Friday, February 25, 2011

A Northern Tour: Following in Jane Austen's Footsteps

I've made no secret about the fact that I've always loved Jane Austen. I enjoyed reading her work, even though in today's market her writing would be considered a bit stilted. Different times and different style. Regardless, her wit and observations of life in Regency era are accurate. I also enjoyed some of the screen adaptations of her work. And while I have read a few Austen fanfiction stories they're not the first thing I reach for when I'm in the mood to read an historical. 

I've grown up enjoying Rengencies (I have my favorite authors) and I'll be first to admit we've been flooded with Regency stories in the past few years so it really takes something extraordinary in the storyline to pique my interest enough  to read another one. Yet there is a whole segment of readers that adore anything Regency and Austen Regency in particular.

Since I have several friends who write Austen fanfiction they do realize I mean no disrespect when I ask, What is the fascination with the Darcy's? What makes an author want to devote most their writing life to continuing their view the Darcy's story and future? 

My guest today is Jane Odiwe and she hails from England. She also writes Austen Regencies featuring the characters of Jane Austen's world. So I asked her the same question. What draws you to Austen's characters. What's the fascination, as an author? She takes us on a bit of a tour to help us see the whys.

Thank you, Sia, for inviting me onto your blog. I’m so pleased to be able to talk to you about Mr. Darcy’s Secret. 

Writers of Austen continuations, like me, are compelled to carry on with the lives of her characters, inventing new stories. Can we have too much Pride and Prejudice? I don't think so - I loved writing Mr. Darcy’s Secret, and part of the fun is doing research.

My sister and I headed up north to Derbyshire as I was writing my book, in search of Pemberley and Lambton. Jane Austen made up these names, but many people think that Bakewell was the inspiration for Lambton, where Lizzy Bennet stays with her aunt and uncle Gardiner when travelling through the Peak District and where she starts to see Mr. Darcy (or Pemberley) in a different light. I wanted to include scenes from Lambton in my own book, and to my surprise my sister booked us in to stay in an old coaching inn at Bakewell, The Rutland Arms, where they have a room which they claim Jane Austen stayed in. I don't know whether the evidence for this is very strong, but it's a lovely idea.

The inn is very old; from our window we had a lovely view of Bakewell, and the sitting room conjured up images of days long ago. We travelled in late November; I remember sparkling, frosty days, blue skies and mists in the valley - and sitting by a roaring fire when inside - perfect!

Not far away, one of the fascinating places we visited was the Red House Stables Working Carriage Museum. It was in the middle of winter and as we were the only people there that afternoon, we were able to really explore the place and completely monopolise one of the lovely staff who told us all about the adventures they'd had working in lots of television and film. I was especially interested to hear that some of the carriages had been used for the 1996 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, starring Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth.

We certainly had a lovely time on our ‘northern tour’, sampling the delights of the landscape and the famous Bakewell Pudding!

Mr. Darcy's Secret

One dark secret can completely ruin a bright future...

After capturing the heart of the most eligible bachelor in England, Elizabeth Bennet believes her happiness is complete-until the day she unearths a stash of anonymous, passionate love letters that may be Darcy's, and she realizes just how little she knows about the guarded, mysterious man she married... Excerpt


Jane Odiwe is the author of Mr. Darcy's Secret, Willoughby's Return, and Lydia Bennet's Story. She lives in High Barnet, North London, and Bath, England, with her husband, three children, and two cats.

In 2003, her obsession with all things Austen really took off when she wrote and illustrated a little book, 'Effusions of Fancy, consisting of annotated sketches from the life of Jane Austen in a style entirely new,' which is a light hearted celebration of Jane Austen's early life, in letters and paintings. In 2007, Jane was thrilled to be asked if Sony Pictures could use her Jane Austen illustrations in a short film; a biography feature about the author on The Jane Austen Book Club DVD.

It was a short step to writing her first novel, Lydia Bennet's Story, a sequel to Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. Her lifelong dream of becoming a published author came true when Sourcebooks editor, Deb Werksman, rang her one cold, December evening asking to meet her in London the next day to discuss publication. Sourcebooks published Lydia Bennet's Story in October 2008.

Mr Willoughby's Return, a Sequel to Sense and Sensibility, was published in autumn 2009. Mr Darcy's Secret is to be published in February 2011, and Jane is contributing to a short story anthology, Jane Austen Made Me Do It, to be published by Ballantine Books, autumn 2011. 


~Sia McKye~ said...

Welcome Jane. Thank you for the tour. It was fun for me to research the area.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Sia and Jane .. good to meet you - and how wonderful you were able to use your talents to create your different approach to Jane Austen in this day and age .. must be fascinating. Congratulations. Love the pictures and story you tell ..

Thanks Sia - it's good to meet Jane and I'll definitely keep her name and the books in mind TBR soon ... have good weekends .. Hilary

Jane Odiwe said...

Thank you so much for your lovely welcome, Sia, and for your kind comments, Hilary! I have the best job in the world, I think. I always enjoy the research enormously, which helps telling stories such a pleasure.

Talli Roland said...

Yay Jane! What a pleasure to see you on Sia's blog after interacting with you on Twitter. It's great to learn more about you.

~Sia McKye~ said...

So, Talli, when do I get you have you on my blog with the Hating Game? mmm?

Jane has an interesting article. I really enjoyed her tour.

Sheila Deeth said...

Those pictures are making me feel homesick!

Jane Odiwe said...

Hi Talli,
Lovely to see you here!
Sheila, where do you come from? I'm guessing England-I hope you enjoyed the pictures!

Jenyfer Matthews said...

I loved all the Austen books and the premise of your books sounds great. Just doing the research must have been so much fun!

Margay said...

Oh, Jane, I would love to do that kind of research! Sounds like you had a lot of fun.