"Why did Darcy take so long to confess his interference to Bingley and what would have happened if there hadn’t been that four-month gap between the failed proposal and Darcy and Elizabeth meeting again?" - Cassandra Grafton
Pride & Prejudice was a set book for my O Level exam when I was 15. A typical, emotionally vulnerable teenager and obsessed with romance, I fell hook, line and sinker for Mr Darcy and went on to discover and become a firm fan of all Jane Austen’s other works.
If you could be inserted into one of her books, which one would it be and which character? Why?
Hmmm, as I am not the right age to be one of her heroines, I think I will opt for being either Mrs Gardiner or Mrs Croft. I am in a very happy and loving marriage and their relationships with their husbands (especially the latter, of which we see more) in a time when marriages of mutual affection were not necessarily the norm, warms my heart.
I see that you wrote three JAFF books, a trilogy, tell us about what inspired you to write?
I have dabbled with writing since I was about 10 years old. As an adult, I always made excuses about why I didn’t progress anything: the children are young, too tired at the end of a day’s work, too little time - you know the sort of thing. Then, in 2001 we moved to the US for five years and for the first time I had time on my hands and older children (my excuses finally ran out!)
I made some online friends at a Harry Potter forum, started to co-write stories with one of them (Adrea, who, along with her mother, did the artwork for the covers for A Fair Prospect) and from there discovered the Jane Austen online communities and started to write fan fiction. Initially, it was just short stories, but then someone on the forum asked if I had plans to write a full length story, and so A Fair Prospect was born.
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Tell us about your writing schedule. Do you have a specific time or place you like to write?
I am at my most creative in the morning, so I like to be at my desk no later than 7.30am. This fits well with my husband, as he tends to leave for work just after 7am. My favourite places to write though do not involve being home alone! I do my best work in longhand in notebooks when we are away on holiday or just out for the day or evening, sat quietly in a cosy little pub or café. There’s something about the ambient noise and atmosphere that works for me. I also love taking a break to people-watch too!
Let’s talk about your books. Tell us your premise and goals of writing A Fair Prospect. Do you think you obtained your goals in writing?
The premise stemmed from a couple of things that had always struck me from the book: why did Darcy take so long to confess his interference to Bingley and what would have happened if there hadn’t been that four-month gap between the failed proposal and Darcy and Elizabeth meeting again?
I do think I obtained my goals. I wanted to tell a truly romantic story that very much centered around the characters, one that would engage the emotions of the readers and allow them to feel they are coming along as part of the ride. From the reviews I have received, I think in general terms I did achieve that. The other thing that was important for me was to keep the players of the story true to their characters as Jane Austen had written them. Of course, there is a lot more leeway with those who only had a brief or indeed non-speaking role in the original novel, such as Colonel Fitzwilliam (love writing that man!), Georgiana or Anne de Bourgh.
I think frustrating is the word that instinctively comes to mind! It took a long time to write, because although I started it when living in the US, I had only written the first two chapters when we returned to the UK and once again I was working full time. There were times when it was everything else you mention: definitely fun, certainly difficult – especially when the characters took the story off in directions I hadn’t planned on. I also had to battle ill health for 18 months in the middle of writing it, so yes, it was emotionally trying at times.
You mention that you have written other short stories and have put them on online communities. What have you written and how can we find them?
I have a one-off story on the Derbyshire Writers’ Guild website called Only in Dreams. I have posted it on my own website (more of that below). There is another short story and a few chaptered ones that were posted at the website that Adrea and I ran from 2006 until this year (Pen & Ink). Sadly, that has now closed, so I intend to start posting those pieces of writing on my own website as well.
What do you think is your strength as an author? What is your weakness (if you have one)?
That may be a better question for those who have read my books! I think my strength is potentially also my weakness, if that makes sense. I love to write the detail. For those who love this sort of writing, it is a plus. I have had several readers tell me that when they are reading my books they feel they are there, living every moment with the characters. For those who prefer less detail, more action, this will definitely be seen as a weakness!
In your author’s bio, you say you are a lover of words . . . I noticed that in your books. What are some of your favorite, but less often used, words that you adore? Feel free to define them or use them in a sentence if you wish.
