Giveaways,  Jane Austen

Mr. Darcy’s Obsession

Today we welcome guest Abigail Reynolds, who’s here to talk about her latest in The Pemberley Variations, Mr. Darcy’s Obsession and give away a signed copy.

What if Mr. Darcy never had the opportunity to propose to Elizabeth Bennet at Hunsford, and did not meet her again until her circumstances were reduced? In Mr. Darcy’s Obsession, Mr. Darcy has an even greater social distance to bridge if he wishes to marry Elizabeth. Add in some Fitzwilliam relations with links to the Prince Regent and the loose morals typical of Regency high society who feel that Elizabeth is the material of which mistresses, not wives, are made, and Mr. Darcy has to make a painful choice between the demands of a decadent society and his personal moral sense. The background of this novel is the morally bankrupt ton which Jane Austen knew well, but did not describe in detail in her novels, perhaps because it was a given to her and her contemporaneous readers. Against this backdrop, the characters of Mr. Darcy and Miss Bennet shine brightly as they seek to find an alternative to the bounds of decorum that constrain Darcy’s usual marital prospects.

Readers who can’t get enough of Darcy and Elizabeth will find that Reynolds does an admirable job of capturing the feel of the period in this entertaining diversion. – Booklist

Mr. Darcy’s Obsession is an adventurous variation that explores a different route with our beloved Pride and Prejudice. In my opinion, it is one of Ms. Reynolds’s more exciting novels complete with a street urchin spy, libertine uncle, eccentric aunt, many damsels in distress, and an honorable and praiseworthy hero! I most emphatically recommend! – Austenesque Reviews

For those that have been chomping at the bit for another Reynolds’ novel, Mr. Darcy’s Obsession does not disappoint! And to Darcy & Elizabeth lovers who have yet to discover her works, you must put this at the front of the queue! – Austenprose

Abigail, that’s a gorgeous cover. Congratulations on the new release and welcome to the Riskies. Tell us your publishing story. I believe you started off self-published?

Yes, I took a very odd route to publication. My first books were posted for free on the internet in serial form. I couldn’t see Austen variations ever being published. I made an brief effort to secure an agent for my modern Austen-related novel, The Man Who Loved Pride & Prejudice, but that left me with a collection of rejection letters from agents who said they liked it, but that there was no market for Austen-related fiction. That was in 2003, and I don’t think I’d hear that today! Then some of my on-line readers said they’d like to get my stories in book form, so I self-published them, not expecting to sell more than a dozen, since who would buy a book that was available for free on the internet? Quite a few people, apparently. I sold several thousand, and was noticed by Deb Werksman at Sourcebooks, who made me a book offer.

What is it about P&P specifically and Darcy and Elizabeth’s relationship that lends itself to such wonderful creative riffs?

P&P is a writer’s dream because Darcy and Elizabeth are such strong characters, yet Jane Austen leaves a great deal about them unsaid. We actually know very little about them or their history. That’s part of why so many people can identify with them, and also why writers can’t resist the chance to fill in some of those blanks. They’re such passionate characters that it’s easy for modern readers to relate to them, and they’re both simultaneously very admirable yet flawed in ways that aren’t threatening to us. The spirit of P&P is so bright and sparkly that readers long to return to its world.

Do you feel intimidated by “borrowing” Austen’s characters? She is a pretty tough act to follow!

She’s definitely a tough act to follow, but actually, I don’t feel intimidated because there’s no comparison. I know I’ll never be able to write them anywhere near as well as she did. It’s like if I were learning to play cello, I wouldn’t find Yo-Yo Ma intimidating, because he’s so far beyond what I could hope to achieve.

Do Austen purists approve? Can you tell us what sort of reactions you’ve had from readers?

Many Austen lovers are open-minded and willing to give anything a try, and others disapprove heartily. Oddly, though, many of the ones who swear they’d never read an Austenesque novel seem to know surprisingly well what happens in my books! Part of the problem with purists is that people read P&P so differently. Some people think it portrays a simpler, more innocent, more moral time. Others see the incisive wit and the implied criticism of society, and realize the Regency was an era of moral decadence. I’ve had astonishing conversations with people who insist that Darcy was a virgin when he met Elizabeth, which to my mind is about as likely as him being born in China. He would be such an incredible oddball for the time if he were. I’ve had an easier time with the purists lately, though, because my books seem positively mainstream to them compared to Pride & Prejudice & Zombies or Mr. Darcy, Vampyre!

