I’m on Victoria Connelly’s website today talking about the joys of Indie publishing and all about my new book, Searching for Captain Wentworth!
I hope you’ll pop over there to see what I’ve got to say about self-publishing as well as fantastic authors like Talli Roland, Linda Gillard and Victoria Connelly herself. Victoria has a new novella out for Christmas, Christmas with Mr Darcy!
Competition! This week I’m giving away another paperback copy of Searching for Captain Wentworth.
This competition is International and open to anyone who leaves a comment below in answer to the following question.
Listen to the audio excerpt below of Chapter One from Searching for Captain Wentworth:
Who writes a letter to Sophie inviting her to stay in the family house in Bath?
Good Luck! The winner will be announced next Monday on October 15 2012.
I’m publishing some audio chapters through Soundcloud this week which I hope you will enjoy. Here’s Chapter One:
Searching for Captain Wentworth by Jane Odiwe Chapter One by Jane Odiwe
|Sydney Place, Bath – Jane Austen’s House
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My lovely guest today is Victoria Connelly, the author of A Weekend with Mr Darcy, and The Perfect Hero, two books inspired by Jane Austen. She has a new book out, Mr Darcy Forever, which I thoroughly enjoyed, and if you’ve read any of Victoria’s other books, I’m sure you’ll enjoy this too! I have lovely memories of showing Victoria around Bath during the Jane Austen Festival, taking tea in the Pump Rooms and looking at all the wonderful costumes in the Fashion Museum. I seem to remember we spied a particularly dashing Mr Darcy figure on the promenade walk…
I asked Victoria to tell us a little more about her books and the characters she writes about.
What made you want to write novels inspired by Jane Austen?
I’d been visiting lots of the Jane Austen locations: Chawton in Hampshire, Lyme Regis and Bath and I was really inspired by how beautiful they were and I thought they’d make great settings for novels. I quickly came up with an idea for a trilogy: three separate books about modern-day Jane Austen addicts, each set in a different Austen location.
I’d also just watched ‘Lost in Austen’ and had laughed out loud when Amanda Price declared ‘I just want to read my book’ after her drunken boyfriend interrupts her evening’s reading of reading ‘Pride and Prejudice’. I wanted to explore what it was like to be an Austen addict in a world that can often seem far from romantic.
Can you tell us something about the characters in Mr. Darcy Forever? Who is your favourite?
‘Mr Darcy Forever’ is about two estranged sisters, Sarah and Mia Castle, who are loosely based on Elinor and Marianne Dashwood from ‘Sense and Sensibility’. I kept wondering what Austen’s sisters would be like if they were alive today and my heroine, Sarah, has OCD – she’s incredibly controlled about everything in her life – measuring, counting, cleaning etc. It was fascinating to learn about OCD and she was a fun character to write about. There’s also a naughty dog called Bingley who’s a lot of fun too!
For you, which comes first? The plot or the characters? How long does it take for you to outline your book before you start writing, or do you just dive in and plot as you go along?
It’s often hard to tell which comes first – plot and characters both often go hand in hand for me. I come up with a very rough idea eg: estranged sisters or a Jane Austen conference (as in ‘A Weekend with Mr Darcy’) or a lottery winner who gives it all away (for ‘Molly’s Millions’). I do a very rough plot outline which gets padded out as I go along. But I do rather like the surprise of diving into a new project and seeing where it takes me.
What research for your book surprised you the most, and which bit of research did you enjoy most?
To research this book, I stayed in Bath for three nights during the Jane Austen Festival. It was amazing. I loved every minute of it from the grand costumed promenade to the dancing and the talks about Regency costume. I met some fabulous people and was probably most surprised by the continuing popularity of Jane Austen and that people had come from all over the world to celebrate her work. I talked to people from Italy, America, Scandanavia and Australia. It’s incredible that she’s still so loved 200 years after her first book was published.
Who has been the biggest influence on your writing?
Recently, the biggest influence has been Jane Austen! I have a lot to thank her for – she’s inspired my trilogy which broke me into the American market and has got me into the Top 100 Amazon Kindle Chart. Growing up, though, I have to say I was influenced more by films than books – I devoured romantic comedies and adored the films of Doris Day, Judy Garland, Deanna Durbin and Marilyn Monroe. Romantic comedies are my favourite genre and I feel very privileged to be writing them now.
