Archive for October 22nd, 2010

Yes, I’m guilty of being in love with Mr. Darcy.  Always have been and always will be.  So it’s not too surprising that when I finally moved from reading romance to writing it, Mr. Darcy would be my hero.  Nothing too unusual about that; I could point out dozens of books where Mr. Darcy is the hero, masquerading under a different name.  Rich, handsome, proud, ill-mannered on occasion, silent in crowds, passionately and devotedly in love with his lady, who is as witty, intelligent and spirited as Elizabeth Bennet.  Sound familiar?

I take it a step farther.  I don’t call him by a different name.  I’m very upfront about what I’m doing–I’m rewriting Pride and Prejudice.  I take Jane Austen’s original story and characters and I give the plotline a twist, then I see what happens.  In my latest, Mr. Darcy’s Obsession, the twist is that Mr. Bennet dies before Darcy first proposes to Elizabeth, causing her social status to plummet as she becomes dependent on the charity of relatives.  Darcy is still fascinated and enthralled by her, but now it’s really out of the question to marry her, or so it seems.

Along the way, I add in some original characters – the wicked uncle, the charming street urchin, the innocent girl snatched from a terrible fate – as well as following along with the ones Jane Austen invented.  Essentially, I take her characters and I turn them into a new book, for no better reason than that I can’t get enough of Fitzwilliam Darcy, and Jane Austen only saw fit to write one book about him.  What on earth was she thinking?

Writing Pride and Prejudice variations has its advantages.  Readers seem to love returning to a familiar world with familiar characters, which is why series are so appealing.  It’s easier to slip into a world you know.  And there are plenty of folks out there who are happy to read anything that has Mr. Darcy in it, so there’s a built-in audience.

But there are disadvantages, too.  If I took my book and changed Darcy and Elizabeth to Lord Pemberley and Lady Elisabeth, no one would think twice if, for example, they had premarital sex. If for some reason the reader didn’t like it, they’d skip over that part.  But if the name is Darcy, a goodly portion of the world is horrified that I’d ever conceive of such a thing (the other goodly portion of the world, of course, is horrified if I write a book where they don’t  have premarital sex).  Readers invest the name Darcy with almost holy power, and heaven protect the author who has a different view of him!   It’s a continual astonishment to me that readers who tell me they adore Mary Balogh’s regencies, which seem to always have spontaneous premarital sex, and then take me to task for doing the same thing!

So a Mr. Darcy by any other name may not smell as sweet, even if all other factors are equal.  What about you?  Do you have different expectations for novels set in Austen’s world versus standard Regency romances?

The more he tries to stay away from her, the more his obsession grows…

“[Reynolds] has creatively blended a classic love story with a saucy romance novel.” —Austenprose

“Developed so well that it made the age-old storyline new and fresh…Her writing gripped my attention and did not let go.”—The Romance Studio

“The style and wit of Ms. Austen are compellingly replicated…spellbinding. Kudos to Ms. Reynolds!” —A Reader’s Respite

In this Pride and Prejudice variation, Elizabeth is called away before Darcy proposes for the first time and Darcy decides to find a more suitable wife. But when Darcy encounters Elizabeth living in London after the death of her father, he can’t fight his desire to see and speak with her again…and again and again. But now that her circumstances have made her even more unsuitable, will Darcy be able to let go of all his long held pride to marry a woman who, though she is beneath his station, is the only woman capable of winning his heart?

About the Author

Abigail Reynolds is a physician and a lifelong Jane Austen enthusiast. She began writing the Pride and Prejudice Variations series in 2001, and encouragement from fellow Austen fans convinced her to continue asking “What if…?” She lives with her husband and two teenage children in Madison, Wisconsin. For more information, please visit http://www.pemberleyvariations.com/ or http://www.austenauthors.com/.


Thank you Abigail for visiting with us today at Novel Thoughts!

Two readers will win a copy of MR. DARCY’S OBSESSION. To be entered, just leave a comment below answering Abigail’s question (U.S. and Canada only). Good luck! 😀

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