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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Nina Benneton Guest Post & Giveaway



I would like to welcome Nina to Royal Reviews.

I would like to thank you Angela and Royal Reviews for inviting me to guestblog today.

Today, I’m going to talk about how my own Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet similar and different from Jane Austen’s, and my process of how I went about reinventing these iconic literary characters.

Fitzwilliam Darcy cheated on Elizabeth Bennet?

Elizabeth Bennet slept with George Wickham?

That is so wrong! Wrong! Wrong!

Even now, a few years after I read that modern re-telling, I feel like hurling. I don't care if that's normal behavior for people in the twenty-first century during an off period, that's just wrong. I don't care if my nearest and dearest think I'm an old-fashioned and irrationally romantic, that's just wrong.

Don't mess with my Mr. Darcy. His moral fiber doesn't change, even after two-hundred years.

My temper tantrum prompted me to write my own modern interpretation of Pride and Prejudice.

The key to my muse was irreverence. I didn't want it to be a dark story, but I wanted depth and I wanted happily ever after. How to do it? How to reinvent iconic literary characters and make them my own?

The irreverent external conflict comes very easy to me. He's a germ-phobic, control freak, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) man and she's an infectious disease doctor. Infectious Disease doctors love germs. If there's pus to be drained and diagnosed, they're lining up to get fast track tickets to have at it.

Great comic potential.

But every writer knows within a few chapters of writing a first draft, external conflict with great comic potential can only go so far. I need deeper characterization. I need depth.

I take what I love about Jane Austen's Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet—his strength of character, his need for control, bordering on arrogant rigidity, and her cheekiness and snap judgments, bordering on impudence—and start with those two characteristics.


I've added a little bit more fleshed out characterization. But within a few more chapters, I soon realize these are simply outward character traits.

To reinvent these two iconic literary characters as my own, I need to dig deeper. For it to be a satisfying story for me to write and spend months, if not years (if one counts the revision, editing and pre-and post-release time combined) with these characters, I want them to have some inherent character flaws.

Character flaws they need to overcome in order to be together in happily-ever-Pemberley.

Pemberley. Shallow of me, but had Jane Austen's Mr. Darcy not have been Master of Pemberley and in possession of ten thousand pounds a year and employed a boatload of servants, he would not have been as attractive to coupon-clipping me. To indulge in my fantasy, I made my Mr. Darcy a billionaire philanthropist and a successful acquisition and merger businessman.

Still external traits. Dig deeper, Nina.

His germ-phobic OCD doesn't count as a character flaw, you ask?

No. Because there are many people (like my all my dentist friends) who are happily OCDing and cleaning and scrubbing away and they make no apologies nor feel any angst about it. They're smiling brighter than Mr. Clean.

Hmm. Billionaire. Even Bill Gates, despite his billions, must have moments of feeling he's unworthy? That's it! What if my germ-phobic Darcy's character flaw is not that he's germ phobic, but that he fears he's unworthy to have a loving relationship because of it? His life is governed by fear: fear of germs, fear of not being in control, fear of something happening to his loved ones. This is his baggage.

Can I relate well enough with this basic character flaw to write him organically?

No. I'm shaking my head. I'm perfect. I'm worthy. I say out loud.

But my body doesn't lie. My muscles are tensing. I feel the anxious ticking in my blood. My body knows I can write this character. I can access this character flaw. I fear I'm not worthy of being a writer. I'm not worthy of …blah blah blah.

A writer has to access her flaws and use them as strengths in her writing. A writing mentor, Laura Baker of www.fearlesswriter.com, has taught me that. That's what readers respond to—the passion and authenticity of the writer's raw wounds.

So now I have this control-freak, germ-phobic OCD Mr. Darcy who believes that he's flawed, that he's not worthy of being loved because of this flaw.

In order for my Mr. Darcy to change at the end of the book and believes he's worthy of being love, my Elizabeth Bennet needs to be Miss Sunshine who believes in the best in others. She's going to show him he's worthy and she loves him, frequent-hand-washer, germ-phobic man that he is.

But sunshine, Pollyanna heroines make me want to jab my eyes with a dull pen. I need to give her some quirk to flesh her out. Something to complement and contrast with his trait. What if she's an infectious disease doctor volunteering in Vietnam, the home country of her aunt-by-marriage? That's what they have in common then: a service-to-others generosity of spirit.

She's strong, intelligent, decisive. Just what one would expect from a stereotypical woman doctor.


As a writer, I don't want to write a perfect superwoman/a paragon? No, I need more. As a philanthropist, Darcy would have met many of these volunteer-minded, paragon/superwomen. I need something unique about Elizabeth. Something unexpected.

