posted previously on Diary of an Eccentric Blog
How do you research your novels?
The research is based on what would and would not be acceptable for the Regency Period, the time period in which the majority of my novels are set. The true Regency Period lasted only ten years, from 1811 to 1820. Most writers of the period place their stories somewhere between 1800 and 1820; however, a few feature everything from the French Revolution to the Reform. When I am creating a Jane Austen adaptation, my setting is defined by Austen’s original story line. For example, Pride and Prejudice is set in 1812. If I am writing an Austen sequel, I must be aware of the events that happened in the years after 1812. In my latest novel, The Disappearance of Georgiana Darcy, Colonel Fitzwilliam is returning from service with Wellington at Waterloo. Therefore, the book must be true to June 1815. In my unique Regencies, I tend to place my characters in situations that occur between 1810 and 1815. It is the time period of which I am most familiar.
I have a stash of Regency related books to which I often turn for assistance. The Internet is helpful, but there is so much misinformation on the Web that a person must look for sites that verify the content found upon the page. One of the biggest issues is anachronistic phrases. I am more aware of those issues in my Austen-inspired works. Miss Austen has a distinct style, which is difficult to replicate, and I make a point of adding her actual wording to the story lines. In most Regencies on the mass market, in the publishing business, a certain number of anachronistic phrases are acceptable. Those serve as a segue between what is often seen as the stilted language of the period and modern phrasing. However, I do attempt to be true to the language of the period.
What is a typical working day like for you? When and where do you write?
This is only my second year of retirement. I spent 40 years in the classrooms of three different states. During those years, I would teach all day, set at my desk and grade papers until about 7 each evening (English teachers always have tons of papers to grade.), then go home to eat, shower, and write for 2-3 hours.
One would think that now that I am retired that I would have more time to write. However, my “free” time has been limited by the birth of my first grandchild, James. As my son and daughter-in-law are both teachers, I am babysitting James each day for 9 hours. Many days when he leaves me, I am too exhausted to move from the sofa. I do not wish to appear to be complaining; I love the little “monster” more than words can express, but I had forgotten how exhausting raising a baby can be. I am nearing 65 years of age, and it shows. Thus said, my writing has suffered. I feel less structured, and I would admit to a bit of frustration because the stories NEVER leave my head, even if I am too tired to put them on paper. Hopefully, I will recover a bit my life once the school year ends, and my darling Jayme becomes a child can simply spoil (like all good grandparents) and then send home to his parents.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I still hand write my novels. I write with a black ink pen and use a wide ruled spiral notebook. Then I word process the pages. By that time, the book has had several rewrites (arrows up and down the page, White Out, scratched out lines, inserted words, etc.). All these checks and rechecks affect the writing process. When the novel goes to print, there are few major rewrites with which to deal.
Have you ever written a character you did not like? What did you do about it?
I did not like my take on Anne De Bourgh in Darcy’s Temptation. She was TOO meek, and I thought her quite undeserving of Colonel Fitzwilliam, a character I absolutely adored. Therefore, when I had the opportunity to add her to The Phantom of Pemberley, I gave Miss De Bourgh a “rebellious” streak. I certainly liked her better, and so did my readers, who responded with delightful anticipation of what might follow for her.
In my Regency series based on the men of the Realm, a covert governmental group, I had originally planned to bring Satiné Aldridge and Aidan Kimbolt together; but as I set up their joining, I again grew weary of Satiné’s lack of a backbone (Yes, I realize it was I who gave her no spine). The Regency heroine needs more in her life that fashion and manners. Plus, Satiné was like my original Miss De Bourgh, not good enough for the hero. Aidan Kimbolt required a woman who could bring him happiness. For the moment, in the series, Satiné is in Europe. I have not decided whether to add her to a future book or, perhaps, kill her off. I may, just for fun, let my readers vote on what to do about Miss Satiné.
What makes Jane Austen adaptations/sequels/retellings so special?
