A Love Letter to Kara Louise
When Kindle first came out, I was excited by the technology of it. All my author friends were at first excited, then scared of the ramifications of what readers loving this machine would do to our sales. We’ve seen that through and now it’s become commonplace to have your Kindle eBook QR codes on author tables right alongside your print books. We really don’t care which format you enjoy, just enjoy them!
But, back to my first Kindle experience. So, I downloaded some of the free public domain works, of course going first for Pride and Prejudice, Northanger Abbey, and Emma. I had read them all, but wanted them on my Kindle for posterity sake. Ever the Austenophile, I then trolled for variations and came across Darcy’s Voyage by Kara Louise. Amazon tells me I bought it on March 4th, 2011, but I still remember the book like it was yesterday.
You see, Darcy’s Voyage blended two of my favorite things: the Darcy/Elizabeth love story and the magic of travelling on a large ship like in Titanic. Kara transported me into this world where I could see, feel, and touch everything around me. Not only did she bring two of my favorite characters along, she did it right. I felt like she really understood the characters and what they would say or feel or do. And to have the characters brought to life after I thought they were gone forever with the last page of Jane’s novel, it was a like a gift. Kara certainly has that ability to bring our beloved characters to life and I think that comes from her being a fan of Austen as well. After I read Darcy’s Voyage, I gobbled up her other works like they were chocolate truffles! In fact, through the power of Amazon record keeping, I can see I digested her entire library in less than a month! Even one told from a dog’s point of view, which is odd for me to enjoy because I’m not especially a pet lover.
So, to Kara, I say…Thank you for the gifts you’ve given me. You brought Darcy and Elizabeth back to life in a way I never thought possible. You’ve given me them in the past, in the future, through dogs eyes, through Georgianna’s eyes, with confusion, and misconstruance. You’ve shown me they are not static characters forever locked in 1813. You’ve given me hope that I will be able to learn of new adventures and continue to be in their lives. You unlocked the door to variations that was closed to me. To me, you will always be the mother of the variation (even if some came before you) and have instilled in me a reverence for the retelling of our sacred tale, a standard by which all other variations must stand up to. And lastly, before I turn into too much of a fangirl, you restored my love of reading when it was almost snuffed out by bad Jane reboots! Thank you!
Now that all the gushing is over, let’s talk about what Kara Louise has new for us. Mr. Darcy’s Rival begins when Elizabeth Bennet sets off to join her friend, Charlotte Collins, in Kent. When she arrives, she is delighted to make the acquaintance of a young gentleman from Rosings, the nephew of the late Sir Lewis de Bourgh. She enjoys getting to know him and spending time with him. When Darcy arrives, a couple weeks later, he discovers that Elizabeth is just across the lane. This story is about Elizabeth’s perception of the two men and how Darcy is faced with a harsh reality and difficult decision.
Now comes the best part of this post! I actually got to chat with Kara and ask her a few questions…I know fangirl flip-out right? Here’s what Kara has to say about her books, her love of Austen, and what she has coming next.
What is your favorite Jane Austen novel?
Pride and Prejudice is my favorite with Persuasion coming in at a close second. I have never been as moved by any film or book as I was with P&P. I love Elizabeth’s determination to dislike Darcy despite his being such a sought after gentleman. I love her liveliness and spirit, and I love that Jane Austen keeps us from knowing the truth about Darcy until Elizabeth finds out. Like her, we are left questioning everything we thought we knew about him!
What was your first JA variation?
The first variation I wrote was Assumed Engagement. I had based this book on the assumption that Darcy corresponded with Georgiana frequently and would have informed her that he was going to ask for Miss Elizabeth Bennet’s hand. Of course, Georgiana would assume they were engaged, and when Darcy is in an accident and knocked unconscious, she sends for Elizabeth, not knowing she turned him down. I had originally thought it would be about 7 chapters and it surprised me by being 20.
I loved that book. One of my favorite side characters is Georgianna and I loved how you played out what a relationship between them would be like if Darcy wasn’t in the picture. Where did you get the idea to put Lizzy and Darcy on a ship?
I had just read the book, Two Years Before the Mast by Richard Henry Dana, which was his diary of being a sailor in the mid-1800s. He was just sailing from Boston to California, but I was drawn in by his descriptions of the ship and his experiences, and that was where the idea first began to take shape.
Besides Lizzy and Darcy, who is your favorite P&P character?
I like several characters, so let me answer it this way – which other P&P character do you enjoy writing about as they interact with Lizzy or Darcy? That would be Colonel Fitzwilliam as he interacts with Darcy. I think there are times when Darcy can be so clueless (especially in Mr. Darcy’s Rival), that his cousin has to shake him up a bit, tease him, set him straight.
I love the way you amped up Colonel Fitzwilliam in your writing. Before I read your work, he was just a cardboard cut out to me. You made him come alive in a way I didn’t expect. How did you think of writing a Darcy variation from a dog’s point of view?
