Monday, December 16, 2013

Happy Birthday Jane Austen!

It's Jane Austen's birthday today and over at My Jane Austen Book Club, there are books and prizes to be won, as well as contributions from authors, like myself, which will be posted over the next 24 hours - don't miss it! In celebration, Project Darcy and Searching for Captain Wentworth are both on offer on Kindle, as well as Mr Darcy's Secret - I hope you'll enjoy them if you get a chance to read them!

 This week I went to see the Georgians Revealed exhibition at the British Library. It's well worth going to see and imaginatively put together. Sadly, I was unable to take photos to give you a glimpse of what's on offer, but a plethora of imagery was used to illustrate the themes of Homes and Gardens, Shopping and Fashion, Culture and Ideas, Leisure and Pleasure. Some of my favourites included Humphry Repton's Sketches and Hints in Landscape Gardening, with examples from his 'red books' where he showed before and after images of how a garden might be 'improved'.
I used this idea in Mr Darcy's Secret. Thomas Butler designs a folly for the Darcys in my Pride and Prejudice sequel - he is a young landscape gardener, and has a 'green book' to display his designs, which more than capture Miss Georgiana Darcy's fancy!

One of the exhibits I really enjoyed was a pamphlet displayed about the tea-table. Of course, taking tea was a fashionable and expensive business, and so the genteel ladies who indulged were given guidance on suitable conversation whilst taking tea. It reminded me of Mr Collins with his practised bon-mots, and surely reading a publication like 'The Tea-Table' and handbooks like Jonathan Swift's 'Polite Conversation, consisting of smart, witty, droll and whimsical sayings collected for his amusement and made into a regular dialogue', would have prompted many a practised discussion!
I was reminded of Jane Austen so many times, not only because her writing desk formed part of the exhibition, but because of the activities we know she indulged in. It was interesting to see originals of the Ackerman prints, we love and know, to do with shopping - The Linen Draper, Wedgwood's Rooms, and Harding, Howell and Co's Grand Fashionable Magazine, etc. Shopping and consumerism were gaining new heights - I loved the prints of shop-fronts and the highly decorated trade cards, there were examples of Wedgwood and Blue and White china, which we know Jane Austen's family enjoyed, and examples of mass-produced staffordshire ware which was made for the middle classes.
Mrs Siddons
I was reminded very much of the times we live in now as I wandered round the exhibition, and I couldn't help thinking how much our society has in common with the Georgians. Celebrities of the day seemed to enjoy the same sort of adulation as they do now, and the rise of the theatre had much to do with this phenomenon. The exhibition shows playbills of the time advertising plays and shows, and has examples of celebrities in printed form like Joseph Grimaldi who was one of Britain's best-loved clowns. He also performed in pantomime which was really coming into its own at this time. Mrs Siddons and Dorothy Jordan were famous actresses of the day - Jane Austen really wanted to see Mrs Siddons perform, but she didn't get the opportunity to her great disappointment.
The Georgians were well known for scandal as well as culture, and Elizabeth Chudleigh became a celebrity for exposing 'her charms' at a Ranelagh masquerade, dressed as Iphigenia. The word 'dress' here is improperly used-it is said she was near-naked and prints of the time bear this out, though some were imaginary like the one shown!

  Elizabeth came from an upper-class background and entered court circles as a maid of honour to Augusta, the young princess of Wales in 1743. She married, but by 1749 she had separated from her husband because of her infidelity. The same year she made her appearance as Iphigenia and instantly became the talk of the town! She became mistress to Evelyn Pierrepoint, Second Duke of Kingston upon Hull and married him in 1769, after a court ruled that her first marriage had not taken place. After the duke died, questions were raised about her marital status - she was tried in 1776 and found guilty of bigamy and consequently was shunned by most of society. The trial and several accounts of her life were published in various forms.

The exhibition shows several prints and books which show the notation of dancing and how popular dances were performed. I found these fascinating as a past student of ballet and dance! It was also lovely to see originals of Philip Astley's Circus, which Jane Austen went to see. I set a scene in Project Darcy at Astley's where Jane goes with her brothers and a certain young Irishman to see the entertainment.

