Thanks for everyone’s amazing questions!
I know no one wants to read my intro, so let’s get to it, shall we?
Which is your favorite Jane Austen novel and why?
I have a special place in my heart for Persuasion, actually. It was the first Austen novel I ever read, and while it isn’t as much fun as Pride & Prejudice or Emma, it feels like the most mature and thoughtful of her books. It’s the story of a woman, older and wiser, looking back on a time in her life and wondering if she could have done things differently. I think we can all relate to that!
Which Jane Austen character would your closest friends say you are most like?
(Joy Dawn King)
Mary Crawford, without a doubt.
Since you have published stories with both Darcy and Wentworth, which is your favorite Jane Austen hero? Or is it someone else?
(Joy Dawn King)
Wentworth and Darcy have got the brooding romantic hero down pretty well, but I think my heart might truly belong to Henry Tilney. The brooding would get old pretty quick, but a sense of humor is priceless.
To add to Joy’s question #7, which of Jane Austen’s heroines do you prefer….Anne or Elizabeth or another and why?
I love Anne Elliot, I relate to her, but Elizabeth Bennet’s wit and intelligence put her a cut above the company. She’s the girl you want to hang out with!
If Mrs. Bennet arranged a blind date for you with Mr. Collins, what would you do?
(Joy Dawn King)
Order the most expensive thing on the menu.
Who is your favorite Jane Austen villain and why?
Emma Woodhouse! I know Emma is technically a heroine BUT she exudes this cluelessness (see??) that only comes from excessive privilege. She means well, but that only seems to make things worse.
If you could rehabilitate a character in P&P in a re-telling, who would it be & why?
That’s a tough one, because there’s a lot of potential there. I think it would be fun to have a good Wickham for a change, but it would almost have to be a parody similar to the Sherlock Holmes movie “Without A Clue,” where Holmes is sort of this bumbling goofball in the spotlight and Watson is quietly solving all the crimes. It would be incredibly funny to play up Darcy’s ineptness and have Wickham playing the straight man guiding him along. Hey maybe I’m on to something here…
Do you have a special place and time to write?
I used to write better in the early mornings, but lately it’s whatever time I can grab. I have a hard time writing at home because there’s always things to be done and Netflix is just right there. So I try to make it a point to sit in a coffeeshop for at least an hour a day and get as much writing in as I can. I have a few here in Portland that I love, The Happy Sparrow and the Nectar Cafe, where I wrote maybe the last third of Longbourn’s Songbird.
When your characters are uncooperative what do you do to get through those rough patches….walk, garden, etc?
I have a couple of things I do. First, I start doing housework. When my hands are busy my mind can wander, and sometimes the solution will just appear. Walking is always good. There are some fabulous parks here and it’s good just to clear out the cobwebs. Also, when you go out in public like that there is the added benefit of watching people interact. Real life feeds fiction. A stranger on the bus might speak or gesture in such a way that will have me racing home to add that little detail to a character. All you need to start a fire is a couple of sparks.
I’ve read so many great reviews for your novel. What inspired you to write a modern day version of P&P?
Thanks Dung! I think it was reading so many other great fanfics that made me want to give it a whirl. I don’t think I ever considered writing Regency, because at the time I knew absolutely nothing about the time period. Plus, the best part about fanfic is the What If? I’ve read some incredible modern takes on Austen, so I thought I’d throw my hat into the ring as well.
In Longbourn’s Songbird, what drew you to place your story in Post WWII America?
Before I started writing, my dad sent me a bunch of old family photos he’d scanned, quite a few of my grandmother and her brothers. It got me thinking about what it must have been like to live in that time and place, and how would someone like Elizabeth Bennet have fared? There were some thematic parallels between that time in our country and Jane Austen’s time–the war, the rules of society, etc. People tend to overlook the fact that, like Jane Austen’s time, there was also a lot of social injustice happening.
If Longbourn’s Songbird was a movie, who would you want to play your main characters?
