Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Monica Fairview’ Category

Steampunk Darcy

I am thrilled to welcome my fellow Austen Author, Monica Fairview, today on my blog – Monica has a fabulous new book out – Steampunk Darcy – I love the premise of her new novel and can’t wait to read it. She kindly agreed to be a guest on my blog and tell us all about the background to the amazing new Steampunk world she has created. I have a book to give away for a lucky visitor to the blog – please leave a comment and contact below, if you’d like to be entered. This is offered to readers anywhere in the world and the closing date is Sunday November 3rd, so don’t miss it! Over to you, Monica!
First of all, many thanks to Jane Odiwe for having me on her wonderful blog. I’m a great admirer not only of Jane’s writing but of her artwork as well, so it’s a particular pleasure to be here.
If anyone had told me ten years ago that I’d be writing a novel set in a Victorian universe, I would have split my sides laughing. I would have thought they were insane. Of all the periods in English history, the Victorian was my least favorite. Part of the reason for this was the fact that when I was studying History at my English school in Manchester, I was physically present in one of the centers of the Industrial Revolution, with its dirty brick buildings, terrible slums and chimneys (Manchester has since cleaned up very nicely). As part of my last years of schooling, I was required to specialize in a certain period in history. I chose the period 1830-1920 in British history to focus on.
There were certain topics we were required to cover in depth, and this involved a lot of independent study. One of the requirements was to learn about all the major discussions in parliament and the groundbreaking laws that were passed. The result was I knew more than anyone had any right to know about labor laws and the background to them – the atrocious conditions of workers in factories and the slums that they lived in. Add to that, I was reading Dickens and Gaskell. And although I applauded Prime Ministers Disraeli and Gladstone for their achievements, I never wanted to hear about the sordid Industrial period ever again. Because ultimately, I didn’t see anything positive in it.
Progressively, over time, as I read certain novels set in the Victorian period, I relented a bit. Yes, the Victorian period was grim and grimy and smoky, but there were good things to it, too. Various influences were changing my opinion of a period I thought of as insufferably tight-laced. John Fowles’ The French Lieutenant’s Woman(the novel rather than the film), and A. S. Byatt’s Possession, TV dramas such as North and South, Cranford and Bright Star all contributed to my seeing the period differently.
Without knowing it, I was growing intrigued.
Then the whole Steampunk aesthetic burst on the scene, grabbed hold of me and hookedme (William Darcy loves that word). Steampunk enabled me to discover a playful Victoriana – one that revealed some of the era’s more positive aspects. Then, within a short period of time, I read two books that made up my mind: Gail Carriger’s Soulless, and Nothing But a Dog by Connie Willis. Now it wasn’t the first time I read that particular Connie Willis novel, but I found myself doubling over with laughter. I found it hilarious.
Which decided things for me. Two hilarious novels set in a Victorian context. Who could resist something so perfectly delicious?
Monica Fairview
This is when the idea of writing a Steampunk Darcy novel came to me.
If you look at either Carriger’s novel or Willis’, you won’t understand why I suddenly wanted to put Darcy in a Steampunk context to see what he’d do. But I suppose it was something about the language, about the sharp humor and playfulness of both novels that reminded me of Jane Austen. It made me feel that perhaps the division of the 19thcentury into Regency and Victorian was not as rigid as I thought, and that Jane Austen belonged in that same age even if she straddled two different centuries.
Once I’d made up my mind to write a Darcy that fit into a Neo-Victorian context, the novel began to write itself. But that prefix “Neo-Victorian” or “Retro-Victorian” – the Victorian period as seen through 21st century eyes – is very important. It’s a Victorian period through rose-colored goggles. The difference is crucial – I still think an actual Victorian woman couldn’t possibly be as playful as Lizzy Bennet. Then Seraphene appeared on the scene, not of course as a corseted Victorian lady but as a corseted aviator, and the hot air balloon ascents that were so popular in Jane Austen’s time became part and parcel of the brave new world of Darcy’s descendant. The book took off.
The rest is history.

Monica Fairview
Steampunk Darcy
A Pride and Prejudice-Inspired Comedy Adventure
William Darcy is obsessed with his ancestors. So much so that he intends to rebuild Pemberley (destroyed during the Uprising) stone by stone, and he wants to employ reconstruction expert Seraphene Grant to help him.
Or does he? Seraphene wasn’t born yesterday. She can smell a rat, particularly when it stinks all the way up to her airship. She knows Darcy is hiding something. But with the Authorities after her and her other options dwindling by the moment, the temptation of genuine English tea and a gorgeous Steampunk gentleman are very difficult to resist.
But what if Darcy’s mystery job courts nothing but trouble? What if Darcy is harboring a secret to kill for? When kiss comes to shove, will Darcy’s secret destroy Seraphene, or will it be her salvation?
Join us on a romantic adventure like no other in this whimsical Pride and Prejudice-inspired tribute, featuring Darcy (of course) Wickham, dirigibles, swash-buckling pirates and a heroine with fine eyes and an attitude.

