This post was originally posted at So Little Time…
I want to thank Candy for hosting me here at So Little Time… as part of the Pride, Prejudice, and Secrets blog tour. Since she gave me several interesting questions, I’ll get right to them.
1. Her first question was, “Are there any juicy tidbits of information you can give us about this “secret”? Haha!” To start with, there is not just a single secret involved in the plot. As those who have read Pride and Prejudice intensively remember, there are a number of very voluble and intense confrontations in Austen’s novel that result in very frank and very painful reactions and subsequent outcomes. For example, while Elizabeth Bennet challenges Darcy with having thwarted the hopes of both her elder sister and George Wickham, her most hurtful charge was that he had not behaved in a gentlemanlike manner. To Darcy, to be insulted in such a manner would have been unprecedented in his life, especially to have received the charge from someone so dear to him. If the reader has read the back blurb for my novel, they will know that Elizabeth finds herself unwittingly engaged to Darcy and in such a manner that this explosive confrontation does not occur. If she subsequently decides, for reasons good or bad, not to break the engagement (remember that engagements were difficult to break among the upper classes in the Regency), would there be any reason for her to make such hurtful charges to the man she is to marry and live with for the rest of her life? Or would she keep her secrets? Further, since the confrontation at the Parsonage didn’t occur, how would Darcy ever learn that he had been mistaken in his assumption of Jane Bennet’s indifference to his friend Bingley? I had in mind the point of view that often another word for “frankness” is “cruelty.” Remember Lady Catherine, who thought that her “character has ever been celebrated for its sincerity and frankness.” The rest of us would likely have a contrary opinion, that some opinions are better kept unsaid.
2. “What inspired you to write this particular story?” Many P&P variations have played around with the idea of Elizabeth Bennet accepting Darcy’s first proposal at Hunsford, and I did have a long-dormant plot bunny that did indeed have that as a premise, along with a number of ramifications resulting from the non-occurrence of the fiery Parsonage confrontation, many of them based on what might occur if many of the charges hurled at Darcy (and those he hurled back) remained unsaid. The problem was that I had tried and rejected a number of possibilities as to how such an unlikely situation might come about. I remember seeing one story a long time ago where the word “yes” just popped out of Elizabeth’s mouth, a premise hard to swallow. So that plot bunny was in my list of plot bunnies that would probably never see the light of day, until one evening when I was having a rambling, left-brained engineer discussion with my elder daughter, who is following in her dad’s footprints and studying computer engineering in college. A news story was on the TV about some health scare when Mikaelie made the idle comment that she wasn’t worried, since she doesn’t get sick. Bingo! Suddenly I remembered that obscure plot bunny, and, since my laptop was close at hand, I quickly had the file open and was nodding in excitement at how my daughter’s comment might provide a rationale for how Elizabeth Bennet might wind up with everyone believing she was engaged to Darcy (including Darcy himself). An Elizabeth who had never really been sick before might well do something unwise (like coming downstairs instead of remaining in bed). She might also, in a blurry haze from her fever, might give a nod acknowledging what Darcy had said when he offered marriage (in a very brief few sentences, without any of the hemming-and-hawing in P&P), which Darcy could easily interpret as acceptance. So that was what got me started writing this novel. I even give mention in my dedication to my daughter’s contribution to the story line.
3. “Sounds like a high angst level story, would you say so?” Compared to Consequences? Naa! There’s some stress and strain associated with that day at Hunsford, but my own opinion is that Darcy was never close to being as bad as Elizabeth thought him to be. He needed instruction, and that, the proper choice of wife might give him, either harshly as in P&P or more subtly and gently as in my novel. I guess I’m not really giving anything away when I reveal that the two lovebirds eventually come to a proper understanding, and I leave hints that Darcy still retains some elitist tendencies at the beginning, which will require some time and gentle hints to correct. But he always was an honorable man, and while a woman cannot totally reform and refine a totally disreputable oaf, she can modify certain of his bad habits.
4. “What are your plans for future books?” I still have all those plot bunnies, as well as four novel length stories that were previously published as fan fiction some years back. Several of them would require considerable rewriting before they were ready for publication, but then I never thought Consequences would be published. It was my most daring book, with all the angst involved (I’m not normally a high-angst person; I regard my glass as half-full rather than half-empty), so who knows? In addition, I’m working on a plot that is partway between science-fiction and Jane Austen’s world, involving alternate realities, but that is in the very beginning stages of plotting.
In closing, I’ll just mention, in case it wasn’t clear from my previous comments, that Pride, Prejudice, and Secrets is a completely new novel, never before published in any form, fan fiction or otherwise. It’s also longer than my other books, since I deal with several subplots, one of which I never thought to deal with: The redemption of George Wickham. I’ve killed him off in a couple of my stories and jailed him in a couple more, but I never thought to portray his rehabilitation. The reader will have to decide whether I carry it off convincingly, along with a couple of other subplots I had fun with. So, for those of you who do give PP&S a read, I hope you find it entertaining.
Thank you so much for answering my questions, Mr. Odom! You’ve intrigued me with the rehabilitation of George Wickham! Ooh! and an Austenesque Sci-Fi sounds interesting as well!
I love the cover!