Four white horses trotted in sideways marching in time to the music of the band. A troupe of young men in skin-tight breeches leaped and jumped from one to the other drawing gasps of approbation from the crowd.
‘Do you think you’re up to the challenge of a bareback ride, Miss Austen?’ Tom whispered, as the sight of the steaming horses diverted my brothers’ attention. Thundering round the circus arena, two of the riders stood aloft, performing acrobatics as if it were the most natural thing in the world.
I laughed and whispered back, ‘I could do anything if you were willing to catch me.’
‘And I should be most happy to oblige, Miss Austen.’
His fingers found mine for a second, and when the inevitable happened and my brother Edward remarked on the warmth of my complexion, I made the excuse that it was the heat of the August night that made me so pink. From Project Darcy
Jane Austen at her desk

I hope you've enjoyed a glimpse at the exhibition - there is much to see! Don't forget to visit Maria Grazia's blog for the birthday celebrations. Happy Birthday Jane Austen! 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Introducing Liz Monahan - Illustrator!

I'd like to welcome Liz Monahan to the blog today - Liz is a wonderful illustrator of Jane Austen's books/characters and she has a new kindle book out which I highly recommend! I asked Liz to tell us a little about herself-

Liz Monahan
 I love your illustrations in your illustrated Pride and Prejudice. Could you tell us about your interest in Jane Austen and why you decided to start illustrating her books.

 I first read ‘Pride and Prejudice’ when I was sixteen, and was instantly smitten. I fell in love with Jane Austen’s writing, and my passion for her works endures; I never seem to tire of them. I studied English Literature at Southampton University, and wrote my final year thesis on Austen’s work, for which I received a First Class Honours degree.
Pride and Prejudice-illustrated by Liz Monahan
I decided to illustrate ‘Pride and Prejudice’ in December 2012. Prior to that, I’d produced a set of paintings, which I called ‘The Cast Of’ series, featuring all the main characters from each of Austen’s six novels, prints of which I’ve been selling through my Etsy shop: ‘BlueSkyInking’. I’ve also sold them at the Jane Austen Festival in Bath. Inspired by the feedback that I received there, I presented my portfolio to ‘The Jane Austen House Museum’ in Chawton, Hampshire. They agreed to sell prints and greeting cards through their shop. Like many artists, I tend to inhabit of a world of self-doubt, wondering whether my interpretation of Austen’s works will find favour with more ‘traditional’ readers. I’ve been heartened by the positive reaction from the global community of Jane Austen fans. It would appear that Austen’s popularity shows no sign of waning, especially in her bicentenary year. I’ve always loved Hugh Thomson’s original illustrations, but sensed that there was scope to develop and explore the satirical themes of the book for a more contemporary audience. Many of the recently illustrated adaptations of ‘Pride and Prejudice’ had left me disappointed; they tend to trivialize the characters and overlook the subtle nuances that make the book such a pleasure to read, and re-read. Like everybody else, I adored Andrew Davis’ seminal 1995 BBC production of ‘Pride and Prejudice’, but thought that the time was right to offer an alternative to those adaptations that had used cut-and-paste, photo-shopped images of Colin Firth (gorgeous though he is!) emerging half-dressed from a lake. I decided to take the plunge when I read a timely observation from Chris Riddell, a British illustrator whose work (‘The Edge Chronicles’, ‘Ottoline’, ‘Gulliver’s Travels’) I really admire. “If nobody will commission you to illustrate a book, you must commission yourself.”

 Could you tell us something about yourself and your work. When did you decide that illustration was something you’d like to do for a career?

Lizzy Bennet and Miss Bingley - copyright Liz Monahan
 I trained as an illustrator at Bournemouth and Poole College of Art and Design – illustrating stories was something I’d always wanted to do from a very early age. I’ve illustrated a number of children’s books, and also undertake private commissions. I recently moved to the beautiful city of Norwich, with my own Mr. Darcy – my librarian husband Kevin, and our beloved, retired greyhound (that we’ve re-christened Mister Bingley!). I love doodling (on any available scrap of paper), music (I play the trumpet), reading, and the theatre. What’s your favourite medium? My preferred medium is watercolour. I find it very versatile, and chose it for this particular project because of its lightness and clarity.

