Nov 012017
 

Hi friends!  I am so excited to welcome a new author to Austenesque Reviews today!  As you may have already seen, Riana Everly is in the midst of celebrating her debut release, Teaching Eliza!!  As a big fan of My Fair Lady (It is one of my all-time favorite movies/musicals!), I’m so thrilled to see this new release that mashes up the George Bernard Shaw play, Pygmalion with Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice!  Today Riana has kindly answered some questions about her new release, Teaching Eliza!  We hope you enjoy!

What inspired you to combine Pride and Prejudice and Pygmalion?

First, I’m a huge musical theatre fan, and that includes movie musicals. I grew up listening to Eliza Doolittle singing about “a room somewhere,” and telling Henry Higgins “just you wait.” I also love the theatre, and I’ve seen Pygmalion on stage twice. The first time was in London, more years ago than I want to think about, and the second time was just last year at the marvelous Shaw Theatre Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake. This latter production was set in the present, with computer screens and iPads and modern dress, and it worked. It worked beautifully. I find Jane Austen is like that as well. Her stories are gems of the Regency period in England, but they are not limited to that time. They are such distillations of the human experience that they translate beautifully into different times and genres. Anyone who has read a modern P&P variation will know exactly what I mean.

This got me thinking about one, then the other, and somewhere in the midst of all that thinking, the two tales merged in my head. They are not so very different, after all; Darcy (channelling Henry Higgins) is proud and overbearing, and Elizabeth (Eliza – how perfect is that?) is witty and strong. She is willing to sacrifice a certain amount of her independence to achieve her goal, but in the end, her backbone remains strong and she stands up and fights for what she believes is right. In Shaw’s play, Professor Higgins has a friend and ally in the congenial and polite Colonel Pickering, and so Professor Darcy has his friend in Colonel Fitzwilliam. The characters are all there. They are just waiting for their cues.

Be honest. How much did you sing while writing this book? Do you have a favourite song?

Me? Sing? You know me too well. I think I hummed every song from the movie about a hundred times, and had a few on repeat in the desperate hopes of getting them out of my head. The music is wonderful.

In terms of a favourite song, how can one choose? They are all wonderful. I do love Freddy’s “On the street where you live,” and I will never forget my moment of shock when I discovered that the actor who played Freddy (Jeremy Brett) went on to play the very unstable and rather unattractive Sherlock Holmes!

In case anyone needs a memory jog, here’s the clip.

Did all of the characters map neatly, one-to-one?

No, not at all. Nor did I carry them whole cloth from either the novel or the play. My Eliza is not a flower girl from the gutter, but a young women of the gentry, who wishes merely to polish her already presentable habits. She also demands to be treated as the gentlewoman she is, and takes little nonsense from Darcy. As for Darcy, he is less of the careless academic than Shaw’s professor, and is more a representative of the society Elizabeth wishes to enter. He can be rude and thoughtless, but in his case it is deliberate, a thumbing of the nose at the very people who have made him what he is.

Then there are those who do not appear in both sources. George Wickham and Georgiana Darcy both feature prominently in my tale, but neither is based on any character in Shaw’s play, although Wickham’s end does have its germs in Pygmalion. And then there is Freddy, the rival suitor. He is key to Shaw’s storyline, even if he has relatively few lines. He has much more stage time in my story, and I have had the pleasure to create him from whole cloth. I think he is one of my favourite characters in this tale, and one day, perhaps, he will get his very own story.

You will see other characters from both sources come and go in the story. Charlotte Lucas and Caroline Bingley are both important, as is Mrs. Pearce from Pygmalion. But we also can’t forget the Gardiners and Mrs. Reynolds from Pemberley. They all fit nicely into the story as it developed.

What challenges did you have in meshing these two complementary, but very different stories?

My biggest challenges involved my leading men. In Shaw’s play, Eliza ends up with Freddy, not Higgins. This was deemed problematic even by early audiences, because Shaw had to justify his decision to the masses. The Hollywood musical version, My Fair Lady, ends with Eliza returning to Higgins. I dislike this ending; I think Shaw had it right. Eliza grows up and becomes a lady, but Higgins does not really change, and remains a little boy in man’s clothing. I needed to make my professor similar to Higgins in some ways, while allowing him to grow and develop and become the man whom Lizzy deserved.

I also needed to make my Freddy a very viable option for her. She never loves him, but she sees in him everything that she wants in a partner. It was a challenge to make him almost right for her, while keeping him just shy of perfection. She had to choose Darcy because he was the better match for her, and not just because it’s the expected ending. (Oh – sorry. Was that a spoiler?)