I had read a couple other stories where Darcy had a dog, and I began to think about what kind of influence his dog might have in the storyline. That was one story where I strictly adhered to Jane Austen’s story, only inserting events of my own devising when we did not know from her novel what happened, such as the months between Darcy leaving Netherfield and then showing up at Rosings. Writing that story about Reggie, an English Springer Spaniel, prompted us to get an ESS and name her Reggie. Yes, this Reggie is a female, and is not as well behaved as Darcy’s Reggie was.
Do you have a favorite JA movie adaptation?
Definitely the 1995 Pride and Prejudice. I personally don’t think you can beat Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy.
Very true! Too bad we can’t freeze Colin in time so he can play Darcy for the rest of his life. I bet he’d get tired of that though. Heheh. I’ve read all your JA variations, even the modern one Drive and Determination. Do you enjoy writing modern or Regency fiction better? Which is harder?
I definitely prefer Regency. Drive and Determination came about when I was standing on a street in Guatemala in a downpour. I got the idea for the story, which was not, in its first conception, a Pride and Prejudice story at all. But I made a few changes to make it more of a P&P inspired story. It definitely takes a different direction than P&P. Regency is more difficult to write because not only the lifestyle of that era is different, but also the language and how things were said. Words were used differently back then and you want to be correct on what they said and did not say. I have two gals who edit my books who are very good at catching some of the things that I let slip by.
If you were to cast Darcy and Lizzy in Darcy’s Voyage, who would play the parts?
I really like Jessica Brown Findlay, who played Lady Sybil on Downton Abbey and think she would make a fine Elizabeth Bennet. As for Darcy, I’d have to say definitely, Henry Cavill. How fun would that be!
How do stories come to you?
Not as easily as they used to! I wrote my first stories within 3-6 months, and this last one took 2 years. Actually, I get an idea, and I can usually write a pretty good first chapter. Then I have to chew it over and see if it can go anywhere. Sometimes an idea comes just from reading P&P and stopping at something that makes me stop and wonder how things would have transpired if this or that change was made.
Do you work off an outline or go with the flow?
I don’t use an outline, but I do have an idea where the story is going. There are times I find it veering off in another direction. In Mr. Darcy’s Rival, Miss Anne de Bourgh reveals to Elizabeth that she is a writer and even her mother does not know. I have no idea where that came from, but it became a substantial part of the story.
I really liked that veer you took with Anne. Pride and Prejudice begs for a writer in the mix and Anne was the perfect choice. Besides Jane Austen, what kinds of things inspire you?
Before I began writing, all my creative energies went into crafting. I still have boxes of unfinished crafts or craft supplies. I’ve done everything from basket weaving to cross stitch, to paper crafting, to tole painting. I also love music—either listening or singing along. I don’t have a solo voice (my sister was gifted with that), but I have a voice that can blend. I sang in the choir at my former church for several years. When I’m home alone and listening to music, I usually sing along with it. Fortunately, no one can hear me.
I love music too. I would love to see a music inspired P&P! What do you do in your life that is completely different from writing? Any hobby, social club, charity, or sport you enjoy?
I love sports. Volleyball was a favorite of mine, having grown up in California, I played it a lot. But in 2011, I broke an ankle, and haven’t played since. My husband and I are very involved in our church. It’s a small church we started attending when we moved to St. Louis to be near our son and his wife. And this past year, a new granddaughter became a very big and special part of our life. I’ve enjoyed having a regular schedule babysitting her so our daughter-in-law could continue working with pregnant teens.
Besides JA, who are your favorite authors to read?
I read such a variety, that it’s hard to pinpoint a favorite. I do enjoy Georgette Heyer, who writes fun Regency stories, much like Jane Austen. But one other favorite I have is Elly Griffiths, whose character, Ruth Galloway, is a forensic archaeologist in England who gets called in to help solve murders with Detective Chief Inspector Henry Nelson. She just came out with her 7th novel.
What is your favorite period in history?
Since I know so much about it, I would have to say Regency.
Do you have any advice for new writers?
The best advice I have is to write what you like. If you can put your heart and soul into your book, it will be more enjoyable. But at the same time, before you even think of publishing it, have others read it whom you can trust to give you good, honest advice about plot, characters, and your writing so that it will be the best it can be before you hit the ‘publish’ button.
What are you working on next?
Right now I’m taking a break from novel writing to do some writing for our austenvariations.com blog. I hope during that break I’ll get some inspiration for my next project.
Where can we find you on the web?
My website is: http://www.karalouise.net
My Facebook author page is: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Kara-Louise-Author/110662582307647
My Facebook personal page is: https://www.facebook.com/karalouise.214
Thank you, Emmy, for inviting me to being a part of your new Austen blog as I announce my new Austen book!
You are very welcome Kara! It was a pleasure, truly. And readers, please check out Kara’s new book, Mr. Darcy’s Rival.