Happy New Year everyone! What better way to start the new year than with a new Austen-inspired novel by Victoria Connelly?
Dreaming of Mr. Darcy, her second novel in her Austen Addicts series, launches today by Sourcebooks. We loved the first in the series, A Weekend with Mr. Darcy, and are so pleased that Victoria has stopped by today to chat with us about her new contemporary novel set in serious Austen territory – Lyme Regis – where part of the plot of Persuasion is set.
Fledging illustrator and Darcy fanatic Kay Ashton settles in the seaside town of Lyme to finish her book, The Illustrated Darcy, when a film company arrives to make a new adaptation of Jane Austen’s Persuasion. Kay is soon falling for the handsome bad boy actor playing Captain Wentworth, but it’s the quiet screenwriter Adam Craig who has more in common with her beloved Mr. Darcy. Though still healing from a broken heart, Adam finds himself unexpectedly in love with Kay. But it will take more than good intentions to convince her that her real happy ending is with him.
When I first came up with the idea of a trilogy about Jane Austen addicts – with each book set in an Austen location – I was particularly excited about using the setting of Lyme Regis for the second book, Dreaming of Mr. Darcy (titled The Perfect Hero in the UK). I love Dorset and have visited Lyme Regis many times and, of course, you can’t set a book in Lyme without referencing Persuasion if you’re a Jane Austen fan so I thought it would be enormous fun to set the book around the shooting of a new film version of Jane Austen’s final book.
In Persuasion, Jane Austen talks about how beautiful the countryside around Lyme Regis is and I wanted to include this in my novel too. I was lucky enough to spend time in Lyme Regis whilst writing the book and this was invaluable to me as a way of getting the details right and I found a gorgeous old manor house in the Marshwood Vale which stood in for Sir Walter’s home in the film adaptation.
I love writing in situ if I can and I spent a very cold day on a windswept beach at Charmouth writing the scene where my heroine, Kay Ashton, goes fossil-hunting with shy screenwriter hero, Adam Craig. I’ll never forget how numb my fingers were but I was determined to get my page filled!
I also walked along the famous Cobb and found the steps from which Louisa Musgrove would have leapt.
I really enjoyed writing Kay’s story. She’s a little like Jane Austen’s Emma Woodhouse the heroine of Emma because she’s a terrible match-maker, and she’s a bit like Catherine Morland, the heroine of Northanger Abbey too because she’s a romantic and finds it easy to get carried away. She’s an Austen addict extraordinaire and loves painting and is working on her first book – The Illustrated Darcy – when we first meet her.
There are two heroes in Dreaming of Mr. Darcy. I knew the actor playing Captain Wentworth in the movie version being filmed – Oli Wade Owen – would be dashing and would sweep Kay off her feet but there is also the quietly-spoken Adam, whom Kay just doesn’t seem to notice at first because she’s busy match-making him to Gemma – the actress playing Anne Elliot.
One of my favourite characters in the book is Adam’s outspoken grandmother, Nana Craig. She has a love of colour and a hatred of the acting profession since her husband ran off with an actress several decades ago. Nana Craig was a lot of fun to write and I love the scene where Oli ends up half-naked in her front room (but I’m not going to give too much away here!)
I have had such fun writing my Austen addicts’ trilogy and I hope you all enjoy the second part, Dreaming of Mr. Darcy.
Victoria Connelly’s first novel was promoted in Germany to celebrate World Book Day and was adapted into a TV movie. Her second novel was published as a lead title in the UK and chosen as a “hot pick” in Closer magazine. Her new trilogy is her first foray into Jane Austen related fiction. Connelly lives in rural Suffolk with her artist husband, Springer spaniel and ex-battery chickens. Visit Victoria at her blog, on Facebook and as @VictoriaDarcy on Twitter.
Dreaming of Mr. Darcy, by Victoria Connelly
Trade paperback (368) pages
Cover image, book description, guest blog, & author bio courtesy of Sourcebooks © 2012; text Laurel Ann Nattress © 2012, Austenprose.com