Haha! Well, my aforementioned very good friend, Adrea, wrote my bio for me, bless her, so perhaps she should answer that question! You are quite correct, I do use a lot of words! I think my favourites from this era are ones that we don’t use any more, such as whence, singular, thither and so on. I also love that the phrase ‘air and countenance’ is used to describe people. It just sounds so dignified!
Tell us about living in the UK and being an Austenite. Do you tour the historical sites and estates?
Rather ironically, I am about to leave England’s shores again to live abroad! I shall miss it dreadfully. Being able to just toddle off to places with connections to Jane Austen at the drop of a hat is something I value highly about living here. I have a very tolerant husband, and he has accompanied me on trips to visit many of the locations from the books and the 1995 and 2005 Pride & Prejudice adaptations, and he indulges my passion for the city of Bath on a regular basis.
We are members of the National Trust, so we often visit historical sites and estates, and we live only an hour and half’s drive from Chatsworth, so we go there on a regular basis.
If you could choose to spend a month in Regency period, would you? What would you miss most and what would you hate to leave when you returned?
Yes, most definitely, because it would be temporary! I would miss the Internet (and my family and friends, on the assumption they wouldn’t be travelling through time with me), but on a day to day level, I think bathrooms and running water would be top of the list! The thing I believe I would hate to leave behind would be wearing the lovely outfits and the manners and civility – but of course, this is just an assumption as I am sure we don’t really know the half of it when it comes to what the reality was back then!
How is your muse? Can we expect anything in the future from you?
The best word to describe my muse right now is recalcitrant! I am working on another P&P-inspired story that is about half done, and I also have a novella that combines P&P and Persuasion in the works – but it is slow progress just now!
In the short term, as previously mentioned, I have posted some fiction on my Blog, commencing with Only in Dreams, a one-off short story about Darcy and Elizabeth’s wedding day, and then I plan to start posting a chaptered story. It is one of the earliest things I tried my hand at in Austen-inspired writing, and it’s a diary from Elizabeth Bennet’s point of view.
I started this after watching the 2005 film. I love all adaptations of this story for many different reasons, but the film left me with some small but unanswered questions that I was tempted to pick up on. These included: why was Lizzy the only Bennet daughter at the Netherfield Ball without gloves on? Why, when the Bennets left Netherfield after the ball, was Lizzy the only one not in the carriage? Where was she and how did she get home? Where did Lizzy’s coat go when she was at Pemberley, and how and why did she walk home rather than travel in the carriage as she had arrived?
Inconsequential perhaps, but I really enjoyed writing Lizzy’s thoughts and feelings to coincide with the screenplay and adding bits of my own to enhance it, and I hope that readers will enjoy it too!
Favorite Jane Austen book: I am sorry, I can’t possibly choose: P&P and Persuasion constantly vie for that position!
How many times have you read it? P&P more times than I can remember; Persuasion, probably about 10-12 times?
Favorite Hero: Again, it’s a tie: Darcy and Wentworth!
Why do you love him? Darcy – because he changed to be worthy of the woman he loved; Wentworth – for remaining constant, even though he had convinced himself he was over Anne! Both of them, for gathering the courage to ask a second time, and I suppose I would have to concede in Wentworth’s favour when it comes to letter writing!
How many books do you read in a month? Now – probably 3 or 4. For several years, I didn’t read any! When I was writing my story, I didn’t want to be pulled out of the world that I had created for myself and so I avoided reading altogether! It’s lovely now; I am having a fabulous time playing catch-up!
Favorite dessert from England: Sticky Toffee Pudding!
Current CD playing in your car: Soundtrack to Sense & Sensibility (1995)
Read in the sun on a summer’s day, or under a blanket by the fire hearing the winter wind? Both! (I’m coming across as indecisive, aren’t I?!
Connect with Cassandra Grafton!
Amazon.com http: http://www.amazon.com/Cassandra-Grafton/e/B00C4TQ1HQ/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1
I have a confession to make. . . I won her paperback trilogy a few months ago and finished the second book while at work. I simply couldn't wait to get home to start the third - so I didn't! I downloaded the Ebook version that night and kept reading! Now that the trilogy is on sale, I just had to buy myself an Ebook version of all three! Such a deal! Thanks again Cassandra!