Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Chat with Sharon Lathan

Back Cover Blurb:

"I love you, my Elizabeth. You are my soul, my blood and bone, my very life."

Married life is bringing out the best in the Darcys. Their mutual attentiveness brings readers into a magical world of love and wedded bliss.

Elizabeth is growing into her role as Mistress of Pemberley, and Darcy has mellowed under her gentle teasing and light-heartedness. Pemberley becomes a true home and a welcoming environment for loving family and friends. The Darcys travel to the seaside, welcome their firstborn, celebrate their anniversary and second Christmas, and at every moment embrace the love gifted to them.

Sharon’s stories are fun forays into Regency England with one of the most famous couples in Romance. You’re immersed in the world of the time and living with the Darcy’s. Most of the conflict is the natural inner conflict of two adults adjusting to being married. Add a dab of family issues, problems with friends, a couple of scoops of adventure, and you have the life of the Darcy’s, Lathan style.

Lizzy is feisty, which she would need to be with a man of Darcy’s character. Lizzy is not a modern woman of our time dressed in costume, spouting Regency dialog, as is the case with many historicals today. Elizabeth Bennett Darcy is written as a woman of the era, yet she is still a strong woman. She has a great sense of humor (which we do pick up a bit from Austen’s original story), she makes me smile and laugh. I admire her strong streak of loyalty and love for her family and her friends—and of course a deep love for Darcy.

What I like is the depth Sharon brings to Darcy. In Austen’s stories, Darcy is almost two dimensional… in Sharon’s stories we catch a glimpse of what’s under the surface of the reserve and we see his heart. Most definitely three-dimensional character with a deep love of family and a very strong streak of responsibility for those he considers his.

Overall, the Darcy Saga is a beautiful example of Happy Ever After.

I had a chance to chat a bit with Sharon Lathan about her life and her series on Mr. and Mrs. Darcy as well as her latest book

Did you have a good holiday? Do anything special?

I had a fabulous holiday! Christmas is our favorite holiday, so it is always special no matter what we do. However, this year we decided to go all out. We bought annual passes to Disneyland and spent four days touring the Magic Kingdom the week before Christmas. It was truly magical and enhanced our holiday cheer tenfold. I highly recommend visiting Disneyland when their Christmas decorations are up. They are simply incredible and literally everywhere you turn. The day itself was quietly spent at home with lots of food and a ton of presents. My hubby bought me a Kindle that I am thinking I will like after all! Sadly our families are far away, so it was just we four, but after hours on the phone talking to everyone it almost felt as if they were there.

  • Oh, what a lovely holiday tradition, Sharon. No one can do lights and magic quite like Disney. :-)

You work full time as a nurse? Is that correct? So how do you balance your career and writing?

I work just slightly less than full-time as an RN in a Neonatal ICU. I work 12-hour night shifts, so in one way that helps as it gives me many hours off. But the toll of working nights for 20+ years is beginning to affect me! It is very difficult to balance work responsibilities with my family and homemaking requirements while trying to write and maintain a dynamic website. Thankfully I am extremely organized, a hard worker, and passionate about both of my professions. Yet I still would not manage if it weren’t for the support of my family. They pick up the slack. And thank God they do or I am sure the house would have crumbled around us ages ago! Nevertheless, if anyone has any great tips on how to better do-it-all, I am all ears.

  • Working with babies. Awww. No wonder your birth scene and the Darcy's reactions are so true to life. As far as suggestions to help with how to do it better with regard to organizing home and professional life, don't look at me. I find myself picking up the *crumbles* every now then. It's a juggling act, that's for sure. I have to admire anyone that can handle two professions as well as you seem to do.

Given your work and writing schedule, what do you do to relax and recharge?

I have to take time for myself. I am not a pampering kind of gal, so pedicures or long bubble baths are a rare relaxing technique. But I do frequently put it all aside to read a book, play brainless but fun computer games, go on a dinner/movie date with my hubby, and watch my favorite TV shows. Strangely I look forward to my nights at work. It may be busy, but I love the tiny babies. It is a wonderful diversion from the publishing and writing demands, plus it is my time to socialize with my friends. I also make time to hang out with the gals from my Romance Writer’s group. They are awesome and the support and friendship with people who understand this crazy business and the weirdness of a writer’s mind is invaluable!

You write Fan-fiction. Have you considered writing anything else?

Well, for the most part I feel as if my saga has moved way beyond pure fan-fiction. I have taken these characters far past where Austen left them, interpreted them to fit my vision, have created a vivid, complex world, and have invented a ton of characters uniquely mine. The main players may have the names and basic personalities created by Austen, but they are profoundly different, as their lives have evolved with time.

However, I do know what you mean, and the answer is yes. I am currently writing a novel that follows Georgiana Darcy. Yes, she is originally Austen’s creation, but my story is five years beyond the vague incarnation Georgiana has in P&P, so I truly feel as if this story is completely set apart and all mine. Beyond that, I love writing historical fiction so I am pretty sure I will stay within that genre. But at present my mind is too occupied with the Darcys to dwell upon anything else! We shall see!

