From the desk of Laurel Ann Nattress:
Please welcome Austenesque author Kara Louise today on her first stop on her blog tour for her new book, Only Mr. Darcy Will Do, a Pride and Prejudice variation due out today from Sourcebooks.
Her worst fears come true…
After her father’s death, Elizabeth Bennet goes to work as a governess. Little does she know the Willstones are social acquaintances of the Bingleys and the Darcys, and Elizabeth finds herself once again drawn into Mr. Darcy’s orbit. To make matters worse, Mrs. Willstone’s sister sets her sights on Mr. Darcy. With Elizabeth’s social status even lower than it was before, she knows she must abandon all hope of Darcy renewing his proposals, even as she begins to see him in a completely different light…
LAN: Hi Kara. Thanks for joining us today. Only Mr. Darcy Will Do is a new title to many, but some may recognize the plot from the description as your previously self-published Something Like Regret. Can you share with us its publishing history and if it has gone through a rewrite or any changes for this new edition?
KL: Thanks for inviting me! It’s a pleasure to be here with you.
I had just finished writing Something Like Regret and had self-published it when Sourcebooks contacted me and said they were now interested in my books. (They had previously turned them down.) They wanted to publish Pemberley’s Promise (which became Darcy’s Voyage) and Assumed Engagement, both variations. When I told them about Something Like Regret, they agreed to publish that one instead, after Darcy’s Voyage.
There are no major changes in the book. There are, of course, grammatical corrections. (I have some very bad habits!) I was also asked to shorten the last part of the book slightly. There is really only one little scene I removed, but basically the book is the same as it was originally published, except for the title, of course.
LAN: Your previous novel Darcy’s Voyage was released last September to much acclaim. That must have been very gratifying for you. It was also inspired by Pride and Prejudice. I find these variations both fascinating and perplexing. Can you explain what a variation is opposed to a retelling of a classic story?
KL: A variation changes some of the events and alters different aspects of the story whereas a retelling would keep all the main elements the same, with possibly inserting some scenes that weren’t covered in the original story.
In Darcy’s Voyage I changed the way Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy meet, by having them meet on a ship. The story eventually ‘merges’ with the events of Pride and Prejudice, but because of what happened prior to those events, they are quite different.
In Only Mr. Darcy Will Do, I’ve taken the liberty to begin after the proposal [Mr. Darcy to Elizabeth Bennet] at Hunsford. Although I refer to the events that took place earlier, I chose to begin the story the following Easter with the news that Mr. Bennet died the year before, preventing Elizabeth from taking her tour [to the Lake District] with her aunt and uncle Gardiner. In reading Only Mr. Darcy Will Do, it would be much more beneficial to have read and know the story of Pride and Prejudice. Darcy’s Voyage, however, is a complete story in itself. But I always hope these variations will lead readers to Jane Austen herself, if they haven’t already read her.
LAN: So, Mrs. Bennet’s worst nightmare comes true. Mr. Bennet dies and the estate is inherited by Mr. Collins and his wife Charlotte. Does she fret about living in the hedgerows??? This is such a great set up Kara. There are so many directions to go from here. How do you as a writer make these choices? Do you have it all plotted out in advance or do you let the characters and scenes just take over?
KL: Yes, I believe Mrs. Bennet’s fear of being thrown out of Longbourn was a driving force in wanting the girls to marry well (as well as the source of her insufferable nerves!). When I began writing this variation (which was about 8 years ago!), I wondered if there were any others out there with this premise. I discovered that Abigail Reynolds was writing one with a similar plot, but hers takes a completely different turn, and the two of us even talked about the fact that the books were similar in that Mr. Bennet has died and Elizabeth has become a governess.
When I said I began it 8 years ago, I actually set it aside because I wasn’t sure where I wanted to go with it. I had an inspiration for another story, wrote it, and then finally went back to finish it. I knew I wanted the family Elizabeth worked for to know Mr. Darcy and for her to suddenly begin hearing about him. I wanted Elizabeth to struggle with the ill feelings and prejudices she had toward him and the way in which she was beginning to see him, all the while knowing her station in life would not allow for him to renew his address.
