A new Austen-inspired novella is now available just in time for the holidays. Christmas with Mr. Darcy is a great present to Janeites, thanks to Austenesque author Victoria Connelly. Please help me welcome her today for her interview by either asking a question or by leaving a comment to qualify you for a chance of one of three copies available in a giveaway. The details of the contest are listed at the bottom of the post. Good luck to all.
LAN: I have greatly enjoyed your Austen Addicts series, A Weekend with Mr. Darcy, Dreaming of Mr. Darcy and Mr. Darcy Forever. You are definitely a fan of Jane Austen’s character Fitzwilliam Darcy. Your stories are contemporary. Was it a challenge to bring aspects of Austen’s nineteenth century hero to modern times?
VC: I think a hero is a hero now matter what century we’re in. We all admire the same characteristics in our heroes today as I’m sure they did in Jane Austen’s time which is why Mr. Darcy’s appeal has endured. He is strong and kind and willing to change for the woman he loves which is incredibly attractive. I tried to give my own hero Warwick (in A Weekend with Mr. Darcy) some of these features and, like Mr. Darcy, Warwick gets himself into the most terrible situations but he has a heart of gold and isn’t afraid to admit his mistakes to the woman he loves.
LAN: The holiday season is quickly approaching, and appropriately you have a new novella for Janeites to consume. Can you share with us your inspiration to write Christmas with Mr. Darcy?
VC: Last November, we moved house – leaving the London suburbs for rural Suffolk. We had a lot of delays with the house move and it was hard for me to focus on a long writing project. I also kept thinking about Christmas. I’ve always wanted to set a book at Christmas. I was also getting lots of lovely e-mails from readers of my Austen Addicts’ Trilogy wanting to know what happened next to their favourite characters. I was beginning to wonder the same thing too and the idea for a novella sequel – set during the Christmas holiday – seemed irresistible.
LAN: I understand that many of the characters from your Austen Addicts trilogy are included in Christmas with Mr. Darcy. Can you offer a brief sneak peek of the storyline and the characters for us?
VC: The story is set at Purley Hall in Hampshire where renowned actress, Dame Pamela Harcourt, is holding a special Jane Austen Christmas conference. All the main characters from the trilogy will be attending – Katherine and Warwick, Robyn and Dan, Adam, Kay and Gemma, and Sarah and Mia. Oh, and Mrs Soames! But, when a first edition of Pride and Prejudice goes missing, the fun and games are forgotten as the guests turn detective.
The novella also features a naughty brother and a marriage proposal but I can’t possibly say any more than that!
LAN: Who is your favorite Austen character (besides your obvious preference for Mr. Darcy), and have you included them in any of your novels? What intriguing or enchanting qualities do you admire? What quirks and foibles make them so frustrating or endearing?
VC: I absolutely adore Elizabeth Bennet for her liveliness, wit and loyalty. She is willing to defend her opinions even if they are wrong but she’s also able to apologise for her mistakes. She is a heroine for all time. I also love the liveliness of Marianne Dashwood, the naivete of Catherine Morland and the naughtiness of Henry Tilney. There are so many wonderful characters in Jane Austen’s books and they all feel like old friends. One thing that I absolutely love about Austen’s characters is that they’re far from perfect. That makes them seem so real.
LAN: Since I follow you on Facebook, I am often enchanted by your life in England with your talented husband who is a plein air painter. Besides sharing beautiful photos of your new cottage and the English countryside, you recently rescued 3 more ex-bat hens to add to your flock. My favorite is Little Flo. How are the girls and could you share any recent antics?
Little Flo in Mulberry Cottage garden soon after her arrival
VC: We love our new life here at Mulberry Cottage in Suffolk. The cottage is over 200 years old (which means it was around during Jane Austen’s lifetime!) We have a beautiful garden full of fruit trees and roses and the hens love it too. In April, we welcomed Mariette, Primrose and Little Flo (named after characters from The Darling Buds of May!) to our little flock and they have settled in really well. However, Little Flo does like to try and escape every now and then and has been found in our neighbour’s garden three times now. The last time, she had a real fright when their cocker spaniel chased her. I do hope she’s learned her lesson and won’t try and go walkabout again!
