Hello readers!!! Super excited to be sharing in the celebration of The Darcy Monologues again with a special post about author J. Marie Croft! As you probably are already aware, Joanne is one of the 15 very talented authors that give Mr. Darcy his say in The Darcy Monologues. I’m thrilled to share an informative interview with J. Marie Croft and a lovely introduction from Caitlin Williams!
Caitlin Williams Shares Falling in Love at First Slight with J. Marie Croft
I clearly remember the first time I came across J.Marie Croft’s writing because it left me seething with jealousy. You see, I had one of those ‘Damn! I wish I’d thought of that’ moments. The book was Love at First Slight, and I was staggered by its inventiveness. What an amazing idea to have the roles reversed! In this ingenious re-telling we meet Elizabeth Darcy, a daughter of Pemberley, complete with younger brother and a great fortune to protect. How proud, aloof, and pernickety she is, unwilling to accept her overwhelming attraction to William Bennet, a middle son from Longbourn destined for the church. It’s a wonderful, memorable book, written with great humour and there are lots of laugh out loud moments, but J.Marie Croft’s observations on human nature and her characterisations are just as sharp as her wit. With simple, beautiful words, she delivers poignant and touching romantic scenes that will make you sigh.
In A Little Whimsical In His Civilities, she gives us a portrait of a cross, frustrated, but humbled, post-Hunsford Darcy as he works his way across what is his own personal social nightmare – the Meryton Assembly Rooms; hating everyone who blocks his path back to Elizabeth.
I love J.Marie Croft’s writing because her Darcys are always real, rounded human beings, with flaws, scars and failings, and that is a brave way to paint him, in a world where he is so often, more commonly offered up to us as the great romantic hero who can do no wrong. In J.Marie Croft’s imagination he’s a real man, and a damn sexy one to boot. I can’t wait to read her story, ‘From The Ashes’ in The Darcy Monologues.
I couldn’t agree with you more, Caitlin! I love Ms. Croft’s portrayals of Mr. Darcy – her view of him is a bit less haughty and he is often more aware of his short-comings. His self-castigation and reprimanding inner monologues are vastly entertaining and sweetly endearing. 😉 I’m so excited to share this lovely Q&A that shares a little bit more about Joanne, her writing, and Jane Austen! We hope you enjoy!
Interview with J. Marie Croft
Can you start by writing for us a six-word memoir about yourself? No pun intended. Okay. It was.
[Meredith: That was perfect, Joanne!]
How did you come to be inspired by Miss Austen as both a woman and then, as a writer? In my youth, I wasn’t wise enough to understand Austen’s irony. Foolish girl that I was, I held my nose and tossed aside her work in favour of comic books and science-fiction novels.
Obsession with Pride and Prejudice occurred much, much later in life. After watching Bridget Jones’s Diary, I investigated the link between that film and Austen’s most popular novel. What a delight it was to see a certain actor also starring in the 1995 BBC production of the story. I have Colin Firth to thank for reintroducing me to the author who is now my inspiration.
Once I found her work, I couldn’t get enough of Austen’s glorious, caustic wit, her veiled social commentary, feisty heroines, and swoon-worthy heroes. But I wondered what happened to her characters after the novels ended. I needed more … especially more Darcy and Elizabeth. Wondering if there might be a sequel out there somewhere, I searched the internet and was led to a few golden nuggets in the local library. Then, somehow, I found my way to the motherlode: Jane Austen Fan-Fiction at sites such as the Derbyshire Writers Guild, Bits of Ivory, Firthness, A Happy Assembly, etc.
After devouring every available offering, I had an audacious thought. Maybe I could write something. It was a bold notion, indeed, considering I had never composed anything other than one short story in high school (about a street fight, of all things!), personal correspondence, and odious business letters. If Austen, who faced more hardships as a woman than I ever would, was brave enough to write, then how could I not attempt it?
