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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Wednesday Spotlight: Sourcebook Casablanca

Pemberley Manor by Kathryn Nelson

When I started writing the story that became Pemberley Manor, it was simply an exercise in imagination. Why would Darcy have such a difficult temperament in the first place? And was he truly so very much improved by Elizabeth in the space of a few brief conversations that he would never revert to his original arrogance? And then there’s Elizabeth, so annoyed by the idea of marriages of convenience, and yet succumbing to the allure of a fine estate.

I’m a sensible woman, raised in a family of contractors. I generally play by the rules, and the rules don’t usually include writing sequels to other people’s books. I still remember the furor over the sequel to Gone With the Wind. Imagine my surprise when Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle introduced me in 1995 to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice in such a way that I couldn’t stop thinking about them.

I still have the urge to giggle when I think about the impudence of tackling one of the most romantic and beloved couples of all time, not to mention trying to imitate the style of arguably the world’s greatest romantic novelist.

And what is it about the language of Jane Austen? After watching the Andrew Davies’ BBC/A&E production easily a dozen times, I reread every Jane Austen book with a new eye and a sense of wonder about her prowess as a comedienne as well as a wordsmith. I hate to admit that I missed the irony in my first reading of Austen’s work, but, sigh, I was very young then. Life has now amply demonstrated to me that we often end up on a path we didn’t intend to take – Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy being cases in point.

Once I admitted that I had actually written a book, I embarked on a tour of discovery that led me to the dozens of other sequel writers. Who knew? I believe at this point there are well over a hundred sequels to Jane Austen’s work. So, good company, good fun, and let the critics say what they will. I’ve loved every minute of this adventure, and if readers enjoy the story – well, that’s the icing…

If you’ve enjoyed my book or any of the other sequels, I’d love to hear your point of view. Thanks for the inviting the Sourcebooks authors on board this week – if you’re an Austen fan, check out the website.


Amelia said...


Wow oh wow! I'm intrigued! And I had no idea there were so many sequels written! I can understand why it might have given you a moment's pause to undertake such a task, but from what you said, sounds like to me that you knew exactly what you were doing. Congrats!

Mary Margret said...

I haven't written a sequel, per se, but I did write Star Trek fanfic--especially during the hiatus years.

I wasn't 'trying' to be a writer. I did it only because I wanted to hang out with those characters. In the case of Captain Kirk, I wanted to create a backstory. (All we're ever told is that he's an Iowa farm boy.)

I believe I understand what would impel one from to write a sequel.

I've sometimes been tempted to write a sequel to GWTW so that Scarlett and Rhett can finally have a real romance, one that ends HEA.

Kathryn L Nelson said...

Thanks for the opportunity to share on this delightful blog. I'd like to think I knew what I was doing, Amelia, but it's only in hindsight. Like you, Mary Margret, I simply wanted to spend more time with the characters. I hope you do write that sequel - I have the same longing for Scarlett and Rhett - they deserve some peace in their twilight years.

Danielle Jackson Dresser said...

I was a self-proclaimed purist for a while, really until I started promoting Austen sequels and working for the publisher that is the Number One Austen Sequel publisher in the country!

I thoroughly enjoyed Pemberley Manor. I even enjoyed the sacrilege of Linda Berdoll (don't tell the other Janeites). I think that as long as it is well-written, clever and doesn't turn the characters into unrecognizable creations, I'm game for continuing the story.

But you know what I want? A Sense & Sensibility sequel! Sourcebooks has one out now and one in the Fall so i'm very excited about it!

Robin Kaye said...

I cut my writing teeth with a modern-day telling of Pride and Prejudice with a twist of Persuasion. I had a fabulous time with it, and because it was modern, I had a bit more freedom to go off on my own. It was so much fun.

I'm looking forward to reading yours. I'm always in awe of people who write in the style of Jane Austen. To me, it would be like writing in a foreign language and I have a hard enough time just writing American English.

Kathryn L Nelson said...

I've been obsessed with my sequel for so long that I have only read a couple of others, but I think I'm ready to dive in. I'll check yours out, Robin. Sounds like fun.

Pemberley Manor has been accused by some of having a modern tilt to the style, but then I am modern and I'm writing for a modern audience, so I let myself go a bit. But the language really was tricky - keeping out slang especially.

Sharon Lathan said...

Hello fellow Austen-sequel and Sourcebooks author! I suppose it is safe to say that I know precisely what you are talking about! LOL. Of course, for me it was seeing Matthew Macfadyen and Keira Knightley, but we all fall in love with Austen in varied ways. The commonality is adoring these characters and not being able to get them out of our hearts. My point of view is exactly the same as yours: "good company, good fun, and let the critics say what they will." Readers DO love more of Austen and thank God for that. Good luck Kathryn!

Kathryn L Nelson said...

Thanks, Sharon. Such good company I've been keeping lately!