Once I went back to finally finish the story, I have to admit I wasn’t sure how everything was going to play out. There were a couple directions I initially thought I would take, but as I got into the novel and developed some of the other characters, I realized I needed to do something different. Sometimes I’ve scratched large sections because they just don’t work. (Or save them to use in another story.)
I do have an idea where I am going in the story, but I don’t plot it out completely or make an outline. Sometimes I’ll write a later scene if it comes to me and I don’t want to lose it. And yes, sometimes the characters just take over and refuse to go somewhere and insist on going somewhere else!
LAN: You have also introduced new characters in your story. Can you tell us a bit about them? Do you have a favorite that you really enjoyed creating? How did Austen influence your choices in developing them?
KL: I do have a handful of new characters in this book. There are Mr. and Mrs. Willstone and their daughter Emily. Elizabeth is Emily’s governess and is very happy in her position. The Willstones treat her well and little Emily is a joy to work with. Mrs. Willstone’s sister, Rosalyn, is about Elizabeth’s age and when she comes for a visit, she and Elizabeth enjoy spending time together. To Elizabeth’s dismay, she comes to discover that Rosalyn has admired Mr. Darcy for a long time, and when they find out that Elizabeth spent time with him in Hertfordshire, Rosalyn cannot stop pressing her with information about him. She will talk of nothing and no one else, and Elizabeth fears that somehow she and her family might discover that her made her and offer of marriage and she refused it.
When they are invited to Pemberley for a couple weeks, we meet a few other new characters. Mr. Darcy’s cousin on his father’s side, Peter Hamilton, adds a little mischief and levity to the party. You will also meet the Goldsmiths, their children, and their governess. Mr. Goldsmith was a friend of Mr. Darcy’s from Oxford.
I think my favorite new character was Peter Hamilton. Although he is a little rough around the edges, he is kind-hearted.
In developing these characters, I tried to create ones that would interact well with and possibly cause a little tension and fun for the characters Austen created that we have come to dearly love.
LAN: What’s up next for you Kara? Are you working on a new project?
KL: I had really hoped to have a good answer for this question by the time my blog tour began, but I have not yet heard if Sourcebooks is going to publish any of my other self-published books. They have the option to pick them up, and I heard from my editor today that they are now planning the Spring 2012 release of books. I hope they will decide to pick up Assumed Engagement.
As for other projects, I have written one full chapter of a book based on another Jane Austen novel, more of a back story, but haven’t really had that lightning bolt of inspiration that will propel me to get writing. I have a general plot idea, a twist at the end, but not sure where the middle is going. Hopefully that will come together soon.
LAN: Now for a bit of fun. If you could be introduced to any of Jane Austen’s colorful heroes or villains, who would it be, and what penetrating question would you ask them?
KL: Of course I would love to meet the ‘real’ Mr. Darcy. I would really like to see if he lives up to all our expectations of him! I might ask him what he thought of all the literature being written about him 200 years after he was ‘born’ in the mind of Jane Austen.
Thanks again so much for allowing me this visit. It’s been fun!
Kara Louise is the author of several books based on Jane Austen’s novel, Pride and Prejudice. Darcy’s Voyage (2010) and Only Mr. Darcy Will Do (2011) were published by Sourcebooks and previously self-published as Pemberley’s Promise and Something Like Regret, respectively. Kara grew up in the San Fernando Valley, just north of Los Angeles, and moved to Kansas in 1991. She and her husband currently live in the country on 10 acres and are entertained by a dog, 6 cats, 3 horses, and 2 goats. Inspired by Jane Austen, in 2000 she began writing “what happened next” and “what if” stories based on her novel Pride and Prejudice. She has since written 6 novels inspired by the Austen classic, and may not be finished yet.
- Only Mr. Darcy Will Do, by Kara Louise
- Sourcebooks (March 1, 2011)
- Trade paperback & eBook (368) pages
- ISBN: 978-1402241031
- Genre: Austenesque, Historical Romance
- Read Christina’s review of Darcy’s Voyage
- Visit Kara Louise’s website
- Visit Kara Louise’s blog, Delightful Diversions from the Heart
Cover image, author interview, & author bio courtesy of Sourcebooks © 2011; text Laurel Ann Nattress © 2011, austenprose.com