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!
Me and Steampunk Darcy
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?
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.
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 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!