What if she's volunteering in Vietnam because she's a Berkeley granola girl who wants to save the world? Perfect. She's quixotic. (I'm well acquainted with doctors who dedicate their life working in international aid. One definitely needs to have some quixotic quality to work in such field.)

Quixotic: idealistic, unrealistic, and impractical. That's it! It's this quixotic quality in her that cracks my Mr. Darcy's shell. We often fall in love with people who have qualities we feel lacking in ourselves. While he's fearful and pessimistic, she's fearless and optimistic. He's worried about the windmills's safety. She's charging at them.

More. He's a control-freak. Everything he does is carefully thought out and planned. Then, she needed to be impulsive to yin his yang. More opportunity for comic scenes.

Though my inspiration was Jane Austen's iconic literary characters, I believe I have created my own unique contemporary version of Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet.


Meet the author:

Nina Benneton was on her way to save the world and earn a Nobel Prize in something, anything, when her own Mr. Darcy and a bevy of beautiful children interrupted her plans. She woke up one day and saw she was too obsessive about alphabetizing her spices and searching for stray Barbie shoes. She turned to writing.

Her debut novel, Compulsively Mr. Darcy, earned a Best Book review and the Reader's Poll Book of the Month February 2012 from Long and Short Review, 'Hands down…a must read for lovers and fans of classic romance.' Fresh Fiction Review called it a 'tenderly written novel.' Savvy Verse and Wit described it as ' 'More than a love story, Compulsively Mr. Darcy is about loving someone faults and all, accepting and not changing who they are, and growing together in love. Steamy, sexy, and fun, it will have readers giggling and blushing at the same time.' Publishers Weekly wrote, 'Die-hard fans of everything Austen will enjoy this update of her classic tale.'

Find her on her website/blog: www.NinaBenneton.com

Find her on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Nina-Benneton/273543669356518

Find her on Twitter: @NinaBenneton

Find her on her groupblog: www.AustenAuthors.com


-Sourcebooks Site: http://www.sourcebooks.com/store/compulsively-mr.-darcy.html

-Amazon Book: http://www.amazon.com/Compulsively-Mr-Darcy-NinaBenneton/dp/1402262493/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1326072271&sr=8-1

-Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/compulsively-mr-darcy-nina-benneton/1104176969?ean=9781402262494

-GoodReads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/12853844-compulsively-mr-darcy

About the Novel:

This modern take introduces us to the wealthy philanthropist Fitzwilliam Darcy, a handsome and brooding bachelor who yearns for love but doubts any woman could handle his obsessive tendencies. Meanwhile, Dr. Elizabeth Bennet has her own intimacy issues that ensure her terrible luck with men.

When the two meet up in the emergency room after Darcy's best friend, Charles Bingley, gets into an accident, Elizabeth thinks the two men are a couple. As Darcy and Elizabeth unravel their misconceptions about each other, they have to decide just how far they're willing to go to accept each other's quirky ways...

I have 3 copies, 2 hardcopies and 1 e-book, of Compulsively Mr. Darcy to Giveaway.

Here are the rules:

Giveaway 1 for the e-book is WORLDWIDE.

Giveaway 2 for the 2 hardcopies is US & Canada only.

Please specify which giveaway, 1 or 2, you should be entered for based on your location.

To enter please answer the question Nina provided:

If you could take any of Jane Austen’s or other classic authors’ iconic literary characters and re-invent them as your own, who would you write about? Your own version of Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet, Mr. Rochester and Jane Eyre? Or, anyone wants to tackle an irreverent version of Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway with Clarissa and Septimus?

Giveaway ends March 1.

I would like to thank Nina for stopping by Royal Reviews today!


Jodi Vaughn said...

I've just finished reading Compulsively Mr. Darcy and I loved it! How brillant she is to place these characters that we all know and love in a contemporary setting with issues we have today! I look forward to her next masterpeice!

traveler said...

I would write about a modern Jane Eyre. This post was captivating and fascinating. many thanks. I would enter Giveaway #2. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

Barbara Tiller Cole said...


I love your thoughts on Darcy and Elizabeth as characters beyond time. I, as well, just don’t want to read about them with other people. Modern or Regency. Darcy married to Caroline or Anne--shiver! Elizabeth married to Mr. Collins or Colonel Fitzwilliam--no thank you!

I loved the way you developed tension between them and keep them true to their characters...

SPOILER--Yes Darcy had a past an a separate place for his entertainment. But THANK YOU that we didn’t have to experience with him to understand that!

Happy Valentine’s! Barbara

GranJan said...