  • Now that one is one I'd love to read. I often wished that Austen had amplified Georgiana's role or done a sequel. But of course, that wasn't the way back then.

What do you like about your Mr. Darcy? What makes him different in your writing of him?

Austen’s Mr. Darcy is enigmatic and largely an unknown character. Of course that is fabulous for those of us who want to reinvent him!

My Mr. Darcy is on the one hand all male, commanding, domineering, forceful, and strong. He trains horses, is an accomplished hunter, flies falcons, avidly loves the outdoors, can fence proficiently, and adores swimming in the ocean. He is intelligent, an ardent reader, a brilliant manager of his estate, curious about new inventions, wisely aware of modern technologies and diverse business propositions, and keenly informed on current events.

Yet, at the same time he is loving, sentimental, and passionate. He is deeply devoted to his family, harbors a poet’s heart, and is fiercely protective. He is shy, reserved, controlled, and stoic, yet he has a quick wit, dry humor, and fiery temper.

Too perfect? Probably! But then do we not want that in our heroes? He does have flaws trust me. Lizzy, Richard Fitzwilliam, and Dr. Darcy love to point them out at every chance they get!

What was the most fun about writing this story?
  • One: The characters – all of them. I absolutely adore them and am thrilled to give life to them.

  • Two: Writing a saga-themed series of novels. I do not have to wind up the story in a few chapters or build up to one climax. My characters are allowed to grow and experience a host of adventures over a long course of time. And I am allowed to write dozens of interesting dramas within one book. How cool is that?

  • Three: The history and research involved. I love history, always have, and now I am able to “live” in a past world, bring it to vivid reality, and share that knowledge with my readers in an entertaining way.

  • Four: Presenting a positive story with a hopeful message. I won’t get up on my soap box, but will assert that I think the world needs more stories that tell of a happy marriage between two people who truly love, respect, and care for each other. And I also think there should be more books that inspire and encourage.

What scene do you like the best in your story?

Man, that is a tough one! I think in this latest novel – My Dearest Mr. Darcy – I would have to say it is the entire birth chapter, especially the very end. I am extremely proud of how that turned out. Plus, I had waited months for that baby to make an appearance! There is also a part earlier in the book where Lizzy shows her spunk and formidable strength against a certain someone. That was very fun to write and I am very proud of how Lizzy handled herself, even if Darcy nearly suffered a stroke!

What was the hardest thing for you to write in this book or this series?

I honestly can’t think of anything that was particularly hard. I have enjoyed the challenge of writing sequences that were a first for me, such as my first action sequence (a duel). I have enjoyed branching out to create new characters whose personalities and backgrounds are totally up to me. I did balk at writing conversations with a room full of people the first few times, but now it is fun to have each character speak in his/her voice.

Some research has been a trial, especially when I want to discover a specific fact and just can’t find it anywhere. Usually that falls in the realm of me wanting it to be in the story and not being able to verify the historical accuracy! Talk about frustrating!

There have been times when I found myself stumped, not knowing where I was to go next or unsure how to resolve a certain dilemma. But in all cases time and distance solved the problem.

Generally I prefer to write a trauma-free story, so adding unhappiness is not really easy for me. That being said, when I have strayed away from my patented hearts-and-roses plot line, I really enjoyed writing the dramatic stuff! Makes me wonder if I could tackle a pure adventure story… hmmm….

I know you are hard at work on another story. Can you tell us a bit about it and when it will be released?

The fourth novel in the Darcy Saga series – tentative title “Romancing Mr. Darcy” – is completed and my editor is beginning to do her thing. It will be released in October of 2010. I also have a novella that will be appearing in a Darcy Christmas themed anthology, along with Amanda Grange, to be released in November. That is written and will most likely be next on my editor’s agenda.

In between the editing process for those two projects, I will be finishing up “Darcy 5” (no title yet). I am more than two-thirds done, so it shouldn’t be too difficult. I hope! No hard date for release, but it will be somewhere in the Spring 2011 season. I am also finishing up Georgiana Darcy’s story. It is a pure romance, with strong history of course, and I have every reason to believe Sourcebooks wants it as my editor has asked for the synopsis and we have spoken about it frequently. But then, I am not counting those chickens as yet! Just trucking along and keeping my fingers crossed!

Thank you so much, Sia, for honoring me with the spotlight today. This was a very fun interview! I appreciate being able to talk about my Saga and the themes that are so important to me. I encourage anyone interested to click over to my website – - where I have tons of information, photos, a glossary, and more.

  • Sharon, you have a lovely website. I've enjoyed reading it! I also love the Book trailer of all three books there in one video. You have a bit of everything there and your blog too.

And thank you, for taking the time out of your busy schedule to be here today, to share the Darcy Saga with us.

Sharon Lathan is a native Californian currently residing amid corn, cotton, and cows in the sunny San Joaquin Valley. She divides her time as homemaker nurturing a husband and two children, plus the cat, dog, and fish; while also working as a Registered Nurse in a Neonatal ICU. Somewhere in there she finds time to write!