I seriously believe that Austen’s intertextual reinscriptions of Restoration comedy have echoes in contemporary literature. Reading a historical novel in its period requires the reader to understand the period, as well as the social distance from the present. Despite Austen being a part of the Society of which she wrote, her works display a “distance” from the time period, and that “distance” marks Austen’s voice as one more distinct than others of her time. Jane Austen was sophisticated, subtle, and very intelligent in her handling of complex issues. Austen’s women were women of sense; they embodied the notion of rational love. Today’s audience has paradoxically maintained Austen’s “formula.”
Excerpt from The Disappearance of Georgiana Darcy
(Situation: Lydia and George Wickham have unexpectedly appeared uninvited on Pemberley’s doorstep. Elizabeth has tried to send them away before Darcy becomes aware of their inviting themselves into his home. However, Darcy’s appearance in the drawing room escalates the situation.)
“It does not surprise,” Wickham grumbled. he caught Lydia’s elbow and turned his wife toward the still-open door. however, when he reached Darcy’s rigid form, he mockingly said, “Please give Miss Darcy my regards. I understand the last four years have been very good to her.” With a slight nod, Wickham took a step to depart.
However, Darcy’s anger had never receded—not today, not four years prior when Wickham had staged the elopement, which would have devastated Georgiana—not through the years of falsehoods, and not when the man had purposely ruined Lydia Bennet and had crushed Darcy’s hopes of claiming Elizabeth as his wife. The memory of every degrading moment seemed to course through his veins, and without considering his actions, his right arm wound up for a perfectly executed uppercut to Wickham’s finely chiseled jaw. A left jab to Wickham’s nose followed the right, and the man went sprawling backward to rest at Elizabeth’s feet. Blood gushed from Lieutenant Wickham’s nose upon the man’s crisp uniform.
“Bloody hell, Darcy!” Wickham exclaimed as he dug in his pocket for a handkerchief. “You are a case for Bedlam!”
Darcy growled, “Curse in my wife’s presence again, and those
imprecations will be the last words that you utter.”
Elizabeth stepped around Wickham’s efforts at recovery and
slipped into Darcy’s one-armed embrace. “Tell me you are well,” she whispered as she caressed his chin.
Darcy did not remove his eyes from the scuttled figure bleeding onto his Persian rug, but he tightened his hold. “As long as you are safe,” he said softly.
Meanwhile, Lydia’s loud protestations were added to the clamor. “Lizzy, look what you have started.” She avoided her husband’s bloody hands when she cuddled his head. “What kind of man have you married?” she accused.
“The best kind, Lydia.” Elizabeth looked lovingly into Darcy’s eyes. “A man of honor. A man of integrity.” She turned in Darcy’s embrace. “Mr. Nathan, would you ask Jasper and Thomas to escort Lieutenant and Mrs. Wickham safely from Pemberley’s grounds?”
“Certainly, Mrs. Darcy.” he snapped his fingers, and the two footmen appeared.
“I cannot believe it has come to this,” Lydia lamented. “You would turn your own sister away? Your flesh and blood?”
Elizabeth’s mouth turned downward. “As my marriage vows require, I would cling to my husband above all others.” She shook her head in sadness. “I never wished it to come to this. In the future, should you choose to return to Pemberley, I shall welcome you with open arms, but I shall never subjugate Mr. Darcy’s desire to sever relations with Lieutenant Wickham to my desire to maintain sisterly affection. If you cannot accept those terms, then we shall communicate through the post.”
As she supported her husband’s rise from the floor, Lydia exclaimed, “You have turned Kitty against me.”
Elizabeth shot a quick glance to the downcast countenance of a sister she dearly adored, and she noted how Kitty’s mouth twitched with the desire to smile. Kitty, too, had found all the drama quite amusing. Miss Catherine Bennet had grown into a sage young woman. “I hope not. I would never place Kitty in a position to have to choose between us.” She silently thought, as you have just required. “And I hope to see you regain the family and friends you have so carelessly sacrificed. The nuptials are a public gathering. You must choose whether you shall stay until Monday for the service. Yet, Pemberley is my home, and I shall determine the events we celebrate and the guests who participate.”
“I see.” Lydia straightened her clothing. “We shall await my parents at the Lambton inn.”
Wickham staggered to his feet. “That may not be the best idea.”
“Why ever not?” Lydia demanded. “There is no coach until tomorrow.”