I would like Frederick to become a rake when rejected and Anne to become a fighter after suffering the affects of being persuaded. And when they meet, sparks fly as they find their way back to love.

I would like to enter giveaway 2. cpnclprashe-at-yahoo

Patricia F. said...

I would rewrite anne and wentworth, though itd be nice to do a modern telling of fanny prince and edmund too.

This was a interesting read. Thank you for this opportunity!

Patricia said...

WOW Nina! What a fascinating journey for you and Elizabeth and Darcy. I loved seeing how you came to have it.

Shannon said...

Thanks for the post! I would write a modern day Mr. Darcy just because he is my favorite - I love his loyalty and think that would be a minefield to explore.

I'd like to be entered for Giveaway #2, the physical book.

Margaret said...

I'm in Canada so I'd love to enter both if possible.

I would write about Margaret the youngest Dashwood sister. Not just because we share the same name but I think from a child's point of view it would be interesting to see how she saw all of the events that took place in that story. Perhaps paid attention to certain details that adults would have not.


petite said...

An excellent and timely post which I enjoyed. giveaway 2 is great. I would rewrite the character who has always been a favorite, Maxim, from Rebecca. elliotbencan(at)hotmail(dot)com

Heather M. said...

Happy Valentine's Day!
I would love to reinvent Anne and Captain Wentworth in the 21st century. Some of their suffering comes from being constrained by the rules of propiety of their time and I wonder how things would play out of those rules were laxed. Great post and I can't wait to read about OCD Darcy! I'm in the US and would like to enter giveaway #2.

Maureen said...

I would want to write a modern day Scarlet O'Hara and Rhett Butler and give them a happy ending.
Please enter me for Giveaway 2
mce1011 AT aol DOT com

bn100 said...

I enjoyed your post. I'd probabaly rewrite Heathcliff. Please enter me in giveaway #2. Thanks for the giveaway.


Jakki L. said...

Good question! I love it when authors write about Colonel Fitzwilliam! I enjoy seeing how he gets developed.
Thanks for the giveaway! I will enter the US giveaway!

Pam S (pams00) said...

This read sounds wonderful ty for the giveaway!

I think I would like to redeem Caroline Bingley maybe or do more of a paranormal version to Jane Eyre.

pams00 at aol.com

Nina Benneton said...


A fellow writer I met from a writing class last year who writes paranormal. Wow. That's high compliment, indeed. It's nerve wracking to have your fellow writing classmates read your published work where you borrowed characters from dead writers instead of creating originals. So, I happily take your compliment, Jodi.

Thanks for stopping by. I've been biting my nails wondering what you think.

Nina Benneton said...


Yes!! A modern Jane Eyre! I'd love to read that. Think of the fun you could have with the mad-wife-in-the-attic thing... Except, you can have the wife be in prison for something such as thinking Mr. Rochester is a Vulcan...

Sorry... my mind jumps to weird, quirky plots.

And thank you for the kind words about the post. It was due to Angela's asking me to write about how I went about reinventing iconic literary characters.

I wanted her to ask me to write about Mr. Darcy's doing a Scottish reel, but she didn't.

Thank you for stopping by.

Nina Benneton said...

Barbara Tiller Cole,

Amen! Sista. What's up with that mixed pairings of our beloved duo?

Now, I don't mind Jane with Colonel Fitzwilliam, but D & E need to be together...or that's just WRONG!!

I better stop, I feel my blood pressure acting up just thinking about Darcy and Caroline or Anne or E with Wickham or Colonel Fitzwilliam.

Thanks for stopping by!

Nina Benneton said...


LOL. I like the passion in your comment there.

Frederick definitely had a bit of naughty in him, didn't he? Flirting with Louisa Musgrove and ignoring Anne. I, too, wanted Anne to get some chutzpah and stop being such a saint!

I'd love to read of a modern Anne who's more of a fighter.

Thanks for stopping by.

Nina Benneton said...

Patricia F,

You forgot to put your email or what giveaway you want.

Mansfield Park is my second most favorite JA novel, yet I don't see it as a romance, still--mainly because it's just not that romantic to be reading of Edmund mooning after that witch Mary Crawford for most of the book.

I'd love to read how a writer could make a modern retelling work. Fanny is a fascinating character.

Thanks for stopping by.

Nina Benneton said...


Thank you. Writing a book is like going on a journey with your characters. How aptly you put it.

Thank you for stopping by.

Nina Benneton said...


Loyalty. I agree with you. I think that's the most attractive thing about Mr. Darcy to me, his loyalty. He may be proud and arrogant, but he's loyal.

