Hello readers! I’m very excited to welcome back one of my favorite authors, Cat Gardiner, to Austenesque Reviews today! Fans of Cat Gardiner will know that this past summer she released the final installment of her exhilarating and phenomenal Conscience Series. For those who aren’t familiar, the Conscience series is a contemporary adaptation of Pride and Prejudice that takes readers on a romantic adventure in a world full of sexy assassins, motorcycles, intense romance, and thrilling danger! And if you haven’t checked it out yet, you should definitely consider doing so soon!!!
Cat is here today to celebrate releasing the box set version of this series, titled Conscience Rising, on KOBO and Nook! Now you can binge read this series to your heart’s content!! (By the way that is what I will be doing in a few weeks!!)
Hi Cat! It is such a pleasure to have you visit my blog today; I am so excited to talk more about two of my most favorite incarnations of Jane Austen’s Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet! For my first question, I would like to ask how it all began? How did you get the idea to write a James Bond/spy-thriller/modern-day Pride and Prejudice?
Hi Meredith! I’m tickled to be here again to chit chat with you. Thank you for inviting me to one of my favorite places! Ah … the beginning of Iceman. Well, its genesis began when I was reading and posting on a well-known JAFF site. I had just finished posting Lucky 13 over a 30-day Christmas blitz and thought—as I did with L13—“what hasn’t been written on the modern front yet? I need a summer posting blitz.” At the time, I think my husband and I were binge watching Bond movies. Voila!
I love that you look for the avenues that haven’t been explored yet, Cat. I think that is what makes your stories so interesting! One thing I love most about The Conscience Series is your unique portrayals of Elizabeth and Darcy. Both have darker moments in their past and carry some pain. And both are complex characters that transform and go through some life-changing experiences. Can you tell us a little bit about your development of these characters? What aspects of Jane Austen’s characters did you most want to bring out in your modern-day updates? What was some of your inspiration behind Iceman and Lakmé?
As you know, with all my Austenesque works, they are loosely based in JA; they are “inspired by” our dear lady. From the onset of writing JAFF, I chose to focus on various prides and prejudices, only borrowing traits from Jane’s beloved characters woven in my non-canon original contemporary stories. Aaaand, I like to turn things on their head! I began The Conscience Series considering the loss of Longbourn (without an entailment), its nuances in the modern-era. What lengths would Mr. Bennet go to save his ancestral home?
Lizzy’s character was the most important for me to develop, asking the question what would happen if in this modern age … her parents were divorced and Mr. B was a needy single parent. What if, there were no unruly sisters, just Jane but by no means did Lizzy live in her shadow? What if her close relationship with her manipulative, selfish father took most of her compassionate attention once Jane had moved out? Now add forced duty and guilt upon her? What if the responsibilities of saving Longbourn and caring for her father rested solely upon her shoulders? Taking all that into consideration, I asked myself … would Lizzy Bennet still be that spirited, strong-willed, and independently-minded character in essentials? Perhaps those circumstances combined with her strong sense of familial loyalty would cause her to act so very out of character that she hardly recognizes the person she was always meant to be: our canon Lizzy.
Enter the tattooed hero on a motorcycle, carrying with him a lifetime of scars and baggage. Could he bring out that Lizzy Bennet? He’s silent but deadly in more ways than one. Reticent and fighting his feelings for her, how can he prove himself worthy of her when his career is solitary and covert? He is, after all, a government-sanctioned assassin where lies and subterfuge are his business.
Ahhh! It is just a brilliant twist to Lizzy’s character to pit her personality traits against each other a little and see which is the most dominant. I really enjoyed seeing how different this Lizzy is, yet at the same time, find the transformationcompletely plausible. Speaking of your characters…let’s say all our dreams come true and this fabulous series is made into a film trilogy, who would your ideal cast be?
Oooo! Hands down Richard Armitage from his MI-6/Spooks days and Gemma Arterton as Liz. Here are some images of the cast, which introduce new characters such as Knightley and Sarah in Book 2 Without a Conscience. I love working with Pinterest boards for each novel because they keep me organized and I thrive on visual inspiration for both me and my readers: https://www.pinterest.com/cattgardiner/
Oh wow, lot of smoldering beauties there!! Some are unfamiliar to me, but I can definitely see the likeness! Readers who are familiar with The Conscience Series know that you take Darcy and Lizzy all over the world – Monte Carlo, Marrakesh, Peru, Paris to name a few. What are some of your favorite world destinations? What are some places you dream about visiting one day?
Ha! Nowadays, I travel from my office to the coffee pot in the kitchen except when trekking throughout the world with Iceman and Lakmé. My favorite past destination, forever etched in my heart, was Wiltshire England about 20 years ago, and I dream of taking the Venice-Simplon Orient Express from London to Paris to Venice to Prague as I experienced in writing about on the final Conscience adventure: In Good Conscience.
