I had the pleasure of doing my first interview (or rather question and answer) with the wonderful author KaraLynne Mackrory. KaraLynne is the author of two Pride and Prejudice variations, Bluebells in the Mourning and Falling for Mr Darcy. As you can tell from my reviews, I love both these stories and it was really interesting finding out more about the author and the ideas and inspirations behind the stories.
1. It is evident from the two wonderful stories you have written that you are an avid Janeite and enjoy Jane Austen’s amazing stories. So, how did you first come across Jane Austen and fall in love with the regency world of dancing and carriages and courtship?
I think like most people, my first introduction to Jane Austen came from a high school English class. My 15 year old self was required to read Pride and Prejudice. Confession: I remember being kind of bored by it for the first 50 pages or so. It took me a while to warm to the archaic language and to be pulled into the romance and humour of the story. But once I did, I devoured the rest of the book in no time. It was the first time I remember not being able to put a book down. I have since redeemed my youthful indiscretion of being bored at first by reading all of her other books a few years ago.
2. Of Ms. Austen’s six major novels need I ask which your favourite is? I assume from your novels that it is Pride and Prejudice. What appeals to you so much about Pride and Prejudice? The characters, the story, the humour?
Your assumption is correct. My favourite is Pride and Prejudice - but it only just barely beats out Persuasion and Mansfield Park. I think what I like about P&P the most is the idea of a man who in the essentials is a really really good man but is a bit flawed and mostly misunderstood. I also like the idea of a woman inspiring a truly life changing love in such a man without even knowing it.
3. Now, aside from Pride and Prejudice, which other work do you particularly like? And which is your least favourite work of Ms. Austen’s?
As I mentioned above, I really like Persuasion and Mansfield Park. They tie for second and third is Northanger Abbey (that Mr. Tilney is scrumptious). Persuasion is just brilliantly written in such a way that it draws the reader into the emotion of the book. I like Mansfield Park because I like the idea of falling in love with your best friend. My least favourite is Sense and Sensibility. It was just too slow for me and I find myself unable to forgive Edward Ferrars his duplicity.
4. So, in your two novels you take the wonderful story and explore a ‘what if’ (and two very interesting ‘what ifs’ at that) Why did you want to write these variations? Did you want to explore the world of Lizzy and Darcy a little more? I read such variations as I cannot get enough of Lizzy and Darcy!
I never imagined myself writing any books at all actually. I read lots of these “what if” books and loved them all. Then one day I woke up after having a dream of the first scene in Falling For Mr. Darcy in the forest. At that point I just had to write it out. It was initially just for fun and for a bit of giggles for myself and my friends. Soon the rest of the plot outline came to me and I slowly worked my way through it. My second book, Bluebells in the Mourning, came in a similar fashion. I had an idea that it would be cool to make a situation where you could mesh elements of the Hunsford scene with the Lambton Inn scene where Elizabeth gets her two letters from Jane about Lydia’s elopement. I like to take parts/phrases from one part of Jane Austen’s book and mix it up some place else.
5. Do you think there is another one of Ms. Austen’s stories which would have the potential for what if variations, or do you think that Pride and Prejudice holds the most possibility with the plot and characters?
I've thought about this before and I still don’t know. I think Persuasion has the best chance for a modern adaptation and I have read a few really good ones. I'm sure you could make variations on her others but I don’t know them well enough to really feel I could tackle the characters properly.
6. What is your opinion on modern variations of Ms. Austen’s work such as Clueless, or the bollywood Pride and Prejudice or the recent YouTube series The Lizzy Bennet Diaries, or even paranormal variations such as Pride and Prejudice and Vampires? Would you ever think about writing a modern variation, or like me, do you prefer her stories to be kept to the era in which they belong?
I like just about all ways to adapt Jane Austen’s books. I am not a purest for the most part as long as the characters are consistent with hers. She was the original artist and I do feel that if you are going to piggyback on her work you ought to respect it enough not to make a mockery of her characters. The best compliment I can think of ever receiving would be to hear that my characters stayed true. Id hope that in the after-life, Jane Austen would bump fists with me, not punch me for my work. I do prefer regency time overall because it has so much class.
7. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading both your wonderful stories; they were so well written and both really interesting routes to take the stories down. While I was reading both of them, I was wondering how you came up with such interesting variations. Where did your inspiration for the stories come from, what gave you the ideas?
I confessed this above but suffice it to say – I read so many variations and the original so many times that Mr. Darcy lived in my head as a real person. When that is the case, you can think of all kinds of what ifs.
8. Mr Darcy has to be one of the most famous heroes in all of literature and for many the saying ‘searching for Mr Right’ turned into ‘searching for Mr Darcy’ after coming across Pride and Prejudice (well, it did for me!) In some variations I have read and in a few adaptations I have not liked how Darcy has been portrayed, but in your stories I absolutely love your portrayal of Darcy! What appeals to you about Mr Darcy (or dare I say it, why did you start ‘falling for Mr Darcy’!)? I noticed that, especially in Falling for Mr Darcy, you brought forward Darcy’s humorous and light-hearted side a lot earlier, which I really enjoyed seeing. Was Darcy a lot of fun to develop and explore in your stories?
All the time I was writing my books I didn’t really think that I patterned my Mr. Darcy after any actual person. Then my husband would read my book and say “This is me!” to which I would smile sweetly at him and allow him to think so. But now that I think of it – it probably was. He is quiet, a bit introverted, soundly competent in lots of things, humble, funny (but only shows this side when he is comfortable) and super handsome. Bonus: he has a British accent. So even though I didn’t set out to pattern Mr. Darcy after him, I just pictured a hero like Jane Austen’s and later found it matched my husband. And looking back I think I must have recognized the similarities long before I wrote my books because I gave him an old leather-bound edition of Pride and Prejudice from England for a wedding gift.
9. There are many scenes in both your stories which are highly romantic and had me (just like many other readers) sighing (and swooning!) with happiness as we read them. I really admire you for keeping your novels clean; it just shows how stories can be highly romantic whist remaining clean, unlike so many variations out there. How important is this to you?
It is probably my number one pet peeve in this genre actually. You have got to give Jane Austen credit for creating love scenes where no actual love making occurs. If this genre was created because people were Jane Austen inspired then it ought to be obvious that if she can and would write love without love making then it should be possible (and essential) that we do too. That being said – everyone takes their tea differently. Or in other words – to each his own.
10. I enjoyed your books immensely, as I have already said, and something I really enjoyed was how you played around very cleverly with iconic quotes from the original, placing them in the mouths of other characters and in different contexts. Did you enjoy writing this as much as it was fun to read? Any favourite examples?
This perhaps part of my personality coming through. I like to laugh and I like to make others laugh. For me, every time I misplace and mix-up quotes or scenes in my books it makes me laugh and hopefully would make someone familiar with Pride and Prejudice do so too. I have too many favourites to name though. As often as I can – I like to reappropriate phrases/scenes.
11. I will wrap up the questions now but there is one burning question that we all want an answer to; any further ideas for another story? Any clues or at least any assurances that there will, sometime or another, be a third story for Darcy and Lizzy for us to look forward to?
I have two other ideas that I am playing around with and have actually written a little of one already. Sadly, I have very little time to write currently. And I know that if I were to start I would have to finish. I am a bit of a binge writer and I write a lot all at once and I just cant commit that much time yet. So for now these stories will have to remain in my head. :)
I hope you enjoy reading the answers as much as I did. :) Thank you again to KaraLynne for answering these questions for me...
... and for also providing a giveaway of an ebook copy of Bluebells in the Mourning, her latest novel.
To enter the giveaway either...
1. Mention KaraLynne and her book on twitter by linking into the tweet @kamackyah or
2. Commenting on my blog post :) (preferably with your email address at the end of the comment so I can contact you)
I will choose a winner from a random draw (you will be counted twice if you comment on my blog and twitter) in two weeks, on the 24th. Good luck :)
Your affectionate friend,