Hi readers! I am very excited to welcome Carrie Kablean, author of a recently released Pride and Prejudice sequel titled, What Kitty Did Next (which we are so looking forward to reading, btw!), to Austenesque Reviews today!
Carrie thoughtfully provided a little Q&A for me to share with you today! We hope you enjoy learning more about Carrie, her debut release, What Kitty Did Next, and her love of Jane Austen!
Thanks so much Meredith for hosting me on Austenesque Reviews and giving me the chance to talk about What Kitty Did Next – just in time for Christmas too! I mention that because there’s a scene about a Frost Fair on the frozen River Thames in the book, appropriate at this time of year! This is Kitty’s story – I thought she needed a life after Pride and Prejudice (and after Lydia!) – and I hope your readers grow to love her as much as I do!
What was your inspiration to write What Kitty Did Next?
It all started when I was telling a friend that I didn’t like the casting of Kitty in the 1995 BBC TV series of Pride and Prejudice. That Kitty wasn’t my idea of Kitty, who I felt should be more delicate (as well as shorter than Lydia, who Jane Austen tells us is the ‘youngest [but] the tallest”. Also, I always felt a bit sorry for Kitty; she was overlooked and dismissed as silly – but who isn’t a bit silly in their teens? Who would want to be defined by their behaviour at 17 or 18?
Also, nobody really paid Kitty any attention (except to tell her to stop coughing!). Jane was everybody’s darling child; Elizabeth was her father’s favourite; Lydia was her mother’s favourite; Mary and Kitty were pretty much ignored. Mary was used as a figure of fun even though she was trying to better herself, but Kitty was just there. Coughing. Or crying! I thought there must be more to her than this; I felt the need to ameliorate her somehow. Give her a second chance. Give her a life!
You must love Jane Austen?
I do! I have been a devoted fan since high school, when Pride and Prejudice appeared on the curriculum. I loved the language even then, and rereading Austen’s books in later years just reveals more of her wit and insight. At school, where I also studied French, I got a copy of Pride and Prejudice in French from the library because I thought it might help me master that language. It didn’t! I’m learning Spanish now, and I have got as far as learning the title, Orgullo y Prejuicio – but I think I’ll stick to the English versions.
Although I have been a writer/journalist for many years, this is my first novel and once I had started I found myself thinking about Kitty and her world all the time, so it was a little escapist – in a good way! Another time, another place – and imagining what England was like in the early 19th century. Not just imagining, there was a lot of historical detail to get right and I found I really enjoyed going down those rabbit holes of research. Quite long journeys sometimes!
When What Kitty Did Next was finished, I felt a little bereft for a while so I decided I would write a second novel, using one of the characters who gets the merest mention in the first one. This is a work in progress, provisionally titled Rose. It’s about a young woman who has made a good marriage, in Regency terms, and is now stuck in it – wondering how to make the best of her situation. As you would know, opportunities for well-born women were pretty limited back in those days. Unexpectedly, this embryonic novel is little darker than What Kitty Did Next.
As for Kitty, she’s part of the family now. I find myself wondering how she is!
How do you research your books?
By reading history books, and everything by and about Jane Austen. Reading the Austen novels is, for me, a good way, to get into the cadence of the language. I have tried in What Kitty Did Next to use vocabulary in the way it was used in the early 19th century. For example, the word excite appears many times in Pride and Prejudice, but never in the sense of making someone happy! The etymological dictionary became one of my best friends.
Also, I travel to England (where I was born) once every year or so, and I never tire of visiting various historic houses and places where Jane Austen novels have been filmed, such as Chatsworth in Derbyshire (which stood in for Pemberley in the 2005 film, starring Keira Knightley) or Lyme Park in Cheshire, which provided the exteriors for that house in the BBC-TV series. (Sadly, no sign of Colin Firth when I was there!) Also, of course I make good use of libraries and my good friend Mr Google … I get very caught up in the research, not just because I want to get it right but because it becomes fascinating, whether it’s fichus or frost fairs on a frozen-over River Thames.