Bio
Monica can be described as a gypsy-wanderer, opening her eyes to life in London and travelling ever since. She spent many years in the USA before coming back full circle to London, thus proving that the world is undeniably round.
Monica’s first novel was An Improper Suitor, a humorous Regency. Since then, she has written two traditional Jane Austen sequels: The Other Mr. Darcy and The Darcy Cousins (both published by Sourcebooks) and contributed a sequel to Emma in Laurel Ann Nattress’s anthology Jane Austen Made Me Do It (Ballantine). Steampunk Darcy is her latest novel.
Monica Fairview is an ex-literature professor who abandoned teaching criticism about long gone authors who can’t defend themselves in order to write novels of her own. Originally a lover of everything Regency, Monica has since discovered that the Victorian period can be jolly good fun, too, if seen with retro-vision and rose-colored goggles. She adores Jane Austen, Steampunk, cats, her husband and her impossible child.
If you’d like to find out more about Monica, you can find her at www.monicafairview.com, austenauthors.net, Monica Fairview’s blog, on Facebook and on Twitter @Monica_Fairview


Thank you so much for joining me today, Monica – don’t forget to leave a comment if you’d like to be in with a chance of winning a copy of Steampunk Darcy!

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Jane Odiwe, Monica Fairview and the officers at the RNA day

In Lydia’s imagination, a visit to Brighton comprised every possibility of earthly happiness. She saw, with the creative eye of fancy, the streets of that gay bathing place covered with officers. She saw herself the object of attention to tens and to scores of them at present unknown. She saw all the glories of the camp — its tents stretched forth in beauteous uniformity of lines, crowded with the young and the gay, and dazzling with scarlet; and, to complete the view, she saw herself seated beneath a tent, tenderly flirting with at least six officers at once.
Pride and Prejudice

A fun day was had by all at the Romantic Novelist’s Association Regency Day held at the Royal Overseas club in Mayfair. As you can see, Monica Fairview and I experienced a ‘Lydia Bennet’ moment when we met a group of redcoats who were there to add a touch of authenticity to the proceedings. Thank you, Monica, for the lovely photo!
We also met fellow author Juliet Archer who was there to talk brilliantly on a panel about Sense and Sensibility, which included quite a bit of discussion about Mr. Willoughby and Colonel Brandon (would you believe?) 
I got to dance with Georgette Heyer biographer, Jennifer Kloester, who gave a fascinating talk on Georgette, and I managed to get my book signed! The Regency dancing was brilliant though I must admit Mr. Collins would probably look like an expert next to my efforts. Still, we laughed a lot, and had a good time. There are excellent reports on the day on the RNA blog and by Juliet Archer on Austen Authors.


Here’s an extract from Lydia Bennet’s Story:

