Hi readers! I am very excited to welcome Monica Fairview, author of a newly released Pride and Prejudice variation titled, Mr. Darcy’s Pride and Joy to Austenesque Reviews today! This new release is the third book in Monica’s The Darcy Novels series. Mr. Darcy’s Pledge and Mr. Darcy’s Challenge came out in 2014 and explored how Darcy copes with Elizabeth’s first rejection and what happens when his attempts to help Lydia go awry!
Monica, it is such a treat to have you visit Austenesque Reviews and indulge me in another interview! You were one of the first authors to support and visit my blog back in 2009 and I really do appreciate your continuing friendship to me and my blog all these years! I’m thrilled to celebrate another new release with you! How about we begin by talking about The Darcy Novels series. What inspired this series? What has the journey been like working on these books?
It’s a delight to be back again on your blog, Meredith. It feels like dropping in to see an old friend. When I think back to the first time I visited, I’m amazed at how successful you’ve been, and I’m completely bowled over by the momentum you’ve maintained all the way through. The blog is such a wonderful place for everything Austenesque, and you’ve never faltered. That’s such an amazing achievement in the world of blogs! I do hope your readers appreciate everything you’re doing. Come on readers, let’s stop for a moment and give Meredith a big round of Huzzahs!
Now back to The Darcy Novels series. Writing it has been a fascinating journey for me. I started Mr. Darcy’s Pledge believing it was going to be quite short, and I was taken by surprise when about half-way through I realized I had so many ideas I couldn’t possibly fit them into one or even two books. I wanted to follow the course of Mr. Darcy’s journey from the point of being rejected by Lizzy to working out what he wanted to do with his life and I discovered there was a lot of material to be covered, particularly since I started out focusing on Mr. Darcy’s point of view. It was exciting to find out that I was writing a series, but a little worrying, too, because I’d never thought of doing one before.
As it turned out, it’s taken me almost three years to complete the story, partly because I was bogged down by health issues last year (which thankfully have been resolved), but partly because the story had its twists and turns and involved some unexpected rewritings. It’s been a challenge for me (no pun intended) not only because it was my first experience of such a long sustained piece (altogether more than seven hundred regular pages) but also because I found it much more complicated than it would have been to write a stand-alone novel of the same length. The logistics of writing three interconnected novels is different from writing one long one. You have to work on the development and inner cohesion of each of the three books themselves as individual entities. In stand-alone stories, there is one main character arc, but in a trilogy, there are three separate ones, and then you have the additional overall development arc, so you have four instead of one.
This probably sounds like gobbledygook if you’re not a writer, so let’s just say I found it intricate work, but I learned so much in the process. Having completed it, I do feel very glad that I did it. It’s been tremendously satisfying bringing everything together in Mr. Darcy’s Pride and Joy.
That makes a lot of sense, Monica. I can easily imagine how having four arcs to maintain and develop would prove a lot more challenging! In all your works I’ve noticed and have come to love your original character creations. Whether it is swoon-worthy heroes, beautiful heiresses, or impertinent servants – your original creations never fail to delight and entertain! 🙂 Can you tell us a little about the inspiration behind some of the new characters we meet in The Darcy Novels and how they impact the story? Do you have a favorite original character from The Darcy Novels?
Very nice of you to say so, Meredith. I certainly love creating new characters alongside the old and familiar. I do like to look at Jane Austen’s various novels and draw inspiration from them, but that’s not always the case. Some characters seem to pop up into the narrative of their own accord, and once they’re in there, they settle in quite happily. An example is young David, the street sweeper in Mr. Darcy’s Challenge. He spies on Wickham and reports what he sees to Mr. Darcy, which proves very useful. I like him because he’s ambitious and very cheeky, but there isn’t anyone like him in the Jane Austen canon. Other characters are based more on Jane Austen’s characters. My favorite villains of the series are Lord and Lady Matlock. They’re as ghastly as Lady Catherine when it comes to controlling other people’s lives and have very definite plans to marry off poor Georgiana. The Earl is Lady Catherine’s brother, after all, and I imagined that his character would be similar in many ways.
Another of my “favorite” characters in the series is Miss Marshall. Besides being beautiful, Miss Marshall is appropriately proper and appeals to Mr. Darcy’s sense of duty very nicely. Her determination to win over Mr. Darcy reminds me a little bit of Caroline Bingley, but she is in a different league altogether.
I really liked Miss Marshall – she is the woman who looks good on paper and fits Darcy’s elevated and detailed requirements. It’s interesting to see him struggle with his unstoppable feelings for Elizabeth and the good reasoning of pursuing Miss Marshall. In one of your previous posts, you mentioned how, before you started The Darcy Novels series, you noticed all your books were circling around Mr. Darcy but not actually about him. Now that you’ve created a series about Darcy and he is the romantic, tortured, and swoon-worthy hero of your series, how do you feel? Was it as challenging or daunting as you expected? How is it to write about Mr. Darcy compared to other characters?
See, that is one of the advantages of having known me so long. You’ve followed my development as a writer, and you know all my little quirks! Yes, it did take me a long time to focus finally on Mr. Darcy, which is strange, really. I had a kind of mental block, almost as if Mr. Darcy was untouchable.
I think I was awestruck at the idea of working with his character because I pictured him as very reserved and in a way I put him on a pedestal. I kept imagining him as Colin Firth’s Mr. Darcy, you know, the one with the volcano of emotions simmering explosively beneath the surface. That Mr. Darcy is very stiff and formal. I felt almost as if writing about his feelings I would be exposing them in a way that was intrusive. Absurd, I know, but I take my characters seriously!!
