Hello readers! I’m very excited to welcome back one of my favorite authors, Cat Gardiner, to Austenesque Reviews today! If you are unfamiliar with the captivating novels by Cat Gardiner, her specialty is Modern-day retellings and she is phenomenal at recreating our beloved couple and their story in new and inventive ways! (You really should pick one up if you haven’t already!)
Cat is here to celebrate not one but two new releases! That’s right, this talented author has kept herself super busy and has had two new releases come out in the last 8 weeks!!! The first is a 1950’s Austen noir/crime drama titled Undercover, the second is a World War II inspired romance, titled A Moment Forever.
I am so happy to be here, Meredith! Thank you for the invite and the generous compliments. I’m truly delighted that you enjoy my contemporary offerings in the JAFF community. But I gotta tell you … you’re one tough interviewer. I think I’m ready *puts shoulders back*.
Cat, I’m so excited to have you visit my blog and to have this opportunity to talk with you about your novels! For my first question, I would like to learn a bit about your approach to writing contemporary retellings of Pride and Prejudice. What I love most about your stories – besides the admirable, strong, and über sexy recreations of Lizzy and Darcy – is your creativity. You don’t deliver a scene-by-scene update of Pride and Prejudice in a different setting. You do so much more with the story and these characters, and it always feels fresh and new in your hands. Here’s the big question, Cat – how do you do it? Do you construct an outline ahead of time? Do your characters lead the way?
An outline you ask? I wish I could be so together as to have an outline. Whenever I have tried to do so, it falls to the wayside. The paper or napkin gets lost in my mess or hidden in some obscure file on any one of three computers. Nope. I’m a pantser not a plotter. My characters—and muse—seem to tell me that they know best, and I’ve learned to trust them, chill, and just go with the flow. So basically, I sit down with a vague idea of where I want to go and how I want to end up. I know the themes and the very general plot in which to deliver them. The rest just comes together with the help of the constant flow of coffee. I start writing at about six in the morning and usually have no idea what will come out. When I get stuck, I turn to my BFF to help me fill in a plot hole or navigate me in a direction after I’ve written myself into a corner.
I think you made a good call to trust your characters and muse, they have not steered you wrong yet! Another element I love about your stories is how it is such an immersive experience – the flavors of your stories are always so rich and vibrant. You create and share Pinterest boards, Spotify lists, recipes, and blog posts – you create a virtual world for each book. I absolutely love it! What is it like for you as an author to immerse yourself in each story? What are some of your favorite ways to research each setting you write about?
Thank you! I like that: flavors! This aspect is the most fun I have in creating a story world,
which is the very first thing that I do. I’m a visual person, so I need to see where my characters are headed, using videos and images. Denial of Conscience is a great example of that. Gosh, I would LOVE to visit Seville and Marrakech. Maybe my readers do, too, and I try to take them there—with Darcy or another swoon-worthy hero. Other readers, like yourself, are music lovers. Music inspires my muse in creating the plot and setting the tone. Big Band and ballads transported me to 1942 in A Moment Forever. Dean Martin took me to the Bronx’s Little Italy in Villa Fortuna. As for research, particularly during WWII era, I drink up personal narratives that give me glimpses of the human condition through the experiences of that generation.
Absolutely! I love the visuals you put in readers’ heads with your descriptions and I too am definitely one of those readers who wants to visit Seville and Marrakech! In Undercover readers meet lady dick, Eli Bennet – career girl and one of your strongest heroines yet. I think one of the main themes you were trying to get across to the reader is that women are strong and can do anything men can do. Is that correct? Who are some strong women you admire (in fiction or in real life)?
We are strong! And we can set out to achieve whatever our goals are—in 2016, but not in 1952. That really was the larger point. Society attempted to return to pre-war with a focus on the family, return all things to “normalcy”: safety, nurturing, and protection in our pursuit of the American Dream. The woman was the heart of the family—the man the bread winner. Spinster “career girls” like Eli were expected to only do “women’s work” as nurses, teachers, and girl Fridays. Married women did not work outside of the home, as dictated by societal norms.
Hands down, my mother is the strongest woman I admire. She worked hard as a professional artist for 30 years while nurturing her marriage, caring for her family, and raising three children—one of whom suffered with cancer for five of those years during the 70s. To offset medical expenses, she sold her paintings in art shows at shopping malls from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m, two weeks out of every month, yet still caring for us all. I don’t know where she got the strength, but I imagine it comes down to four big letters. L.O.V.E. She’s my hero.
