The Monster Mash?
Darcyholic Diversions is very happy to be welcoming Colette Saucier back to Darcyholic Diversions. Be sure to leave a comment! Colette is going to be giving a $10 gift card to a lucky commenter!
I find it unfathomable—and frankly disconcerting—to realize that it has been seven years since my daughter convinced me to write a vampire adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. Why, one may wonder, did we think the world needed a new paranormal variation on Jane Austen’s beloved classic? Perhaps the world at large did not, but we did! I suppose I have what I so lovingly refer to as “that zombie atrocity” to claim as pseudo-inspiration because it forced me to consider the possibility of writing something good, something we, at least, would want to read.
At the time I wrote Pulse and Prejudice, volume one of “The Confession of Mr. Darcy, Vampire,” I had never even heard the term “Jane Austen Fan Fiction.” I threw myself full-throttle into historical research and combed the manuscript to eliminate any anachronisms. I even shifted the date of the narrative slightly to take advantage of all of the amazing events occurring around the time Miss Austen published her novel, not just in the course of human events but also the bizarre nature of the weather. That’s right: Pulse and Prejudice is historically accurate down to the weather!
Which brings me to the release of Dearest Bloodiest Elizabeth. After devoting so many months researching not just the historical events but also vampire lore as existed during the Regency, I thought bringing our dear couple to New Orleans would require less effort on my part as I live in South Louisiana and would not need to go traipsing around London. Wrong! I spent the better part of two years meticulously investigating records and narratives from the period immediately following the War of 1812—yes, including the weather! This, of course, followed my writing out a detailed outline and obtaining my daughter’s approval, naturally. Thus, the people, the events, the culture, the places, the “year without summer” all play a role in Dearest Bloodiest Elizabeth.
I have always loved irony, so that it would slap me in the face should not have surprised me. You see, dear readers, upon the publication of Pulse and Prejudice, any reference to it being a “mash-up” infuriated me. A mash-up of what and what exactly? Certainly my novel could not be compared to “that zombie atrocity,” which took the complete narrative of Miss Austen’s novel and just inserted ninjas and zombies here and there with no consideration for Austenian language! No; I had written an adaptation that preserves the integrity of the source material and maintains eighteenth century literary conventions! How dare anyone call it a “mash-up”!
So what have I done with the sequel? I wrote a mash-up.
Well, it’s not so much a mashing together of tales as being heavily inspired by them. Untethered by Jane Austen’s original, I set out to write something completely original for the sequel, which I believe I have accomplished. Nevertheless, I cannot exorcize previous reading material from my brain, and that influences my writing. Therefore, I confess that Dearest Bloodiest Elizabeth “mashes up” elements from Anne Rice, Bram Stoker, Gone With the Wind, and Shakespearean tragedy.
(I should warn more sensitive readers that, as this is not an adaptation, they will find volume two much darker, bloodier, and sexier than Pulse and Prejudice. For those who have not read volume one of “The Confession of Mr. Darcy, Vampire,” I did include a section outside of Miss Austen’s story—“Beyond Pride and Prejudice”—with more sensual scenes; but for readers who prefer Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth to remain chaste, simply skip this section and proceed directly to the epilogue.)
Dearest Bloodiest Elizabeth begins a few weeks after the end of Pride and Prejudice, with the newly wed vampire Darcy and his bride Elizabeth at Pemberley. I shall not spoil the plot of Pulse and Prejudice for those who have yet to read it, but events occur which require our dear couple to follow Wickham to Louisiana immediately after the Battle of New Orleans. All of the events, places, and even most people you will read about are real. Darcy finally catches up to him at a ball thrown at the home of the mayor Nicholas Girod. One can visit the place even today, now called the Napoleon House owing to a legend that Monsieur Girod intended to house Napoleon Bonaparte there once they had freed him from exile. While Darcy searches the crush for Wickham, now living in New Orleans under an assumed name, Elizabeth sits with Colonel Fitzwilliam, who had recently been injured at the Battle of Waterloo. This excerpt should give you a taste to whet your appetite!
Pray, leave a comment with your thoughts, as I will be giving a $10 Amazon gift card to one lucky reader. Drawing will be next Friday after 8pm EST so get your comments in before then!
And Now An Exerpt from Colette’s newest book...
Darcy felt a presence, which caused the bovine blood rippling through his veins to heat. He reluctantly pressed his wife’s hand onto his cousin. “Wickham is here. Fitzwilliam.” His chest tightened at the sentiment, but he knew it must be said. “Pray do not leave Elizabeth’s side. I do not trust Wickham in the same room with her.” With a nod, Fitzwilliam accepted Elizabeth’s hand into the crook of his arm, his cane in his other hand, and led her away as Darcy turned in search of his prey.
