Inquiring readers, we have asked author Gwyn Cready to write about her new book for us. Laurel Ann will review it soon. Here then, is another Mr. Darcy post. Three in two days! Think Jane's hero is worth the attention?
Hi. I'm Gwyn Cready, author of Seducing Mr. Darcy. Like you, I'm a lifelong Jane Austen fan. I starting reading Austen in high school, added the luscious film adaptations to my repertoire (specifically the A&E version of Pride and Prejudice, which my family and I watch every year on vacation, as well as Sense and Sensibility with Emma Thompson and Emma with Gwyneth Paltrow) and have never stopped since.
If I had to choose a favorite of Austen’s novels, I suppose I'd pick Pride and Prejudice. One ends up with two happy couples there, after all, though I believe from a hero standpoint I am equally as fond of Mr. Knightley as I am Mr. Darcy.
I'm very grateful to Vic and Laurel for letting me have this opportunity to talk to you. I hope I earn my keep here--well, at least for a day. My new book, Seducing Mr. Darcy (Pocket Books, $6.99) comes out July 29. It will be a selection in the Doubleday Book Club and was chosen to be the Alternate-to-Main selection in the Rhapsody Book Club. It's the sexy, funny story of Flip Allison, an ornithologist at the Pittsburgh Aviary who, by way of a massage in which one can imagine oneself in one's favorite book, finds herself launched not just into Pride and Prejudice, but right into the arms of Darcy himself. She awakes from her massage restored and refreshed only to discover her fling with Darcy was not just a dream and, in fact, has changed everything about the book. She's forced to enlist the help of Magnus Knightley, an imperious, Darcy-like British scholar, to undo the damage before legions of Jane Austen fans revolt.
Do you have to be a Jane Austen fan to love this story? I know that's not going to be a big issue in this group, but a lot of people ask it and the answer is no. As long as a reader thinks having a quick fling with her favorite literary hero would be a hot prospect for an unscheduled afternoon (Oh, Jamie Fraser, why don't you ever call?), I think she'll be pretty happy.
Perhaps a more relevant question for this group is, will a Jane Austen fan be horrified by the story? A purist, perhaps--especially because my books tend to be funny and sexy, and this one is no different—but most other fans I think will accept it for what it is and enjoy it. I'll admit it did feel a little odd borrowing someone else's characters, but based on the squeals of delight I hear when I tell women the plot, I think I've hit on one of the mother lodes of female fantasy.
And let’s not forget, Austen exercised in a little literary mash-up herself, sending up Gothic novels in Northanger Abbey.
Here are the terms I felt I had to meet if I were going to borrow Austen’s characters and plot. First, my writing had to demonstrate a genuine love and respect for Jane Austen. Second, if I was going to put a heroine into Darcy's arms, it had better be long before he meets Lizzy Bennet. And third, whatever travails I put Darcy and Lizzy through, I needed to ensure they ended up happily ever after.
I knew the character of Magnus Knightley, the Austen scholar devastated by the destruction of his favorite story, would speak for the Austen lovers out there and ensure I met the first part of the terms. This left me with the relatively easy task of concocting a zippy little plot to meet the next two. And here we are.
People ask who I'd cast as the hero, and for me the answer is Colin Firth. Probably no surprise. He is who I had in my mind as I wrote both the Mr. Darcy and Magnus Knightley characters. What might surprise you, though, is that Firth was also who I had in mind when I was writing the two heroes from my first book, Tumbling Through Time (there’s even a couple jokes in the book about them looking like Colin Firth), as well the hero in the book I'm writing now (working title, Stripped Bare.) One man, three books, five heroes. I really need to drop the guy a thank-you note.
Here's an excerpt from Seducing Mr., Darcy if you'd like to give it a try. I also invite you to visit the picture section of my website. I like to offer photos related to each story so that readers can see what was in my mind as I was writing.
I also have a surprise for this group from DesignHerGals.com that I think you’ll love. If you've never been to DesignHerGals.com, you should go. The only way to describe it is that it's like paper dolls for grown-up girls. I just adore it. You get to design an illustration of yourself or a friend, selecting hair color, hair style, eye color, clothes and other "fun stuff." That’s me, pictured in my DesignHerGal form. The designing is free, and when your "gal" is complete you can send her for free in ecards to anyone you’d like. However, if you find you love your gal so much, you can’t live without her, you can also put the image on stationery, notecards and mugs, etc., and buy it.
Here’s the part you’ll love. To mark the launch of Seducing Mr. Darcy, DesignHerGals.com has created an exciting bonus- the opportunity to pair up your gal with Mr. Darcy! That’s right. You and Mr. Darcy, together at last. To have a gorgeous and very Colin-Firth-like Mr. Darcy standing next to you, just select "Outfits." You’ll see him right near the top, alongside a beautiful Regency dress. Just click and—boom!—you’ll feel like you’re in the story, too, just like Flip.
You can also go to "Fun Stuff" and choose to hold a copy of Seducing Mr. Darcy.
The DesignHerGals Foundation was set up to help women with Stage IV breast cancer. A portion of all their sales go to this worthy cause. I lost one of my bridesmaids to breast cancer and another of my friends is battling the disease, so this means a lot to me.
Thanks so much for letting me join you for a day. I'm open for questions and eager to hear your thoughts.
Bio: Gwyn Cready is the author of Tumbling Through Time and Seducing Mr. Darcy. She has a BA and an MBA from the University of Chicago. She's put in her time as a brand manager and now waits patiently for a blurb from Colin Firth. She lives with her family in Pittsburgh.