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
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!