For the reader who knows the movie, I think the biggest challenge will be to imagineDarcy as a young and handsome man, and not like the rumpled and not-too-lovely Rex Harrison from My Fair Lady. I have tried to describe him a bit, while leaving the reader to her own imagination, but if that is not quite sufficient, I will leave you with this lovely portrait by John Partridge. The subject is Charles Robert Leslie, and he was painted in 1836. He is almost exactly the Darcy I had in mind as I wove my tale of Teaching Eliza. I hope you approve.

I can’t wait to meet your Darcy, Riana!  I’m sure I will find him easy to love!  How about we have some fun with some Quick-Fire Question??

What do you love most about My Fair Lady/Pygmalion?

I love the general message: that a person’s outer shell, what he shows to the world, is nothing compared with what is inside. Eliza Doolittle always had the makings of a duchess, because she respected herself. The only thing that changed was how she presented herself to the world. And of course, Shaw’s wit is acerbic and quite biting, and always makes me laugh. The whole play is brilliant, and is really a form of Greek Mythology Fan Fiction in its own way.

What is your favorite scene from Pride and Prejudice?

That is so hard to answer. There are several scenes I love. The very first meeting at the Meryton Assembly, when Darcy makes such an idiot of himself, is terrific because it draws Lizzy’s character so well. Similarly, I love the scene after the Hunsford proposal where she reads Darcy’s letter. Both of them are so exposed in that passage, and we start to see Darcy as a person.

Do you have more in common with Elizabeth Bennet or with Eliza Doolittle?

Probably Eliza Doolittle. I’ve never been to a private ball, I have lots of ratty old straw hats, and I don’t know which fork to use with which course at dinner. I’ve also been known to utter words that are out of place in a fine estate’s drawing room. But I do not drop my H’s, I do love long walks and I do love to read. Cue the next question…

Do you prefer long rambles outdoors or an afternoon sitting in an enormous chair with lots of chocolates?

You said the magic word – Chocolate! Can I have both? Please? I love long walks, especially when the weather is just turning to fall and the air is crisp, but it’s hard to say no to a good book and chocolate! Both would be loverly!

What is your favorite flower?

Bearded Irises are magnificent to see, but the smell of lilacs always makes me go “ahhhhh.” Sadly, I have a black thumb so I only enjoy flowers from afar, lest I kill them unintentionally by looking at them the wrong way.

Which outing would you look forward to more – the Ascot Races or the Embassy Ball?

Ascot! I would love to wear one of those fabulous hats!

What do you admire most about Mr. Darcy?

I admire his steadfastness and loyalty, and his willingness to do the right thing without the first thought of “what’s in it for me?” I also greatly admire his willingness to look at himself and see his faults and attempt to correct them. That takes a big person.

What do you think Jane Austen would say about George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion?

I think she would love it! His sensibilities are almost 100 years later than hers, and are much more worldly, but he has a similar view of the world as she does. They both look for chinks in the armour of society and expose them through witty and thoughtful commentary. I think they two would have had a wonderful time chatting over tea.

