Thursday, 22 July 2010

Author Interview: Mary Lydon Simonsen + GIVEAWAY of Mary's latest novel

I am happy to post my very first author interview. I interviewed the wonderful and very kind Mary Lydon Simonsen about her novel Anne Elliot, A New Beginning.
At the end of the interview, read about the GIVEAWAY of the very same novel.

Here we go!

ME: Why did you decide to write about Jane Austen’s Persuasion? What inspired you to tackle this particular story?

MARY: The appeal of Persuasion is that it is a story about second chances, and it is also a mature love story. Anne is 27 when Captain Wentworth comes back into her life, and despite eight years of separation, she has never stopped loving him.

ME: Persuasion is probably the most serious novel written by Jane Austen, but your novel contains a lot of delightful humour and fun situations. Why did you decide to write a humorous story about Anne Elliot and Frederick Wentworth?

MARY: Anne is good and kind and decent, and because of those traits, her family walks all over her. I wanted to give her an opportunity to fight back. The transition begins with her becoming a long-distance runner, and her success provides the confidence to do more.

ME: Anne Elliot is a long-distance runner in the novel. Do you jog yourself? Are you a sporty person?

MARY: In my imagination, I am a great athlete performing at an Olympic level. In actuality, a walk around the block is a good outing for me. I was always an indoors girl.

ME: Your Anne Elliot is a strong, independent woman. Do you think she could be an inspiration or a role model for the female readers today? If so, why?

MARY: Today, it is important that a woman be able to make it on her own. Fifty percent of marriages in the United States end in divorce. A woman must be able to take care of herself. Without realizing it, Anne’s family is dependent upon her. She is the foundation of the Elliot family.

ME: What is your favourite part of the novel? Which part was the most fun to write?

MARY: I loved Anne and Swoosh’s friendship. Anne suspects that William Elliot is up to something, but being a lady with all the social prohibitions for females, she needs help in exposing William’s true nature. That is where Swoosh, a street urchin from Bath, comes in. They bring out the best in each other. He knows the streets, but she can provide the affection and support that is lacking in his young life. Of course, the love story between Frederick and Anne is the backbone of the story.

ME: Did you do any research for the novel?

MARY: I did read up on Regency Bath and the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic Wars, but for the most part, I took great liberties with the supporting characters. For example, Elizabeth becomes a distributor of beauty products.

ME: Your novel features both humour and crime. Do you enjoy reading crime stories and humorous novels/parodies? Did any of them inspire you?

MARY: When I read for pleasure, I like a good mystery, but not too violent. My favorite mystery writers are Michael Connelly, Charles Todd, and Jamie Harrison. I usually do not read Austen-inspired fiction because I don’t want someone else’s ideas floating around in my head. There are exceptions. If the writer’s style is so different from mine, then I am comfortable reading it. There will be a book out next year, Mr. Darcy Takes the Plunge, by an extraordinarily gifted Canadian writer. It is hysterical and unlike anything I have ever read before. The author may be publishing under a nom de plume, so I can’t tell you her name, but I will be promoting it on my blog when it comes out.

ME: Who can read Anne Elliot, A New Beginning?

I would think anyone who likes Persuasion and who has a sense of humor will enjoy Anne Elliot, A New Beginning. But you have to be willing to go on a wild ride. After all, Anne gets her groove back by becoming a jogger. However, it is also a story of redemption for the entire Elliot family, which I imagine would have appeal for everyone.

ME: You are a fan of Jane Austen. Why do you like her works? And why, do you think, is Jane Austen still such a popular author?

MARY: Jane is a master storyteller and wordsmith which is why we are reading her novels nearly 200 years after her death. She wrote about what she knew, for example, four and twenty families in a country setting in Pride and Prejudice. This is not a story about princesses or duchesses, but a middle-class girl, who knows what she wants. It’s easy to pretend to be Elizabeth Bennet. And who doesn’t want a Mr. Darcy in their life.

ME: How does your creative process look like? How do you write? Do you have a special ritual?

MARY: I try to write every morning. I work on my ideas while I am cleaning the house or doing yard work. While working on the dialog, I talk to myself a lot. My husband has finally gotten used to it.

ME: For you, what is the best thing about being a writer?

MARY: I get to tell stories. I was always a storyteller. When I was growing up, I had three older sisters and two younger sisters. The three younger girls had an earlier bedtime than my older sisters, which we thought to be quite unfair. Instead of going to sleep, I would tell stories, but I didn’t actually start writing until my early twenties. By the way, I have a sister Anne and a sister Elizabeth, and my name is Mary, the three Elliot siblings. If that isn’t strange enough, my husband’s middle name is Walter. I was destined to write a Persuasion story.

ME: Your new novel, The Perfect Bride for Mr. Darcy, will be released in December 2010. What can readers look forward to in this novel?

MARY: In The Perfect Bride for Mr. Darcy, Elizabeth and Darcy part company after Lizzy’s refusal of Darcy’s offer of marriage at Hunsford. Even though both are already having regrets about the way things have turned out before they leave Kent, they believe that they will never get together. However, Anne De Bourgh is of a different mind. She knows her cousin loves Elizabeth, and she sets in motion a plan to bring the two of them together at Pemberley. Along the way, she is aided by Georgiana Darcy. It’s written with a very light touch with lots of humor. It should put a smile on your face.

Thank you for inviting me to share my thoughts.

ME: Thank you, Mary, for agreeing to do the interview with me!

Mary Lydon Simonsen is the author of Searching for Pemberley (previously Pemberley Remembered), The Second Date and Anne Elliot, A New Beginning. Her new novel, The Perfect Bride for Mr Darcy, will be released in December 2010. You can follow Mary’s blog HERE or visit her WEBSITE. You can also follow Mary’s Austen-based stories HERE.