LOL. Probably why that modern-retelling I read in which he cheated on Elizabeth with some beauty queen just got on my nerves!

Can't complain though--it stirred me to write my own version. ;)

Thanks for stopping by.

Nina Benneton said...


Wow. What an excellent idea for a story--from a child's POV.

Wouldn't it be great to have a YA author tackle that?

A YA book from Lydia's POV wouldn't be bad either...

Or from Susan Price, Fanny's sister...

Now, look at what you started.

Thanks for stopping by.

Beverly said...

Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet - thanks for hosting.

Sandy said...

Nina...congratulations on the success of your book.

Loved reading your post and I completely agree...Darcy and/or Elizabeth with anyone else just gives me cold chills! Not relaxing reading for me.

Reading your thought process had me smiling mostly because my own Darcy is a little OCD, too...and sometimes it's chuckle worthy...even he laughs at some of the things he does not even realizing he is doing it!

Again, congratulations and I wish you continued success!


Nina Benneton said...

My dear Petite,

Get thee to a pen.

Maxim! I love, love Rebecca. Maxim was so sexy and brooding.

That housekeeper! Kind Mrs. Reynolds she was NOT!

I'll be waiting for that retelling, you hear!

Thanks for stopping by.

Nina Benneton said...


Persuasion seems to be the second most popular novel for re-imaginings and re-tellings.

Good point. The suffering did come from the constraints of the time...and I wonder how would Anne's character translate to modern time. She's the neglected middle child, isn't she?

I'd her to be a bit more active in a modern.

That letter Wentworth wrote... I think that was the most romantic thing Jane Austen ever wrote. Don't you?

Thanks for stopping by.

Nina Benneton said...


Amen! I still remember my broken heart at the ending of the original.

A happy ending would be great, though I think it would require some extensive work on Scarlett by a psychologist to make her a sympathetic character. That girl was all about ME, wasn't she?

Now you got my mind whirling about how to reinterpret Scarlet.

Thanks for stopping by.

Nina Benneton said...


Heathcliff! I was waiting for someone to say that.

I'll be ready to read it. Wait, unless you mean the cat? ;)

Thanks for stopping by.

Nina Benneton said...


Colonel Fitzwilliam? That big mouth?

Just messing with you. (Even though he does have a big mouth! And I had a lot of fun with his modern counterpart in CMD). I'd read a story where E was with Col F, and I hated that...so in my story, I had Ninja Mary kicked him. Hehehehe!

Thanks for stopping by.

Nina Benneton said...


Oooh! A paranormal version of Jane Eyre. That's perfect. The specter of the mad wife! Gosh, think what you could do with her!

Caroline? She's not so bad...you gotta always have a bitchy girl in the cast to hate...without her, it would be a little flatter of a story, don't you think?

Thank you for stopping by

Nina Benneton said...


I'll be looking for your version of Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet, now, ya hear?

Thanks for stopping by.

Nina Benneton said...


Thank you for the kind words.

Gosh! Your have a man who's OCD? How lucky are you? He'll always be the one cleaning the bathrooms!

I say CMD's Elizabeth got it made. A man who's willing to wipe down the bathroom counter? Bliss!!!

Thank you for stopping by.

Kelli H. said...

Great post! I am so excited to read this book! I have heard wonderful things about it! The characters I would write about would be Emma and Mr Knightley. Emma is one of my favorite JA novels and I haven't read nearly enough about her! Thanks for the giveaway! I am giveaway #2!!=)

Nina Benneton said...

Kelli H,

Thank you for the kind words. I'm so glad you've heard good things. Were you talking to Miss Bates?

Emma!. I'm quite envious of Emma. She's one of those girls who make me quite envious. Her life seems so...so...fun and charmed (don't I sound like Jane Fairfax?) But Emma's devotion to her father was so sweet, I thought.

I love the valetudinarian Mr. Woodhouse!

Thanks for stopping by, Kelli.

Margay said...

There are so many I'd like to tackle, but I think I would start with Anne Elliot and Capt. Wentworth from Persuasion - there's so much more to their love story than is in the book.

Nina Benneton said...


I think you're right about Persuasion. There was more romance that hinted at than expressed. I think it's the same with P & P.

Thanks for stopping by.

LĂșthien84 said...

I would re-write Fanny Price from Mansfield Park and not make her so mousy and obscure in the eyes of her the Bertrams and Mrs Norris.

Giveaway 1 eBook for me please.


Nina Benneton said...


I'm with you. I love Mansfield Park, but Fanny's diffidence drive me nuts...yet, it makes me so appreciative I'm not a poor relation.