An Interview with Regina Jeffers – Author of Vampire Darcy’s Desire

Yes, Darcy is now a vampire! Well actually a Dhampir. Do I sound skeptical or just cynical? 

Vampires are hot in the media these days after the Twilight phenomenon. Moreover, everyone knows that a young “lady’s imagination is very rapid;” it jumps from the nouveau hottie on the block Edward Cullen to the ultimate one, Mr. Darcy, in a moment. So Darcy becoming a vampire was not a big stretch. Like death and taxes it was inevitable. 

I must admit I am intrigued by the concept and more than willing to see what an author could do with “turning” the most iconic romantic hero in literature. It would certainly explain some of Darcy’s superior and enigmatic behavior in Pride and Prejudice. We have already seen one author’s interpretation of Jane Austen’s most famous character struggling with his dark family secret this last summer with Mr. Darcy, Vampyre by Amanda Grange. Now Vampire Darcy’s Desire by Regina Jeffers has just been released. I was interested to know from the author’s perspective what inspired her take on such a challenging transformation and what direction she would take in integrating the vampire lore. Ms. Jeffers kindly agreed to answer my questions and granted me this thoughtful and engaging interview. It might surprise you. It has certainly tempted me to read the book. 

What was your inspiration to transform Pride and Prejudice into a vampire-themed novel? 

Truthfully, the initial concept came from the publisher Ulysses Press. When one of the editors approached me on the project, my rankles immediately rose because, to me, Pride and Prejudice is the most perfect novel ever written, and the thoughts of someone abusing that story line sent me into a state of amusement mixed with irritation. However, after discussing the idea with close friends and with my editor, I realized I could maintain integrity in the story line because of my love for and knowledge of the Austen oeuvre. 

I could not abide conceptualizing Darcy as the vampire who seduces Elizabeth. If vampirism was to be added to the tale, I wanted Darcy portrayed as a poetic tragic hero rather than as an embodiment of evil. I also wanted to control the representation of sexuality, the combination of horror and lust. As in Austen’s work, Darcy would desire Elizabeth and would be willing to put aside his beliefs and lifestyle in order to earn her love. 

Do you see any similarities from the Vampire genre and Jane Austen’s novels? 

Vampire literature springs from the early Gothic tales, which ironically peppered the literature of Jane Austen’s time. In early vampire tales a respectable and virtuous woman rejects a man’s love. The woman is under the influence of a tyrannical and powerful male, from whom the “hero” must save her, and that “hero” possesses a highly developed intelligence and exceptional charisma and charm. A “seduction” of sorts occurs. Are those elements not also present in each of Austen’s pieces? 

After all, Austen herself parodied the Gothic novel with her Northanger Abbey, even mocking Anne Radcliffe’s The Mysteries of Udolpho. She used the stereotypes of the abbey, the mysterious murder, and the evil seducer; yet, Austen kept the theme of the individual’s worth, found in all vampiric literature. 

Vampire novels can be scary and gory. Could you elaborate on the tone and direction you have chosen for Vampire Darcy’s Desire and how you have handled the Gothic parts? 

Anne Radcliffe said, “Terror and Horror are so far opposite that the first expands the soul and awakens the faculties to a high degree of life; the other contracts, freezes, and nearly annihilates them . . .. And where lies the difference between horror and terror, but in the uncertainty and obscurity that accompany the first, respecting the dreading evil?” 

Some elements of the Gothic are apparent in Vampire Darcy’s Desire: an ancient prophecy, dream visions, supernatural powers, characters suffering from impending doom, women threatened by a powerful, domineering male, and the quick shorthand of the metonymy to set the scenes. Yet, essentials of romance are just as prominent: a powerful love, with elements of uncertainty about the love being returned, the lovers separated by outside forces, and a young woman becoming the target of an evil schemer. 

Darcy voluntarily isolates himself because of the family curse; Wickham is the epitome of evil. As in many Gothic tales, supernatural phenomena and prevalent fears (murder, seduction, and perversion) are incorporated, but the underlying theme of a fallen hero centralizes the story line. Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick claims (“The Structure of the Gothic Convention,” The Coherence of Gothic Conventions, 1980) a person’s suppressed emotions are compared in the extended metaphor of the protagonist’s struggle against nightmarish forces. Vampire Darcy’s Desire combines terror with horror and mystery, set within the framework of a love story. 

Can you briefly describe Darcy the Dhampir? How is he different from Jane Austen’s Darcy? 