That’s lovely, Cat! I don’t wonder why your mom is your hero, she sounds amazing! I understand that your newer release, A Moment Forever, is not inspired by Jane Austen. From the book blurb it looks like there is plenty of romance, secrets, and history though, which sounds fantastic! What motivated you to write this story? It looks like it is the beginning of a series, are there more to come?
Well, I love the 1940s. I’m probably more of a WWII-era junkie than I am a Jane Austen addict *gasp*. My husband and I are living historians, dressing in period clothing and teaching the public at a local armed forces museum. We attend USO dances and reenactments and I even have a blog: The 1940s Experience! I launched the book from a Memorial Day museum event.
AMF was born from a couple of things. First, it was a JAFF titled My Dearest Darling and written as a sort of “what if Darcy and Elizabeth didn’t find their absolute HEA until much later in life?” That was important to me because ODC shouldn’t always have to be 20 something. In order to do that, both time periods needed to be Historical 20th Century. The second story within the story occurs in 1992, which in itself became a wonderful research opportunity. We didn’t even have e-mail yet!
I have, however, removed AMF from the JAFF genre to attract a wider audience, but within are several nods to my Jane Austen friends. The second novel to follow also began as a JAFF in 2012. Many know of it as The Very Thought of You, and that book is going through editing right now. There is a third, a plot bunny mulling around in my head, but I won’t be attempting an outline. LOL. But, rest assured, we’ll have another strong heroine and swoony hero. The last book in the Liberty Victory Series is a novella – a prequel to AMF, the story of our hero’s mother and her arrival from Holland to New York City just prior to the outbreak of WWI.
I think it sounds awesome, Cat! How wonderful that your husband and you share this interest! And I love the title The Very Thought of You, makes me think of the ballad, which – as a lover of jazz standards – I also love! Definitely looking forward to all your future projects! How about we switch it up with some Quickfire Questions:
- If you could live in one of your novels, which one would you choose? Definitely Denial of Conscience. I’d love to live by the seat of my pants, travel the world, and be a hell on two wheels!
- Of all your Elizabeths and Darcys, which ones are your favorite? (I know! Impossibly hard!) I love them all, but as a couple, they would have to be the WWII couple from, The Very Thought of You. Separately: Villa Fortuna’s dreamy Mike (Darcy) and Undercover’s ballsy Elizabeth. Now wouldn’t they make quite a pair together?
- What time period or setting do you one day-dream of writing a story in? Happily, I have just attained my dream of writing and publishing WWII-era. So, one dream at a time ’cause I might overload. LOL I’ll remain in the 1940s for a while. Maybe one day I’ll finish that Ancient Greece/Greek Mythology JAFF on my hard drive. Immortal
- What time period or setting do you definitely not see yourself writing a story in? Regency. I’ll leave that to the pros and continue to follow my muse far away from that era. I don’t think I have it in me to learn the many layers of clothing.
- What is one of your favorite scenes from Pride and Prejudice? Oh! Hands down my favorite was the one when Darcy approaches Lizzy after the Meryton Assembly, takes her in his arms and says, “Please forgive me for my unkind—absolutely untrue—insult. I am completely besotted with you.” Don’t you remember that one? No? LOL. Well, then my second choice is Elizabeth’s visit to Pemberley with the Gardiners. I adore how her prejudice dissipates when in the gallery and then later her embarrassment at being discovered by him – in his world.
- What is one of your favorite scenes from one of your own novels? (Also impossibly hard!) Um … that is hard but I must confess that it’s the image of David Gandy (Darcy) hanging from the back of Ladder 13 getting oiled down by Lizzy (me) during the Lucky 13 calendar shoot. I can still hear “Burning Up” by Madonna in my mind.
- What do you love most about Mr. Darcy? Well, under all that haughty arrogance and ridiculous pride, deep down there is a man who could love deeply. Moved by the violence of that love, he wanted to give her the world. It took a huge, humbling swallowing of crow and self-awareness to prove to her and himself that change was possible.
Ah, that is perfectly put, Cat! I can’t tell you how much your answers have delighted me! Your stories are incredible and it was such a treat to talk with you about them! Thank you so much for agreeing to this interview!
Whew! I survived! Thank you very much Meredith and thank you friends for your interest and sitting through my ramblings. I had fun! I’m happy to answer any other friendly questions you want to throw my way.
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To enter this giveaway leave a comment, question, or some love for Cat below!
- This giveaway is open worldwide (ebooks only). Thank you, Cat!
- This giveaway ends June 21st!