On Anne Elliot's 25th birthday, her family declared her to be a spinster, but instead of being downcast by this change in status, she finds it to be quite liberating. As a result of her new-found freedom, Anne becomes a long-distance runner, and this activity greatly increases her confidence. It is this new Anne who Captain Frederick Wentworth meets when he sees the love of his life after eight years of separation. The Captain admires the changes in Anne, and he finds that he is falling in love with her all over again. However, there is a complication. The heir to Kellynch, the Elliot estate, William Elliot, has also come back into the picture after an estrangement with Anne's father, Sir Walter Elliot, and he has set his sights on Anne. Now living in Bath, Anne senses that something is not right, and with the help of a street urchin named Swoosh, she sets out to discover what William Elliot is really like.

THE GIVEAWAY: You can win a copy of Anne Elliot, A New Beginning! You can enter the giveaway by simply leaving a comment to this post and by answering two questions: Why do you like Jane Austen? Which if your favourite Jane Austen novel? Please, include your e-mail address into your post. The winner will be chosen with Random Number generator. The giveaway is INTERNATIONAL. It ends on August 5 at midnight your time. An e-mail will be sent to the winner. If they do not respond in 48 hours, a new winner will be chosen. Good luck!


Unknown said...

Your first author interview is a huge success! I loved your questions. I could see how much thought went into them. I loved the one about whether the author likes to run. I am exactly the same. In my mind I am Usain Bolt. In relaity I am way too lazy.

So I figure I should enter the contest as I am most intrigued by authors who are brave enough to try to master the works of Austen.

I like Jane Austen because she makes me have my heart in my mouth every time I read Pride and Prejudice (which is my favourite austen). She makes my heart flutter with adoration for the arrogant Mr Darcy. Swoon!

Milka said...

Great interview Irena, I really enjoyed reading it.

I love Jane Austen because through her novels, she has introduced me into a whole new era which I have fell in love with. Since I first read Pride and Prejudice (my favorite Austen novel btw) I have been interested about the society and history of Jane Austen's time and I have done research about it etc. I also love the manners and the courtship rituals of her novels. And who can resist her wonderful heroes?


The Readings of a Busy Mom said...

wohoo girl i love the interview a major mahjor success
My Blog

Blodeuedd said...

Oh cool, I didn't expect it do be international :D

blodeuedd1 at gmail dot com

My fav is actually Persuasion, it used to be PP but then I grw up and realized how lovely Persuasion was.

I love her cos she writes about love and loss, and it's all so sweet

Mary Simonsen said...

Hi Irena, Thank you for interviewing me and for the giveaway. :)

J. Marie Croft said...

Thank you for the insightful interview with Mary Simonsen, who is one of my favourite Austen-inspired authors. Mary is a gifted storyteller, and it was interesting to learn that she began at such a tender age. Oh, that jogs my memory; Austen herself started writing when she was about twelve, I believe.

Persuasion is a close runner-up (speaking of running) to P&P as my most-liked Austen novel. It is, as Mary said, about second chances. Hmm, Mary writes about second chances, a Second Date, and A New Beginning. Is there a trend there?

I love Jane Austen because of her use of irony and also because she wrote great lines, such as "You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope." I sigh every time I read those words ... and read her words we do, over and over again. Yet we yearn for more, so we turn to authors like Mary Simonsen to keep Austen's legacy alive.

Congratuations, Mary, on your latest novel; and congratulations, Irena, on your first (of many, I hope) author interviews. You've both done a fine job!

Enbrethiliel said...


Irena, I'm starting to think "international" is the most beautiful word in the world. ;-)

This is a great interview and the giveaway is really just the cherry on top. I like the idea of imagining what might have gone on "offstage" while the main characters were doing something else--especially if these ideas also fit seamlessly with the story as we know it. And it's always good to give minor characters their own chance to shine, as Anne and Georgiana get to do in The Perfect Bride for Mr. Darcy. =)

I like Jane Austen simply because she is such a pleasure to read. Her prose is lovely and sparkling; and her insight into human nature, especially in her later novels, is excellent.

My favourite Austen novel is usually the last one I've read; and right now, that happens to be Northanger Abbey. But I will always have a very soft spot in my heart for Persuasion and let my cool head name Mansfield Park as Austen's masterpiece.

Thanks, Irena! =)

Enbrethiliel said...


PS--I forgot to add my e-mail address:

altaemoeniaRomae [at] Gmail [dot] com

Mary Simonsen said...

It may sound like a mutual admiration society, but I can't way for J. Marie Croft's book to come out. You read the whole thing with a smile on your face.

Felicia said...

Nice interview. I'd love a chance to win the book.

My favorite Jane Austen novel is Pride and Prejudice closing followed by Persuasion. Why do I love Jane Austen? Well, for many reasons but I guess her beautiful way with words and her lovely sense of humor.

LĂșthien84 said...

A lovely interview for a first timer, Irena. And thanks for making this international. I would love to be entered.

My favourite Austen novel is a toss between Pride & Prejudice and Persuasion. I can't decide which one I really like best.

I like Jane Austen for her great plots especially her love stories and acute observations of human foibles.


The Insouciant Sophisticate said...

Great interview! At the moment I would say that I like Jane Austen for the romance and strong female characters which is why Pride and Prejudice is my fave of her books although I have a soft spot for Northanger Abbey.

bookworm1858 AT hotmail DOT com

Anne R. said...

Jane Austen's writing is simply wonderful. She has this knack of making me become engrossed with her novels. It's quite hard to choose my favorite because I loved every Austen book I've read but among her books, Emma was the one that kept me up all night so yes, Emma, it is.

Awesome interview, by the way and thanks for making this international.

isabookwhore @