A Dhampir, the product of the union between a vampire and a human, probably finds its origin in Serbian folklore. Modern fiction holds many examples: Blade (a Marvel comic brought to life by Wesley Snipes on the screen), the character Connor in the TV series Angel (the show’s male equivalent of a Slayer), and Renesmee (the daughter of Bella Swan and Edward Cullen from Stephanie Meyer’s Breaking Dawn). Traditionally, a Dhampir has the ability to see vampires, even when they are cloaked with the power of invisibility. They generally have similar vampire powers with only a few complications. 

This new Darcy possesses many of the qualities the reader notes in Austen’s character. He is “withdrawn” from society, is generous to those he affects, is protective of his sister and his estate, and has a sharp wit. He is amused by Elizabeth’s verbal battles and is attracted to her physically. Darcy denies this attraction initially and then makes changes in his life to win and to keep Elizabeth’s regard. 

In order to end the curse of vampirism passed on to the first-born son of each generation, Darcy the Dhampir has decided he will never marry. He considers it to be the honorable action. No previous generation has ever succeeded in defeating George Wickham, but this Fitzwilliam Darcy is less likely to succumb to the temptation of eternal life, so Wickham must resort to different tactics to exact revenge. 

Austen’s Darcy says, “I was given good principles, but left to follow them in pride and conceit . . .. I was spoiled by my parents . . . allowed, encouraged, almost taught to be selfish and overbearing . . ..”  This characteristic plays well in the Dhampir Darcy’s pursuit of Elizabeth. He more aggressively persists in winning her affection in this book. 

Thank you for joining us today Regina. Vampire Darcy’s Desire is now available from Ulysses Press. 

Author’s Biography 

Regina Jeffers currently is a teacher in the North Carolina public schools, but previously she taught in both West Virginia and Ohio. Nearly forty years in the classroom gives her insights into what makes a good story. A self-confessed Jane Austen “freak,” she began her writing career two years ago with the encouragement of her Advanced Placement students. Her next Austen inspired novel Captain Wentworth’s Persuasion: Jane Austen’s Classic Retold Through His Eyes will be released by Ulysses Press in March 2010.

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Vampire Darcy’s Desire: A Pride and Prejudice Adaptation, by Regina Jeffers – An Excerpt

Last June I posted a preview of Darcy’s Hunger, a new Pride and Prejudice retelling of Jane Austen’s famous love story with a vampire theme. Since then, the book has gone through a ‘turning’ so to speak with a new cover, an earlier release date of October 1st, 2009 and complete name change to Vampire Darcy’s Desire: A Pride and Prejudice Adaptation. Here is the publisher’s description:  

In Austen’s original novel, Darcy and Elizabeth are compelled to overcome countless obstacles — but that’s nothing compared to what they face in Vampire Darcy’s Desire. This inventive, action-packed novel tells of a tormented Darcy who comes to “Netherfield” to escape the intense pressure on him to marry. Dispirited by his family’s 200-year curse and his fate as a half-human/half-vampire dhampir, Darcy would rather live forever alone than inflict the horrors of a vampire life on a beautiful wife. Destiny has other plans. Darcy meets Elizabeth and finds himself yearning for her as a man and driven to possess her as a vampire. Uncontrollably drawn to each other, their complex relationship forces them to confront their pride and prejudice like never before and to wrestle with the seductive power of forbidden love. Meanwhile, dark forces are at work all around them. Most ominous is the threat from George Wickham, the purveyor of the curse, a demon who vows to destroy each generation of Darcy’s and currently has evil intentions for the vulnerable Georgiana. 

The author Regina Jeffers has kindly offered to share an excerpt from the novel with us. As you will surmise from this short scene, there is no prolonged mystery over who is and isn’t a vampire that we experienced in the first Darcy themed vampire novel to hit bookstores with past summer. Jeffers has taken an entirely direct approach from the first page. Enjoy the excerpt! 

She was beautiful in all her innocence, much more beautiful than the infamous Mrs. Smith, his latest minion, who arranged this encounter and waited for him in the adjoining woods. Long, thick lashes rested on the rise of her high cheek bones, and although a bit mussed, the golden tresses spread out across her pillow like the rays of the sun. A deep sigh brought his attention to her lips, and for a moment he thought her awake, but Georgiana Darcy slept soundly thanks to his spellbinding charm. She was the embodiment of his beloved Ellender. 

One candle lit the room, casting shadows, which danced in the corners. There was nothing mediocre about the room – rich tapestries and elegant sculpting. “Only the best for the Darcys,” he mumbled as he moved forward to stand over her. 

With a unique swagger not found in many of his kind, he nearly glided to the bed’s edge. Unable to hide his anger and his contempt, a frown furrowed his deep set eyes, and a flash of fire transformed his vision. A torrent of images racked his soul – pictures of blood – of betrayal – of revenge. “You will do quite well, my Dear,” he whispered. “I will enjoy spending an eternity with you.” He lightly twisted one of her curls around his finger. “This is for the first of my kin to suffer at the Darcys’ hands.” 