Darcy eyed Wickham carefully. The man’s nervous mannerisms made him an open book. “If your husband’s demeanor is any indication, Lieutenant Wickham expects to meet those in the area who still hold his markers.” Everyone turned to stare at the wastrel in the King’s uniform.
“I simply prefer not to importune Father Bennet for the cost of our room and return passage,” Wickham said smoothly.
Darcy laughed sarcastically. “Did you hear, Mrs. Darcy? Your father’s debts grow. You suggested that Mr. Bennet would assume the unexpected cost of an inn stay, but your assumption included the notion that Lieutenant Wickham had previously arranged a return journey to Carlisle. Now, we find that not to be the case. Our brother in marriage requires both passage and room, and I suspect board, as well.”
Elizabeth said accusingly, “I expect the accuracy of your words, but that is my father’s issue.”
Kitty said softly. “Mr. Saunders is at Kympton. Perhaps Lydia and Lieutenant Wickham could share the curate’s quarters for the evening. Should I speak to Mr. Winkler? I would not wish Lydia to know any public humiliation.”
“You do what you consider best, Kitty.” Elizabeth admired how Kitty had handled herself. Her sister had demonstrated a firm resolve, but she had also shown charity, a quality Mr. Winkler had recognized in the young Catherine Bennet—a quality he required in his wife. “Why do you not speak privately to Mr. Winkler and then ask Papa to join us here?”
“Yes, Lizzy.” Kitty dropped a quick curtsy and then disappeared from the room.
“Mr. Darcy, we shall await my father in the main foyer. Mr. Nathan shall attend Lieutenant and Mrs. Wickham. We should rejoin our guests.” She reached for Darcy’s hand, and he came willingly.
Within seconds, they were at the foot of the main staircase and in each other’s arms. “Thank you,” Darcy rasped as he pulled her closer.
Elizabeth clung to him. “For what? For loving you beyond reason? I fear that my heart is fully engaged, Mr. Darcy.”
“As is mine,” he whispered into her ear. “Yet, I am chagrined that my previous acquaintances have tainted your family’s life.”
“I shall hear none of this regret, Mr. Darcy. You, Sir, are exactly the man who, in disposition and talents, most suits me. Your understanding and temper, though unlike my own, has answered all my wishes. You are as generous as the most generous of your sex.”
Before she could say more, her father appeared on the landing. “Kitty tells me that you require my assistance,” he said suspiciously. Elizabeth blushed at having been caught in an intimate embrace, but she quickly explained what had transpired. “And your mother never indicated to anyone that she had invited Lydia and Lieutenant Wickham?” his disbelief showed. “I tolerated her maneuverings with Mr. Grange at Christmastide because Grange is harmless and unassuming. No one could object to Grange, but Lieutenant Wickham is a different story.” he turned to Darcy. “I swear, Mr. Darcy, that I held no prior knowledge of this situation, but I will deal with the Wickhams and with Mrs. Bennet. “
“We will escort the others to Derby while you see to your youngest child.”
With a reluctant shrug, Mr. Bennet agreed. “Mrs. Bennet will miss the journey. During your absence, my wife and I will have a serious discussion.”
Shackled in the dungeon of a macabre castle with no recollection of her past, a young woman finds herself falling in love with her captor – the estate’s master. Yet, placing her trust in him before she regains her memory and unravels the castle’s wicked truths would be a catastrophe.
Far away at Pemberley, the Darcys happily gather to celebrate the marriage of Kitty Bennet. But a dark cloud sweeps through the festivities: Georgiana Darcy has disappeared without a trace. Upon receiving word of his sister’s likely demise, Darcy and wife, Elizabeth, set off across the English countryside, seeking answers in the unfamiliar and menacing Scottish moors.
How can Darcy keep his sister safe from the most sinister threat she has ever faced when he doesn’t even know if she’s alive? True to Austen’s style and rife with malicious villains, dramatic revelations and heroic gestures, this suspense-packed mystery places Darcy and Elizabeth in the most harrowing situation they have ever faced – finding Georgiana before it is too late.
Website – www.rjeffers.com
Twitter – @reginajeffers
Publisher – Ulysses Press http://ulyssespress.com/