 What is next for you?

 I’d like to illustrate all of Austen’s novels, so I’m steeling myself for my next big project, which will be ‘Mansfield Park’, for its bicentenary in 2014. I’ve done a few preparatory sketches, which I hope to post on Twitter, to gauge the reaction. I plan to follow it with ‘Emma’ in 2015 and ‘Persuasion’ in 2017. ‘Sense and Sensibility’ and ‘Northanger Abbey’ will hopefully appear in 2016, but by then I might need to have a lie down in a darkened room! I’ve learnt so much from the experience of self-publishing Pride and Prejudice, and it’s been incredibly hard work but hugely satisfying. I’d also like to illustrate Jane’s lesser known work ‘The History of England’, written in 1791, when she was just sixteen, and illustrated by her sister Cassandra. I am also working on a children’s story with my husband, who has a way with words, featuring our beloved greyhound Mister Bingley, as detective Shylock Bones, assisted by his dim-witted sidekick Doctor Flotsam.

Lady Catherine de Burgh and Lizzy - copyright Liz Monahan
If you had to choose, which illustration would you pick of your own as a favourite?
Oh, that is such a difficult question to answer. It’s so hard to pick a favourite! I like drawing those characters that offer a supporting role in the story. They are easier to draw because they carry less ‘baggage’. I spent a lot of time researching the book, trying to decide how the characters could and should look. Jane Austen gives very little away in terms of her characters’ physical appearance, which offers plenty of scope to freely interpret them. I was acutely aware that everyone has their own ‘take’ on Elizabeth and Darcy – it was important that I got them right! My husband is forever reminding me of the old saying (that we keep stuck on the fridge). It reads: ‘I cannot give you the formula for success, but I can give you the formula for failure - which is: try to please everybody’. After a lot of worrying (and a lot of preparatory sketching), I decided ‘to please myself’ with my own personal vision of the characters, the one I had formed on first reading the book when I was sixteen. I hope others will enjoy my interpretation, and understand that it was a labour of unconditional love.

Liz Monahan and Mr Bingley
I'm sure they will, Liz! Thank you so much for visiting me on the blog today - I wish you huge success with your work - what a talented lady, I'm sure you'll all agree!!!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Project Darcy Book Tour Giveaway Winners Announced!

Thank you to everyone who entered my blog tour competitions to win some jewellery and an embroidered bag -

We have three winners - Congratulations!!!!

The winners are:

June Williams for the Georgian brooch

Nicole Platania for the Victorian brooch

Cassandra Grafton for the embroidered bag

Could the winners please contact me here so I can learn how to get your prizes out to you! Thanks again-I hope you all enjoy your prizes!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Winner announced of Pride and Prejudice Movie Book!

Thank you to everyone who joined in last week's Giveaway to win a copy of Pride and Prejudice illustrated with photos from  the Greer Garson/Lawrence Olivier film and a pack of my Christmas cards.

Congratulations!!! The winner is Janet T!

Can you please contact me here to claim your prize - Congratulations!!!!!

My blog tour for Project Darcy continues - if you missed the start of it, you can catch up here:

Wednesday, October 30th   - Wondrous Reads
Sunday, November 3rd - My Jane Austen Book Club
Tuesday, November 5th - Austenprose OFFICIAL BOOK LAUNCH
Wednesday, November 6th -  Indie Jane
Thursday, November 7th - More Agreeably Engaged
Tuesday, November 12th Calico Critic
Wednesday, November 13th Meditating Mummy
Monday, November 18th Austen Authors
Monday, November 18th The Book Rat
Wednesday, November 20th Austenesque Reviews

It's not too late to enter the GIVEAWAY for two lovely brooches (closing date Monday, 18th November) - click here to read more and also to win a vintage bag - click here to read more

Thank you, everyone, for making this such fun, and for all the lovely words of encouragement here and elsewhere - it truly means the world to me!
Tomorrow, I am a guest of Laura Hartness at Calico Critic - I hope you'll join me for a chat and a giveaway of Project Darcy!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Project Darcy Blog Tour and Vintage Bags!

