Hi readers! We are so happy to start our Monday off by welcoming back Heather Moll to Austenesque Reviews! A few weeks back Heather was here celebrating her upcoming release, His Choice of a Wife, with a lovely cover reveal! Now Heather is back to share her story about becoming a writer! We hope you enjoy!
Thank you for hosting me today Meredith! I’m so glad that I get a chance to introduce myself to your readers and share an excerpt from His Choice of a Wife with all of you. I also have a small confession to make…
I was in the closet for a long time. No, I don’t mean sexual orientation—I mean about writing JAFF. I was in the back of the closet buried behind the jeans that will never fit again and trapped under dust bunnies. I never told anyone about my hobby. Sure, family and friends knew I liked Jane Austen. A few of them even knew who Jane Austen was! But no one knew about the writing. Years ago, I participated twice when Meredith hosted a series of ‘Ardent Admirers’ events with readers. I talked about finding JAFF, about me and my family, about what I was reading, what I loved about Austen, but I never mentioned that, by that time, I had a complete His Choice of a Wife on my hard drive.
How did I end up like this? How does a card-carrying JASNA member who adds every Austen-related title to her Goodreads page end up a secret JAFF writer?
I wrote His Choice of a Wife eight years ago. Eight! And no one in ‘real life’ knew until after I submitted it to a publisher last year. Not my husband, not my friends, not my parents, not my fellow local JASNA members. I was proud of the story, immensely proud of it, but I still didn’t tell anyone what I had accomplished.
Because fanfic tends to be disparaged. It’s thought by many to be derivative and not ‘real’ writing. Maybe you’ve heard some of the same pejorative comments as I have:
Can’t you write your own characters?” “Isn’t fanfic all slash or pornography?” “I thought fics were just junk written by shippers?”
By now you’re probably thinking how ridiculous I was. None of us would be in this Austen fandom if we didn’t know those assumptions aren’t true.
It’s one thing to admit that you read variations and that you’re part of a fandom, but I wasn’t ready to stand up and say to someone outside this special Austen community, “In my spare time I wrote a full-length story where I took the well-known characters someone else created and changed what happened to them.”
I didn’t want to explain how seriously I took this hobby only to hear one of those dismissive remarks. I wasn’t ready to account for how much time I had spent writing His Choice of a Wife, how I carefully plot and research my stories, that no one is harder on my writing than me, how much I care about Darcy and Elizabeth and what I put them through even if I wasn’t the one who initially created them. I didn’t want to have something I enjoyed and that was important to me shrugged off as ‘just fanfic’.
I didn’t want anyone to invalidate me, so I did it myself by staying quiet.
Obviously, I came around. I had to be able to answer yes to an important question before I could step out of the closet: Are you a real writer if you don’t write your own original characters?
It took me a long time to realize that the answer was an unequivocal yes. I think it’s harder to get someone else’s characters right than ones you’ve created yourself. Is the effort you put into crafting a good story any less meaningful because the main characters are named Darcy and Elizabeth? Of course not. You know that and, now, I finally do, too.
I still get a few odd looks when say that I write Jane Austen variations, usually because they don’t love Austen or because they don’t understand fandoms. But in general, everyone I’ve told has been as excited and as proud as I felt when I wrote His Choice of a Wife all those years ago. Especially my husband, who has been incredibly supportive after I had to begin a conversation with, “So, you know how I like Jane Austen and Jane Austen fanfic? Well …. years ago I wrote this story…”
This is incredible, Heather! It is amazing how you kept it to yourself for so long, and I’m so glad you are sharing your writing with the world, now! Hopefully your story can inspire others to do the same. Also, I think Jane Austen would very much understand your feelings as she had probably heard many of the same kind of remarks – her “it is only a novel” is our modern-day “just fan-fic.”
Excerpt from His Choice of a Wife
This excerpt takes place after Elizabeth and Darcy have had several encounters in Kent and in London since the ill-fated proposal. Elizabeth was introduced Georgiana at the Gardiners, and in this scene the next day Darcy overhears something while at his house in town that he can’t explain.
Darcy was engrossed in writing letters of business, but was interrupted by the ring of girlish laughter. Intermixed with shrieks and giggles came the muffled sounds of heavy items being jostled. Darcy was at a loss to explain it. The servants never made noise as they carried out their duties, and he was sure the dance lesson had ended half an hour ago.
