us do delight in torturing him, Linda 🙂 You were so much kinder to him in ‘A Will of Iron’ (I loved that story!) In my case I think it’s largely because he starts off by being so sure of himself, so dismissive of everybody’s feelings but his own and so insulting in his first proposal. There’s no Hunsford proposal in ‘The Unthinkable Triangle’ – not from Darcy anyway – and in that particular case I felt he had it coming. He should have courted Elizabeth while he had the chance. He only has himself to blame if she should be snapped up by someone else, who is ready to act on his feelings and acknowledge her true worth. Besides, we have to torture someone, and in my opinion Darcy deserves it far more than Elizabeth. He is the one who has everything but humility. She, on the other hand, is already at a disadvantage because of her poor prospects, lack of fortune and embarrassing family members. I thought it would be unfair to give her the extra torment of unrequited love.
I would like to know when you first got interested in writing novels? Secondly when was it that you read your first Jane Austen novel? Which novel was it? And who is your favorite Jane Austen character? (MaryAnnN)
Writing has been my idea of fun ever since I was in my twenties, MaryAnn, maybe even earlier, but I’ve only started writing JAFF seven years ago. My first Jane Austen novel was ‘Pride and Prejudice’ and I read it when I was around 12, then re-read many times over the years. My favourite character, hands down, is Mr Darcy. There is something irresistible about the self-assured man who has his preconceptions altered and, seeing the error of his ways, is prepared to change for the woman he loves.
How accurate are the locations in the Falmouth Connection? Is there really a Falmouth in Cornwall? Google was no help! Thanks! (JerryT)
They are quite accurate, Jerry. I had lots of fun with old and new maps as I was plotting the locations. Yes, there is a Falmouth in Cornwall, not far from Lizard, its southernmost point. In the summer of 2014 there was a ‘Tall Ships’ regatta from Falmouth to Greenwich, and those gorgeous sailing ships were such a sight to see! I’ve posted some photos of them on ‘The Falmouth Connection’ Facebook page. I’ve also posted photos from Cotehele, the National Trust house that was the inspiration for Landennis Manor. The only artistic licence was the distance, Cotehele is in fact some 50 miles from Falmouth, not just 10.
Colonel Fitzwilliam is my favorite secondary character. I love to see him get more page time. Question: What drove you to put the colonel against Darcy for Elizabeth? For me it is an uncomfortable, yet intriguing idea. Thanks! (Becky C)
Colonel Fitzwilliam is my favourite secondary character too, Becky. Kind, intelligent, warm-hearted, with a great sense of humour and a knack for conversation, he is actually very much like Elizabeth, which was one of the reasons why I thought they’d be drawn to each other and get on really well. Certainly well enough for Elizabeth to mistake fondness for love.
I’ve begun to write ‘The Unthinkable Triangle’ a fair while ago, but for a very long time I was unsure about finishing it. Much as I enjoy writing love triangles, especially ones with no easy choice, I was very uncomfortable with imagining Darcy and Colonel Fitzwilliam as rivals. Had Darcy not lost enough already? Must he see his relationship with his closest friend threatened too?
Usually Colonel Fitzwilliam is the light-hearted companion, the plain-speaking friend who urges Darcy to follow his heart. It was very compelling to sound the depths of his character and see him as something other than a plot device that pushes Darcy’s courtship forward. And also see how both men would rise to the occasion – as rise they must – if their closeness is threatened, and act as honourably as we know they would.
But the main reason why I simply couldn’t abandon this scenario was that, while the colonel is fighting for his country, Elizabeth would be constantly thrown into Darcy’s path, so she would get to understand him without an almighty row and the Rosings letter. She would have plenty of opportunities to learn that Wickham’s accusations were nothing but lies, and that Darcy is in fact the most steadfast and honourable man of her acquaintance. Which of course compounds the difficulty of the love triangle, once she finally begins to see him for what he truly is, and understand the workings of her heart. As for the two gentlemen, I think their interaction is best described by a line in one of the reviews for ‘The Unthinkable Triangle’: ‘love conquers all, except the bonds of another love.’ Hopefully that makes this particular love triangle a little bit less daunting.
What, in particular, do you love about Jane Austen’s Mr. Darcy? (Joy King)
So many things, Joy! His unfailing sense of duty, his devotion to his nearest and dearest, his generosity and fairness, his beautiful grounds at Pemberley 😉 But above all I love the idea of a strong man made vulnerable through love, and the fact that he is willing to change for the love of his life.
Who is your second favorite Jane Austen hero? (Joy King)
Mr Knightley. I think post-reformation Darcy would be just like him.
Do you have a person you pattern your Darcy after (Firth/MacFadyen/James Bond)?
Colin Firth. Always and forever.