I hope you're enjoying my blog tour as much as I am! Today, I'm a guest on Indie Jane, talking about grandfather clocks, time, and Project Darcy - I hope you'll join me.

Tomorrow, you'll find me at More Agreeably Engaged with Janet Taylor!

STOP PRESS! I've just received a review from Kath Eastman - here it is in full at her blog - Nut Press - here's a little of her review below - she's made my day!

I pretty much read Project Darcy in one sitting. Even though I knew at least how Jane Austen's own story would end, I loved spending time with Jane Odiwe's imagining of her again in that period, as well as being anxious to see where the modern-day characters would be at the end of the book - and who with! This was a highly enjoyable read for me because it had a bit of everything: sumptuous period detail - I can imagine that Jane Odiwe had fun imagining the interiors of Ashe, both in Jane Austen's time and in its more contemporary setting; seeing who the candidates for Jane Austen's characters were from her own circle of acquaintances and their modern-day counterparts; a good sprinkling of romance and pairings, including a glimpse into one of Jane Austen's own rumoured romances and the delicious puzzle of piecing all the connections together made Project Darcy for this reader.

Wednesday, November 6th -  Indie Jane
Thursday, November 7th - More Agreeably Engaged
Tuesday, November 12th Calico Critic
Wednesday, November 13th Meditating Mummy
Monday, November 18th Austen Authors
Monday, November 18th The Book Rat
Wednesday, November 20th Austenesque Reviews

Today's treat inspired a little scene in Project Darcy - Ellie has a vintage bag similar to the one below - I'd imagined Ellie's bag, but this one is similar in style, only with flowers and a short strap!

Ellie is getting ready for a party whilst she is staying near Steventon, at Ashe Rectory -

Half an hour later, Ellie was feeling refreshed for having had a scented soak in the bath. She’d washed her hair and was now standing in front of the wardrobe hanging her clothes, and trying to decide what she was going to wear for the party. It was still warm and light so she selected some cropped jeans and a short-sleeved cotton top, with a scoop neck and embroidered pin tucked front. The detail made it a little bit more special than the every day and to set it off, she picked a chunky necklace from her jewellery roll with turquoise stones and silver beads threaded on a long leather cord. Choosing a warm scarf in coral, scattered over with hummingbirds and edged in silk fringe in case it got cooler later on, Ellie then added a pair of canvas trainers to complete her outfit.
Jess knocked on the door. ‘I’ll just round up everyone else so I’ll see you downstairs in a minute!’
Ellie shouted back that she’d join them in a second and looked around for her bag. It was her favourite, an antique bag that had belonged to her great-grandmother. Made of black silk moiré, it was embellished with a bluebird and had a long silk strap. She’d left it on the chest of drawers in front of the window next to a blue and white jug and bowl. Dashing to fetch it, she was stopped in her tracks by the sense of something or someone moving outside in the garden below. 

If you'd like to own the little bag, please leave a comment below!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

A Georgian Jewellery Treat on Project Darcy Launch Day!

I'm so excited that launch day is here - I'm having a party over at Austenprose and there's a couple of giveaways so I hope you'll join me there!

I love setting a scene in my novels, and I've mentioned before how much I enjoyed writing and thinking about the girls' bedrooms in Project Darcy.

Jess's bedroom is a Regency haven with a French bed with buttoned silk upholstery - On the walls was a collection of silhouettes of people from past times. The profiles of soldiers and debutantes looked across at one another from ebony frames ranged around the marble mantelpiece. It looked as if it had been designed with Jess in mind with its Regency furniture and vast portraits of ladies dressed in white muslin.
Ellie loves anything vintage (how funny, that's just like me : ) ) -
and her bedroom has an exquisite deco dressing table - A deco dressing table complete with a mirrored surface and a triptych looking glass was topped with a selection of exquisite objects – a porcelain tray and boxes for jewels, a Japanese fan, a silver hairbrush enamelled with blue as vivid as a butterfly’s wing, and a cloisonné vase filled with old-fashioned roses.

When Ellie finds herself in Madame Lefroy's bedroom, she can't think where she is at first.