What is the one thing your readers would be the most surprised to know about you?
They might be surprised to know that I love a good thriller and I adore gangster films from the 1930s and 40s. Alongside the Doris Day movies, I love anything starring James Cagney and I adore ‘Public Enemy’ and ‘Angels with Dirty Faces’ – basically, any film where James Cagney ends up dead. That might surprise my readers!
If you weren’t writing, what would you be doing?
Going mad, probably! I can’t imagine not writing but, before my writing took off, I was an English teacher. Other jobs that appeal are anything creative – something in the world of film or working in Jim Henson’s creature workshop! I’m also passionate about conservation and animal welfare – I have a rescue spaniel and some ex-battery hens so maybe a job helping animals. But I think I’d always be writing – no matter what other job I did.
Thank you, Victoria, for being my guest today, and I wish you much success with Mr Darcy Forever!
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I had such a busy week last week packed full of exciting things. I have to tell you my life is usually a very ordinary one spent writing and looking after my family. But last week was full of magical days and even a larger than life evening or two. It started off when I met Monica Fairview and Victoria Connelly in London before we went off to a dinner given by our wonderful publisher Dominique Raccah of Sourcebooks.
I met Monica and Victoria in St. James’s in the afternoon so we could have a wander round, soak up some Regency history, and look at the shops. You can see a photo of Monica and I standing with a statue of Beau Brummel in Jermyn Street at the end of the Piccadilly arcade. Further along is the wonderful Floris perfume shop which is celebrating its 280 year anniversary this year. There were some gorgeous examples of old perfume bottles and packaging displayed in the shop, and the very kind assistant told us that some of the popular perfumes of the day were Jasmine, Stephanotis and Lime, even spraying particular scents so we could get an idea. We wandered down St James’s Street next – home to Colonel Brandon in London, if you remember. This part of London was typically the haunt of gentlemen, housing the famous clubs of White’s, Boodles and Brooks’s (still in existence today) and Jane Austen definitely would not have been seen wandering around here by herself.
Then it was time to go to our Sourcebooks dinner where I must admit I was very starry-eyed to be sitting in such august company as Barbara Erskine, Elizabeth Chadwick, Jill Mansell, Erica James, Freya North and Wendy Holden to name but a few of the authors, as well as lovely friends Monica, Victoria and Amanda Grange . It was a splendid meal in a gorgeous room of the Reform Club in Pall Mall. We did wonder what all the portraits on the walls would say if they could talk as they looked down on a room full of chattering female authors – every portrait was male, and some of them appeared to be highly displeased! In the photo Thackeray looks down on Amanda Grange and I!
The following day I met up with Amanda Grange at Jane Austen’s House Museum at Chawton. I haven’t been for a while, but I always feel as if I’m visiting old friends, and the feeling that Jane might just walk into the room is always there. The house has a homely feel, and although it has changed in small details over the years it still retains the sense of being a well-loved home. The new shop is gorgeous. Amanda took the opportunity to do some book signings in the shop before we explored the house. I spent far too much money on books, and if you’d like to see what they have on offer you can visit their online shop. The following photos show Amanda and I standing outside the house, then two of Jane’s bedroom where there is a lovely example of a tent bed and this gorgeous dress on display. I didn’t like to take too many photos inside because flash photography is not a good idea where old artefacts might be damaged, but I’ll be posting a few more at a later date. What I love about Jane Austen’s House is the fact that they have personal items that belonged to Jane and her family. You can see Jane’s bead bracelet and the topaz crosses that Jane’s brother Charles bought for his sisters, the red riding coat that belonged to Mrs Austen, and a patchwork quilt made by Jane, Cassandra, and their mother. In glass display cases there are mother of pearl ‘fish’ such as Lydia Bennet won in Pride and Prejudice, little Regency dolls, ivory letters spelling out the words BLUNDER, and DIXON as in Jane’s novel, Emma, and there is even the little needlecase that Jane made for her niece. Christening caps, a bonnet, a lace shawl and replica costumes really give the flavour of the fashion of the time helping to give a sense of the people who lived in the house.
We finished up in the kitchen which has been newly restored – wonder why I felt so at home!
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