Wednesday, September 8, 2010

My first Casablanca blog!

My very first Casablanca blog - how exciting! I’m Abigail Reynolds, and I've been publishing with Sourcebooks for several years. For those who don’t know me, I’m a Jane Austen fiend and I’ve written seven Regency Pride & Prejudice variations, as well as a modern women's fiction set on Cape Cod. For this first blog, I thought I’d answer a few common questions about my books.




What is a Pride & Prejudice variation, anyway? If you’ve ever read a novel and wanted a character to do something differently, that’s the beginning of a variation. What if Mr. Darcy wooed Elizabeth Bennet after her first refusal? That’s To Conquer Mr. Darcy. What if Elizabeth had to marry Darcy against her will? That’s Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy: The Last Man in the World. What would have happened if Mr. Bennet had died and his family was tossed out by Mr. Collins? That’s Mr. Darcy’s Obsession, my new novel coming out October 1.




Why write variations anyway? That’s easy. It’s because Jane Austen only wrote one book about Darcy and Elizabeth, and that’s not enough. With variations, I can watch Darcy and Elizabeth fall in love with each other over and over again in different circumstances.

How do I think up these crazy variations? Odd you should ask! Last week I was alone on Cape Cod with a hurricane about to hit, re-reading P&P for the umpteenth time. Suddenly I thought, what if a hurricane hit Lambton while Elizabeth was alone at the Inn? Oops, that won’t work, no hurricanes in England. Okay, what if the river overflowed its banks, cutting off the High Street from the rest of Lambton while Mr. & Mrs. Gardiner were out visiting the church? Darcy, riding from Pemberley to see Elizabeth, would discover the rising waters already over the doorstep of the Inn. He would gallop straight through the flood waters (fortunately not having to worry about downed power lines), race into the Inn, and stride through the water to rescue Elizabeth. He’d better carry her upstairs and out of danger, I suppose, but then they’d be trapped, along with all the other inhabitants of the Inn, until the flood recedes. Elizabeth and Darcy trapped together for days? Now that has possibilities! Oh, no – what about Darcy’s horse? He wouldn’t leave his horse to drown! Back to the drawing board….




But doesn't the story stay the same in the end? Good question! Some changes don't make a big difference. If Bingley actually did sprain his ankle at the Meryton assembly, it might change a couple of scenes, but then it would return to the original plot line. A variation has to add conflict and dramatic tension, or it doesn’t work. That’s why I wouldn’t actually write the Lambton Inn story above; by that point in the story, the main issues between Elizabeth and Darcy are already resolved. They would end up going off in a corner where he would express himself as warmly and sensibly as a man violently in love can be expected to do (that’s Regency-speak for “he kissed her”), and that would be that. But suppose that the flash flood happens at Hunsford when Darcy is halfway through proposing to Elizabeth? Some locals looking for refuge might interrupt them. Darcy would take it as a given that Elizabeth was accepting him and be furious about all these dirty peasants creating a fuss; Elizabeth would be hating Darcy and concerned for all these poor people who are going to catch their deaths of cold, and they’re all stranded together! Conflict galore!




If this sounds interesting, you can find samples of my writing on my website and at Austen Interlude. I’ll tell you more about myself in future posts, but in the meantime, I’d love to hear from you!

20 comments:

  1. Welcome to the blog, Abigail! Interesting concept you've got there. Must check these out!

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  2. Welcome! The more the merrier.

    I was much struck by "It might change a couple of scenes, but then it would return to the original storyline."

    I thought, suppose the characters knew the original storyline? And suppose the reason the plot kept snapping back was that they kept grabbing control?
    ( Every writer sooner or later encounters characters who wrestle them for control of the story.)

    And then I thought, but how would I set it up so that the characters (and audience) are completely familiar with the original?
    See how you entertained me with just one sentence?

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  3. Welcome to the blog, Abigail! I've been flooded out this morning because of the storms, and on my way to work, but wanted to drop in and say hi!

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  4. Thanks! I'm very excited to be here. Mary Margret, I know all about characters grabbing control - it's why I don't spend much time on plot outlines anymore. Darcy and Elizabeth are natural plot hijackers!

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  5. It's great to see you here, Abigail! I love your concept. It got me thinking, if I could rewrite any classic what would it be? Romeo and Juliet. Yes, I know it's a play not a novel, but they totally need a HEA. The poor kids.

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  6. Abigail, nice post. I'm thinking that there are lots of people out there that must love the idea of Lizzie and Darcy falling in love over and over. But I like how you think up your variations, lol! And no, we can NOT have the horse treading water or drowning. Bad form, you know. lol!

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  7. Welcome! Your books sound great (adding them to my bookstore list).

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  8. Abigail, welcome! I love your "variation" - I like my Mr. Darcy a little damp:) I would love to go back and read all the Austen books and then all these variations, but I tend to internalize what I read, so my cowboys would start talking like Regency gents. Which would be weird!
    Mary Margret, I love your idea about the P&P plot. It would make a great movie, with some slapstick moments as the characters struggled to fulfill their destiny!

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  9. Welcome Abigail!! I am thrilled beyond words to have a fellow Austen fiction writer on Casablanca, especially one who is a good friend and my working-partner at Austen Authors. Are we insane to do all this or what? LOL!

    Abigail's variations are wonderful. I read them ages ago when they were online and one of these days I intend to re-read every one of them now that they are published. Keep up the good work, Abigail. I think the flood story will work out somehow. You have to do it now, if for no other reason than to have Darcy wet and with the need to remove his clothes!

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  10. Welcome, Abigail!

    Abigail and I go way back--over ten years now. When I started writing, I wrote a contemporary variation of Pride and Prejudice with a twist of persuasion and spent a lot of time reading Abigail's work. She was a favorite of mine, as an author and a person. We have kids about the same ages and became fast friends. As luck would have it, we both signed with Sourcebooks at about the same time too--quite a coincidence. I'll never forget how I called our mutual friend to tell her I had sold. She was vacationing with Abigail at the time and told me Abigail's fabulous news. It made the experience twice as special!

    I'm thrilled Abigail finally joined the blog and I have to say, hers are among my favorite books. I can't tell you how many times I've read them.

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  11. Abigail, you always make me smile with your ease and sense of humor. (And for the record, the moment you mentioned Darcy being trapped in the Inn with Elizabeth for days, rather than think of the steamy resolution between them, I immediately started to worry about the fate of his poor horse, lol!) I guess I need to get my priorities straight!

    Susan

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  12. As Deb knows from reading my manuscript, I'm a huge fan of... shall we say...appropriation. ;-)
    I look forward to checking out your twist on the original!

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  13. Welcome Abigail!

    I enjoy variations since it's fun to see how others see the characters.

    I'm a big Regency fan too.

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  14. Hi Abigail. I'm new to the blog too. I love the concept of "what if." I'd bet we've all been intrigued by the idea of making a favorite story or favorite character do something a little different.

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  15. I love "listening" to stream-of-consciousness plotting. :)

    Congrats on yet another release with Sourcebooks, Abigail!

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  16. Hi Abigail,
    I'm a newbie to the blog as well. I'll be adding your books to my growing TBR pile. Love the concept.
    See you in cyberspace :)
    Best,
    Sara

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  17. Hey Abigail!
    So glad to have you here. :)

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  18. Hi Abigail! I so agree, one book is not enough for Elizabeth and Darcy. I need more!! I'm going ot have to check out your books!

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  19. Interesting blog, Abigail!!!! Enjoyed it much!!

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  20. Welcome the the blog, Abigail! I adore your cover. :}

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