Sharon Lathan Interview + Chance to Win a Copy of "Miss Darcy Falls In Love"
Set in post-Napoleonic Empire France, Miss Darcy Falls in Love is a riveting love story that enters a world of passion where gentlemen know exactly how to please and a young woman learns to direct her destiny and understand her heart. -Synopsis of Miss Darcy Falls in Love by Sharon Lathan
Good Morning! Today we welcome author Sharon Lathan as she stops by to talk about her new novel, Miss Darcy Falls in Love.
Welcome, Sharon! Thank you so much for stopping by today. Congratulations are in order. In addition to the upcoming release of Miss Darcy Falls in Love, you have been busy planning your daughter's wedding! The first question today is, when you were writing Georgiana's story, did you intuitively suspect that you would soon be planning a wedding, and did it somehow influence the writing?
Sharon Lathan: Thank you for having me Christy! And you too, Jeane. I am very blessed to know so many fabulous people who are kind enough to host me on their blogs. I appreciate it, SO much!
Yes, my daughter's wedding is in less than two weeks! Thank you for the congratulations. We love her fiancé and as parents who want the very best for their daughter, we could not be more satisfied. Planning her wedding has been fabulous, but I can honestly say that her special day and Georgiana's love story have no correlation whatsoever. I began writing of Miss Darcy's solo tale over three years ago now. I wrote about a third of it, all in a month or so, then had to put it on the back burner for a bit. I took it up again a year after that and finished it in December of 2010. At that time my daughter's romance with her soon-to-be husband was well established, but Georgiana's story was firmly locked into my head so there is no connection. Would be nice to say there was, though!
Given the social expectations and restrictions placed on women in the Regency Era, what were your hopes for Georgiana as you wrote her story, and did her character and choices often surprise you?
Sharon Lathan: Georgiana began speaking to me of her desires when I was still writing Lizzy and Darcy's honeymoon for JAFF websites! At the time I looked around a bit, realized the options for a woman of her class in that period of time to perform in the theatre were nearly impossible, so scrapped the vision. Or so I thought. I was surprised on a couple counts: It seemed impossible for Georgiana to ever have a "career" or respect as a musician, yet every time I wrote of her in the Saga she was playing the pianoforte or talking about wanting "more." She never seemed satisfied with the typical pathway of marriage and when I tried to create a future for her I only saw a black wall. Nothing inspiring occurred other than that same idea of her pursuing music. Then I began writing about this random man at a ball who had nothing to do with Georgiana, never even spoke to her, and was only there to fill in a blank spot next to the important character in that scene. All of a sudden he began talking about composing and music - What in the world?! - And instantly I knew that this was the man for Georgiana. It all came to me in a flash. That was while writing In the Arms of Mr.Darcy and it was shortly after that when I wrote that initial portion of their story. I still had the challenge of making it work historically, but the images of these two people together was so powerful that I knew I would find a way. And I did!
Georgiana experiences post Napoleonic Paris away from Darcy's watchful and protective eye. It sounds as though that Georgiana is on a great journey of self discovery and the elements are there for some great conflict!
Sharon Lathan: You know, I honestly don't think I purposely arranged it so that Georgiana was away from her brother. The timeline worked it out for me! This was great for many reasons, and although there were times when having the story occur in France presented challenges I know it worked best not to have Mr. Darcy there. However, that really isn't because of him limiting Georgiana-I had already written of her maturity and of Darcy learning to trust her and release his tight hold. It was because I wanted the spotlight to be on Georgiana all the time without the Darcys-any of them, even my beloved Dr. Darcy-stealing her thunder. Indeed this story is about self-discovery, in several ways. It is about Georgiana embracing a talent she possesses and not being afraid. It is also about the different types of love women can experience. Georgiana is forced to examine herself on multiple levels and to make some tough choices, which adds great drama and conflict!
Georgiana is such a gifted musician and composer, who are some of your favorite composers, and do they become supporting characters in Miss Darcy Falls in Love?
Sharon Lathan: This may surprise people, but I am more of a rocker girl! I know zip about music or composers, other than the familiar names and melodies. When I think of Mozart I see Tom Hulce in Amadeus and Beethoven is Gary Oldman! I appreciate gorgeous classical music but I had SO much to learn. So while I cannot say I had any "favorites" prior to writing this, I did study what was happening in the world of classical composing during this era. 90% of the people and places spoken of or met/visited are real. For instance, I mention that Mr. Butler studied with Beethoven while in Germany and during this time Beethoven was in Germany and did teach, along with the other composers I name. Now, whether Meyerbeer snored as loud as Mr. Butler claimed, I have no idea! That was artistic license. LOL!
