My lovely guest today is Nancy Kelley whose book, His Good Opinion has just been released! Congratulations Nancy!!!
I had the pleasure of meeting Nancy recently when we met up at the British Museum to gaze at Jane Austen's desk together. We'd 'met' on Twitter, and when I heard Nancy was coming to London I suggested a day out-we had a lovely time discussing all things Jane and our writing dreams. Nancy's first dream has just been realised, now that her book is out. I wish you huge success, Nancy, and hope that many more of your dreams are fulfilled!
Nancy kindly agreed to be a guest on my blog, and she is offering a copy of His Good Opinion as a prize. Her question is this:
What behind-the-scenes Darcy moment would you most like to read?
Leave a comment below to have a chance to win!
I had a few questions I wanted to ask her, and she's also treated us to chapter one of her book!
1. Have you always wanted to be a writer? What inspired you to start writing?
Earlier this week, I found a folder filled with stories I started writing in about third grade. I loved books, and the next step after reading was to write. I kept writing stories, and in middle school (age 12 or 13), my English teacher encouraged me to actively pursue it. I’ve wanted to write professionally ever since.
2. This might sound like a daft question, but why write Darcy’s story?
Not daft at all! There are several excellent Darcy stories out there—why add another one into the mix?
The answer is simple, but it might make me seem daft: Darcy told me to. I was listening to Pride and Prejudice, and he started giving his commentary on various scenes. Once I understood his point of view, I knew I had to tell his story.
3. Which is your favorite scene from His Good Opinion? Can you tell us why?
I think my favorite scene is the first proposal. He walks into the parsonage absolutely certain of her answer, and when you read the previous chapters from his point of view, you can understand why. Her rejection is not just a blow to his pride, as it seems in the novel. He is actually heartbroken.
4. Apart from Pride and Prejudice which novels of Jane Austen’s do you enjoy most?
I started to ramble about how much I love all of her works, with the exception of Sense and Sensibility and Mansfield Park. However, the short answer is probably Persuasion. It is short and poignant, and has the perfect happy ending.
5. Which writers inspire your own writing apart from Jane Austen? Do you read contemporary writer’s work or are you only a fan of historical novels?
My other favorite genre is fantasy. The Lord of the Rings is perhaps my favorite book ever. As an author who struggles with setting description, I am in awe of some of the passages Tolkien wrote.
I also like romance, young adult fiction, and mysteries. Currently on my TBR stack: Supernaturally by Kiersten White, The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson, and The Masque of the Black Tulip by Lauren Willig.
6. Which characters apart from Mr. Darcy did you enjoy writing?
Colonel Fitzwilliam. In fact, I enjoyed writing him so much, I decided to devote an entire novel to him. I just finished the rough draft of that story during NaNoWriMo, and hope to release it by the end of the summer.
7. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I tend to cycle through activities—I’ll spend three or four months doing/collecting/watching one thing, and then move on to another love. My current obsession is Doctor Who. A friend started me on series 5, and then I had to go back to series 1 and watch from there.
8. If your house was on fire and you could only take three possessions, what would they be?
My laptop, my cat, and the box with letters from my dad.
9. Can you describe your perfect day?
I have a vague idea that it would involve lots of good tea and chocolate and uninterrupted time to write—with no wrist pain resulting.
10.What is next for you? Will you write another sequel?
I have a few sequels up my sleeves. There’s the aforementioned Colonel Fitzwilliam story, and then I’ve got an idea for Frank Churchill. I’d also like to write about Captain Wentworth’s missing years, but I don’t have any solid plot ideas for that one yet.
In addition to the Jane Austen stories, I have a series I started last year. It’s a new take on the Robin Hood legend, set in the Spanish Main ca 1720. Yes, Robin Hood: Pirate. My hope is to begin working on the first novel in that trilogy this year and release it sometime in spring of 2013, but that’s really a guess at the moment.
The first chapter of His Good Opinion follows:
"I will never understand, Darcy, why you insist on going out in Society only to be displeased with everyone you meet."
Fitzwilliam Darcy poured two glasses of brandy and handed one to his friend before he took the chair opposite him. "I go out because it is expected of me, Bingley. You know that."
Charles Bingley pointed at him. "Ah, but that does not answer the question, does it?"
