Happy Friday, readers! Are you ready to start your weekend? I know I am! But I’m real excited to kick off my weekend sharing this lovely chat I had with author Samantha Whitman. As you might have seen, Samantha has released a new book titled Ditching Mr. Darcy (such a provocative title, right?), and today she is answering my questions about Jane Austen, her writing, and her new release. We hope you enjoy!
Welcome, Samantha! Thank you so much for visiting my blog! Since you are a new author to me and some of my readers, how about we start off with you telling us a little bit about yourself. How long have you been writing? When did you first encounter Jane Austen?
Thank you so much for having me, Meredith – I am so excited to be here! I am a mom of five young kids, as well as a photographer with my own business. I have loved writing for as long as I can remember, but it was only about a year ago (during a bout of insomnia), that I endeavored to make the nights feel shorter by writing a novel. I fell in love with Pride and Prejudice after watching what is now my all-time favorite movie, You’ve Got Mail, when I was fifteen years old. When I finished reading it I moved on to the rest of her novels, and thus began a lifelong obsession with all things Jane Austen.
I love how you turned the negative aspect of suffering from insomnia into something wonderful like writing a novel!! And how great that you turned to Jane Austen! I LOVE You’ve Got Mail! One of my faves too! What are some other movies you enjoy? Do you have any favorite Jane Austen movies?
I would have to say Austenland is definitely in my top five – I could watch it every single day!! I also love the Pride and Prejudice 2005 movie, Northanger Abbey, the Emma miniseries with Ramola Garai, and Lost in Austen – Tom Mison’s Mr. Bingley was definitely the inspiration for the one in my book – he is just so dreamy!! And speaking of dreamy, the Mr. Darcy in Bridget Jones is my favorite of Colin Firth’s characters.
Great choices! Austenland and Lost in Austen are so fun aren’t they? I love reading or seeing stories about characters who are Jane Austen addicts (they are so easy to relate to!) Speaking of…your heroine in Ditching Mr. Darcy is a bit of a Jane Austen fan girl, isn’t she? Can you tell us a little more about her and what inspired you to create this story?
Absolutely, yes! The main character of Ditching Mr. Darcy, Elizabeth, is a huge Austen fan, and Pride and Prejudice in particular is her favorite of Jane’s novels. I hope people will find her relatable, as she is a single woman in her late twenties looking for Mr. Right, and specifically, Mr. Darcy. At the beginning of the story she is very naive when it comes to relationships, and very opinionated about what she would consider to be the “perfect” man. There is definitely a journey of self-discovery and some serious mind opening that goes on throughout the story, highlighted along the way by her hilarious inner monologue on her absurd Murphy’s Law-type predicaments.
As a huge Pride and Prejudice fan I have always loved the story, but (and I am making a huge confession here) never really understood the mass appeal of Mr. Darcy as the hero of the story. I was always much more attracted to Mr. Bingley, whose happy-go-lucky outlook on life was much more “my type.” That made me think that although someone like Mr. Darcy might be perfect for lots of women, he definitely isn’t the right fit for everyone. That idea becomes really interesting when Elizabeth wakes up to find herself acting out the story of Pride and Prejudice following a head injury. Although she is playing the role of Elizabeth Bennet, her personality could not be more different from the beloved character of the original novel, and this throws a wrench in her plans for the story to play out the way it is supposed to. That being said, it was very important to me to keep Mr. Darcy the brooding dreamboat he is, not only in the novel, but in both the miniseries and and movie versions.
Oh!!! This is sounding better and better! I love the journey your heroine will go on, and I love your confession. While I love and adore Mr. Darcy and fall for him in any book I read about him, I, myself cannot say I married him. My husband is too amicable and outgoing to be a Mr. Darcy, he is definitely a Mr. Bingley and I call him such on this blog. 😉 I imagine writing a story about a heroine who finds herself acting out Pride and Prejudice was a lot of fun and maybe a bit challenging. What parts of the story came easy to you? Did the construct of the original plot present challenges for you in anyway?
I am a huge history nut and love the idea of stepping back into history, so naturally the idea of a modern day girl fumbling through the 1800’s sounded like an absolute blast to me, but it definitely did have its challenges. I think the biggest challenge was trying to figure out how the characters would have said certain things in Regency era England and the terms and grammar they would have used in contrast to the modern American language of the main character. I wanted to follow the basic outline of the novel as far as the places they went and when they went there, but obviously completely change what actually happened once they arrived. I did have to reread the novel several times to make sure I was following the timeline correctly and make sure my changes in the plot still made sense. Believe it or not, it was actually easier to have a storyline to roughly follow than to come up with a completely new plot, which is what I am dealing with right now as I write the sequel. (Although I love a challenge, so for me it is just a ton of fun!).