Did you find any female composers particularly interesting and inspiring as your developed Georgiana's character, if so, who were they?
Sharon Lathan: What I found, to my extreme happiness, was lots of history on women breaking gradually into the male dominated world of composing and performing. Women and Music by Karin Pendle was my Bible in giving me detailed data and insight on what was possible during the early decades of the 1800's. Germany and France led the way, the Paris Conservatoire founded in 1795 and admitting women as pupils from the outset. However, it would be along time before this was a common occurrence. History records women attaining notoriety in their own right as composers and musicians, but it was rare. In one respect it was a compromise to have Georgiana share her fame with her husband, but then it made for terrific love story, didn't it?
Darcy Saga Questions:
Your contribution to the Christmas novella, A Darcy Christmas is a beautiful vignette spanning through twenty-five years. Will the Darcy Saga continue to remain on hiatus, or do you have any plans to expand on these stories in the future?
Sharon Lathan: Thanks for mentioning A Darcy Christmas and my novella. With the holiday season fast approaching it is apropos and the novel is still in print-hint, hint!
I honestly can't answer this question because I simply do not know. I feel guilty that I cannot promise my faithful fans that I will revisit the Darcys and write of them forever. I am torn between wanting to live at Pemberley and please those who have supported me and love these characters, while also feeling the need to stretch myself as a novelist and advance in my career. So all I can say with certainty is that I will keep writing with the same voice and style but perhaps with new, non-Darcy characters. Hopefully my fans will follow me wherever I go!
Dr. George Darcy is your own original character and readers love him. How is telling his story different from writing the Darcy Saga, and when will readers see his story?
Sharon Lathan: The contract is in negotiation and I have lots of work to do on this one, so it will be a 2013 novel for sure. Telling George's story is similar in that it is a saga that will span about 35 years. Like the Darcy Saga the reader will be taking a journey over time that does not have single event or plot to solve as is common with most novels. The fundamental differences are that the focus will be entirely on Dr. Darcy and his arc rather than multiple characters with individual stories to tell. Additionally, the novel is almost entirely set in India with brief visits to England until the final chapters which will be after his return home and will carry on from where The Trouble With Mr. Darcy ended. Even then, however, it will be about George and the future he discovers once he is home.
Would you like to create more original characters and novels in the future? If so...do you plan to continue in the Regency Era, or would like to try a different period?
Sharon Lathan: I want to be able to explore whatever pops into my head! I do have several Regency romance ideas that I have written synopsis for. I also have a couple contemporary ideas that may someday take over. I love the Regency Era and it is a period I know well, so I am sure I will always return to it, no matter what else may come about.
Austen Authors (co-founded by Sharon and author Abigail Reynolds) has just celebrated their first anniversary. As a group effort, it is an excellent way for readers to discover other authors in the Austen genre. For other Austenesque authors out there who may have published sequels and continuations what are the current requirements to join? Do they contact the website?
Sharon Lathan: Thank you for mentioning Austen Authors. We are very proud of our blog and what we have accomplished. Information on our requirements, goals, and mission statement are on the "About Us" and "Contact" pages. We welcome new authors who are published, or soon to be published, to approach us. We have to keep the number of authors manageable, but then we want authors who are serious and enthusiastic so we never turn anyone away if they fit that description!
You have always been interactive with your readers and recently came up with a sweet gesture of signed bookplates for readers who would love to have their books signed by you. Would you like to describe this?
Sharon Lathan: The idea is not an original one by me. I just hadn't taken the time and effort to figure out how to do it. Basically a "bookplate" is simply a pretty sticker that I can sign and add a personal message onto. Then it can be attached to the inner cover or title page or wherever the recipient desires inside one of my books. It is a way for me to sign my novels for a fan who would otherwise never have the chance to meet me in person. Of course I would prefer to meet all of my fans and sign their copy of my book, so the bookplate is a poor substitute but better than nothing! Details on this are on my website on the "Contact" page.
As an organic writer, in regards to the research, do you complete all of the research prior to starting a new novel, or do you also prefer to do the research as you go along?
Sharon Lathan: Oh my, no! The research is never complete! Even after written I will inevitably receive questions about something from one of my editors that will send me back to looking up a fact! For Miss Darcy Falls in Love I had to begin anew and study up on France. The time period is the same, but France was experiencing unique upheavals in 1820, plus the culture is very different.