Reader reactions are all over the map. Apparently Mr. Darcy’s Obsession is either my best book because it doesn’t include intimate scenes, or it’s a complete letdown for the very same reason! Some readers are so happy to have anything more of Lizzy and Darcy that I could write whatever I like, and others can’t stand having their images shattered.

What sort of research do you do and which books about Austen would you recommend?

I do a lot of online research since there’s a lot of excellent material about the time period available there. I tend to get caught up in researching odd historical details, most of which never make it into my books, but I need to know the details, like what kind of pommel a regency sidesaddle would have, to picture the scene accurately in my head. As for books about Austen, the most important thing to read is her letters. You see new sides of her in them and get a real feel for her thought process. I’d also recomment Emily Auerbach’s Searching for Jane Austen, a very readable and insightful analysis of Austen’s character and the development of the myth of “dear old Aunt Jane.”

Is there another Austen that inspires you to dream of sequels?

I’ve written a modern version of Persuasion, but publishers are much less interested in anything that’s not P&P. Sense & Sensibility also tempts me.

What’s next for you?

I’m working on another Pride & Prejudice variation, and sequels to both Mr. Darcy’s Obsession and The Man Who Loved Pride & Prejudice.

Thanks for inviting me! It’s been a pleasure to visit with you.

Let’s chat! Abigail will drop by to respond to questions and comments and we’ll be giving away a signed copy of her book.

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Janet Mullany
12 years ago

Grr, blogger ate my post. Welcome Abigail and congrats on the release.

I notice that on FB you list your interests as Jane Austen, beading, stage lighting and marine biology. I was expecting one of these, but the others are pretty surprising. What’s your day job and how much time does it give you to write?

12 years ago

Don’t enter me in the contest. I just stopped by to say that I just finished reading this book and I loved it! I wanted to encourage other Austen enthusiasts to enter this contest for a chance to win it because I think they will enjoy it too.

My one complaint – it was a quick read! I was so caught up in the story, it zipped by, so now I’m kind of disappointed that I’m done. Oh, well, might just have to go back and read it again!


12 years ago

Hi Abigail,

Love that title of yours. I have my own little obsession involving Mr. Darcy. Love all things JA and your book sounds great too. Put it on my (xmas-) wishlist.

Abigail Reynolds
12 years ago

Glad to be here!

Margay, thanks! I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

Kirsten, isn’t he a lovely obsession to have? If I ever wrote a memoir, it would have to be called “Abigail’s Obsession.” 🙂

Yes, Janet, I have lots of crazy interests, and not enough time for any of them! I work part time as a physician and full time plus as a parent of two special needs kids, and I have no idea how I find any time at all to write. It gets squeezed in the cracks, half an hour here, an hour there, never as much as I’d like.

12 years ago

I have been reading your stories and enjoying them since Austen Interlude days. Congratulations on your new book.

12 years ago

Hi Abigail!!!
Congratulations on your latest!!!!
i’m soooo excited for you!!!!!
Thank you for doing what you do!!!!!
GoodLuck & BestWishes!!!

Cynthia fr NYC!!

12 years ago

Dear Abigail, congratulations on your latest release. I was just wondering when will the sequel of The Man who Loved Pride & Prejudice (or previously titled as Pemberley by the Sea) be published? Ever since I read the book, I can’t wait to find out what happens next.

Louisa Cornell
12 years ago

I must confess I haven’t read any of your books, but I am absolutely intrigued by the premise of Mr. Darcy’s Obsession ! What a wonderful idea!

I’ve been a huge Austen fan since I was nine years old and read Pride and Prejudice for the first time. But, I am not such a purist that I won’t read a well-written and well-researched riff (musical term) on her work.

I think it is a tribute to her work that people want to write their own versions of her stories.

Abigail, what are some of the most interesting historical tidbits you discovered in your research? Researching Regency England is one of MY obsessions.

Diane Gaston
12 years ago

Welcome to the Riskies, Abigail.

This sounds like a great book, and your story to publication is certainly an unusual one! It just shows that creativity can’t really be silenced. You just have to persist.

Kim in Hawaii
12 years ago

Aloha, Janet and Abigail! I think it takes a lot of confidence to “borrow” from Jane Austen. I’m glad you had that confidence to do so and offer JA fans with more reading.