I’m glad to hear you wanted to remain true to the outline of the original novel, but I love the idea of seeing some new things happen! …And I’m intrigued to hear you have a sequel in the works!! Yay! Can you share anything about it?
Yes I am super excited about it!! I wasn’t planning on writing one but my amazingly talented cover artist begged me for a sequel so I sat down and brainstormed, and came up with a rough plot in about an hour! I’m about halfway through it now, and without giving anything away, I can say that if you love the first one you will love this one just as much and possibly even more! I can give you the title, which is exciting because it’s the first time I have announced it – it’s going to be called Becoming Mr. Bingley. 🙂
Ooooohh! Yes that is a most intriguing title! I’d love to read more about Mr. Bingley. 😉 I cannot wait to learn more about your new release! Thanks so much for sharing. How about we end with my favorite types of questions, Quick Fire Questions! 😉 These are somewhat in the style of Inside the Actors’ Studio with James Lipton.
Oh boy! Ok, here goes!
- Which Jane Austen character do you most identify with?
This could be a good thing or a bad thing, but I am a lot like Marianne from Sense and Sensibility. I am a hopeless romantic who tends to romanticizes life itself, slightly naive, highly sensitive, and a dreamer of dreams – which is probably why I never could hate Willoughby in the novel!
- Which Jane Austen character do you intensely dislike?
Oooo, there are so many good villains – but I really cannot stand Mrs. Norris from Mansfield Park – she is so cruel to Fanny! I also cannot tolerate Isabella Thorpe in Northanger Abbey – what an absolute brat!
- What is one of your favorite quotes from Pride and Prejudice?
Hmmm…again, there are so many! But I love this one – “My courage always rises at every attempt to intimidate me.” Love that snarky Elizabeth!!
- What is one of your favorite quotes from your novel?
It is so hard to choose! If I am going for romantic, it would have to be this – “He could see that she was shivering and completely soaked through to the skin, her wet hair adhering to her face in long slick strands. He saw her lips and cheeks pink with cold, and every droplet of rain clinging to her eyelashes.” I love the imagery there. If I am going for comedy, I have to admit I love this thought from Elizabeth, my main character – “Damn you, wet shirt scene!” I’m sure it is a thought every Pride and Prejudice fan (and Colin Firth fan) can identify with!
- What is one thing you don’t like about Mr. Darcy?
I really don’t dislike Mr. Darcy himself, although I don’t think I would be very compatible with him. That being said, his lack of a sense of humor I guess is one of his worst qualities. Still, he is pretty smokin’ hot despite all of his faults!
- If you found yourself as Elizabeth Bennet acting out Pride and Prejudice, what would you do?
I would probably stumble through it just like my Elizabeth – she and I have an awful lot in common, right down to finding ourselves in the most ridiculous situations. I know for sure I would fall immediately for Mr. Bingley!
- What would be one of the biggest challenges for you if you lived during Jane Austen’s time?
I think the biggest challenge for me would be having to act like a Regency lady, and being repressed as a woman. I am used to speaking my mind and doing what I want, and when I am told I cannot do something it makes me want to do it even more (so maybe I am more like Elizabeth Bennet than I thought – “obstinate, headstrong girl!”) I know I would hate not being able to take charge of my own destiny, and being at the mercy of men when it came to my life decisions. I think we take our freedom for granted nowadays – women had it rough in the Regency era!
- What do you love most about Jane Austen?
I love Jane’s sarcastic and ironic sense of humor, as well as her subtle but bold rebellion against the patriarchy of Regency society in her writing. She made her heroines equals with their male counterparts, and gave them a voice when it came to their personal views and opinions. I also love that she understood the value of a happy ending in a novel, because real life does not always give us one. In a letter to her sister, she wrote “my characters shall have, after a little trouble, all that they desire.” I definitely strive to model my own writing after that notion.
Thank you so much for taking part in this tête-à-tête with me Samantha! I’m so happy I got to learn a little more about you, your new release – Ditching Mr. Darcy, and your upcoming sequel!!
Connect with Samantha
Today, Samantha brings some lovely goodies for me to give away to one lucky reader! Her prize pack includes a signed paperback copy of Ditching Mr. Darcy and a special Ditching Mr. Darcy themed mug and bookmark!
To enter this giveaway, leave a comment, a question, or some love for Samantha!!
- This giveaway is open for US residents. Thank you, Samantha!
- This giveaway ends March 16th!