With Dr. George Darcy it has been extremely intense because it is not only set thirty years earlier, but in India and involving medical practices from both cultures. Let's just say I have a HUGE pile of books on my desk and probably 50 bookmarked websites I have poured through for Dr. Darcy's story alone.
You first began writing your Darcy Saga on a fan fiction website. What was the website and can readers still read those early stories?
Sharon Lathan: I posted on several websites before establishing my own. Of those, only the Derbyshire Writers Guild still exists. And all of my stories have been removed. Versions probably float around out there somewhere and my self-published novels can be purchased used here and there, but as far as I am concerned the Sourcebooks published editions are the only ones I want people to read.
Since you wrote those early stories on a fan fiction website, were you required to change the stories or write something new for traditional publication consideration?
Sharon Lathan: The reason I do not wish people to read the early versions is precisely because of the growth I have made as a writer and because I know the edited versions are far better. The process of being professionally edited is critical and makes all the difference in the world. Between my maturity as an author, the recommendations of my editor Deb Werksman, and the errors caught by my fabulous copy-editor Gretchen the published versions are much better. And, yes, many things were changed, both by choice and from necessity!
Do you think writers should publish their stories on their own (public) websites and blogs (why or why not?)
Sharon Lathan: I think a writer should do whatever she/he needs to do to perfect their craft, establish a name, and get their work noticed. The industry is changing so rapidly that there really isn't a "wrong" way to go about it. Posting stories in a public way can be risky, and scary, but the exposure is great and it does help build a fan base. It really depends on what an author ultimately wants, so to be honest the question is impossible to answer definitively. For me, the feedback was invaluable and I know I never would have taken the step into publishing if not for the fans loving my story.
You once said in an interview that Target had some input on the cover design for Mr. and Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy, Two Shall Become One. Was this a onetime occurrence, or is it common practice for retailers to offer input on book cover designs?
Sharon Lathan: Target wanted a "softer" tone for my first novel since they were specifically taking it on for the Valentine season. Hence the pinkish color and swirling oval design in the middle of the cover. I was so happy about this!! As far as I know this has not happened with any of the other novels. The designs have been created by the Sourcebooks design team with some input from me. I have heard of retailer opinions affecting novel covers by other authors, so I know it happens but I have no clue how common it is.
Many young writers seem to have strong opinion on the self-publishing vs. traditional publishing debate. You initially self-published, Mr. and Mrs. Fitwilliam Darcy, Two Shall Become One prior to signing with Sourcebooks. While although the publishing industry will continue to change and evolve, based on your experience, what would you say to writers now?
Sharon Lathan: Same as with question #14- Explore ALL the options because this is a rapidly changing industry. I don't regret self-publishing and I know many authors who have done it and been very successful and happy with the results. Perosnally I am pleased with being traditionally published. My only advice is to be serious about the business, research very carefully, and be open to every avenue.
Do the novels begin with a working title, do the editors and publishers make suggestions, or is it a collaborative process?
Sharon Lathan: In my case I have learned it is more the publisher's decision than mine. I am consulted and that is about as far as it goes! My last several books I didn't even bother to title because I knew it would change. LOL! Miss Darcy Falls in Love was simply "Georgiana Darcy" half the time I still call it that. Now I am working on "Dr. Darcy" and I am sure that whatever title it ends up with will be wonderful, but I will still call it "Dr. Darcy" or "George's Story."
Questions Christy has always wanted to ask Sharon *grins*!
For each of your novels, you put together such lovely companion photo albums on your website. how do you find such a wide and vast variety of the historic photos, especially the maps?
Sharon Lathan: Google images! Or when I research and come across fabulous pictures. It began as a private collection of Regency images, maps, and places in England that I needed to look at to help me write the scene. After a while I realized I had this massive collection of incredible pictures and that if they helped me to envision a scene or place or item then they might help others. Now it has become an obsession and I will pour through hundreds of images, searching every possible keyword I can think of in order to find the right one. I am quite proud of the albums and do hope readers enjoy them. And I have to add that I have a fabulous gallery of Matthew Macfadyen images, just for fun.
Matthew Macfadyen and Colin Firth are both such talented actors, and as a result, the fans will always win. That said, do you think by this point the debate over who is the better Darcy actor will continue to remain the age old question or does it ever start to become well...old?
