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!