Darcy conceded the point with the barest shrug of his shoulders. Here, in the comfort of his own study, there was no need to pretend. "I admit that I find little in Society of which to approve."
"Only because you are determined to disapprove." Bingley protested. "What of the young lady you sat out with tonight? Let me hear your opinion of her."
Darcy ran his fingers down the side of his glass. "Her aunt approached me and said her niece had sprained her ankle, and would I be willing to keep her company? Good manners forbade I refuse, though you know how little I enjoy making conversation with someone I am not intimately acquainted with. I have not your ease of speaking on subjects in which I have little or no interest." His lips curled in disdain, and he took a sip of brandy to wash the sour taste from his mouth.
"That is a commentary on your own character, not the lady's."
He ignored the familiar needling. "After two minutes of idle chatter, I inquired after her injury."
Satisfaction gleamed in Bingley's eyes. "Ah, you are capable courtesy after all."
Darcy leaned forward, his forehead creased in a frown. "Perhaps you will not be so victorious, Bingley, when you hear the rest of the story. She did not understand what I spoke of. When she returned to her aunt shortly thereafter, she did not have a limp. The entire incident was manufactured so she could gain my attention. No doubt they have heard that I do not dance often —"
The leather chair creaked in protest when Darcy stood. He took Bingley's glass and strode to the table, glad to have something to do, even if it was only refilling their drinks. This topic never failed to rile him, but he found a measure of calm in pouring the liquor into their glasses.
"They sought a way to get time with me, and they found it. You wish to know why I so seldom give my good opinion to those I meet; it is this dishonesty, this deception of which I cannot approve. I cannot—I will not—marry a woman I do not trust."
Bingley took his refilled glass, and Darcy noted his frown with some vexation. "You are being a bit presumptuous, Darcy. How can you be so certain she wished to marry you? It was simply a dance."
Darcy set the decanter down on the tray with a hard clang. "Surely even you will acknowledge that a single woman in possession of no brothers must be in want of a husband."
Bingley shook his head and laughed. "You can hardly claim that to be a universal truth."
Darcy ran his hands through his close-cropped dark curls. Has it truly escaped his notice that he too has received such attentions? Though it was this very ability to see nothing but the good in people that recommended Bingley to him, at times his amiable nature bordered on naiveté.
"Perhaps not universal, but a truth nonetheless." He paced the confines of the study. The paneled walls, usually calming, pressed in on him tonight. London always wore on his nerves, but this Season had been worse than most. "I need to get out of town, Bingley."
Bingley eyed Darcy over the edge of his glass. "You sound as if you had a plan in mind."
Darcy stood in front of the empty fireplace and tapped his fingers on the mantle. "I believe it is time I visited Georgiana in Ramsgate."
"Is that what has made you so tense of late? I know you take great care of her."
Bingley's insight startled Darcy. "Yes, I imagine so. I trust Mrs. Younge of course or I would not have consented to the plan. Still, I will feel better once I see for myself how she is getting on." He turned back to his friend, at ease for the first time in weeks.
"When will you leave?"
Bingley raised his eyebrows. "That is rather spontaneous, Darcy—indeed, it is the kind of precipitous decision you often tease me for."
Darcy tossed back the rest of his brandy before he answered. "In truth, I have been thinking about it some weeks," he replied. "I just did not realize it until tonight."
"Well, if you are decided, then I wish you safe travels."
Bingley rose and shook his hand in farewell, and Darcy retired for the night soon after. He slept well, content with the knowledge he would soon be free of the artifice of town.
Nancy Kelley is a Janeite, an Austenesque author, and a blogger. During the writing of His Good Opinion, a version of Mr. Darcy took up residence in her brain; she fondly refers to him as the Darcy in my Head, or DIMH.
If Nancy could possess any fictional device, it would be a Time-Turner. Then perhaps she could juggle a full-time library job, writing, and blogging; and still find time for sleep and a life. Until then, she lives on large quantities of tea, of which DIMH approves.
His Good Opinion is available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, Amazon.uk, Amazon.de, and Amazon.fr.
Thank you so much, Nancy, for being my guest today. Don't forget to leave a comment below if you'd like to be in with a chance to read Nancy's book. The competition will be open until Sunday 18th December 2011, the winner's name to be drawn at random and announced on Monday, 19th!