When I opened my eyes, I couldn’t think where I was for a moment. I was sitting on a bed that looked nothing like the one I’d collapsed onto earlier. This one was a four-poster, simply carved with reeded motifs and dressed with drapes and swags of sprigged cotton. The panelled walls were painted a dusky blue-grey which echoed the tones in the long curtains at the floor-length windows. A chest of drawers and a dressing table were the only other items of furniture, but the biggest clue to its owner lay in the elaborate powdered wigs set on stands, the silver-topped scent bottles, and the set of ivory-backed brushes, upon the dressing table. An open box of jewels glinted in the candlelight, and I recognised one or two of Madame’s favourite Rivière necklaces, one of amethysts, and the other of topaz. 

Most people who know me, are aware that I love jewellery, and as it's such a special day for me today, I wanted to share some, as a way of saying thank you to all the wonderful people who make life so fabulous with their kind words and messages every day.
In celebration of the release of Project Darcy, I have two brooches to give away. They are both old pieces, one is Georgian and the other probably Victorian.
This is the Georgian brooch I am giving away - it is very small - half an inch or so, but perfect for a lapel or a scarf. The stones are paste and the backing pinchbeck, a form of brass made to look like gold, which was very popular in Georgian times. It has a long pin and c-clasp at the back.

The other heart-shaped brooch is probably Victorian, but quite Georgian in style - I love the pretty colour of the stones, which are paste, of course. 

I hope you like them, and if you'd like one of them to be yours, all you have to do is leave a comment below telling me about a favourite piece of jewellery that you own. The giveaway is open until Tuesday, November 19th 2013. Once you've done that, please visit me on Austenprose for more giveaways to celebrate my special day!


Monday, November 4, 2013

Project Darcy - Blog Tour!

It's my Official Book Launch of Project Darcy tomorrow, November 5th, over at Laurel Ann Nattress's blog Austenprose so please check back then to read an exclusive excerpt from Project Darcy, and to see what we have on offer in the way of prizes and treats. I do hope you'll join me tomorrow for my very special day!
As you all know, Project Darcy is a novel inspired by Jane Austen's wonderful book, Pride and Prejudice, and as this is a very special year, celebrating 200 years, I thought you might like to have a chance of owning a collector's copy!
My first introduction to Jane Austen was through the film starring Greer Garson and Lawrence Olivier, many years ago, so I think it's very fitting that this little illustrated movie book should be my first prize.

Pride and Prejudice
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.
   However little known the feelings or views of such a man may be on his first entering a neighbourhood, this truth is so well fixed in the minds of the surrounding families that he is considered as the rightful property of some one or other of their daughters.
   "My dear Mr. Bennet," said his lady to him one day, "have you heard that Netherfield Park is let at last?"
   Mr. Bennet replied that he had not.
   "But it is," returned she; "for Mrs. Long has just been here, and she told me all about it."
   Mr. Bennet made no answer.
   "Do not you want to know who has taken it?" cried his wife impatiently.
   "You want to tell me, and I have no objection to hearing it."

Also on offer is one of my packs of six greetings cards, three of Steventon Rectory, three of Christmas at Steventon!

If you'd like to be in with a chance of winning this vintage book with a pack of Jane Austen Christmas cards, please leave a comment below. Names will be drawn from a hat - closing date for this competition is Sunday, 10th November - winner announced on Monday 11th November!
Don't forget to check back tomorrow for more goodies here and on Austenprose!

Winner of Monica Fairview's Steampunk Darcy Announced!

Congratulations, Lena I - you are the lucky winner of Steampunk Darcy! Please contact me here to claim your prize!
Thanks again to Monica Fairview for visiting me here at my blog!!!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Project Darcy Blog Tour!

Project Darcy
I'm so excited to announce that next week sees the start of my blog tour and Book Launch for Project Darcy! I hope you'll be able to join me here on my blog and also with all the wonderful bloggers who are generously hosting me.

There will be giveaways and treats on my blog, as well as those blogs listed below, so please keep checking back - after all, it's 200 years of Pride and Prejudice, and I want to celebrate that, as well as my new book.

Here's the list of lovely blogs I am visiting!