Lydia Bennet, Mr. Wickham, and Kitty

Chapter 1

The true misfortune, which besets any young lady who believes herself destined for fortune and favour, is to find that she has been born into an unsuitable family. Lydia Bennet of Longbourn, Hertfordshire, not only believed that her mama and papa had most likely stolen her from noble parents, but also considered it a small miracle that they could have produced between them her own fair self and four comely girls—Jane, Lizzy, Mary and Kitty—though to tell the truth, she felt herself most blessed in looks. Lydia’s greatest desire in life was to be married before any of her sisters, but a lack of marriageable beau in the county and her papa’s reluctance to accompany her to as many Assembly Balls as she wished had thwarted her efforts thus far.
The youngest Longbourn ladies, Lydia and Kitty, were employed in preparations for a trip out into the nearby town of Meryton. Their bedchamber was strewn with cambrics, muslins, and ribbons, all cast aside for want of something better. Slippers and shoes, sashes and shawls spilled over the bed and onto the floor. Feathers, fans, and frills flowed from open drawers like a fountain cascade. Amongst the spoils, Kitty reclined against propped, plump cushions to regard her sibling, one arm resting behind her head whilst the other held back the heavy bed drapes, so as not to obscure her view. Lydia sat before the glass on her dressing table, scrutinising her reflection as she put the last touches to her toilette. She dusted a little powder over her full, rosy cheeks and twisted the dark curls on her forehead with a finger, patting them into place until she was satisfied with her appearance.
“Is it not a face designed for love?” she asked Kitty with a chuckle, practising several expressions she thought might stand her in good stead with the officers, or at the very least amuse her sister for five minutes. She was perfecting what she could only describe as a “passion promoter” to great comic effect, pouting her generous mouth and flashing her wide, black eyes with slow sweeps of her lashes, which had Kitty reeling on the bed with laughter. “No doubt, I shall capture Mr Denny’s heart once and for all!”
“I do not think making faces at Denny will make one jot of difference to his regard for you,” Kitty declared, spying a bauble amongst the strewn bedclothes and sitting up to clasp the necklace about her throat. “But, in any case, is it wise to spend so much time on a young man who has such a glad eye? I should have thought you would have learned your lesson by now!” Kitty was the sister with whom Lydia shared all her fears and secrets, cares and woes, secure in the knowledge that she was acquainted with as many of Kitty’s confidences, as her sister was of her own. Lydia would never divulge what followed when Charles Palmer detained Kitty in the conservatory and proposed to show her the illuminations, nor disclose intelligence of the letters that passed between them afterwards. Their confidence was absolute.
“I do hope Denny will like my new hairstyle,” Lydia went on, tying a length of coral silk around her tresses and ignoring her sister’s comments. “I daresay he will; he is always very attentive to every little thing. Why, I only changed the ribbons on my straw bonnet from white to coquelicot last Sunday and he had noticed before the first hymn was sung in church. Oh, Denny, he is so very sweet, though perhaps he is not quite so gallant as Mr Wickham, whose compliments are without doubt the most accomplished. I wonder what he will have to say. Do you think Mr Wickham will notice my hair?”
Kitty did not think Lydia really expected an answer to her question but ventured to comment on the fact that Mr Wickham, one of the best looking officers of their acquaintance, might have his attentions engaged elsewhere. “I do not think Mr Wickham’s notice extends much beyond that of his present interest in Miss Mary King. I hate to disappoint you, Lydia, but quite frankly, you could have Jane’s best bonnet on your head and he would not notice you! Pen Harrington believes he is quite in love.”
“Well, I am not convinced he is in love with Mary King,” said Lydia, liberally sprinkling Steele’s lavender water on her wrists, “but with her ten thousand pounds! Money will certainly give a girl all the charm she needs to attract any suitor. If you and I had half so much, do you think we should still be single?”
“Well, be that as it may, whatever Mr Wickham’s true feelings are on the matter, I declare that I shall never forgive him for his conduct to our sister. I think he used our Lizzy very ill,” Kitty cried, as she drew a white chip bonnet from its pink and white striped box and pulled it on over her ebony locks. “No wonder Lizzy went off to Hunsford to visit Charlotte Collins. I think Mr Wickham quite broke her heart.”
“Mr Wickham is a very amiable, but wicked, man and if he were not so charming or so handsome, I swear I would snub him forever,” Lydia replied. She stood up to smooth her muslin gown over her hips, pulling it down as hard as she could and sighing at its length in despair. Jane, the eldest of the Bennet daughters was a little shorter than herself, Lydia reflected, tugging at her cast off gown. Indeed, none of her sisters were as tall. And whilst she enjoyed her superior height, she knew that nobody else had to suffer the indignity of wearing clothes that were too small. If only she could persuade her papa that she really needed a new dress for herself alone, she knew she would be the happiest girl alive. But that was impossible. There was never enough money and, if there was any left over for the occasional luxury, as the youngest of five daughters, Lydia knew she would be the last to feel its effects. Tacking on another length of fabric from the workbox was the only answer but there just wasn’t time for that now. If they were not careful, they would be late and miss all the fun.
“If I know Lizzy, she will not be downhearted for long and her letters from Hunsford parsonage are cheerful enough,” Lydia added, pinching her cheeks between thumbs and forefingers for added bloom. “She expresses no feelings of regret and certainly there is no mention of moping for Mr Wickham, though how she can possibly be having fun with our dreary cousin Collins is quite beyond me. Poor Charlotte! I know you and I used to joke about the “Lovebirds of Longbourn” but, now she is married, I cannot help but feel sorry for her. Can you imagine having to live with William Collins for the rest of your life? Well, at least Lizzy managed to avoid that, although I am not sure our mother will ever completely forgive her for refusing to marry him.”
“Even sister Mary was not keen on the idea of becoming a parson’s wife, despite her penchant for bible study and religious tracts,” added Kitty, tying blue ribbons under her chin. “Although as I recall, if pressed, she might have consented to the match.”
“But Mr Collins never asked her!” Lydia giggled. She adjusted her bonnet, setting it at a jaunty angle before winking at her sister. “To be married with a house of my own is my ambition, I admit, but I declare I could never love a clergyman, not in a million years. Come, Kitty,” Lydia urged, picking up her reticule with one hand and taking her sister’s arm with the other. “Let us make haste. If we delay much longer, the morning will be gone and we will miss all the gossip!