(Joy Dawn King)
Well I did get into this some on my blog tour. Elizabeth would be a difficult casting for me because she was largely inspired by young Hedy Lamarr, but I’ve since seen Star Wars: The Force Awakens and I have to say that Daisy Ridley would be amazing. She comes across as very earnest and sincere, and I think I loved her instantly. Jennifer Lawrence would be lovely as Jane, I think, and she’s already a southern girl so she’s got that going for her. Darcy…well, I wrote Darcy as Sam Reid (just pretend his hair is dark) but since I’ve seen In Secret I have to say Oscar Isaac would make a phenomenal Darcy. He’s got so much charisma and those eyes! Okay, so he isn’t tall, but he’s incredibly dreamy.
Richard has only ever been Tom Mison to me. I got the chance to meet him at a convention back in September and told him how he inspired one of my main characters and he was very sweet about it. Can you believe he’s even more gorgeous in person that he is on television? For Bingley I would say Taron Egerton, because he could be very funny in one second and very intense the next. The divine Tatiana Maslany would be Anne and Felicity Jones would make a great Charlotte. Not that I’ve given this very much thought!
Are you a bird lover?
(Joy Dawn King)
Oh boy, I’ve been dreading this question. Actually, I am fine with smaller birds in the wild. I have a lot of bizarre allergies and one of them is feathers, or birds, I’ve never figured out which, but I can’t be in a house where birds are kept as pets. Aside from the smaller ones, I have a deep mistrust and fear around birds of prey. Any kind of raptor gives me the creeps!
Why did you move the action to South Carolina? I’ve definitely got to read this … from my cozy house in South Carolina! And with all the good reviews, I’m looking forward to reading it!
Thanks Janis, I hope you enjoy it! I grew up in a very small town in South Carolina, so it was very easy for me to picture it as Meryton. I don’t think my hometown has changed much since 1948! South Carolina is such a strange place to be from if you live anywhere else in the world. I love it, but I fear it. It’s beautiful and wild but also ugly and in many places stuck in the past. I have so many conflicting feelings about it. I wanted to capture it’s warmth and hospitality without excusing it’s faults. I hope I did that!
I know you miss boiled peanuts and other specific things from the South, and a pilgrimage back there helped you with “Longbourn’s Songbird.” That’s great, because the voice in the novel is very clear. Do you think you could do something similar for other places you’ve lived: capture the essence of the people and the geography?
Thanks Suzan! I suppose I DO run on about my love of boiled peanuts and other southern treats (Sweet Tea is the nectar of the Gods). I hope I’m able to capture the essence of other places I write about. In ‘Holiday Mix Tape’ I chose to set the story in Portland, because it can be a very moody atmosphere here, and I hope I managed to get some of that across despite being such a recent transplant. I’ve been working on a handful of other projects, two set in Minnesota where I lived for about ten years, so I think that’s still fresh enough in my mind to get that setting right, and of course The Colonel is set primarily in New York City. I’ve been planning to visit the city again and just get a feel for the sights, the sounds, the daily rhythm of life.
You’ve said writing sex scenes is difficult for you. Do you see this as something you need to push yourself to do? What you infer is often sufficient, even lovely! (Or not, if Caroline Bingley is in the room…) But I wonder how YOU feel about this, and if you see it as a failing (you shouldn’t).
Well, thanks for that, Linda! I don’t think “failing” is exactly right, I just always feel like it’s such a struggle to get it right without it being cliché. Also, there are words in the English language used to describe anatomy that I don’t think I could ever, ever use because I find them too funny. One of these days I’m just going to sit down and use them all to write the funniest sex scene ever, after a glass of wine or three. I have been working on building my confidence and I’m happy to say I think I’ve made some progress. I’ve written some scenes that I would even call downright smutty!
Do you sing to the radio when you are in the car?
(Joy Dawn King)
My husband has a fantastic voice and is really the car-singer between the two of us, but if it’s a song I really love I will belt it out. My voice? Not so fantastic. However, I love hip hop and can’t resist the urge to rap along with the radio. And yes, it is just as funny as you’re imagining it to be.
In the #Austenwatch events, you demonstrate one heck of a good wit. Have you considered writing a comedy? Perhaps a parody?