Dotty and Primrose have recently taken to laying their eggs in the hedges which means that I have a bit of a hunt first thing in the morning but it is wonderful to see them enjoying their free-range lives after having such a hard life as battery hens living in tiny cages.
And, of course, the hens always make a charge to get into the house whenever one of us opens the back door! They are such curious creatures and love to know what’s going on all the time!
LAN: Janeites hope that we will see more Austen-inspired novels from you Victoria. Can you share your writing plans with us?
VC: Well, 2013 marks the 200th anniversary of Pride and Prejudice so I would love to celebrate that and I think it would be enormous fun to return to Purley Hall for a certain couple’s summer wedding!
I’m also hoping to release two short ebooks about our move from London to rural Suffolk. The first will be called Escape to Mulberry Cottage and it will feature our dear hens.
There’s also a new paperback out in the UK in May called Wish You Were Here about a plain woman who suddenly becomes irresistible to men after making a wish on a statue of Aphrodite whilst on holiday in Greece. It’s been great fun writing that one!
LAN: My thanks to you for joining us today Victoria. Best wishes with your new novella and your future writing projects.
Victoria Connelly started writing her first novel when she was fourteen and hasn’t stopped writing since. Her first published novel, Flights of Angels, was made into a film in Germany and she got to fly out to Berlin and star as an extra in it. She has now had eight novels published in countries all over the world, and three of her books – A Weekend with Mr. Darcy, Molly’s Millions and The Runaway Actress – have all been Amazon Top 100 bestsellers.
After getting married in a medieval castle in the Yorkshire Dales, and living in London for eleven years, she moved to an old cottage in rural Suffolk with her artist husband, a Springer spaniel and a flock of ex-battery hens.
When she isn’t writing, Victoria enjoys reading, watching films, growing roses, baking cakes and going for long country walks. Visit Victoria at her blog, on Facebook and as @VictoriaDarcy on Twitter.
Christmas with Mr. Darcy, by Victoria Connelly
Cuthland Press (2012)
e-book (110) pages
Kindle: ASIN: B009JTNIKC
© 2012 Laurel Ann Nattress & Victoria Connelly, Austenprose
I’ve not read the Austen addicts trilogy yet although I have A Weekend With Mr Darcy waiting for me on my kindle! I was just wondering whether Victoria plans to write anything historical or whether she’d rather stick to a present day setting?
Hi Ceri – I might write another Austen Addicts story next year but I’ve never been tempted to write a pure historical. I have so much fun writing modern-day stories so will stick with those. Thanks for your question and hope you enjoy AWWMD!
Hi Victoria: I just finished reading Christmas With Mr Darcy and was utterly delighted to find our favorite heroes and heroines from The Austen Addicts trilogy frolicking in a winter wonderland. What would I like to do with Mr. Darcy? Go fishing of course!
Oh, Jeffrey! I’m so thrilled you enjoyed it! I had so much fun meeting up with the characters again and giving Dan a big heroic moment! And there was plenty for Mrs Soames to complain about, of course!
I won’t tell you what I would like to do with Mr Darcy, though ; )
Thank you so much for the giveaway and particularly for opening it to all. Much appreciated.
I just finished A weekend With Mr. Darcy and have read The Perfect Hero a while ago. Today I started with Forever Mr. Darcy and then I can go on the Chrismtas with Mr. Darcy :)). I loved The Perfect Hero and wished A Weekend With Mr. Darcy wouldn´t end!
Myy favourite character – a hard question. I´d say it´s a tie between Kay, Robyn and Gemma. But I do love all of the characters actually :D (not Mrs. Soames…). And I´m very much looking forward to meeting them again in Christmas with Mr. Darcy.