Darcy threw down his pen and, without donning his coat, opened his door and found the laughter and voices got louder as he approached his sister’s sitting room.
“Ow, that is my foot!”
“I do apologize! I shall never learn this shocking dance.”
The chime of the musical box slowed as he opened the door to his sister’s room. He could scarcely credit the sight before him, for there, with hands clasped and spinning about the room, were his sister and Elizabeth Bennet, laughing as if they had known one another all their lives. Georgiana was totally devoid of composure and was wildly smiling as she pivoted Elizabeth and narrowly avoided grazing a side table. Elizabeth had her eyes on the floor and was muttering “slide, back, turn, one, two, three.”
The music stopped, and both ladies looked at the table. Georgiana gasped as she saw her brother in the doorway, but Elizabeth still did not see him.
“My dear Miss Darcy, you are a talented partner, but I fear I need further practice!”
Georgiana stifled her countenance and dropped Elizabeth’s hands; Elizabeth asked whether she was well. She received no reply but followed Georgiana’s gaze to the door. A deep blush immediately spread across her cheeks. It was then that he realized he was only in his shirtsleeves and likely wore a similar expression of utter astonishment as she did.
He absolutely stared, but shortly recovering himself, he advanced towards them. Every idea seemed to fail him, and after standing a few moments without saying a word, he recollected himself and greeted her.
“I, Eli—Miss Bennet, I thought you were to return home this morning?” Darcy thought her eyes appeared bright and lovely. How could I have decided only an hour ago not to follow her to Hertfordshire? Until she explicitly sent him away, Darcy would use every power within his means to make Elizabeth Bennet fall as much in love with him as he was with her.
“We were obliged to wait for a new team from the posting inn, and I found myself at my leisure,” came her answer in a rush. “I thought I might further my acquaintance with Miss Darcy. We were speaking of dancing and, well, we have passed our time delightfully!”
His sister offered a timid smile. “We have enjoyed ourselves although I am afraid, for all our efforts, Miss Bennet still cannot waltz.”
“You offered…to teach Miss Bennet…a waltz?” Darcy asked, still trying to accept that Elizabeth was in his house and that she was smiling at him.
“I must tell you that I insisted,” Elizabeth interjected, “although I can hardly credit the scandalous reputation of such a dance. I think your sister will agree when I say that we managed to face each other for fifteen minutes and our moral compasses remain pointed true north.”
While Darcy hoped that would hold true in his sister’s case, the desire came, unbidden, that perhaps waltzing would do violence to Elizabeth’s invaluable notions of delicacy and reserve and she might throw aside all propriety and kiss him.
“Fitzwilliam, will you wind the musical box?”
“Do you wish to keep dancing?”
“No, but since you are here, you may teach Miss Bennet. I am afraid that my skill at turning a partner is poor.”
His younger sister could not know how affected he was by the suggestion of clasping Elizabeth in his arms. Since he could only stare at Elizabeth in silence, Georgiana wound the box herself. She then sat and waited for them to begin.
“As we discussed yesterday, Miss Darcy, I believe your brother is fond of neither music nor dancing, and we ought not to put him on display.”
“Do you again refuse to dance with me? My tally is now one success for four requests. Perhaps I should cease petitioning for your hand.” The unintended double meaning of this was not lost on him, and Darcy winced.
“But you have not asked me. Your sister has put me forward as being in want of a partner, but perhaps you do not find me handsome enough to dance with?”
“Who could object to such a partner?”
If any of you joining me here today want to know more about waltzing you can join me tomorrow at Pemberley to Milton where I’ll be talking about what it really meant to waltz in Regency England.
Ahhhhhhhhh! 😍😍😍 That was such a lovely excerpt, Heather! I love the idea of Darcy and Elizabeth waltzing together! Thank you so much for sharing! I cannot wait to see more of what happens between them in His Choice of a Wife!
Connect with Heather
Meryton Press is generously giving away 8 ebook editions of His Choice of a Wife in conjunction with this blog tour!! Woot woot!
Commenting on this post and entering through the rafflecopter widget on this blog enters you in a chance to win!
- This giveaway is open worldwide. Thank you, Meryton Press!
- This giveaway ends August 7th!
Thank you to Janet Taylor, Meryton Press, and Heather Moll for making this blog tour possible! Be sure to check out the rest of this tour!