Updated: Oct 25
Albeit I read Jane Austen as a moody teenager, it wasn’t until director Joe Wright’s 2005 movie of Pride & Prejudice that sparked my interest in all things Austen. After reading The Six major works, my thirst for more simply could not be slaked, despite discovering on-line Jane Austen fan fiction (JAFF) and purchasing ALL the movie adaptations; I even joined and attended my first Jane Austen Society of North America (JASNA) Annual General Meeting (AGM)—all within that first year! Eventually, I became a life member of JASNA, and my addiction continues.
Like many, I discovered the world of fan fiction and life after Pride and Prejudice through the elegant hand of Pamela Aidan’s Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman…and then on to the madcap, puckish Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife by Linda Berdoll. Soon after, some on-line writers began to self-publish their stories. Finally, larger presses started to mine the world of JAFF. All of that seems quite foreign now—because in this ever changing wild, wild west that is modern day publishing—small presses, hybrid presses, large publishers, and an explosion of self-published authors—have come onto the Jane Austen scene. With the advent of e-readers, I rarely ever read at on-line sites.
Presently, I own over 450 Austen-inspired novels in print and countless more on my Kindle…and cannot comprehend the neglect of the collection in such days as these. But, in my opinion, it was the pioneering spirit of Pamela Aidan and a handful of other authors who helped launch the JAFF frenzy to write and publish.
CHRISTINA: When did you first think you had a book to write and how did you start?
PAMELA: The 1995 Pride and Prejudice adaptation by Andrew Davies astonished me with its closeness to the text of my favorite book and with the humanity of Colin Firth’s portrayal of Fitzwilliam Darcy.
For the first time, I saw that something deep was going on behind the façade that was driving him to make such changes in his view of the world and himself and I wanted to know what that “something” was!
At that early time in the late 1990s, JAFF was largely confined to short or continuing stories on sites such as The Republic of Pemberley (ROP) and The Derbyshire Writer’s Guild (TDWG) which I, like many others, haunted daily. A conviction grew that no one (at that time, at least) was interested in what was happening in Darcy’s soul and that, if I wanted a story about it, I should try to do so myself. I began with a very short story I called “Be Not Alarmed, Madam” about Darcy’s torment the night of Elizabeth’s rejection of his proposal and sent if off to ROP and TDWG under a pseudonym should I be laughed of the internet and waited to see what would happen. It was very well received and at that point, with fear and trembling at my audacity, I begin to write Pride and Prejudice from Darcy’s point of view. That became a multi-year project that resulted in the Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman trilogy.
CHRISTINA: I love, love, love that series. I've read it countless times. It really is the gold standard. What a heady feeling for you to know you helped start this Austenesque genre!
Pantser or Plotter or hybrid?
PAMELA: Mostly, I’m a Pantser, although I had Austen’s novel as a basic plot to which I adhered with devotion for the Trilogy. My other two books: A Lesson in Honour and A Proper Darcy Christmas are strictly Pantsers.
CHRISTINA: Also, two excellent reads.
If you could tell your 21-year-old self anything, what would you share?
PAMELA: Two things: one, travel and live for a time in Europe and, two, attend summer-long writer’s courses or take a master's degree in Fine Arts and Creative Writing.
CHRISTINA: Ooh, yes. If you see my 21-year-old self, tell her that too.
What is your current project or latest release?
PAMELA: My latest release is a wonderful audio version of A Proper Darcy Christmas Narrated by the excellent Phillip Battley. It became available in August of this year. My current project is Love and Honour which is, unfortunately, stalled right now despite having already a lovely cover. When first conceived, there were no stories that paired Pride and Prejudice’s Charlotte and Colonel Fitzwilliam, but I dare to think that my “take” will be quite different from those that have been published lately. I must just get past the writer’s block syndrome.
CHRISTINA: That cover is divine. I am all anticipation. Your fans will be wild to read it. No pressure for you to get those words flowing. Just saying. But in the words of Colin Firth's Darcy in the 1995 series, "Get to it."
What do you think is your strength as a writer?
PAMELA: I think my particular strength is the creation of a deep and varied interior life for my main characters that make them interesting as people and which then drive the plot.
CHRISTINA: I wholeheartedly agree. You give such life to your characters by giving them flaws, wants, needs. You surround them with a supporting cast that provides conflict and tension. Every word well-intentioned without appearing so.
Thank you taking time for this interview. This fangirl is looking forward to your next release. You can rest assured, I'll be first in line to add it to my collection.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Pamela Aidan is the author of the acclaimed series Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman and other books about Austen characters. Her current project, Love and Honour, is a novel concerning Charlotte Collins (nee Lucas) and Col. Fitzwilliam after the events of the Battle of Waterloo, 1815. She has lived all over the U.S. but has found her heart's home in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with her husband and a mischievous Australian Shepherd, Sassy. She
You can connect with Pamela on Facebook.