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Saturday, October 2, 2010

Author Interview: Farida Mestek

The Long and the Short of It: LASR is pleased to welcome Farida Mestek. Farida lives in Ukraine, but adores Regency England, where she spends a great deal of her time. She fell in love with is after watching a film production on TV when she was a child and her love grew with every Jane Austen book she read and reread. She'd been writing all her life, so decided to write Regency-set stories herself.

I asked Farida which come first—plot or character.

"They often come hand in hand," she said. "I always see the characters in certain settings, circumstances, and situations that I just want to write about. I start with a detailed outline of the story. Once I have the outline, I start writing the actual story. But though I can't write a story without an outline, I never actually look into it during the writing process. Naturally, by the time the story is complete, it differs greatly from the outline, though not from the original idea. As for the characters, the most important thing for me is to show their growth and change. They must develop and by the end of the story they must learn a valuable lesson or two so that they have something to do once I've written their happily ever after. Additionally, I make major characters write their own account of the events in the book — it's a part of a new bimonthly feature on my blog «Meet the Character» - that I try to supply with a sketch of my own making."

She admits to occasionally suffering from writer's block, but admits that it's only because she sometimes has lazy spells.

"However, not writing makes me feel really bad so I sit down, turn on some loud and energizing music and plunge on. If that doesn't help, I take up one of my favourite books and try to get inspired there. If the book is related to what I'm working on, I take a piece of paper along to make notes."

Farida always reads several books at the same time. Because of her writing, she is reading letters, memoirs, historical accounts, biographies, novels, and even instruction manuals that are related in some way to Regency-era England. She also enjoys Jane Austen, Harry Potter, and Sherlock Holmes collections. However, she does admit that Jane Austen and her books have influenced her the most.

"How do you come up with the titles to your books?" I asked.

"Alas, I find coming up with the title much more difficult than writing the actual story and I don't usually have the title until I'm half-way through. I prefer two-word titles that go together like Pride and Prejudice or Sense and Sensibility. I like it when I manage to convey some play on words or hidden meaning within it. I can brood over the title for days and weeks, jotting down all possible (and story-related) pairs of words until, finally, I find a perfect combination of words, sounds and meaning."

When she's writing, she told me, it amazes her how fast the time flies.

"It just disappears," she said. "I completely lose myself in the story and the characters and it always takes me by surprise that I could have been writing for three hours straight without knowing it." It surprised her to discover that she will never know her characters as well as they know each other.

"It might sound strange, considering that I am the one to create them, but it is really not," she told me. "I always get some tidbits and insights into my characters while writing and I am often taken aback by the amount of information that comes out when they share a confidential conversation with one another. So I ask myself why I wasn't aware of any of it and the answer is quite simple: I'm not their friend or relative, I'm just someone who is recording their story. Why should they confide in me their innermost thoughts and wishes when they don't know me? But now that I know that, I understand why the characters and the story always get out of my control."

Farida's first book, Margaret's Rematch, is a traditional, Regency-set novel. It tells a story of Miss Margaret Fairfax – a young, handsome girl of independent fortune – who must settle in her new life at Northbrook Hall – the country estate of her brother-in-law – upon her sister’s death. There she faces a major challenge of proving to Mr. Westfield, whose dislike of her is legendary, that she is worthy of his regard, despite some scandalous rumours that had followed her from London. However, when it looks like the matter of his opinion is finally resolved in her favour and his heart is on its way of getting attached, Margaret’s complacency is shattered by the arrival of her deceitful friend, Miss Catherine Stockley, who poses a serious threat to the promotion of their relationship to the next level, as she employs her extensive knowledge of Margaret’s past and her cunning mind to discredit Margaret in Mr. Westfield’s eyes once and for all.

Her second book, also a Regency, tells the story of Henry Chadderton. His father earned his wealth in trade, but he looks to elevate his son to the gentry through marriage into a titled family. And so it is that Edward Montford, the second son of an impoverished baronet, accompanies his twin sister Emma to London in order to introduce her to her future husband.

Henry neither appreciates being ordered around nor has any intention of marrying anyone. Then he meets Emma—and Edward—and falls in love with the wrong sibling, setting off a chain of events that will cause arguments, bloodshed, jealousy, and scandal. But Henry will endure it all if it will eventually lead Edward to him.
You can keep up with Farida on her blog.

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