I love it, Riana! Fabulous answers! 🙂  I agree about the Ascot and some chocolate after a long walk would be most loverly indeed! 😉  Thanks so much for the lovely chat, Riana!  We wish you all the best with your new release, Teaching Eliza!

~~~

Connect with Riana

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Giveaway Time!!

Today Riana is generously giving away five lovely ebooks of Teaching Eliza in conjunction with her blog tour!!  Woot woot!  Isn’t the cover sooooo loverly?

   

 

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To enter this giveaway, leave a question, a comment, or some love for Riana below!

  • This giveaway is open worldwide.  Thank you, Riana!
  • This giveaway ends November 4th!

Check out the rest of the blog tour by clicking the image above.

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  64 Responses to “Interview + Giveaway with Author Riana Everly!!!”

  1.  

    Can you believe I have not seen the movie? Not sure why… Really want to though after reading this post. The book sounds great 😀

    •  

      The movie is fabulous, but it is very long. It’s basically the play with songs added in. There is some great music, though. If you watch it, head over to my FB page or web page and let me know what you think. I’d love to know what others have to say about Higgins and Freddy and the choice of actors. Either way, enjoy the book!

    •  

      Oh do watch the movie! I think it is so great! I love Audrey Hepburn and the music and costumes make it such a feast for the senses!

  2.  

    It sounds like such an interesting book! And the cover is beautiful! Looking forward to reading it! Thank you for the giveaway. 🙂

  3.  

    I am looking forward to reading this, having won a copy on another blog…lucky me. I have not read the original book but know the movie. Learning that Freddy won her in Shaw’s book makes so much more sense and is so much more romantic to me. Love his song, which I watched again. Didn’t know he played Sherlock. I watch a lot of Sherlock so will have to look that one up. (Binge watching Elementary on HULU while I walk on my treadmill.)

    •  

      The movie is very close to the original play, with the exception of the ending. A lot of Shaw’s plays had controversial endings, and I wonder if he enjoyed sitting back and watching the uproar from critics and theatre-goers alike. And yes… Jeremy Brett made such a perfect Freddy, and such a perfect Sherlock Holmes, but it’s hard to believe it’s the same actor. On the other hand… Elementary with Jonny Lee Miller is great TV as well. He’s had his roles in Austen adaptions, so he might be a perfect candidate for some fantasy casting.

  4.  

    I have seen the film but have not read Pygmalion, but the mash-up sounds like a good read

  5.  

    I’m with you there Riana as regards flowers. I could never be Eliza as I don’t think selling dead flowers would ever catch on. My family know not to buy me real flowers any more!
    However as regards the walk versus book I would take the comfy chair option every time even without the enticement of chocolate!
    As for this book, I really am looking forward to reading it even now that you have given away the ending. Darcy with Elizabeth? Who would have thought?
    Loved this interview Meredith so thanks to you and Riana.

    •  

      Sorry for that spoiler. 😉 Yes, flowers… so not part of my skill set. Although I could probably make a reasonable go of eating chocolate flowers. That is more my cup of Earl Grey Tea. I hope you enjoy the book.

    •  

      LOL! 😉 Who indeed! I actually had to check with Riana about that since I know in My Fair Lady the ending isn’t exactly romantic and she mentioned that Freddy ends up with Eliza in Pygmalion… I was worried that her Elizabeth would end up with Freddy in her book! 😉

      Glad you enjoyed the interview! It was a lot of fun for me! 🙂

  6.  

    I’m in dreamland!! P&P and Pygmalion! I can’t wait to get my hands on this one:) I think “my” Darcy looks like Charles Robert Leslie too. Thanks for offering the free ebook!!

  7.  

    I do so want to read this book.

  8.  

    My Fair Lady has been a part of my life longer than Austen. LOL My mother played Eliza Doolittle in MFL in a high school musical and when I was small we used to sing the songs together. I found Austen as a pre-teen. I can see the cross lines so clearly. I think this book is a must for my TBR. I will confess that I’ve never read the original version of MFL (aka Pygmalion) and think I need to do that. I will also admit to having creeper thoughts about Rex Harrison at the end because of Eliza returning and then him sliding down in his chair, tipping his hat and requesting his slippers LOL Thanks for sharing!!

    •  

      I agree – the end of the movie left me rather unsatisfied too. Higgins is far from my idea of a romantic hero. Hopefully you will approve of the resolution between Professor Darcy and Eliza Bennet. And yes, isn’t it a pity the book couldn’t come with a soundtrack? 🙂

    •  

      That’s awesome, Stephanie! I was the same, I found MFL first too. After Annie, I think it was the next musical my parents showed me. I’ve watched it probably dozens and dozens of times since then. 🙂

  9.  

    What a delightful interview! I love ‘My Fair Lady’ and all the songs. It was so nice to watch the clip again after so many years! I’m going to have that song in my head now along with ‘I Could Have Danced All Night’! I may need to re-watch this movie as I know we have the VHS still and I think the DVD. Will have to go look! Congratulations again and I so look forward to reading your variation!!!

    •  

      Thanks. By the time I had finished editing (and singing and editing and singing), my daughter was quite determined never to let me alone with YouTube again ever! Enjoy the movie, and enjoy the book!

  10.  

    Crossovers can be so tricky but what a payoff when they work. I’m thrilled to see Teaching Eliza come to life and can’t wait for the fun

    •  

      I do hope you enjoy this one. Initial reaction has been wonderful, which makes me grin like the Cheshire Cat. But that’s another author’s variation, and I won’t tread on her toes. 🙂

  11.  

    Great interview, I enjoyed getting to know Riana better. I love mash-ups especially when it’s of two works that I adore which is the case with this book.

  12.  

    Sounds like a delightful mashup! I like how you thought through the similarities and differences between the books, then forged your own story from the elements.