I´d loooove to read about the summer wedding!!! Please, please, please!! I´ve grown quite attachet to Purley Hall.
Did you know, when you started book No.1, that you would continue with 2 more and a novella( and another one *hinthint*)?
Lovely interview. I really enjoyed the trilogy an look forward to reading the Christmas novella.
Your cottage sounds so lovely! What a great place to write.
Thank you, Felicia – I adore living in Suffolk! If you want to see some photos, just friend me on Facebook and take a look at my ‘Escape to Mulberry Cottage’ album.
Lovely interview, ladies! I loved the Austen Addicts trilogy and was so excited when I heard that you wrote a Christmas novella to go along with it. Christmas is my favorite time of year and an Austen Christmas story sounds just perfect! I am also looking forward to reading “Escape to Mulberry Cottage”, it sounds like such a charming place to live! Thank you for the giveaway!!=))
Wonderful interview!! I’m excited that there’s a Christmas novella to go along with the trilogy!! Add me to the list of those who LOVE Mr. Darcy – He and Lizzie Bennet are my very favorites of Austen’s characters! :) Congratulations on your move to the cottage… I think living in a beautiful cottage in the English countryside would be heavenly :)
I have the first two Austen Addicts’ trilogy but have not started reading it yet. My question to Victoria is are you selling Christmas with Mr Darcy exclusively on Amazon only? Is there any online store where I can buy it not in Kindle format? The reason I ask is the Kindle edition cannot be downloaded as the gadget is not shipped to my country.
Thank you, Kelli and Valerie
Luthien84 – we’re hoping to make Christmas with Mr Darcy (and several of my other books) available for other devices very soon. My apologies to readers who don’t have a Kindle. We released it on Kindle first as it’s the market leader here in the UK but did you know you can download Kindle for PC for free? I did that before I got my Kindle earlier this year.
Hope that helps! Sorry for the delay but it will be out for over devices soon. x
I can’t wait to read my copy, Victoria – and I am so honoured to be mentioned in your acknowledgements!
That was a terrific article! I have my 2nd Kindle, Fire version! I would love to read this book as I try to read Christmas timed books during December. It’s just a pleasure for me that I do each year. I love the idea of a Christmas book that brings all of the characters together.. I’ve read all of the books so this would be awesome! I love Mr. Darcy but I love Elizabeth just as much in that it takes the two of them to bring out the best in each other. I love the humility that they have to learn before they can find each other. I take exception to one comment I’ve seen in several places: they often claim that Darcy changed because he would do anything to gain Elizabeth’s love. The truth is that because of Elizabeth’s honestly and anger, Darcy was at first angry, feeling unjustly charged of several things. Aside from the Wickham story that Elizabeth had been charmed into, she hit the nail on the head on Darcy’s pride. Darcy thinks about this a lot and realizes that she was right on all other accusations and decides that his character, which is the most important to him for himself and how he judges others he meets. I do not believe his first or even only reason he began to consider and work out the things she had accused him of. He had no notion of ever seeing her again but he was grateful for the truths she pointed out because he didn’t see them himself at all. I’m sure he cherished a hope that he’d grasp at a chance to show her he’d taken her corrections to heart because she been the one to speak the truth to him and he wanted to be worthy of the gentleman he should have been along. He made the changes because he realized that he needed to. But since he did make the changes and then she shows up, literally, at his front door, shocking him, he realizes that he has a chance to show her the changes he’s made. Darcy is to be admired more because of his willingness to respond to those corrections for the merit of the truth in them, than just because the woman he wanted to marry, which could mean that he might not retain them at some point, wouldn’t settle for less. THAT’S why I believe that Darcy is to be admired. I forgot to mention that Elizabeth goes through a similar process because of the letter Darcy writes to her, which started in anger but seemed to soften while he wrote it and he concluded with, “May God bless you.” and then his signature. A gracious man ended that letter, not as angry as it began. She never expects to see him again either. But she is also following through with introspection of her own failures and corrected by them. Both of them show that they are worthy of each other because they aren’t changing in order to impress the other. They make the changes in their lives because it became clear to both that their characters needed to be altered after lessons each learned as a result of their “relationship” with each other.