Fortunately, the JAFF community is a tremendously supportive one; and I am inspired by not only Jane Austen but also by readers and other writers who share my love of her works.
One of life’s little ironies is that, once upon a time, I found Austen’s writing too stilted and stodgy. Now I would dearly love to emulate her written voice.
[Meredith: I love that your re-encounter with Jane Austen came through Bridget Jones! (Perhaps Mr. Firth deserves some credit as well!) So glad you gave Jane Austen another try!]
Can you offer readers a brief description of your story and tell us why you chose to set your story in the Regency era? When invited by Christina to write something for The Darcy Monologues, I asked for a writing prompt. Slapstick humour may not be what our editor had in mind when she suggested this: Darcy writes the “canon” letter but starts out with a horrible gaffe, scratches that, mocks himself, continues on, scratches that … more self chastisement … until he gets it right.
In From the Ashes, Darcy has to struggle – not just mentally but physically – to write his letter to Elizabeth. He’s overtired and emotional when he applies himself to the task. The canon letter was, after all, dated from Rosings at 8:00 a.m. What the heck was our dear boy doing between his proposal and the next morning, hmm? I bet the poor guy wasn’t sleeping soundly.
My story for the anthology takes place in the Regency era because, at least thus far, I’ve only ever written in that time period. One is supposed to write what one knows; but, since I don’t have a clue what’s going on these days, a modern story written by me wouldn’t be very au courant. I can’t quite remember the 60s and 70s for some reason, so those decades are out. As for the future, it’s beyond me. Ergo, I’m stuck in the Regency and can’t get out.
Honestly, I prefer the refinement and the polite, respectable manners of that era. I love the idea of country houses and candlelight, horses and carriages, snug breeches and tall boots, cravats and waistcoats, tailcoats and beaver hats, white gloves and a kiss on the hand, quill pens and sealing wax, elegant gowns and elaborate hairdos, dressing for dinner and strolling in the garden, good conversation and graceful dancing, flirting and courting. The Regency era may be a nice place to visit through reading and writing, but I would not want to live there. I need my creature comforts.
[Meredith: I very much enjoyed the physicality and unabashed honesty of your story, Joanne. Well done!]
This year we’re coming up on the 200th anniversary of the publications of “Persuasion,” and “Northanger Abbey.” What were you trying to capture in your story, From the Ashes, of Jane Austen in The Darcy Monologues? No part of Pride and Prejudice comes from Darcy’s point of view, but it’s my favourite one to write. I like to pick on our dear boy, you see, and make jokes at his expense. (Don’t worry; he’s wealthy and can afford it.) Unfortunately, my humour is unlike Austen’s. She used wit in a quick, caustic manner that I would dearly love to emulate. My attempts are riddled with puns and slapstick; but if a reader gets a smile or, better yet, a laugh or two from one of my stories, I’ll be happy.
[Meredith: Mission accomplished. 😉 ]
The reactions to this upcoming release have been overwhelmingly positive from readers and I think that’s also in response to Mr. Darcy’s tremendous popularity throughout the past two centuries. Why do you believe that modern-day woman still find him so appealing? Not all modern-day women find Mr Darcy appealing. One of my grown daughters doesn’t, and her twin sister is indifferent to him. (I love them anyway.)
Mr Darcy is tall, and he’s handsome. Add wealth to those assets, and he becomes both physically and financially attractive. But what of his character? It’s certainly not very appealing at the beginning of the story and barely better in Kent.
He doesn’t always say the wrong thing. After all, he’s the one who uttered, “You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.” That line ratchets up his appeal. But it takes a bit of flaming criticism from our heroine to affect improvement in our hero. Although Elizabeth wasn’t trying to ‘fix’ Darcy (neither in the sense of attracting nor emasculating him), he did thereafter correct his arrogant, conceited, selfish behaviour. We learn a lot about Mr Darcy through his explanatory letter to Elizabeth. We learn of losses, betrayals, and that he’s not the villain of the story. We become more sympathetic towards him.