Indeed, the cover is gorgeous. Looking forward to reading it!

Jane Austen
12 years ago

Abigail, I’ve read all your books. Your modern update of P & P is my favorite. What about your Persuasion one? Is it out in print? I’d love a chance to win this book.

12 years ago

I am one of your fans who love your books.. I admit to skipping some of the intimate scenes. Without reserve was your first book I read, and that has a lot intimate scenes and dream sequences but I still read it 3 or 4 times. I was surprised you didn’t have any intimate scenes in Mr. Darcy’s Obsession… Congrats… waiting for your next master peice

Abigail Reynolds
12 years ago

Thanks, Kat and Cynthia! I’m pretty excited myself!

It’s a pleasure to be here, Diane. My publication story does show what can happen when you least expect it!

Kim, if you’re going to borrow, why not borrow from the best? 🙂

Luthien, you’re catching me in a frank mood, so I’ll tell you the whole sad story, and then you’ll be sorry you asked. Basically, my publisher really likes the book, but doesn’t think she can sell it because it isn’t P&P. She thinks Persuasion (which is what it is) is the kiss of death in the marketplace. She said she’d take it if I could turn it into P&P or at least Sense & Sensibility, but there’s no way I can take a completely written modern Persuasion and make it P&P. Besides, I already have Cassie and Calder in this book. Being a sequel to The Man Who Loved P&P isn’t enough to sell it because not that many people have read it, and I’m not well-known enough to sell books based on my name.

I’ve had a nibble from another publisher on it, but I really don’t want to work with two different publishers at the same time, so I’m planning to self-publish it. It’ll have a smaller audience that way, but it’ll be out much faster. So now it’s a matter of finding the time to do the formatting and cover design when I have several other projects pressing me. But thanks for your interest!

Louisa, that’s a tough question, since I can get fascinated by the oddest details. For Mr. Darcy’s Obsession, it was probably learning about the daily life of poor women in London and how common – almost expected – it was for a girls to work she would work as a prostitute for a few years to earn some money, and then marry and have a family. I ended up whitewashing Elizabeth’s prospects considerably in MDO to make her life acceptable to modern readers. It actually would have been pretty dire.

Thanks for your interest!

Abigail Reynolds
12 years ago

Suze, it’s been interesting to see the response to the lack of intimate scenes in Mr. Darcy’s Obsession. I’ve had a fair amount of positive feedback and I’ve also been absolutely lambasted for it. The truth is that I don’t make a decision on whether or not to include them in a particular book; I see where the story takes me, and sometimes it’s to intimate scenes and sometimes it isn’t. In this case, I’m baffled as to how anyone thinks I could have included them given the plot line. Still, it’s interesting to see the bad reviews at Amazon for the lack of scenes after all the bad reviews I’ve had there in the past for including them. I think you take the wisest course – if you don’t like them, skip them!

Jane, the Persuasion book hasn’t been published. If you’re interested, I detailed the whole saga in my last post.

12 years ago

Congratulations again on the publication of Mr Darcy’s Obsession. =D I have loved all your stories and look forward to reading this one as well! I wish you much luck on the self-publication of your sequel to TMWLP&P. 🙂

Lisa (lcsieck at gmail dot com)da

Jane George
12 years ago

Thanks for sharing your journey to publication, and kudos for taking/making your own path!

I haven’t yet had the pleasure of reading your books but I’ll soon fix that.

Janet Mullany
12 years ago

Abigail, since I (blush) haven’t yet read your books, how do you write a sex scene between those two icons of chaste romance, Darcy and Lizzie? Particularly when Austen employs a subtext of simmering sexuality but they only touch when dancing? I can’t even remember whether they shake hands a few times.

And does Lizzie make Darcy laugh, in and out of bed? I like to think they loosen each other up in their own special ways.

12 years ago

Abigail, Just want to say, i’ve read all your books and loved them all. I’m with you in that it’s nice to see some romance but sometimes it’s better not to elaborate. I liked”The Rule of Reason” best because of it being more chaste, but I still like Impulse & Initive” (same book). Your stories are well written and always makes me want to go back to reread them. They are my comfort food. Finished MDO a week ago on my kindle and loved every min of it. Would relish having a hard copy too. I congrat you on your sucess. BTY I too would love to see the sequel to “The man who loved P&P” thanks charlene

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