Oh, comedy is hard. I have to take my hat off to any and all of the JAFF authors whose books have made me laugh (Linda Beutler, Jessica Evans, KC Kahler, Pamela Aiden, Laura Sanchez) I would really love to write something comedic but it’s always difficult knowing what will land and what will sink like a lead balloon. I’ve considered collaborating with my brother, who does stand-up comedy from time to time and is one of the funniest people I know. I’m much better at being funny in the moment than I am writing comedy.
I first saw “Rhymes with Nerdy” when you celebrated little known women in science. What inspired the research? Do you have a background in science? How did you find these obscure people?
As much as I’d love to take credit for that article, it was written by a smart young writer named Spencer Seams (follow him on twitter @Matt_seams). We have a “stable” of talented writers over at Rhymes With Nerdy, and I give them a free hand to write about anything they want. I think the only thing I ever banned was a review of Ender’s Game because I didn’t want to do any favors for Orson Scott Card. There’s even a wonderful article there on the History of Fan Fiction, written by my friend Jo West.
Do you have any Regency stories up your sleeves just begging to be written?
(Joy Dawn King)
Not exactly. I do have something in the works that would best be called “Alternate Universe Regency.” I find that in order to write a story I have to relate to it in some way, or there has to be a fair amount of worldbuilding going on. While I love reading Regency romances, I don’t think I have the talent for writing them. But, bend the rules a little, throw in some magic and danger? That’s something I can do! I love Fantasy and Science Fiction, Horror and Mystery as well as Romance.
Longbourn’s Songbird was excellent. Are you planning to write another Pride and Prejudice variation?
Thank you, Carol! I always said One P&P variation and that’s it! But I’ve been working on a short that may turn into something longer.
A little bird (pls excuse the pun 😀 ) told me there’s more where that came from, and I’m eager to find out as much as possible about it. So Beau, is there anything you could share without giving the game away?
This is actually a funny story. I’d always planned for this book to be about Colonel Fitzwilliam, P&P told from his point of view, but it turned into a somewhat straightforward P&P retelling. My writing partner, Brooke West, told me that I had to write Longbourn’s Songbird for one reason — it’s meant to be a prequel to The Colonel. I did drop a few hints at the end of Longbourn’s Songbird that Richard’s tale doesn’t end there, and that has been a project I’ve been working on for a while now. I can’t say with any certainty how soon it will be finished, sadly, but I can give you a few morsels: Part of the book will focus on Richard’s grown son and one of his Darcy cousins, there are some chapters that are so sad even I don’t want to re-read them, and a few of the lingering questions from Songbird will get answered. Questions like, what was Richard doing in the years between 1945 and 1949?
Okay, so you’ve written another delightful P&P variation, and I’ve thanked you for the pleasure I received in reading it when it was released, now my big question is “What are you doing for me next!” Seriously, thanks for our pleasurable past, but what about our future? I–and lots of others–want another goodie soon, please.
(Betty Campbell Madden)
Thank you Betty! That means a lot. I’m hoping to make some more headway with The Colonel, and I mentioned there is a short I’m currently working on that I hope to start posting over at A Happy Assembly in another few months, it’s tentatively called Modern Love. I’ve also got 98% of an urban fantasy novel written, and a modern gothic romance, Blackthorn. The problem is that I’ve always written in fits & starts, jumping between projects, and sometimes it’s agonizingly slow. It took me six years to get Longbourn’s Songbird to a point where I felt comfortable submitting it.
If you had a chance to ask Jane Austen one question, what would it be?
(Joy Dawn King) BTW, great bangs. #JEALOUS
Thank you! I’ve actually thought about this before and I think the only question I would have for Jane would be “What are we having, the red or the white?”
A huge thank you to
for answering all of our questions about herself and her new book
Don’t forget about her short story included in the latest Meryton Press anthology,
Then Comes Winter
Now, Don’t Forget!
Beau North has a signed paperback of Longbourn’s Songbird to giveaway!
And the giveaway is open internationally!
Rules for the giveaway –
If you ask a question on this post, you get 1 chance in the drawing.
If you comment on the final interview, you get 1 chance in the drawing.
If you leave a question and a comment, you get 2 chances in the drawing!
Don’t forget to leave that comment.
You don’t want to miss out!
**Final date for comments is Wednesday, 27 January, 2016**