Please join us today in welcoming author Shannon Winslow on her book blog tour in celebration of the release of The Darcys of Pemberley, a new Pride and Prejudice sequel just published by Heather Ridge Arts.
What a thrill it is for me, a first-time author, to be kicking off the launch of The Darcys of Pemberley with a guest post on Austenprose! Thank you, Laurel Ann, for inviting me to share a little about my journey and about the book itself.
You might call me a “late bloomer.” That term certainly applies to my writing career and even to my acquaintance with Jane Austen, the latter becoming the inspiration for the former. Shame on my high school English teachers for never introducing me to the author of what is now unquestionably my favorite novel: Pride and Prejudice! Instead, I have an impulse buy at Costco about seven years ago – a certain video with the handsome face of Colin Firth on the front – to thank for it.
I was in love. No other way to explain it. And not just with Colin Firth. I loved the story of Pride and Prejudice, and soon all Jane Austen’s novels. I bought and watched all the associated videos. I reread all the books. But then what? I was still hungry for more Jane Austen.
Aha! I discovered a Pride and Prejudice sequel at the library, and another at the book store (I had no idea then that there were many more). Alas, the two sequels I found weren’t really what I was looking for after all. They didn’t satisfy me. They didn’t answer all my questions. What happens after the wedding, I wondered? How would Elizabeth and Darcy deal with the first major crisis in their marriage? Does Georgiana have a secret love … or a secret admirer? What trouble will Wickham get into next? Does Lady Catherine ever get her comeuppance? And perhaps most perplexing of all, how could Charlotte bear her life with Mr. Collins!
What I really wanted, of course, was a Pride and Prejudice sequel written by the original author. I wanted more time enjoying her wit, her writing style, and the delightful characters she created. So, what would Jane Austen have written in her sequel? She does give us some indication of how she imagined her characters’ lives unfold. I took my cue from her own words in the novel’s final chapter, and I sat down to write one day.
The first idea that came to me – I’m not sure why – was doing away with Mr. Collins. Now, I’m not a blood-thirsty, vindictive person by nature, and I would never plot someone’s demise in real life, but I’ll admit I had a great deal of fun doing it in fiction. I was hooked on writing from that moment. So you see, Mr. Collins’s death was not in vain; it furthered a noble cause, serving as the inspiration for my writing career and for The Darcys of Pemberley. In fact, I think he would have been gratified that, rather than fading away into obscurity, his death was memorialized centuries later in a novel and further expanded upon in a short story (Mr. Collins’s Last Supper).
Now I was not only in love with the story of Pride and Prejudice but also with writing. I researched the Regency period for accuracy. I immersed myself in the literature of the time to develop a feel for the language. Story possibilities continually played out in my head, and I could hardly wait to put them on the virtual paper of my computer screen. Once started, I lost all track of time. Housework began to suffer and dinner was often late on my writing days, but I was having the time of my life!
Nine months after its inception, the first completed draft of The Darcys of Pemberley was born. I was proud of it, and with all the blind partiality of a mother, I thought my first literary child was practically perfect. It was strong enough to attract the interest of an agent and editors even then but has since benefited from the refinement of countless rewrites (fortunately, I enjoy that part of the process as well). After years of hard work, I’m delighted that my “baby” is finally published and ready to meet the world.
One reviewer has described The Darcys of Pemberley as a good sequel for “purists.” I take that as high praise. My goal from the beginning was to continue Darcy and Elizabeth’s tale as I imagined the original author would have – faithful to her style, her sensibilities, and the wonderful characters she created. Although I don’t presume to rival the genius of Jane Austen, I hope I have in some measure done justice to her legacy.
Shannon Winslow, her two sons now grown, devotes much of her time to her diverse interests in music, literature, and the visual arts – writing claiming the lion’s share of her creative energies in recent years.
In addition to several short stories (one a finalist in the Jane Austen Made Me Do It contest), Ms. Winslow has authored three novels to date. The Darcys of Pemberley, a sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, is her debut. For Myself Alone, a stand-alone Austenesque story, will soon follow. Her most recent project is a contemporary “what if” novel entitled First of Second Chances.
Shannon lives with her husband in the log home they built in the countryside south of Seattle, where she writes and paints in her studio facing Mt. Rainier.
Enter a chance to win one of three copies of The Darcys of Pemberley by leaving a comment stating what intrigues you most about reading a Pride and Prejudice sequel, or which character in the original novel is your favorite, by midnight PT, Wednesday, August 24th, 2011. Winners to be announced on Thursday, August 25th, 2010. Shipment to US and Canadian addresses only. Good luck!
The Darcys of Pemberley: The Continuing Story of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, by Shannon Winslow
Heather Ridge Arts (2011)
Trade paperback (326) pages
© 2007 – 2011 Shannon Winslow, Austenprose