Darcy tensed both from watching the ease with which his wife walked away with Fitzwilliam as well as the compelling pressure at the base of his skull from the knowledge that another such as he moved amongst them.
Yet every time he approached the direction from which he felt the presence lay, he was misdirected. Again and again, awareness of Wickham pulled at him until he knew he had walked a full circle through the area of revelers without having lain eyes upon his nemesis. Then, without any augur to presage his appearance, Wickham stood behind him.
“Darcy.” Darcy turned and glowered at the beast he had sought all these weeks. “I understand you have been asking for me.”
Nausea rose within Darcy as the manifestation of Wickham stretched across every sinew of his being. “Yet, you have found me.”
Wickham moved into his field of vision and shrugged. “I could not permit Englishmen to traipse across all the plantations and the city decrying that I had deserted the British Army, now could I?”
Darcy flashed his eyes in Wickham’s direction but revulsion forced his gaze away. “Do you know why I am come to find you?”
“From what I collect, you are on a mission to bring about my demise—whatever that means for beings such as we.”
“I shall be satisfied if I could only return you to England so that someone else might deal with you.”
Wickham scoffed. “Now, Darcy, when it comes down to it, you would have someone else perform your less reputable designs?”
Darcy met Wickham’s stare directly. “Do you think I am here of my own design? Should I not be more satisfied to remain undisturbed in my own homes in England? I was sent here to, much to my dismay, to destroy you, by a certain—”
Wickham interrupted him with a sneering laugh. “A certain short somebody, perhaps? Aye, I know the very one. He has been on me since the day I removed myself from Pemberley after Rivens turned me.”
“I am certain you know I am loathe to return you to England, after all you have done to those whom I love the most. Yet he is now in a position to extort me on behalf of my cousin, to prevent her destruction or at the very least her exposure.”
“Your cousin, you say? Her destruction? Pray, do not tell me that Anne de Bourgh has been turned!”
“Upon her death bed, I offered her an option that she might have the life she never enjoyed as a mortal.”
“Darcy, by my word! You of all have committed the sin of turning a human!”
“Nay. She chose this with full recognition of all the…consequences, as I said, upon her death bed. Yet again, Rivens performed the service.”
Wickham rose his brows in disbelief. “Who would have thought it of Miss de Bourgh! And what of her mother?”
With an abrupt and dark change in his demeanour, Darcy faced Wickham straight on. “I am not come to discuss Lady Catherine with you. True, I have been sent on a mission to destroy you.”
With a grumbling laugh, Wickham said, “Did you plan to cut off my head or set me afire?”
“I had not thought of what would occur should I even find you, and as I said, now you have found me. I only responded to the dwarf’s extortion to protect Anne, as well as my own family.”
“And do you intend to perpetrate this destruction upon my physical form on your own?”
“Rivens, of course, has accompanied me.”
“And my cousin Fitzwilliam is recently come with his betrothed in order to assist me.”
“Ah, yes, Fitzwilliam. I do own he had cause to cut off my head more times than even I am worthy.”
“Wickham—or McGeogh if you prefer—”
“Pray call me Warik. That is how my friends call me.”
Darcy’s brow rose with his questioning eyes. “And I am your friend? That I cannot credit. You and I have not been friends for some time—notwithstanding your choice to take control of my father in his final years.”
“As you recall, neither of us were given many options. That should belong in the past, Darcy. We were friends for far longer than enemies. Pray tell me, why are you and Fitzwilliam truly here?”
“As I said, that dwarf whom you yourself encountered has forced my hand and brought me across the ocean. He blames me for releasing the first of our kind on to the New World.”
Warik—Wickham—broke forth in laughter. “That is a joke, to be sure. Those of our kind have resided here for decades, or at least since the Terror. That was the draw to Louisiana, when so many of our kind were brought before the guillotine.”
Darcy attempted to suppress his surprise, but his frown and wrinkled eyebrows would reveal his disturbance at this intelligence. “Are you to say there are others such as we already here in New Orleans?”
“Aye, and in the area surrounding. Several of those who fled France at that time settled here in the area and have their own plantations in order to maintain their wealth. If that little dwarf said anything other, either he has sent you on a fool’s errand or he is a fool himself.”
Darcy, struck dumb by what sounded to be a reasonable explanation from Wickham, allowed his gaze to float over towards the ball in progress then rest upon where Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth sat together in gleeful conversation. Now he knew not what to think. Why had he ever trusted the dwarf, the self-espoused destructor of his kind? Yet, Wickham had been his nemesis for far too long to credit his words.