I think this is a very perceptive comment! Thank you for giving me something (else!) to think about :)
Katrin – I came up with the idea for the trilogy really quickly after visiting several of the locations I use – particularly beautiful Chawton in Hampshire – home of Jane Austen. I thought the settings would be wonderful in a trilogy but I didn’t really plan to write any more than that. Three books would be QUITE enough! However, I’ve grown very attached to the characters and Purley Hall too! And I think I should definitely return there for a summer wedding especially as next year marks the 200th anniversary for ‘P&P’ so it would be wonderful to celebrate that!
Jane – you’re welcome! I’ve loved our meetings and walks around Bath and London – talking away about Jane Austen and our books : )
Kfield2 – very well said! I love how Mr Darcy and Elizabeth learn so much from each other and grow together. They’re the most wonderful couple ever, aren’t they?
How to spend a Christmas with Mr. Darcy? I think an intimate Christmas would be wonderful. He seemes to do much better one on one than in group settings and who wouldn’t love a little onoe on one with Mr. Darcy lol! Thank you for the giveaway!
I would spend christmas in front of an open lit fire and a book
I have not read the trilogy but I do intend to do it. I have mostly read books that are set during Regency times but am branching out a bit now.
I would adore spending my Christmas with Mr. Darcy in Pemberley or anywhere in the Peak District!
Dreaming of Mr. Darcy was my favorite of the trilogy. I thought the whole idea of being in Lyme Regis and falling in love with the actor playing Capt. Wentworth in the adaptation was brilliant. So I’d have to say Oli has been my favorite character so far.
Megan – I’m so thrilled you enjoyed Dreaming of Mr Darcy and fell for Oli’s charms! He was very dashing – it would be hard NOT to fall for a handsome actor playing Captain Wentworth, wouldn’t it?
My favorite book of the trilogy is “A Weekend with Mr. Darcy.” I liked the Katherine character having a pen pal who is also one her favorite authors of romance novels, and just so happens to be a guy who writes under a female pseudonym — that was very entertaining. I just enjoyed the interaction between these two. I would really like to read “Christmas with Mr. Darcy” but I don’t have a kindle. Are there any plans to publish a paper copy? I sure hope so, because I know I would enjoy it.
Victoria, I am ashamed to admit how long I have had you on my TBR list! Thanks to this interview, I’m moving A Weekend With Mr Darcy up!!
Ritamaie – I’m afraid it’s just an ebook at the moment but I’m hoping Amazon will provide a ‘print on demand’ service one day soon. Traditional publishers don’t often publish novellas, I’m afraid.
JuneA** Thank you! I do hope you enjoy it. I loved writing it so much!
This is my first attempt at posting a comment online. And alas, I can’t think of a single witty thing to write! So I’ll just explain that I want to try a comment because I’ve enjoyed reading all the others posted here — so many interesting perspectives! I’m currently reading “Jane Austen Made Me Do It”, and thanks to this site keeping me informed on all things Austen, I’m adding “Christmas with Mr Darcy” to my list as the perfect holiday reading indulgence! Cheers!
Hi Lea, welcome to the world of Jane Austen in the blogosphere. So happy that you are reading Jane Austen Made Me Do It. I highly recommend anything by Victoria Connelly. Please come back and visit again soon.
Hey… my first online comment, and I’ve received a reply! Even more fun, the reply is from the editor of the book I’m currently reading! Thanks Laurel Ann for the friendly welcome, and for my delightful introduction to the world of blogs. :-)