He’s intelligent. He realizes he’s been a spoiled brat for most of his life, and he wants to become a better man. He’s honourable and responsible. To him, family and duty are paramount. For me, that’s a huge part of Darcy’s appeal.
So, we have a tall, handsome, principled, dependable, passionate gentleman in possession of a large fortune and capable of righting a number of wrongs. Towards the end of Pride and Prejudice we have a genuine hero, the new-and-improved, appealing Mr Darcy … and he comes complete with Pemberley. What’s not to love?
[Meredith: So very well said, Joanne! He is the kind of hero that never goes out of style.]
Did writing this story make you appreciate something about Jane Austen all over again? Besides my admiration of Austen’s storytelling skills and biting wit, I appreciate that she – like all other authors toiling away at their craft before typewriters and computers – wrote using pen and paper. In From the Ashes, Darcy’s fingers suffer from cramping while writing one letter. Imagine writing entire novels by hand! Ouch. Talk about authoritis!
[Meredith: So true! Definitely would need to take many breaks for tea…or perhaps long rambling walks!]
What can readers look forward to reading from you in the future and how can readers stay in touch with you? A two-volume novel is in the works and has been for ages. It’s progressing at approximately one quarter snail’s pace, so don’t hold your breath. If you’re interested, there’s a story snippet (in which Darcy is holding his breath) on my new website/blog. I’d love to hear from readers and can be contacted at jmariecroftatgmaildotcom and found in Nova Scotia or, more conveniently, at Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
[Meredith: This news makes me so happy! Keep writing, Joanne! ]
~ Author Bio ~
J. Marie Croft is a self-proclaimed word nerd and adherent of Jane Austen’s quote “Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery.’ Bearing witness to her fondness for Pride and Prejudice, wordplay, and laughter are Joanne’s light-hearted novel, Love at First Slight, a Babblings of a Bookworm Favourite Read of 2014, her humorous short story, “Spyglasses and Sunburns,” in the Sun-Kissed: Effusions of Summer anthology, and a playful novella, A Little Whimsical in His Civilities, Just Jane 1813’s Favorite JAFF Novella of 2016.
~ GIVEAWAY TIME ~
Check out the amazing blog tour giveaway!!!
- One winner will win our grand prize of 24 paperback books, each one autographed by the author, and mailed to the winner’s home.
- The second winner will win their choice of either a Pride and Prejudice pocketbook or a Pride and Prejudice Kindle Fire Case with stand – Pride and Prejudice Book Cover Case for Amazon Kindle Fire 7″ and 6″ – Kindle Fire / Fire HD / Fire HDX tablet.
To enter these giveaways fill out the rafflecopter form below.
- These giveaways are open worldwide.
- These giveaways end July 6th!
My gratitude and thanks to Christina Boyd, Claudine Pepe, and all the authors in this anthology for making this blog tour possible!
April 3 My Jane Austen Book Club – Launch Post & Giveaway
April 10 Babblings of a Bookworm – Book Review & Giveaway
April 17 The Reading Frenzy – Guest Post & Giveaway
April 20 My Love for Jane Austen – Guest Post & Giveaway
April 24 Margie’s Must Reads – Book Review & Giveaway
May 1 From Pemberley to Milton – Book Review & Giveaway
May 8 Just Jane 1813 – Excerpt Post & Giveaway
May 15 Austenesque Reviews – Book Review & Giveaway
~*~ May 22 Austenesque Reviews – Guest Post & Giveaway ~*~
May 25 Of Pens and Pages – Book Review & Giveaway
May 29 More Agreeably Engaged – Book Review & Giveaway
June 5 So Little Time – Book Excerpt & Giveaway
June 12 Diary of an Eccentric – Book Review & Giveaway
June 19 Book Lover in Florida – Book Excerpt & Giveaway
June 26 My Vices and Weaknesses – Book Review & Giveaway
July 3 Savvy Verse & Wit – Book Review & Giveaway