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!