Then one day I was watching the Matthew Macfadyen version, and it occurred to me that the whole point of Mr. Darcy is that he has to struggle against his training which — by his own admission later — made him believe himself superior to others in so many ways. He is made vulnerable by falling in love with Lizzy, and that is what is most appealing about him as a character. Of course, I love to have a touch of humor in my novels, so I didn’t focus so much on the angst itself. As soon as I stopped thinking of him as Colin Firth, I felt I wanted to understand Mr. Darcy better. I saw him as a young man who is bewildered in many ways because he is not in control of his emotions. That was how Mr. Darcy’s Pledge was born. It was about his attempts to take back control and set up a marriage of convenience instead. Once I’d freed myself from the Colin Firth syndrome, the novel took off.
I love that you take your characters seriously and really appreciate how portraying the nuances and many facets of Mr. Darcy’s personality were so important to you. What is next for you? Will the release of Mr. Darcy’s Pride and Joy complete the series of The Darcy Novels? If you can share, what kind of projects will you be getting into in the future?
Technically, the character development which began in Mr. Darcy’s Pledge has been completed, so, in that sense, yes, this is the final book of the series. There are some characters I enjoyed during the course of writing the novel, though, so I’d like to come back and revisit that world again soon. I’ve immersed myself in this particular variation for so long, I wouldn’t want to let it go completely.
Having said that, I’m already working on a more adventure-oriented Lizzy and Darcy story so the next variation will be quite different, with a rollicking good pace. That’s as much as I can say for now.
Ooh! Thank you for the hints! 🙂 I always love more of a good thing, so I definitely wouldn’t mind seeing more of your characters from The Darcy Novels. And I also love me some adventure! Can’t wait to learn more!
Excerpt from Mr. Darcy’s Pride and Joy
It was dark on a street where few lanterns burned, and the light bleeding out through gaps in the windows and walls was from tallow candles, pale and emaciated like the inhabitants. Darcy turned to look in the direction he had come from. There were no familiar landmarks to guide him. Further down the street a strong light and the presence of crowds, along with the noise of drunken singing, indicated a public inn. He turned towards it at once. There was safety in numbers, and the light would discourage footpads. He picked up his pace. He did not expect the inn to be reputable, but it was the most likely place for him to hire a hackney to take him home.
It might have been his imagination, but he thought he saw a shadow slinking into the corner of a small alleyway to the right as he approached. He clenched his fingers around his walking stick and crossed the cobblestones to the other side. He could defend himself against an assailant if his fencing lessons were any indication, but he would prefer to avoid a confrontation if possible.
There. A movement in that murky corner – an alleyway or the entrance to a shop, impossible to tell. Darcy told himself he was being foolish, but he released the catch of the concealed sword anyway. Better to be prepared than to be taken unawares.
The hairs on the back of his neck prickled as he heard a shuffling noise behind him. Every instinct of his urged him to flee. He combatted the urge, telling himself it was only the reaction of a man in dark and unfamiliar surroundings. He was intensely conscious that he was the only well-dressed gentleman on the street, which seemed abnormally deserted considering he was in London.
Another furtive movement in the corner of his eye, across the street to his right. Darcy gripped the sword in both hands, taking up a stance in the middle of the road, all his attention preparing for the attack.
Not a second too soon. A tall figure emerged from a doorway to his right and ran straight at him, a stick readied for a blow on the head. Darcy reacted with pure instinct. He put up the sword, which seemed flimsy compared to the stick, but it held, iron singing against wood. Darcy’s shoulder jerked back under the impact as the man’s weapon came down hard. Hot pain shot through his arm, but he held position and the man stumbled backward. From the corner of his eye, he saw the second man come at him, aiming for his stomach. Darcy dodged sideways, slicing the sword downwards. He made contact as the sword edge struck the man’s fingers. The man screamed and dropped his stick to the ground, clutching his hand and swearing.
The first man moved in closer, sweeping his stick downwards again. Darcy dodged it and moved sideways, striking the man in the armpit. The man grunted. Taking advantage of the momentary distraction, Darcy cast his gaze about, looking for a doorway where he could defend himself. There was one on the left, and he moved towards it.
The two men were upon him before he could reach it. He parried their blows, moving like trained a fencer, thrusting and parrying as they tried to hem him in. They were strong, but they relied too much on brute force and moved too slowly. He was able to predict the blows before they fell and to move before they could reach him. Another of the men cried out as Darcy’s sword made contact.
He was tiring now, his arm trembling with effort. Only one man left a large man with a nasty scar across his face. Darcy forced himself to keep his focus, but it was getting harder. He had reached the doorway, which offered some protection and made it easier for him to defend himself.
A loud cry sounded and suddenly Darcy was not fighting alone. The large man turned as a young man came running towards them, waving his walking stick. It was a useless gesture. A quick blow snapped the walking stick in half. The large assailant turned back to Darcy.
Darcy’s last thought as the blow came down towards his head was of Elizabeth.
Sounds like Mr. Darcy finds himself in a dangerous situation!!! Oh no! Thank you so much, Monica, for answering my questions and giving us a little sample of your soon-to-be-released story! (Available tomorrow!!!) I’m greatly looking forward to seeing how this series concludes!
Connect with Monica
Today, Monica Fairview brings with her TWO ebook copies of her soon-to-be-released novel, Mr. Darcy’s Pride and Joy (The Darcy Novels #3), for me to giveaway to TWO lucky winners!
To enter this giveaway, leave a comment, a question, or some love for Monica!!
- This giveaway is open worldwide. Thank you, Monica!
- This giveaway ends June 30th!