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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!

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Since I’m getting ready to travel to the NJ Romance Writers Conference today, I invited a buddy who does not quite so terrible things to Jane Austen, Sharon Lathan, to help out on today’s blog. If you’re in the NJ area, come and buy books at the Literacy Bookfair on Saturday, October 23.

Sharon is the author of the bestselling Mr. and Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy: Two Shall Become One, Loving Mr. Darcy: Journeys Beyond Pemberley, and My Dearest Mr. Darcy. In addition to her writing, she works as a Registered Nurse in a Neonatal ICU. She resides with her family in Hanford, California in the sunny San Joaquin Valley. For more information, please visit her website. Sharon also shares the spotlight at Austen Authors and Casablanca Authors. In the Arms of Mr. Darcy is her latest book, available now.

If only everyone could be as happy as they are…
Darcy and Elizabeth are as much in love as ever—even more so as their relationship matures. Their passion inspires everyone around them, and as winter turns to spring, romance blossoms around them.
Confirmed bachelor Richard Fitzwilliam sets his sights on a seemingly unattainable, beautiful widow; Georgiana Darcy learns to flirt outrageously; the very flighty Kitty Bennet develops her first crush, and Caroline Bingley meets her match.
But the path of true love never does run smooth, and Elizabeth and Darcy are kept busy navigating their friends and loved ones through the inevitable separations, misunderstandings, misgivings, and lovers’ quarrels to reach their own happily ever afters…

As I am writing my saga I am constantly asking myself this question: “What did people do _____?” I love nothing more than delving into what the day-to-day might have been like for people of the upper classes during the Regency. In my latest novel, In The Arms of Mr. Darcy, I asked the above question like this: “What did people do in the winter for entertainment?” Since the initial chapters cover Christmas and a large group of Darcy friends and family descending upon Pemberley for several weeks of Derbyshire winter in 1818, it was a valid question. As I learned of the possibilities it was necessary for Pemberley to have many rooms dedicated to entertaining including one I dubbed The Court. If you were part of the holiday party, here is the fun you would have enjoyed,

Inside amusements were plentiful. Parlor games, cards, musical concerts, darts, dominoes, backgammon, chess, and billiards are only some of the quieter pursuits possible. Tennis was strictly an indoor game until the lawn sport was invented in 1873. Primarily the sport of nobility and the gentry, tennis underwent numerous modifications since its initial creation in the twelfth century but one constant was that courts were constructed inside. The games now known as Squash and Racquets were 18th century creations, begun in debtors’ prisons as a pastime for the inmates who did not have nets so would hit the balls against the solid stonewalls. This is also the genesis for handball since a racquet was not always available.

Badminton owes its name and rules to the Duke of Beaufort and Badminton House where it was popularized in 1870. However, for many centuries before similar games involving racquets and feather-stuffed corks were played as far away as India and in ancient Greece. In England it was a very popular street game for children called “battledore and shuttlecock” with the rule a simple one of keeping the shuttlecock aloft for as long as possible.

Shuffleboard – or shoveboard, shovelboard, shovillaborde – originated in England in the mind-1500s. It began as a game for royalty played with coins shoved across a polished tabletop, but peasants and common folk rapidly took it up in pubs across England. It became so popular with the masses that people stopped going to work, causing it to be banned! Henry VIII was an avid player of the game, an interesting fact since it was he who banned the game when it came to his attention that soldiers were playing shuffleboard rather than completing their training. Not surprisingly his ban was ineffective.

Ninepins (early bowling), hopscotch, quoits pin, miniature putting greens, and floor versions of shuffleboard are other potential games to play within a nice wooden floored room.

Depending on that Derbyshire weather, one could certainly brave the out-of-doors. The oldest pair of ice skates known to exist dates to 3000 BC and was made of sharpened bone with leather straps to tie to the shoes. The materials used varied over the centuries, but the style was essentially the same until 1848 when steel clamps were invented. Who first decided it was a terrific idea to slide over frozen ice is unknown, but obviously the concept was a popular one wherever water froze. The Dutch are credited with taking the sport to the next level with tournaments and carnivals hosted by the reigning monarchs as early as 1610.

Ice-skating related sports like curling and hockey existed although the rules and equipment have evolved since. The philosophy was naturally applied to sleds, the idea primarily to make smooth bottomed toboggans capable of bearing greater weight with more stability. Yes, it was a practical transportation device for peoples living in snowy places, but the delight in traveling very fast down an icy slope is as old as time.

So I think you can see that the inhabitants of Pemberley were never bored! And I didn’t even mention the Christmas fun and constant food! How about it then? Want to visit Pemberley for the holidays? If you do then I have two books for you! In the Arms of Mr. Darcy and A Darcy Christmas – both available now – cover Regency holiday traditions and wintertime fun.

Tell me about your favorite winter entertainments.

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