Who is your favorite Jane Austen heroine and why? (Joy King)
It has to be Elizabeth. She is clever, well-read, witty, full of vivacity and fire, but sufficiently flawed by her own pride and her prejudices to be believable and human, not just a fictional ‘picture of perfection’.
Which one of Mrs. Bennet’s daughters are you most like? Would your friends and family agree or would they choose another Bennet? (Joy King)
Not sure… Mary, maybe (without the sermonising), and a touch of Kitty. As for the second part of the question, I just went off to ask my husband and he said ‘Mmm, I don’t know… Mary?’ Aww, he knows me so well. And phew! Thank goodness he didn’t say I was like Mrs Bennet!
Do you practice kissing so you can write them so well? (I’m snickering here!) (Joy King)
Snickering too. No comment 😉 Big thanks though, I’m so glad you thought I wrote them well!!
I LOVE that your stories are fast paced and move along. Is your personal life like that as well? (Joy King)
Thanks! Yes, it often gets pretty crazy around here – with young children it can’t be helped – which is why I don’t manage to spend as much time on Facebook as I’d wish to. Plenty of time for that when they leave the nest, I suppose. But no swashbuckling gents or Cornish smugglers in day-to-day life, more’s the pity.
Do you outline your stories before you write or fly by the seat of your pants? (Joy King)
A bit of both. I do jot down the general direction I’d expect the story to take and as I go along I keep a calendar of events so that I don’t end up with, say, a five-month successful pregnancy, but there’s an awful lot of flying by the seat of my pants too. All my books have had some changes in the plot line, some major, some not.
Do you have a particular place and time scheduled for writing? (Joy King, Debbie Fortin)
I tend to write in the mornings, when the house is quiet. When it’s not so quiet I sometimes hide away for an hour or two. I’ve discovered a lovely spot, a bench on the green, not far from home, and I’ve written many scenes from my last two novels there. The bench bears the inscription ‘In memory of Major H. V. Rees’. I’m very grateful to the Major for letting me sit and dream on his bench, so if you come across Major Sir Henry Vernon-Rees in ‘The Unthinkable Triangle’, this is where the name came from.
What’s on the agenda for the next book? (Joy King)
Any hints on the next book that will be released? (Luthien84)
Not quite sure which of my projects will be finished first but, much as I said I’d rather not torture Elizabeth, I think in all fairness it’s her turn next.
How did you get interested in writing P&P variations? What is your background (do you have an English Literature Degree)? Have you written other fiction? (Susan F)
As many of us, the great incentive was P & P 1995. Having watched that exquisite adaptation, I was left wanting more. I discovered Republic of Pemberley and Derbyshire Writers Guild and, having read virtually all the variations available at the time, I was tempted to try my hand at writing my own. I posted ‘The Second Chance’ at DWG in an earlier form (back then it was called ‘Steady To His Purpose’) and wrote ‘From This Day Forward’ just for my own pleasure. Then, in 2012 Sandra Platt (Cassandra Grafton) introduced me to the world of self-publishing (thanks for the tips, the good times and the fun, Sandra) and the following year I started publishing my old books, followed by the new ones.
My fascination is probably odd, since my background has nothing to do with either history or literature, but rather with medicine, physiology, cardiology and clinical trials. Which is why there are medical references in all my books. You can take the woman out of the profession, but the old job out of the woman’s head – not so much. But these days I’m more of an expert in cupping and leeches than cardiology. As for other fiction, I’ve written two non-JAFF novels (one finished, one not). Not sure if they’ll ever be published, my heart’s in Georgian England and Austen novels now.
Just curious….Joana, which gives you more pleasure…reading or writing JA variations? (Pam Hunter)
Definitely both, Pam! If I’m on a roll with a new idea, I can’t set it aside. If I start reading a great variation, I can’t put it down. It’s always such a joy to find new favourites, this genre is full of delights!
Thanks Leslie for this post and Joana for the giveaway. I have all the other books and am still trying to win this one before I give in and buy it. I would like to know how you come up with all the great ideas and ask if perhaps the next one won’t have Darcy suffering so much please? (Glynis)
LOL Yes, you’re right, Glynis, Darcy has had more than his fair share of torture at my hands and I definitely should give him a break next time. As for the ideas, they come and some of them stay. The one for ‘The Unthinkable Triangle’ for instance simply wouldn’t go away, largely because it was an opportunity for Darcy and Elizabeth to spend A LOT of time together, little as Darcy enjoyed it to begin with. I try to think of scenarios that haven’t been done before and after a while this becomes quite a challenge since there are so many of us digging for gems in the same Jane Austen mine. But I don’t suppose it really matters if I hit upon an angle and then discover it’s been addressed already, as was the case with my latest novel.
