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?
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