Monday, November 29, 2010

Interview with Rebecca Ann Collins

 In her latest and final chapter of the Pemberley Chronicles,  author Rebecca Ann Collins, brings you once last time to the world of the Darcys and Bingleys as she weaves together a spell of innocence and betrayal.
She was also kind enough to grant me an interview.

Plot: The Darcys along with the Bingleys, have gone to the southern areas of Europe for the winter, leaving Pemberley estate to their children and Mr. Darcy's younger sister Georgina.  Newly widowed, Georgina is at her wits end dealing with a full grown daughter who seems to have no patience for the rules.  Meanwhile, two new comers to the area Mr. Faulkner and Mr. Fraser have endeared themselves to the locals, at the same time a wealthy land developer is trying to buy up the estates.  Can Pemberley's guests get through the year without the guidance of Mr. Darcy or will this mean the end for it's legacy?

My favourite character was Daniel Faulkner, he's a large departure from the usual gentleman you would find in this type of novel, what inspired you to add him?

RAC: Thanks very much for inviting me to contribute to your blog.  I am glad that you liked Daniel Faulkner; he is one of those characters I grew to love as he developed through the story. I live in Australia, so it wasn’t difficult to place Daniel Faulkner here.

It was quite a natural development to add a couple of “gentlemen” from the colonies into the cast of the Pemberley Chronicles. This was a period (it was the mid-19th century) in which many people were going out to America  and Australia, India and Ceylon, as settlers, investors and adventurers. Unlike the earlier convicts, these people went willingly looking for a new life, fame and fortune. Some never returned, others came home and brought with them a completely new outlook.  I used Daniel Faulkner and Adam Fraser to add something new and interesting- in character and outlook- to the story. They are quite different in character and help to illustrate the contrast between the two young women too.

Two of the "young ladies" are at the age of thirty, were you expressing the fact that youth has no bearing on love, or was it more a case of showing the contrast of maturity between the two girls?

RAC: I believe there is a bit of both . In other volumes of the series (A Woman of Influence or Recollections of Rosings), I’ve used older women as central characters and the feedback from readers has been terrific. Many women in that age group, who are aware that age is no barrier to love, have felt marginalized by the cult of youth that dominates the modern romance genre. They were thrilled to see older women  given a chance to find love and express their feelings in the Pemberley novels. It’s a recognition of reality.

In the case of Rachel Fitzwilliam and Virginia Grantley, I was also trying to demonstrate the contrast between the two women.

There seemed at first to be a teasing towards Daniel Faulkner and Caroline Fitzwilliam being a couple (having him remember meeting her twice when he was a teenager, and joining her during the cricket game) did you originally intend for these two to become something other then what they did?

RAC: Not at all, I always intended Daniel for Rachel, who is one of my favourite minor characters. But, I also needed to work it out in a credible way. Rachel is not as outgoing as her mother; she is rather shy and needs some encouragement. It would not have been very credible in that era, to have her meeting and falling in love with a complete outsider—a man who appears from Australia after twenty years.  Using the link with Caroline, who is a very socially adept woman, eases the situation. Also Daniel is somewhat older than Rachel and is quite at ease socially with Caroline, so it made sense.

Georgiana, after what had happened to her in the original works, did you feel her innocence was what made her character as endearing as it was?  As when the information was given to her about Adam Fraser, she acted with a sense of disbelief, when one would think she of all characters would have been more careful. Even with the explanation that you've given her for her latest actions in regards to Fraser, it came across to me like Georgiana was set to just prove everyone wrong. Was your intent to show a "like mother like daughter" innocence when it comes to men like Fraser (and Wickham)?

RAC:  To answer the first part of your question, yes, Georgiana’s innocence when we meet her at age sixteen in Pride and Prejudice is an endearing quality and that is continued in our first volume, The Pemberley Chronicles. Her complete dependence upon the approval and judgment of her brother, then Elizabeth and later her husband, Francis Grantley, contributes to a continuation of that impression.

As to the rest of your question, no, I did not want a “like mother like daughter” comparison at all. While Georgiana is genuinely naive and innocent and that does get in the way of her judgment of Adam Fraser, Virginia is self-indulgent and stubborn.

The novel carries within it a sense of bitterness at times by Elizabeth (Bennett). Did you feel that in the original works, her stubborn streak was downplayed? Or just that as she would have aged, she would have kept a stricter view of what society should have evolved into? 

