Please join us today in welcoming author Juliet Archer on her blog tour in celebration of the release of Persuade Me, the second book in her Darcy & Friends contemporary series published today in the UK by Choc Lit.
I’m thrilled to be here at Austenprose – thank you, Laurel Ann, for inviting me and ‘hi’ to everyone out there!
By the time you read this, I’ll be at the annual Jane Austen Festival in Bath. My burning question is – will it rain, so that Captain Frederick Wentworth can offer me his umbrella? Because, weather permitting, I’m doing two guided walking tours of central Bath, visiting the places that Austen made famous in the original Persuasion and some additional ones that I’ve used in my contemporary version, Persuade Me. We’ll be going to Milsom Street (where the fictional Molland’s is located), the Pump Room, the Theatre Royal (I’ve substituted a play there for Austen’s concert at the Assembly Rooms), the Royal Crescent Hotel, and so on.
Which leads to another question: what inspired me to modernise Persuasion? I can give you the answer in two words – Captain Wentworth. Man of action, man in uniform, striding about the English countryside with a pierced soul and an almost broken heart – what more could we wish for, especially when he’s brought to life on the small screen by Ciarán Hinds or Rupert Penry Jones?
You see, although I have every intention of updating Pride & Prejudice, for the moment my focus is on Austen’s other novels. And I know there are plenty of readers who are looking for occasional distractions from Mr Darcy. I’ve already updated Emma (The Importance of Being Emma (2008)) and Persuasion – Northanger Abbey‘s next.
However, I reserve the right to ‘darcify’ a hero if I think he needs it. Take Mr Knightley – the man on the page, rather than the portrayals on film. Old enough (technically) to be the heroine’s father, lurking around for twenty-one years without any sign of interest in the opposite sex, then winning Emma over with the immortal line, ‘God knows, I have been a very indifferent lover’!
I wanted to keep Knightley’s essential character, of course; but he needed to have more obvious attractions for the modern reader – who may or may not know Austen’s original. So I gave my Knightley a makeover: cut the age difference between him and Emma; boosted his sex appeal by introducing a glamorous girlfriend; and, to justify Emma’s apparent inability to fancy him for most of the novel, fabricated an episode in their past, where he unthinkingly humiliated her in a big-brotherly fashion.
With Wentworth, on the other hand, it was simply a case of bringing him bang up to date. I suppose the modern equivalent of the Napoleonic Wars would have been Iraq or Afghanistan, but I gave my Dr Rick Wentworth a different career completely. Still sea-related – he’s a marine biologist – and one that takes him to the other side of the world from England: Australia, the only place where he can study those tiny, beautiful sea dragons in the wild. In Persuade Me, it’s his passion for marine conservation that’s brought him fame and fortune, thanks to the media’s fascination with hunky scientists.
After many years, Rick’s back in England – but only to promote his book and open his sister Sophie’s new garden centre. He has no plans to look up Anna Elliot, the girl who ditched him at the insistence of her disapproving family.
And then, unexpectedly, their paths cross …
Well, you know the rest! But this is Jane Austen for the 21stcentury, with fresh insights into the hearts and minds of her heroes. The same characters now have to cope with mobile phones, the Internet and far more liberated attitudes to social and sexual interaction. Yet some things never change: the vanity of Sir Walter Elliot, 8th Baronet; the wilfulness of Louisa Musgrove; Anna’s quiet longing for another life.
My publisher Choc Lit – ‘where the heroes are like chocolate – irresistible!’ – has 3 copies of Persuade Me to give away worldwide. To have a chance of winning, please leave a comment saying what you like, or dislike, most about Persuasion.
And I’d love to hear what you think of Persuade Me. Just drop me an email – firstname.lastname@example.org – or post a review on Amazon.
Thank you for listening – it’s been lovely ‘chatting’ with you!
Juliet Archer is a 19th-century mind in a 21st-century body. Actually, some days it’s the other way round. She’s on a mission to modernise all six of Jane Austen’s completed novels, in a series called ‘Darcy & Friends’.
Her debut novel was The Importance of Being Emma, inspired by Austen’s Emma and a desire to give Mr. Knightley a makeover. It was shortlisted for the 2009 Melissa Nathan Award for Comedy Romance. The second novel in the series, Persuade Me, will be published on 15th September, 2011, and she is currently writing the next retelling in the series, Northanger Nights.
Juliet was born and bred in North-East England and now lives in Hertfordshire, Pride & Prejudice country. Unlike Anne Elliot in Persuasion, she resisted well-meant advice and married young, before graduating from the University of Nottingham with a First in French and Russian. A member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, the Society of Authors and the Jane Austen Society, her non-writing career has spanned IT, acquisitions analysist, copy editing, marketing and project management, providing plenty of background for her novels.
Enter a chance to win one of three copies of Persuade Me by leaving a comment stating what you like or dislike most about Jane Austen’s original novel Persuasion by midnight PT, Wednesday, September 28th, 2011. Winners to be announced on Thursday, September 29th, 2010. International shipment. Good luck!
Persuade Me (Darcy & Friends 2), by Juliet Archer
Choc Lit (2011)
Trade paperback (416) pages
© 2007 – 2011 Juliet Archer, Austenprose