Perhaps sensing the conflict within Darcy, Wickham offered, “We should talk, Darcy. There is much to say. I know Rivens made us, but he did not tell us all. I have much to share with you, and perhaps I may do the honour of introducing you to an enclaver, a colony of our sort—those who have lived for decades, nay, centuries—longer than we and know our true power. Do not you see? The enclaver holds the key.”
“Where shall I meet you? Sometime tomorrow?”
“Not tomorrow. My presence is required up the river to tell the others that you and I have met and the outcome of this discussion. I am at Trémoulet House—you know it?” Darcy nodded. “Come there in a few days’ time. If I am not within, leave message where I might find you so that I can bring you out of the ignorance of which we have been subjected since our transformation.”
Wickham glanced towards the table where Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam were together in comfortable conversation. “So I see, Fitzwilliam has chosen well for his future happiness.”
Not gathering the inference, Darcy thought only of Fitzwilliam and the Comtesse. “I do believe they will get on well together.”
“Aye. When Elizabeth returned from Rosings, she had naught but praise for the Colonel—her head was full of him. I am only surprised that he would deem to offer for her.”
Darcy’s head jerked back in the direction of his wife sitting with his cousin. “What? No! Wickham or Warik or whatever it is you call yourself, you speak now of my wife. Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam are friends and nothing more.”
Wickham arched a brow as his mouth formed a pout. “I beg your pardon, Darcy, I intended no malice. I must confess to being surprised that…Elizabeth and you—pray, is it true? You and she are husband and wife?”
“I am in earnest, and I would beg you not to presume otherwise. Fitzwilliam is betrothed to Lady Calmet.”
“Upon my honour, I do beg your pardon.”
“You will, however, have much to answer for to Elizabeth with your desertion of her sister.”
With his eyes still on the laughing countenance of Elizabeth, Wickham nodded. “That I do, to be sure. I pray that we shall meet and I may reveal all. I know I am painted a villain, not only for this but for my past sins. I beg that you would grant me an ear to hear my explanation—to hear the truth of why I did not return, had that even been an option following my so-called execution.”
At that time, the orchestra began the strands of a waltz, and Fitzwilliam rose and offered his hand to Elizabeth. With shimmering eyes and a broad smile, she accepted his hand as he led her to the dance floor. Darcy and Wickham watched as Fitzwilliam drew her closer to him, his hand on her waist with hers on his shoulder, to progress with the tempo.
“And Elizabeth is your wife?” Wickham said with a tsk and an abbreviated shake of his head “Who would have thought it possible?” And with that, he was gone.
At the conclusion of the dance, Darcy strode to his wife and grasped her hand before she returned to her seat. “And why, dear wife, were you dancing in my cousin’s arms?”
She smiled, but her eyes crinkled as her brows drew together. “With his injury? Fitzwilliam cannot perform a contredanse. He needed to lean upon me.”
“And why does not his betrothed perform this service?”
She wrenched her hand from his grip and gaped at him. “The Comtesse danced with General Humbert! If Fitzwilliam can tolerate her waltzing with another man, on my word, you cannot possibly take issue with his dancing with me.”
His jaw tightened as he glared towards where Fitzwilliam had resumed his seat.
With a raised eyebrow she added, “What is it, Mr. Darcy? Are there no young ladies tolerable enough to tempt you to stand up with them?”
He turned back to her with a grimace, thought to speak but then thought better of it.
“Good heavens! You know it is unseemly for an husband and a wife to dance together, but if it would mollify you and you will cease in this pouting, I shall save the next waltz for you; and you may hold me as improperly and possessively as you choose.”
With this, he would have to be satisfied.
All About Colette Saucier
Colette Saucier is a bestselling and award-winning author under multiple pseudonyms. She began writing poems, short stories, and novellas in grade school. Her interest in literature led her to marry her college English professor, but eventually a love of history encouraged her to trade up to a British historian. Technical writing dominated her career for twenty years, but finding little room for creativity in that genre, she is now a full-time author of fiction.
Colette’s first novel, Pulse and Prejudice, was named “A Most Inventive Adaptation” by Elle Magazine (April, 2016). It was the 1st Place Winner in its category in the 2013 Chatelaine Awards Romantic Fiction Contest and is listed in Chanticleer’s 2013 Best Book Listing. Colette dedicated 15 months traveling to Europe and Britain, researching Regency England and vampire lore and literature.
Due to her obsession with historical accuracy, she devoted more than two years researching Creole Society and New Orleans in the years following the War of 1812 for the sequel to Pulse and Prejudice, entitled Dearest Bloodiest Elizabeth.
Website, which desperately needs to be updated: http://www.colettesaucier.com
Terribly neglected blog: http://colettesaucier.blogspot.com
Twitter: Trust me – don’t follow me on Twitter