RAC: I don’t think Elizabeth’s attitude can be called “bitter;” she has nothing to be bitter about. She has lived a long and happy life with a loving husband and family. But she has known sorrow too and that has affected her character, the loss of a child in a stupid accident is likely to cause the same kind of reaction in any normal person.

Apart from that however, Elizabeth is in her seventies in the final volume and it is quite natural that her attitudes would be “stricter” and more critical of those who fall below her standards.

For you was there a particular reason you made such a contrast between the careers of Daniel Faulkner and Thomas O'Conner?  You made both men very likable/similar in attitudes and yet, gave them careers that would at once put someone in the mind of polar opposites. 

RAC: Well, isn’t that just how life is? In the same community you can meet two people who are polar opposites in their interests, but share the same values. I have two brothers –in-law. One is an intellectual and the other a mad keen sportsman, yet they are both thoroughly likeable, decent men.

As to the careers of Daniel and Thomas: there were not many careers for gentlemen if they didn’t go into the church, the military or Parliament. Daniel returns from Australia and it is revealed that he is an ordained clergyman, while Thomas wants to be a writer. Both these careers were popular with educated young men at the time. I also wanted Tom to be somewhat different—with that touch of magic intensity that the Irish brought to ordinary life—for young Laura Ann.  Making him a promising young writer gave him that quality.

I noticed in your author's notes that you teased a bit on the idea of very minor characters and their future. As someone coming into your characters at the very end of their run, I found The Legacy of Pemberley to stand very easily on its own. Was your hope to not just wrap up your series but to maybe plant some seeds for a new direction? 

RAC: My farewell note was quite genuine; I really felt sad at letting my characters (and those I had borrowed from Jane Austen) go, after more than a decade in which they had become part of my life. I was just saying what I felt—that it was difficult to part from them and not wonder what might happen to some of them, like young Anthony Darcy, the next Master of Pemberley, whose lives had not yet run their course.

I have no plans to return to Pemberley, at this stage, but one can dream, I suppose. 

I do hope you have enjoyed the answers to your interesting questions. Thank you for having me on your blog!

You can find out more about Rebecca Ann Collins and her complete series of Pride and Prejudice stories at her official website

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Giveaway- Legacy of Pemberley

Hey folks.  I'm doing something I never do,  a giveaway! I'll be hosting an interview next week on the 29th of Nov with Rebecca Ann Collins author of The Legacy of Pemberley, which is the final chapter in her series, and will announce the winners at that time.

Here are the rules.... there are no rules.  You just need to be from Canada and the U.S. and leave me a comment with your name, email and if you are in Canada or the U.S.  That's it.  Then come back next week for the winner.   We've got 2 books to giveaway.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Forever Queen by Helen Holick- review

Plot:  Emma, at age 13,  has been promised by her brother, to the current King of England. AEthelred, a coward king. A middled aged man with children older then herself. On sight, Emma is filled with disappointment and feelings of betrayal which soon turn to shear loneliness. Abused and humiliated at the hands of her husband, Emma still fulfills her duty as a Queen, baring children before she's out of childhood herself. The death of the King brings with it relief and fear mixing itself to one solution if she wishes to keep the crown for herself and the lives of her children safe, marry the man who defeated her husband.  Her second marriage to Cnut, is lighter, happier and filled with love and even more children. 

Cnut too brings with him grief from the death of his second wife and their only daughter, who soon is taken by accident leaving him in despair. Emma is Cnut's third wife, his first having been a forced arrangement to AElgifu, a woman who would plague Emma her entire life. 

Both Emma and AElgifu claim the legal rights of their sons for the crown of England. But it is Emma who has earned the love and respect of the people, who has herself stood with the armies over the years to protect and defend the land; with her first husband, then with her step-sons, then her second husband and finally with their own son.  

In her long life, Queen Emma outlasted three generations of men to stand tall and serve England.

This historical fiction covers 50 years in the life of Emma, and contained in a volume of 616 pages. The cast of characters it welds spans from Normandy to England to Sweden to Rome and back again, filling up your imagination as it pulls you to it, engulfing you.

The author's notes give up the fact that the real history of Emma is but a footnote, even though she was one of the first- if not indeed the first- to have her life penned in a biography.  Which is still unproven to be a loyal truth or a biography of semi-fictions.

