Sunday, October 5, 2008

Another 'Pride and Prejudice' Sequel...Really?!

by Sharon Lathan
It’s a fair question, I’ll admit. Does the world really need another rendering of Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet? But one could ask that question about ALL novels! And the answer is - Yes! No matter how many witch or vampire or football player or Irish hunk novels are written, as long as someone creates a new way to approach it, folks will snap it up. Genres don’t get exhausted as long as the ideas are fresh. So, obviously, the key is to take a new approach, blaze a new trail, and go where no man has gone before. I think I have done that with my series of novels and want to share why.

The Darcy Saga trilogy begins with "Mr. and Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy ~ Two Shall Become One" (available March 1, 2009), and follows with "Journeys Beyond Pemberley" and "The Darcys at Year’s End" (both in the Fall of 2009). The full account of how I ended up writing a Jane Austen sequel fan-fiction can be read about at my website: The Darcy Saga. In brief, I had pictures/visions/ideas floating in my head, and no matter where I looked and how much JAFF I read, none of it gave me what I wanted personally. So, on a total whim, I decided to write it myself! My reasoning then, and still, is that if I wanted this type of story, surely someone else would too. It would be a very long while before I realized the wealth of sequels/prequels/variations/companions there are out there, but knowing that just cements my attitude. All of the stories take different twists. They are all unique in some way, and readers go crazy. Allow me to tell what makes my story special.


1) The most important aspect, to me, is that my story is happily-ever-after. I always end a romantic book or movie with the ardent belief that the couple lived on with passion and happiness. Isn’t that the point? I really do not want to imagine that they got divorced two years later! With that in mind, I created a generally blissful life for the Darcys. They are the absolute epitome of the devoted couple. Yes, even to the point of being a bit nauseating at times! Their lovemaking is phenomenal, their communication is inclusive, their romance is breathtaking, their enjoyment of each other is amazing, etc. I wanted to present a marriage as it should be; as maybe it could be if all lovers devoted themselves to each other completely. Portray the ideal! Reach for the stars! Give Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth that perfect union that few ever attain, but we all wish we could. Having them actually triumph in marriage, talk to each other, overcome their difficulties, and grow to love each other more is, sadly, somewhat revolutionary nowadays.

2) My story is about life. It is no accident that I call it a Saga. This isn’t the relating of how they came together in the first place, as that was in P&P. This is the relating of the life they live afterwards. In one respect, the novels do not have a ‘plot’ in the strictest definition of the word. It is a serial, a chronological unfolding of events. There isn’t one conflict that is resolved, but the gradual evolution of two people as they learn how to be married, as they become one, as they interact with their friends and family, as they journey through the Regency world of England, as they deal with the dramas and traumas that occur. I convey normal life events, those both mundane and extraordinary. There are a few wild incidents, like a sword duel and bandit attack, but primarily my focus in on the positive and logical happenings of an early 19th century existence. With life comes tons of interaction with other people. The number of main players in the saga is huge! The characters from the original are given detailed history and dozens more are added to the mix; all of them developing as time marches on. I have created an extensive family tree and biography for every character and everyone has a part to play in the life of Darcy and Lizzy.

3) It is historically accurate. I suppose all of the really good ones can say the same, but I am not just talking about dates and stuff. Yes, I do tremendous research and try very hard to get things as exact as I possibly can. But, I go beyond that to make one feel as if they are in England during the Georgian Era. I search for the unusual, like balloonists and masquerade balls and toys and fireworks and magic lantern shows. I travel through the countryside with sights and smells from the past vividly expressed. I apply logic and reality to the day-by-day events. Like Jane Austen, I am not going for heavy drama or fantasy, but simply allowing my readers to be the fly on the wall, peeking in and happily being a part of the world as it once was.

4) It is fun! I want to be entertained when I read. Sure, the occasional edge-of-your-seat moment or high angst is good, and I have that. But, between that are loads of humor, crazy amusements, laughter, and wild passion. All of my characters are enjoying life and that comes through. They also truly like each other and are familiar and happy to spend time together. I balance a writing style that is intelligent, but also easy to read. I don’t want anyone to be turned away because they need to attend a college lecture to figure out what the meaning is; but I do not dumb it down. My goal, more than anything, is to put a smile on the reader’s face and a warm-fuzzy feeling in their heart.