A few years ago I came across this post that stayed with me: http://moreagreeablyengaged.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/painting-pictures-with-wordsand-linda.html
I wholeheartedly agree with Linda Wells and I think she put it beautifully when she compared JAFF authors with art students who paint from the same model. As she pointed out, although the model is the same, the finished products are as different as the artists, because authors are invariably influenced by their own experiences and views, and would add their own interpretations and their own touches of shadow and light.
I have all Joana’s books so please do not enter me in the give away. I do have a few questions though….When you write a story does inspiration come from a place you visited, such as Cornwall or do you visit a place that you believe would fit into the story? Do you have a specific place and time to write? When your muse decides to be uncooperative what do you do to get her cooperation again (walking, cleaning, listen to music, etc)? (Debbie Fortin)
I do get an inspiration from the places I visit, Debbie, especially from holidays in Derbyshire and Cornwall (many scenes snuck up on me there). But I also make a point of visiting places that would fit into the story, such as the lush gardens at Cotehele or some steep, dark and narrow Cornish lanes. I’ve also looked all over the place for a garden temple that would suit the scene where Elizabeth and Mr Darcy finally reach their understanding in ‘The Unthinkable Triangle’. In the end I found the temple at Cliveden near Windsor and the best setting for it at Chatsworth, so there was just one thing to be done: photo-shop! My best writing spots are at home and the bench I mentioned in response to Joy’s question, but when the muse just wouldn’t play ball I usually sit in the back garden to listen to the birds and the voices in my head as I ponder what the characters would do next.
After going thorough your five novels, I notice all your stories are set in Regency era. Do you have any plans to bring Jane Austen’s novel to modern times? You have written a P&P + Persuasion and P&P + S&S. What about combining P&P with Emma or NA or MP? (Luthien84)
I haven’t thought about writing a modern variation yet, Sylvia. I probably know more about 18-19th century courtship than about what 20-year-olds are up to these days, and I can write more convincingly about bonnets than iPads 🙂 But when the time comes to live vicariously through my nieces and my children then maybe I could dream up a modern twist. In the meantime I just enjoy other people’s modern variations, such as the last two I’ve read and enjoyed enormously: ‘Longbourn’s Songbird’ by Beau North and PN Stockwell’s ‘Enchantment Among The Bluebonnets’. As for combining P & P with other Austen novels, I’m still tempted to write a link to Emma, or maybe even one of the others. But of the three, Emma’s the greatest favourite.
I love how well you convey emotions in your books, Joana! As a writer, I’d like to ask: What motivates you to write? Do you have a special routine? As a reader, I’d like to know: Are you working on the next project? (The world is ready for more of your stories!) (Jennifer Joy)
Thanks for the lovely words, Jennifer Joy, they mean so much to me! I read and write JAFF because it makes me happy to think that there’s a red thread guiding us through our troubles towards our happiness and that, regardless of obstacles cruelly set before them, Elizabeth and Mr Darcy would always be together and all’s well with the world. I adored P & P 1995 and I don’t want the magic to end. Thanks to beautiful stories like yours and lots of others, hopefully it won’t for many years yet. I can’t say I have a special routine, I write whenever I can and when the mood strikes. I have three different projects in the pipeline, and I’ll just have to wait and see which one wants to be finished first.
I recently read “From this Day Forward – The Darcys of Pemberley” and there was a part that hinted to the reverse of “The Unthinkable Triangle”. Did that spark your idea for “The Unthinkable Triangle”? You have a wonderful way of including angst filled moments with swoon worthy one with Darcy and Elizabeth. What gives you the inspiration to write them? (Dung)
So glad you spotted that, Dung! Yes, that’s exactly what happened. There was a part in ‘From This Day Forward’ that made me think what if it were Darcy rather than his cousin who would seem to be at the losing end for a while. Thank you so much for the wonderful words about my writing, you’re so very kind! I’m inspired by Jane Austen’s perfect novels, the delightful P & P 1995 adaptation, the great JAFF works I’ve read over the years and the hope that love is what makes the world go round.
Thanks again for the warm welcome, Leslie, and hugs to you all for a wonderful time!
Thank you Joana!
Don’t forget that you can win
one of Joana’s books in e-book format!
One lucky winner will get to choose from:
From this Day Forward
The Falmouth Connection
The Second Chance
The Subsequent Proposal
The Unthinkable Triangle
That’s right! The winner can pick which of Joana’s wonderful books they want!
And the giveaway is open internationally!
So, get your questions in!
Rules for the giveaway –
If you asked a question, you already have 1 chance in the drawing.
If you comment on the final interview, you get 1 more chance in the drawing.
So, if you leave a question and a comment, you will get 2 chances in the drawing!
If you already own the book, please feel free to leave a comment. Authors love answering your questions and hearing from you!