Wednesday, October 30th   - Wondrous Reads
Sunday, November 3rd - My Jane Austen Book Club
Tuesday, November 5th - Austenprose - OFFICIAL BOOK LAUNCH
Wednesday, November 6th -  Indie Jane
Thursday, November 7th - More Agreeably Engaged
Tuesday, November 12th Calico Critic
Wednesday, November 13th Meditating Mummy
Monday, November 18th Austen Authors
Monday, November 18th The Book Rat
Wednesday, November 20th Austenesque Reviews

Jane Austen Prints
It is high summer when Ellie Bentley joins an archaeological dig at Jane Austen’s childhood home. She’s always had a talent for ‘seeing’ into the past and is not easily disturbed by her encounters with Mr Darcy’s ghost at the house where she’s staying. When Ellie travels into the past she discovers exactly what happened whilst Jane danced her way through the snowy winter of 1796 with her dashing Irish friend. As Steventon Rectory and all its characters come to life, Ellie discovers the true love story lost in Pride and Prejudice – a tale which has its own consequences for her future destiny, changing her life beyond imagination. 

Monday, October 28, 2013

Guest Post - Monica Fairview talks about Steampunk Darcy!

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 hooked me (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 19th century 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.


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,, 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!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Project Darcy on Kindle and a New Passion!

I'm very excited to announce that Project Darcy is now available on Kindle, here in the UK, the US, CanadaFrance, GermanyItaly  Brazil, Mexico, Spain, Japan, and India! The official launch is on November 5th and I've a blog tour coming up - so I hope you'll join me for some fun blogs and prizes!

I've been having a lovely time on Pinterest putting together a mood board for Project Darcy. The book is a timeslip adventure for my heroine, Ellie, and she and her friends are lucky enough to stay in a very special house. I've had a wonderful time imagining what the house would look like inside, and Pinterest, I've discovered, is almost as good as having your own dolls' house!

The house they're staying in is Ashe House where Jane Austen's friend Madame Lefroy lived. It's a beautiful Georgian house and I had the excitement of imagining it in the past, 200 years ago, as well as the present.
I had a lovely time dreaming up bedrooms for the five girls - Ellie, Jess, Martha, Cara and Liberty. Ellie's best friend is Jess, and she, of the five friends, is a Jane Austen fan.

So, I just pictured my idea of a bedroom I thought Jess would like - here's a description - Jess’s bedroom with chalk pink walls boasted a French bed with buttoned silk upholstery and a chaise longue in one corner. On the walls was a collection of silhouettes of people from past times. The profiles of soldiers and debutantes looked across at one another from ebony frames ranged around the marble mantelpiece. It looked as if it had been designed with Jess in mind with its Regency furniture and vast portraits of ladies dressed in white muslin. 

Apart from the Georgian and Regency eras, I love Art Deco and so it was fun to imagine Ellie's bedroom. Ellie is the main heroine of my novel - she is a painter and illustrator and I thought she'd like lots of paintings and visual stimuli:

Ellie’s room was perfection to her way of thinking; she loved anything vintage. In muted tones of Naples yellow in the patterned wallpaper and silvery grey satin falling to the floor in a cascade at the windows, the room was flooded in light. Sunbeams danced through the ancient embroidered lace like a bridal veil at a summer wedding, parted to give a stunning view over the beautiful garden. Touches of duck egg blue in the embroideries on the walls and in the milk glass vases on the mantelshelf were echoed in a shot of deeper blue silk in the dressing gown dangling from a padded hanger of cream silk. It looked like a film set left over from the 1930s and in contrast to Jess’s room, which was a Regency haven, Ellie couldn’t have wished for
anything more glamorous. A deco dressing table complete with a mirrored surface and a triptych looking glass was topped with a selection of exquisite objects – a porcelain tray and boxes for jewels, a Japanese fan, a silver hairbrush enamelled with blue as vivid as a butterfly’s wing, and a cloisonné vase filled with old-fashioned roses. The bed draped with grey satin and ivory lace was flanked either side with paintings typical of the era, watercolours of primroses or lilac in turquoise bowls, and a still life, of paper lanterns suspended from branches of white blossom, hung above the fireplace. She almost couldn’t wait to go to bed when she’d be able to sink into the pile of satin covered cushions on her bed, pull the quilted eiderdown up to her throat and admire all the treats before her.
If you haven't tried Pinterest, I highly recommend it - though it is addictive!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Project Darcy - Cover Reveal!

