Even charmed lives will encounter troubles along the way….
We welcome back to the Riskies Sharon Lathan, author of the bestselling novels Mr. and Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy: Two Shall Become One, Loving Mr. Darcy: Journeys Beyond Pemberley, My Dearest Mr. Darcy and In The Arms of Mr. Darcy. Sharon also wrote a novella as part of an anthology with Amanda Grange and Carolyn Eberhart, A Darcy Christmas. You can find her online at her website and at the Austen Authors blog.

Congrats on your new book and another lovely cover! Tell us about The Trouble with Mr. Darcy.

Thank you Janet, and it is a fabulous cover, isn’t it? I confess that at first I was sad to see the design changed from the previous four, but now I really love this new, exciting look!

The Trouble With Mr. Darcy is a slight departure for me although I am still the happily-ever-after, romantic gal so no worries there. (More on that in the next question). However, I wanted to explore areas of greater drama and difficulty with this novel. I moved forward in time in order to show Darcy and Lizzy as a couple further along in their relationship with some of the issues that arise as parents. I also wanted to deal with the mystery of Mr. Wickham and the history between him and Darcy. I knew it was time to do this and figured if I was going to go that route I was going to do it right! I think I have accomplished this with a great deal of bang and surprise.

Yet at the same time I carried on with my typical saga-style, living-the-life themes. Other family members, such as Kitty Bennet and Georgiana Darcy, are given their portions of the story. History and travel is covered as well with the Darcys moving through parts of Europe and celebrating Easter, for example. Glimpses of all the major characters are strewn throughout the book so the readers will know how everyone is fairing. There are a bunch of threads to tie up and events to cover besides just Wickham!

Do you ever consider writing about marital problems–for instance, Darcy getting a seven year itch, or an ex-mistress or illegitimate child showing up?

Believe it or not this is a somewhat controversial topic! From the very beginning I took an untypical approach in presenting a couple who are truly happy, in love, passionate, committed, and able to work through their issues. Many readers do not want to see this with Darcy and Lizzy, or believe it is impossible. Of course, many readers want to believe it is possible, and I am determined to give them this. So my version of the Darcys will never suffer what too many insist are the necessary woes and dramas. I simply do not agree that affairs, past indiscretions, waning desire, lies and deceit, constant bickering, disrespect, and so on are standard in all marriages.

Now, that does not mean I have a completely Pollyanna attitude! I show Lizzy and Darcy arguing many times, and in this novel particularly they do suffer a major difficulty that nearly brings the end of their marriage. Yet, they overcome, proving that love indeed does prevail and can grow stronger as a result. This is my belief and vision. I will never alter that approach.

In your bio you say you saw the movie first (Macfadyen/Knightley) and read P&P afterward. What was your initial reaction to the book?

I loved it! Yes, I saw the movie first – my initiation as it were. Then I watched the 1995 miniseries with Firth and Ehle. (Loved it!) Then I read the book, incidentally at the same time my daughter was reading it in her AP Literature class so we studied it together. All of this combined, adding in reading numerous discussions on web forums and various academic papers, to enhance my passion, understanding, and love for this story.

One of the things I have always enjoyed is talking about books (or movies) with other people and hearing their impressions. Everyone catches something different or has a varied interpretation or is moved by something unique. No one person will ever feel the same as someone else. That is the beauty of reading: It is a very personal experience. My initial reading of Pride and Prejudice was colored by feelings and impressions from the cinematic offerings, and each subsequent time I have read it I “see” something new. It is constantly evolving, so all I honestly recall from that first reading is awe at Austen’s use of language and hunger for more.

Why do you think people are so fascinated by Lizzy and Darcy and why is there such a demand for more about Austen’s characters?

This is a question some of the best minds in the business have attempted to answer and I am not sure anyone has been able to figure it out! It is rather insane when you look at the demand from a certain point of view. I honestly don’t worry over it. I know how I feel about these characters and figure as long as readers are caught up in the craziness I am content to add to it!

Tell us about other members of the Darcy family you’ve created. Do you have a favorite?

I have had a great time exploring the other characters, both those originally created by Austen and those of my own making. I felt obliged to give every last one a moment to shine at some point within my saga. Some, such as Colonel Fitzwilliam and Georgiana Darcy, are Austen creations but so vague in her novel that they easily become a modern writers own character. Both Col. Fitzwilliam and Georgiana are favorites of mine and each have significant story lines within my novels. Of those that I have created from scratch I am partial to the Darcy children, all of whom were focused on in my Christmas novella. But the ultimate favorite is Mr. Darcy’s eccentric uncle, Dr. George Darcy. He is the bomb!

Do you have a particular location in mind for Pemberley?

Chatsworth House in Derbyshire, home of the Duke of Devonshire, is my Pemberley. It was the exterior and partial interior used as Pemberley in the 2005 movie, but even if that had not been the case it is such an amazing manor that I think I would have chosen it. Of course I have tweaked it a bit to fit my story!

Which of other Austen’s books do you think might inspire spin-offs and riffs and improvisations as P&P does?

None of the others have taken the world by storm as yet, but I am seeing more of them given their fair due as time goes on and that is fabulous. Several authors, many of whom share in Austen Authors with me, have taken on the other novels. Persuasion is probably the next favorite, due I am sure to the allure of Captain Wentworth.

If you had the chance to meet Jane Austen through the wonders of time travel, what would you ask her?

Out of curiosity I suppose I would have to ask her what she thought of all this spin-off craziness! Of course, her response if in the negative (and I personally don’t think it would be negative) really wouldn’t change anything so is somewhat of a moot point! Aside from that I would simply want to chat, girl to girl, about men, life, family, literature, and whatever else ladies gossip about while sipping tea.

What’s next for you?

Speaking of other family members, the next novel due out in November, is Miss Darcy Falls in Love. It is the story of Georgiana Darcy. Completely set in France, with Darcy and Lizzy no where to be seen, it is wholly devoted to giving a now mature Georgiana of twenty years her chance to embrace her future. It is a romance, of course, but also the exploration of a woman at that time and what she could accomplish as an artist.

Continuing my love for secondary characters, the Darcys are going on hiatus for a spell as I delve into the life of Dr. George Darcy. My next novel, God willing, will cover the adventures of this incredible man spanning the thirty years he dwelt in India as a physician with the East India Company, culminating with his return to Pemberley and the surprising future he encounters there at the twilight of his life.

Thank you, Janet, for again hosting me here on Risky Regencies. History is my passion so no matter what my characters tell me to do with them, I will exert whatever control I can manage over their antics to make sure I highlight the world they live in.

Let’s chat about Mr. Darcy! Make a comment or ask Sharon a question and you’ll be entered into a drawing to win a copy of the book!