    •  

      Thank you. It was an interesting exercise for me, thinking about each character and how they were and were not the same. I loved shaping the colonel – who became a romantic hero in his own right – and seeing where the original tales meshed and where they diverged. This really was a labour of love.

  13.  

    I cannot wait to read this book. I like the fact that it is set in the Regency period. It will be so interesting to see how the characters are presented.

    •  

      There were definitely some societal standards that were different between Jane Austen’s time and Shaw’s, and the class difference (having my Eliza of the same societal rank as Darcy, as opposed to Shaw’s flower girl) made for some thinking about how to accommodate everything. Because a lady’s reputation is everything after all! I hope you enjoy the book as much I enjoyed writing it.

  14.  

    Elegant cover!! Adding the movie to my to-watch list. thanks for the giveaway!

  15.  

    This book looks lovely–what a terrific “mash-up”!!

  16.  

    What a wonderful interview! And I’m with you completely on the Freddy/Sherlock thing … I was so disappointed to see under the video that his voice was dubbed. Wouldn’t it have been wonderful if Sherlock had a voice like that? LOL! “The Street Where You Live” has tough competition in “I could have danced all night” — either way, two very enjoyable songs. Many thanks for your giveaway offer — and adding this book to my ever-growing Must-Read list right now!

    •  

      The interesting thing is that Jeremy Brett started off his show biz career as a singer! I have heard rumours that there is a video out there somewhere of his original performance of the song, but i can’t find it. What I did find, though, is the entire operetta The Merry Widow, with him in the starring (singing) role. He’s not quite up to The Met’s standards, but the guy did have a voice. But Sherlock Holmes? LOL
      I hope you enjoy the book.

  17.  

    This sounds so right. This mash-up is perfect for our characters. I am really looking forward to reading this. Blessings on the launch. Thanks Meredith for hosting.

  18.  

    Riana,

    This sounds like a very clever idea s D I’m surprised someone hasn’t thought if it before now.
    I’m looking forward to seeing how Darcy and Lizzy interact with each other.
    She’s not going to take any condescending or supercilious remarks lightly,nor,I’m assuming,will Darcy be backward in his attitude towards her.

    Wishing you much success in your writing endeavours.

    Meredith,cheers for hosting such an interesting post.

    •  

      Ah, therein lies a tale! I was shocked and surprised and amazed, two weeks before I published this, that another author (Barbara Silkstone) had a very similar idea and the exact same title that I had hoped to use! Luckily, she was so wonderful and we did some work together for our books. I did end up changing my title for all sorts of reasons (she didn’t ask) and it all worked out so well in the end, but… to make a long story short, someone did think of it first! LOL I’d love to hear from someone who read both novels how they compare. Our styles are very different, so it’s not a competition at all.

    •  

      I’m glad you enjoyed the post so much, Mary! I don’t think this is the first time two Austenesque books have released with the same/similar titles or similar artwork on the cover around the same time! I guess great minds truly do think alike! 😉

  19.  

    I’ve seen both the stage production of Pygmalion and the musical of My Fair Lady. Love the music. I often get the songs from it stuck in my head. This sounds like a fun mash-up and I look forward to reading it!

    •  

      Do you prefer the play or the movie? I think I prefer the play, but those songs… oh so loverly! 🙂

      •  

        It’s been a while since I’ve seen the play, so I’m not sure on my preference, but I really do think the songs add to the story. “I Could Have Danced All Night” just makes me happy. “The Rain in Spain” is such a silly song, but I like it too. 🙂 Really, I think all the songs are great!

  20.  

    Great interview. Can’t wait to meet this Darcy and Eliza. I bet the instruction goes both ways!

  21.  

    I love the cover of this book and it certainly sounds interesting. I have seen a movie of Pride and Prejudice but I have never read the book. But one day I am when I get sorta caught up on my reading.

    •  

      My cover artist (Mae Phillips) was a doll to work with, and she did such a gorgeous job! Which movie did you see? The only one that really messes with the story is the 1940 movie with Greer Garson and Lawrence Olivier. It’s lovely in it’s own way, but it takes great liberties with the plot. The 1995 miniseries sticks the closest to the book, but the 2005 movie captures a lot of the spirit of the book as well. You can’t go wrong with either.

  22.  

    Oh, this sounds wonderful. I would love to win a copy, but I will gladly purchase one. Thank you for the interview and the giveaway opportunity!

  23.  

    fantastic cover

    denise

  24.  

    I love My Fair Lady, can’t wait to read this!!!

  25.  

    So excited about this book! I loved Pygmalion, and a P&P version of it sounds like great fun. Thanks for the post, Meredith and Riana, loved it!

  26.  

    Great post ladies, loved the interview. I couldn’t wait for My Fair Lady to come on TV once a year (back in the old days) so I could see it again. I loved so many things about it, the music and costumes, even the scenery…..that really enchanted me, that so British house of the Professor’s. Definitely contributed to my becoming an Anglophile. This is such a clever idea Ms Everly. I second so many other’s opinions on the cover. That Charles Robert Leslie was rather swoony wasn’t he? Woo!

    P.S. Oh, and your feminine little icon silhouette is so cute!

    •  

      Thank you! Yes, that painting certainly got my attention. I’ve tried to keep my characters a bit separate from those in the movie, but it’s hard to completely divorce them. Shaw drew them in such bold strokes, after all! I hope you enjoy the book.

  27.  

    Great review! I vaguely remember watching the movie on television when I was younger. I’m looking forward to reading your book and seeing how the two stories mesh together.

  28.  

    Great interview, this book sounds wonderful.

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