For me, this novel was both breathtaking and difficult.  Even with the maps, timelines and pronunciation guide, because so many of the book's characters had similar names I found it difficult to keep everyone straight.
As working with historical fiction is never an entirely easy task, Forever Queen  manages to keep it's pace steady and forgiving for it's readers.

Emma is a woman's woman. She's been delivered into a life that is little more then slavery for the first half of her years. Having been  abused, mocked, raped, mentally tortured (seeing her pet dog killed at the hands of her first husband) and even silenced, she some how managed to rise above it all and find her own strength as well as a voice. One that would trickle down though the centuries to find itself in a present day novel.  You can't help but wonder what heights she would have risen to had she been alive today.
What I found most interesting about her character, was her lack of motherly instincts for half of her children. The connection she has or more properly the lack of connection she has with her sons from her first marriage, really start to show a great amount of residue from the years of abuse.
Speaking as a woman who has chosen not to have children myself, I found the intricate emotional tug of war between her devotion and duty to her country and to her own self to be brutally honest, to the point of  asking myself would I have been able to go through what she did just to be Queen?   The fact Emma sees no alternative but to be the physical embodiment of the title of queen is at times both desirable and horrific. 

I also found myself cheering for some of the unlikely players in this novel, namely Cnut and Edmund.

Cnut, I thought was a more suited match for Emma as well as a more interesting man. He is played as a very human hero, when kings were seen as being gods.  The twists his character goes through would give any modern movie hero a run for his money.
We meet his character as a angry teenager who not only represents the "generation me" aspect of things, but you know from the first meeting between Cnut and Emma that sparks will end up flying. It graciously foreshadows his arch throughout the rest of the novel.
When his character dips into despair, folding back and forth on his own trustworthiness; you find yourself forgiving him. There seems to be a sampling of innocence through his adulthood with his three marriages, such as when he can't turn his back on his first wife even when he knows she's going to be his destruction.

Edmund is the perfect hero. From start to finish he embodies everything you would expect the hero to be.  He learns at the feet of not his father but Emma and her personal knight. His devotion to his family is something to be held as he puts all aside for the good of England.
Edmund is written with a sly smile, as if the author knew in the back of her mind he would be the one to catch your eye and hold it.

Forever Queen  could easily be a complete work of modern fiction just by replacing the Queendom of England for a President of a Multi-million dollar company, the court for a boardroom, and the wars for ad campaign. Power, trust, jealousy and betrayal stays the same no matter what century it's brought out in.

It will be interesting to see how she weaves the remaining story of Edmund's legacy in the next installment.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Forever Queen Book Tour

The author of Forever Queen, Helen Hollick,  has been busy on a virtual tour for the novel.  Some of the upcoming dates include

November 1
November 2
November 3
November 4
November 5

November 8
November 9
November 10

November 11
November 12

November 15
November 16
November 17
November 18
November 19

November 22
Book Club Chat on   
7pm-9pm EST

I've just finished reading it myself, and will be posting my thoughts on it next week on Nov 18th. 

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A new blog... sort of

I have started to contribute to a new community blog -Dream Books LLC.  Most of the other bloggers are fast paced, adding reviews and interviews and personal publishing stories; but with my current work load, I'm working on a column idea.   So far I have posted an introduction and this start to my "column".  
I'll post each issue of the column here too for anyone who might want to read it here. 

Is It You

Those of us who are writers besides being bloggers, have you found you have a different voice for blogging then you do for writing?

Anyone can tell you that when you blog, be it professionally or as a hobby, you will have a few weeks or even months where you are trying to find your own style.

For me, it took six months of blogging to get my groove.  I started off doing one blog post a week, having spent that full week working on the post and trying to make it sound as much as possible like it was something you'd see on Sex and the City.
It's seven years later, and I still have times where I hear the voice of actress Sarah Jessica Parker reading in my head as I write.

Ironically, I did not find my own blogging style till after I started to read a column by Hunter S. Thompson.  It was his style of reporting sports that helped to free me from what I thought a woman was expected to say.

I come across hundreds of blogs a week, where the blog's author talks about wanting to be a writer, but not showing any of themselves in their blog.  Most of them have fallen into the same trap I did in the beginning, trying to be like everyone else when they blog.  As a writer many of us have turned to blogging as an easy outlet for our stories.  Many seem to be afraid to let loose and really put in their soul when they do; feeling that to be successful they must be able to fit in to an ideal.

I'll end my observation with a question... are you writing for yourself or are you blogging for the world?