Oh that sounds like a fabulous trip, so many great cities to explore!! Let’s talk music! Between the classical strains of opera that Lizzy is fond of to the driving rock music that fuels Darcy on his missions, music is an important part of this series. In fact, for all your stories come to think of it! 😉 I know you’ve made several Spotify playlists for your stories, what are some stand out favorite songs that you will now forever associate with your Darcy and Lizzy? If you had to choose just one, what is your ultimate Darcy song, ultimate Lizzy song, and one for them together?
Oh yes! Music has been an absolute inspiration in writing not just the series, but in all my books. It all began with Lucky 13 and the Firefighter Calendar Audition. Darcy’s steamy “audition” directed to Lizzy always comes to mind when I hear “A Little Less Conversation” by Elvis. Swoon. But the music in The Conscience Series is a driving force for me, conveying the mood or situation. Because Darcy and Liz grow and change over the 3.5 books, so do their songs but, in the end, the song conveying Darcy’s love for her is best conveyed in “Someone Like You” by Van Morrison. And Liz’s song for Darcy is “When You Say Nothing at All” by Alison Krauss. Together, given their tumultuous journey on the sea of life and each fantastical experience filled with romance and danger, the only piece appropriate for them is Rimsky-Korsakov’s symphonic suite “Scheherazade” based on One Thousand and One Nights.
Great choices, I absolutely love how music inspires you! And I love the diversity of your tastes – your playlists are amazing! Now before we close, us ardent admirers of your writing are dying to know what is next for you? Is there anything you can share?
You are so sweet!!! Well now that Iceman and Lakmé have had their HEA, I’ve jumped into my time machine to wrap up the last novelette in my vintage time travel WWII/P&P series, which is set to release in the New Year. With a rebrand of the series (now titled Time and Again Antique Shop Series with new, genre-appropriate stunning covers) it will ease me into my absolute focus of the completion of the WWII epic 2-book romance I’d set aside a year ago to write In Good Conscience. So, in a couple of months, I’ll be headed back to 1943 Lisbon, London, Germany then its epilogue in NYC 2018.
I love it!!! I know you have a great passion for the WWII era, and A Moment Forever is just an incredible story. I cannot wait to see what you write next!!! How about we switch it up with some Quick-Fire Questions: Good fun!!
- What is one of your favorite quotes from The Conscience Series? From Denial of Conscience – “Don’t be afraid. Enjoy this, Liz. Let yourself feel the ride, not in fear but in excitement. Sure, danger is real, but if you allow the fear of it, then you’ll never enjoy the thrill of the experience.”
- What is one of your favorite action scenes from The Conscience Series? Love, love, love Rick’s rescue in the Amazon in Without a Conscience.
- What is one of your favorite romantic scenes from The Conscience Series? There are so many! However, there is one in In Good Conscience that I adore. It takes place in a hunter’s cabin deep in the Black Mountains of Asheville. A dance in a moonlight meadow.
- Which secondary character did you have the most fun writing about? Caroline! *ducks from tomatoes* What girl wouldn’t love being a bad ass Ninja master? LOL
- What was one of your biggest challenges with this series? Definitely, writing the last book. It was the first series I had written. Although each book is stand alone, I had to bring about an HEA or some sort of completion/evolution for each character to tie up the final adventure. It was a challenge, which required revisiting even the smallest details beginning in the three-year old Denial of Conscience.
- What was most fun about writing this series? The romantic travel. Le Sigh … Darcy & Liz in Monte Carlo … Darcy repelling into the Amazon … Darcy & Liz tangoing in Seville!
- If you were a member of a black ops team, what type of role would suit you best? I’d be the researcher on the computer. That role of Penelope Garcia in Criminal Minds. Unless … I shed about forty pounds, lose 20 years, and grow a spine, then I’d go undercover as a femme fatale.
- If you were to assemble your own black ops team, name four Austen characters that would be on your dream team. Although they’d eventually eat each other alive, I think Caroline Bingley and Mary Crawford could make a great team of lethal undercover femme fetales. I definitely need Colonel Fitzwilliam, military-focused, he would not only kick ass but keep the two women from clawing at each other. Darcy could not be part of this particular team because our femmes would compete for his affections and end up getting everyone killed. So, in his place, I would consider Colonel Brandon as the leader. Older and wiser, he’s measured and would get the job done without becoming prey to the two women.
Well done, Cat! Thank you so much for sharing these answers! I loved learning more about your experience writing this series! And wow…such a great black ops team!! That is one lethal and indestructible team!
This was so much fun, Meredith! Thank you for hosting me and Conscience Rising. I’m so proud of the series and am honored to share the e-book bundle with your readers! I think it’ll make for a wonderful–hot–gift this holiday season!
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Today Cat brings with her ONE signed paperback set of the COMPLETE Conscience Series – Denial of Conscience, Guilty Conscience,Without a Conscience, and In Good Conscience (open to residents in the US) AND TWO ebook bundles of Conscience Rising (all 3.5 books) for me to give away to THREE lucky readers!!
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 November 12th!