Slowly, he leaned over her, feeling the blood rush through her veins – hard, dark eyes, seeking the indentation of her neck – relishing a feeling of expectancy – ringing silence broken only by his breathing. 

Fully engulfed in his desire, when the door swung open, it took several seconds before he realized an intruder discovered his inexplicable need for her. “Move away from her, Wickham,” the tall, dark figure ordered as he stepped carefully into the room. “You will not bring your death and decay into my household.” 

“You brought it into mine, Darcy.” He stood, trying to judge his next move. Wickham knew in an out-and-out fight to the end, the man in front of him stood no chance of survival, but sensing no supernatural fear from the intruder made Wickham question what else this confrontation held. Absent of all volition, he hesitated only a moment before moving in a swirling whirlwind to a point of advantage, but the man framed in the light of the doorway did not move. 

A dramatic black eyebrow lifted quizzically. “You forget, Wickham, we already share the same characteristics. You cannot infect what is already infected. Neither my sister nor I will follow you into the darkness. This madness ends – the curse – the wicked allure will die with us.” The deep rumble of his voice filled the room, and a gleam entered his ice blue eyes, intensified by his opponent’s muteness. 

“I have not given up taking my fill of beautiful young ladies.” A glowering presence exuded from him, right before a squall-like eruption pushed Wickham forward, arms extended to the side, sending Darcy rolling along the floor, scrambling to avoid the chasm – an abhorrent shudder of death. “I am coming for you, Darcy,” the voice boomed through the room as cold blasts flew from sinewy hands, reminiscent of the grave. 

Sucking noises filled Fitzwilliam Darcy’s senses, and he realized the tall, pale form loomed over him in an infuriating counterattack. Sliding against the far wall, it was all Darcy could do to bite back a scream, but he ducked first and came up, arm flung overhead, preparing to unload. “Now, Wickham,” he hissed, and then he released it. 

A vial, carrying clear liquid, tumbled end-over-end through the air, splitting the silence surrounding them – each figure moving in slow motion, playing out their parts in a deliberately swirling tableau. 

And then the stopper exploded, and the transparent fluid rained down on the apparition of George Wickham. A scream filling the room mingled with agony and terror, smelling of old blood and dark radiance. The shadow hissed in the moonlight, and the odor of burning flesh wafted over both of them. 

Fitzwilliam Darcy’s smile turned up the corners of his mouth. “Holy water,” he whispered in affirmation. 

“You will rot in hell!” Wickham threatened. “I will see those you love ruined – see them lick the blood from your body. Sharp fangs jutting from their mouths – smelling of death and decay – ghoulish nightmares!” He started forward again, prepared for another reprisal, but Darcy anticipated the move. Pulling the double crucifixes from his pocket, he met Wickham’s intent with one of his own. “Iron,” he mocked, unfurling the chain and reaching out to his enemy. 

Panic played across Wickham’s fever-filled eyes as he backed away from the symbol of the Trinity, stumbling – recoiling – and suddenly, he was gone in a grey shadow moving across the lawn, a highly combustible howl billowing upon the breeze in his retreat. 

Darcy stood motionless for several long minutes, needing to clear his head. He took a slow breath, trying to control his anger, and then he smelled it – smoke. Against his better judgment, he rushed to the bedchamber’s open door. “Wickham!” he cursed. The house he rented in Ramsgate heated with a fiery blaze, started at three separate points of entry on the bottom floor. Thick smoke, fueled by heavy draperies and fine upholstered furniture, rolled from the doorways of the lower rooms and rose in a black drape to cover the stairway. Acrid smoke drifted his way. Immediately, he turned toward the body still reclining on the bed where George Wickham left her. 

“Georgiana!” he called in a panic as he scooped her into his arms and pulled his sister tight to his chest. Darcy grabbed a towel on the washstand and dipped it into the tepid water she used earlier. He draped the wet towel over her head and face, repeating the procedure for himself. Then he made his way to the top of the stairs. Thick smoke covered the lower half of the rise. He took a deep breath and lunged forward.

Author’s Biography 

Regina Jeffers currently is a teacher in the North Carolina public schools. A self-confessed Jane Austen “freak,” she began her writing career two years ago with the encouragement of her Advanced Placement students. Vampire Darcy’s Desire will be her sixth book in that short time. 

Vampire Darcy’s Desire has been published by Ulysses Press and is now available for purchase. Trade paperback, ISBN: 978-1569757314

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