5) Lastly, I was inspired primarily by the 2005 movie. I refuse to get into a debate over the 1995 miniseries vs. novel vs. movie as I frankly think that is stupid. All 3 have their wonderful aspects and I draw bits from each. What captured me in the movie was the gritty realism, the fiery passion between Mr. Darcy and Lizzy, the romantic and fervid tone throughout, and the characterization of the principal players. And, to no small degree, the blatant sexuality and swoon-worthy gorgeousness of Matthew Macfadyen – but that inspiration helps mostly in the bedroom scenes! Whole squads of women, young and old, have come to the world of Austen through this movie and the other recent novel adaptations, which all have a more zealous appeal then some of the past ones. Many of those women pick up the original novels, but many will not. Yet they want to have more! I give it to them with the same fire and accessibility that was in the recent movie.

Of course I could go on and on! But those are the highlights. Thanks for this opportunity to share my vision with anyone who may pop by. I am so in love with my characters! Many of them were created by Miss Austen, but I have given them a life that is purely my own. I am still writing with book 4 nearly done and a companion novel started. Long live The Darcy Saga!
*the book cover is the first version that I am not so fond of; still waiting for the new one*

11 comments:

  1. Great post Sharon!
    Your reasons for writing are SO much like mine! Don't see what you want? Write it!
    Being a big fan of the Colin Firth Darcy, I haven't seen the more recent one, but perhaps I'll give it a look....

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  2. Okay, so um, I'd be the one who never made it through a Jane Austen book. I know, that's shameful. But I tried. I really did--more than once in fact. Yours sounds fun and engaging, and I'm looking forward to it, Sharon.

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  3. Sharon, I for one have invented a hundred "sequels" in my mind, when a book or a movie ends before I want it to. Especially if it ends in a way I didn't want it to! So I'm all for continuing the story. It's a tribute to Ms. Austen, that she created a scenario that so many people love enough to want it to go on forever, and adventurous of you to make it happen.

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  4. Thanks Cheryl! I came into the Austen realm thru the newer movie, so it is closer to my heart. But the miniseries and Mr. Firth are certainly both wonderful. As I said, all have their points. I would encourage you to see the movie, but then that is not surprise! Ha!!

    No worries Marie! I have only 'made it through' P&P. I keep meaning to pick up some of the others, even have them all on my shelf, but I just can't find the time. I would rather read a steamy romance by one of ya'all!

    Hi Christina! I have been mentally inventing sequels for years too! Funny, isn't it. I still do not know why this one is the one I jotted down, but fate was at work, I suppose. Thanks for your support.

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  5. Thank you for the inside peek at your vision. I find it fascinating. I really like that you know exactly what and why you are writing what you write.

    Can't wait to read it.

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  6. As I kid I began a sequel to Gone With The Wind, and one of the first stories I wrote as an adult was a Star Trek fan-fic.

    I wrote each because I didn't want the story to be OVER!

    I'm looking forward to revisiting Mr and Mrs Darcy through you. I can only imagine how much fun you had writing them and what fun they'll be to read

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  7. Great post, Sharon! I for one can't get enough of JA fanfic, and of course, my absolute favorite is P&P.

    My first book was a modern-day telling of P&P with a twist of Persuasion. I had a great time writing it and now I can't wait to read yours.

    Robin :)

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  8. Thanks Michele! Coming from you, that is a real compliment! One of the positive aftermaths of posting on the web as I did for so long was having to fend off the occasional criticism, especially in the JAFF world. It gave me lots of time to really think about why it was OK to tackle the subject.

    Mary Margret, how cool that you wrote FF too! The Star Trek genre is HUGE. Bigger even than the Austen world.

    Hi Robin! Modern retellings are pretty common too, so your story would be right in there. Thanks for the kind comments and interest!

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  9. There's a reason Jane's stories are timeless - may yours be as well, Sharon!

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  10. Sharon, count me among those who absolutely CAN NOT get enough of Lizzie and Darcy. I've watched both movies and read the book countless times, and you're right, all three have their charms. But I got so attached to the characters that I would LOVE to hear what happened afterwards...sounds like your books would be right up my alley! I'm glad you were brave enough to immerse yourself in their world and write what came after. Can't wait to read them myself! Congrats!

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  11. Thanks Judi! Yeah, maybe in 200 years someone will write a sequel to my sequel! LOL!!

    Thanks Kendra! Yep, folks just love Darcy and Lizzy! It still amazes me just how much, actually. I appreciate the vote of confidence and hope my work will please you.

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