Lydia and Kitty Bennet admiring the soldiers
Such a pretty scene met Lydia’s eyes on their arrival in town that she didn’t know which way to look: at the ravishing bonnets in straw and silk in the milliner’s bow-fronted windows or at the figured muslins, crêpes, and linens ruched and draped across the width and length of the tall windows of the mercer’s warehouse. Vying for her attention was a highway teeming with those captivating visions in scarlet; officers were everywhere, strutting the pavements and swaggering in step. A whole regiment of soldiers had arrived in Meryton several months ago, along with the changeable autumn winds, blowing every maiden’s saucy kisses like copper leaves down upon their handsome heads. Lydia and Kitty had been far from disappointed when line upon line of handsome soldiers and debonair officers had come parading along the High Street, a blaze of scarlet and gleaming gold buttons, laden with muskets and swords, clanking in rhythm as they marched. It had not been very long before both girls had made firm friends with all the officers, helped along by the introductions from their Aunt and Uncle Phillips who lived in the town.

Harriet Forster, the Colonel’s wife, was fast becoming Lydia’s most particular friend, and it was to her elegant lodgings that the Bennet sisters now hastened on this spring morning. As was expected, they found her in good company. Penelope Harrington and Harriet’s sister, Isabella Fitzalan, were regaling Harriet with the latest news. The three ladies were most elegantly dressed to Lydia’s mind: Harriet in a white muslin, Penelope in blue with lace let into the sleeves, and Isabella in lilac, to match the blossoms on the trees outside. Lydia thought Miss Fitzalan was elegance personified, with her golden curls dressed just like the portrait of Madame Recamier she had seen in her mother’s monthly periodical.
“I am so glad you have arrived at last, Lydia and Kitty,” Harriet exclaimed, as she rang the bell for tea, “for I have some news which cannot wait to be told. You will never guess what has happened!” 

Read Full Post »

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!








Read Full Post »

My author copies have arrived! I can’t tell you how exciting it is when the box of books arrives – so much more thrilling because they have travelled 3963 miles to get here. I love the look of the book, it sounds silly, I know, but I can’t stop stroking the cover – Sourcebooks have the most wonderful book designers. Thank you, Brenden Hitt, for an amazing cover, I couldn’t have imagined anything as fabulous. Thank you very much to everyone at Sourcebooks – Dominique Raccah, Deb Werksman, Danielle Jackson, and to everyone else who has worked so hard to realise another of my dreams of seeing my work in print.
It’s always very strange to think as I sit in my little room, here in England, sending files through the internet to America on the other side of the world, that they will be turned into a book that I can hold in my hands.


My Sourcebooks publisher, Dominique Raccah, invited me and some of the othor Sourcebooks authors to dinner at the Reform Club last week. It was a day where the rain lashed down relentlessly, so I was a bit damp when I arrived. However, just walking down Pall Mall was exciting enough in itself, the whole area is seeped in history, and as I walked past the scarlet-coated, busby-wearing soldiers guarding St. James’s Palace, I couldn’t help thinking of Pride and Prejudice, nor of how Lydia Bennet would have appreciated seeing the soldiers!

Do you remember the references to St. James’s Palace in P&P? Here’s one – Jane Austen is describing Sir William Lucas:

By nature inoffensive, friendly, and obliging, his presentation at St. James’s had made him courteous.

The Reform Club was founded in 1836, in Pall Mall, in the centre of what is often called London’s Clubland. The founders commissioned a leading architect of the day, Charles Barry, to build an imposing and palatial clubhouse. Opened in 1841, membership was restricted to those who pledged support for the Great Reform Act of 1832, and the many MPs and Whig peers among the early members developed the Club as the political headquarters of the Liberal Party.

The Reform Club is no longer associated with any particular political party, and now serves a purely social function. While the Club presents a chaste and stately appearance on the outside, inside it is richly flamboyant. Large portraits of Whig and Radical leaders of the nineteenth century reform movement are set in panels in the upper and lower floors of the atrium. The walls and columns are faced with marble and scagliola, an artificial marble, the secrets of whose manufacture have only been rediscovered in recent years. The colours are deep red and green, white, sienna, black and gold.

Dominique and her husband were the most lovely and gracious hosts, and I was very lucky to meet four authors whose work I admire very much – Elizabeth Chadwick, Jill Mansell, Helen Hollis and last, but by no means least, the lovely Monica Fairview who I know from blogging with the Historical Romance UK authors. Sadly, Amanda Grange could not join us – she was greatly missed! A lovely evening was had by all, and will be one of those I have safely stored in my memory box of special treasures!

Pictures and photos:

Willoughby’s Return
Monica Fairview, Jane Odiwe, Helen Hollis
Helen Hollis, Dominique Raccah, Elizabeth Chadwick, Jill Mansell
Reform Club
St. James’s Palace (old print)
Elizabeth Chadwick and Jill Mansell

Read Full Post »