Sharon Lathan: Personally I have never found the debate all that interesting. I have fun with it from time to time, but just don't comprehend the obsessive need for some to "prove" that one is better than the other. As You said, they are both talented actors who were directed to interpret a character a certain way. If one really wants to be serious about the debate they should talk to Andrew Davies and Joe Wright! LOL! It is entertaining to a degree, but too often the discussions turn negative or downright nasty and that is disrespectful, in my opinion, to the actors and others involved in the cinematic productions, and to Jane Austen, who wrote a wonderful character that deserves to touch each reader in a personal way. I simply do not believe there is one way to interpret any character, no matter who the author is.
In addition to Pride and Prejudice, what are your favorite Matthew Macfadyen films and have any of his other characters inspired you as you write Darcy?
Sharon Lathan: I haven't loved everything Matthew has done, but his performances are always riveting. I truly believe he is a brilliant actor. my favorite film is probably In My Father's Den, as far as showcasing his talent in a powerful way. Plus it is an amazing movie. For his comedic side I adore Death at a Funeral and The Way We Live Now. As for inspiration in writing Mr. Darcy with Matthew in mind, I was greatly influenced by his character Tom Quinn in Spooks (MI-5). Tough and capable, downright ruthless at times, yet soft, vulnerable, and romantic. That is my Mr. Darcy.
If such an opportunity had existed, what would you like to say to Jane Austen?
Sharon Lathan: I would simply say thank you for her stories and great characters. I used to wonder more of what her opinion would be of the fan fiction, movies, societies, scholarly pursuits, and so on. Now I not only don't think it matters on a practical level for me but I also don't think anyone really cares! She has become a legend and most people don't really want to know the truth about their heroes. Point being that if she popped up at a JASNA convention I bet more than half the folks there would argue with her about what she meant in a particular scene in one of her novels. LOL!
Thank you Sharon for stopping by today!
Sharon Lathan: Thanks again for having me and for the awesome questions. That last one is sure to spark some debate! I will be checking in as often as I can, so if anyone has additional queries or comments, lay them on me.
Miss Darcy Falls in Love by Sharon Lathan - Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark - ISBN No: 978-1402259043
A Chance to win a copy of
Miss Darcy Falls In Love!
Miss Darcy Falls In Love!
How would you like a chance to win Sharon's new novel Miss Darcy Falls in Love? Sharon's publisher Sourcebooks has generously allowed one lucky reader at the Pride and Prejudice blog a chance to win Sharon's latest novel, Miss Darcy Falls in Love.
11/1/11 Update: The drawing is now closed and a winner has been randomly selected for Miss Darcy Falls in Love. Thank you to everyone who participated!
Sharon Lathan is the best-selling author of The Darcy Saga sequel series to Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice. Her previously published novels are: Mr and Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy: Two Shall Become One, Loving Mr. Darcy, My Dearest Mr. Darcy, In the Arms of Mr. Darcy, A Darcy Christmas, and The Trouble With Mr. Darcy. Miss Darcy Falls in Love is Georgiana's tale of love and adventure while in France. Complete with a happy ending. In addition to her writing, Sharon works as a Registered Nurse in a Neonatal ICU. She resides with her family in Hanford, California in the sunny San Joaquin Valley. Visit Sharon on her website: www.Sharonlathan.net and on Austen Authors, her group blog of 25 novelists of Austen literature: www.austenauthors.com
Christy Farmer is a writer and blogger. She first discovered Sharon's debut novel, Mr. & Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy: Two Shall Become One several years ago during a Target shopping trip with her husband. Captivated by Sharon's story, Christy promptly began reading Sharon's debut in her car (True Story!) and remains a lifelong reader of Sharon's novels ever since! In addition to her own blog, Christy is a contributor for the Pride and Prejudice 05 blog hosted by the lovely Jeane. Visit Christy on her blog at: www.ChristyFarmer.Wordpress.com, on Facebook at Christy Farmer, Writer or on Twitter @Christy_Farmer.
The Pride and Prejudice 05 blog hosted by Jeane is a fan created blog for all Pride and Prejudice fans. Jeane keeps readers informed of the latest news and articles pertaining to the cast of the Pride and Prejudice 2005 film directed by Joe Wright. Readers are kept up to date on upcoming Pride and Prejudice/Jane Austen film adaptations and articles. Readers can visit Jeane at: Pride and Prejudice 05, Facebook @Devoted Fans of Pride and Prejudice, or twitter @pandp2005