It suddenly looks very autumnal here in the UK, though the temperature is surprisingly high. I love this season - outside the leaves are turning to shades of red, russet and lemon, mornings are misty, and the nights are drawing in. What better time than to curl up with a new book!
Project Darcy - Jane Odiwe

I'm so excited to reveal the cover of my upcoming book, Project Darcy! In this special year of the 200th anniversary, I wanted to celebrate with a 'darling child' of my own.

 It is high summer when Ellie Bentley joins an archaeological dig at Jane Austen’s childhood home. She’s always had a talent for ‘seeing’ into the past and is not easily disturbed by her encounters with ‘Mr Darcy’s ghost’ at the house where she’s staying. When Ellie travels into the past she discovers exactly what happened whilst Jane danced her way through the snowy winter of 1796. As Steventon Rectory and all its characters come to life, Ellie discovers the true love story lost in Pride and Prejudice – a tale which has its own consequences for her future destiny, changing her life beyond imagination.

I've had a very exciting week - with Mr Darcy's Secret being featured on BBC, The One Show, along with fellow author friends, Amanda Grange, and Karen Doornebos.
Mr Darcy's Secret on The One Show!
And then a fellow Austenite on twitter, @austengeek, sent me a lovely tweet about Willoughby's Return having a mention in Entertainment Weekly in the US! Great excitement, too, for many of my fellow authors on Austen Authors - Regina Jeffers, Alyssa Goodnight, Mary Lydon Simonsen, and author friends, Margaret C. Sullivan, Amanda Grange, Kara Louise, and Vera Nazarian.

Entertainment Weekly
November 5th 2013 is launch day for Project Darcy and I shall be giving away a number of treats that week in conjunction with the release of my book. Please come back in due course for more details!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

An Afternoon and Evening with Mr Wickham!

Reading Pride and Prejudice at the Jane Austen Festival
I'm at the Jane Austen Festival in Bath this week, and was very honoured to be part of the Pride and Prejudice reading that took place on Sunday.
The opening chapters were read by the wonderful actors, Adrian Lukis, who played Mr Wickham in the 1995 production of Pride and Prejudice, and Caroline Langrishe, the well-known actress of film, stage and television.
I love reading aloud - it's always been a pleasure of mine ever since I was a little girl, but I hadn't really thought about what a huge challenge this was going to be until I actually sat down on the same row of chairs as these wonderful actors! I'm sure appearing on the same bill as Adrian Lukis, Caroline Langrishe and Maggie Ollerenshaw would be the dream of most would-be actors, and all of a sudden the enormity of the whole event struck hard! Anyone who really knows me will appreciate how nervous I felt - I really have to make myself volunteer for speaking events - I'd much rather hide in a corner, but I decided a while ago that I would try and embrace those things that frighten me. With a bottle of water secreted in my bag as defence against a dry mouth, I tried to tell myself it would all be okay.
Adrian Lukis was fantastic - his rendition of Mr and Mrs Bennet both funny and memorable, and then Caroline Langrishe followed on with equal brilliance. Their ability to capture the characters was spot-on, and the audience reacted accordingly, laughing out loud as they interpreted Jane Austen's wonderful writing.
Also reading was an actress well-known in this country for playing all sorts of roles, Maggie Ollerenshaw, as well as the lovely Sophie who presented the last readathon at the Jane Austen Centre, and an up and coming actor, Jack Collard, who I'm sure will be playing Mr Darcy one day!
With Adrian Lukis and Caroline Langrishe
Waiting for my turn to read chapter five was agonising, and my knees were knocking together as I stood in front of the large crowd, but it was soon over - thank you, Jane Austen for writing short chapters - and I could return to my seat to wait for my turn again.
Thanks go to Joana Starnes for the photo of me!

In the evening, we were treated to another fantastic performance from Adrian Lukis and Caroline Langrishe who performed a set of duologues - all the wonderful scenes from Jane Austen's novels. They are both so generous with their time, and so charming - I was lucky enough to have my photo taken with them, and they signed autographs afterwards for all their fans!

Jack Collard