Are you a plotter or do your stories evolve organically?
More of a plotter, I suppose, in that I need to have an idea of where the story is going, and why, but that doesn’t mean that everything is set in stone. The characters surprise me with their actions if I let them have some freedom and then they take some unexpected turns. More fun that way! Some things I knew from the beginning – for example, it made perfect sense to me that Kitty and Georgiana Darcy would become friends if I could engineer a meeting. They were similar in age, both were lonely (Kitty misses Lydia very much at the beginning of my novel; Georgiana, being so shy, seems always to have lacked female friends); both were diffident; neither had a strong father figure (Mr Bennet was emotionally absent; and although Darcy did his best as a father figure he was obviously physically absent quite a bit); both were attractive and looking for husbands… you get the picture! Anyway, they do become firm friends and confidantes in What Kitty Did Next.
Thank you so much for sharing, Carrie! I am so glad you are shining a spotlight on Kitty and giving her some other characteristics (aside from being a frequent cougher!) I cannot wait to see more of Kitty, her friendship with Georgiana, and see if any romance comes her way! I am also very intrigued to learn more about your work-in-progress! I’m trying to guess at what it could be!
Would you mind if I asked you some Quick-Fire Questions?
What is one of your favorite Jane Austen quotes? “If adventures will not befall a young lady in her own village, she must seek them abroad.” (Northanger Abbey)
What is one of your favorite quotes from What Kitty Did Next? How thin is the line between happiness and despair! Yesterday, all had been bleak and monotonous; today, every bright prospect was open to her.
Which Jane Austen character do you identify most with? I’m not sure about identifying with, but it’s hard to go past Elizabeth Bennet – because she is witty, and intelligent and not afraid to stick to her principles (even if she is a tad headstrong, and sometimes blinded by a little bit of pride or prejudice!).
What is one of your favorite scenes in Pride and Prejudice? I like the scene in the BBC-TV series when Elizabeth (Jennifer Ehle) is at Pemberley and turning the music sheets for Georgiana, who is playing the pianoforte. She looks up to see Darcy (Colin Firth) gazing at her and it is a very strong but understated look that passes between them, full of emotion and understanding. Quite brilliant.
What is one of your favorite scenes from What Kitty Did Next? There is to be a ball at Pemberley and Kitty looks in at the ballroom the day before to see how the preparations are going:
‘The large doors were open and at the far end she could see housemaids making sure the already clean windows and mirrors sparkled. … The crystal candelabra and girandoles, at present only reflecting sunlight, looked magnificent. Many other candles were piled on another table, waiting to be placed on smaller tables that had yet to be arranged along the sides of the room beside the chairs.
The most arresting sight, however, and the one which Kitty had come to see, was the chalked floor. The wooden floorboards, polished and in perfect condition, needed no disguise, but when she was in London Elizabeth had been delighted by the fashion for decorating ballroom floors. Instead of chalking feet to prevent dancers sliding, someone had thought instead to chalk the floors.
The two artists now on their knees at Pemberley were completely absorbed in covering the ballroom floor with an intricate pattern of repeating motifs of the sun, the moon, shooting stars and planets. They were three quarters of the way through their ephemeral task. Kitty marvelled at it, at the same time thinking it sad that such a beautiful work of art would disappear under whirls of dancing feet. She watched from the doorway for a few minutes more, revelling in the anticipation of being present at such a distinguished event as the summer ball. She intended to dance every dance.’
What is your “truth universally acknowledged”? It is a truth universally acknowledged that there is nothing like a deadline to make a writer sit down and work!
If you were to meet Jane Austen, what would you like to hear her say? “Very well, I shall put you out of your misery… I am going to finish Sanditon.”
Terrific answers, Carrie! Yes!! I absolutely agree about Sanditon!! And your favorite quote from Northanger Abbey is definitely one of my most favorite too! Thank you so much for answering all these questions and for visiting Austenesque Reviews! We are looking forward to finding out What Kitty Did Next! 😉