Brooding around with Jessie Lewis
by Barbara Tiller Cole
Jessie, I am so happy to have you visiting us here at Darcyholic Diversions. Your new book, Mistaken is a treasure trove! Today with so many people writing shorter multi book series, it is nice to find a solid, fun meaty book to read!
Thank you for having me here, Barbara! It's great to be able to chat. Ask away - what would you like to know?
I know you are from England, land of Jane Austen herself. Tell us where you have lived so we can know how it might have influenced your writing!
I grew up in a sleepy little naval town on the south coast of England. My school was on the beach and when you were in the maths classrooms in the turret (yes, it had a turret! It was an old Victorian house), you could just make out Queen Victoria's Summer Residence, Osborne House, over on the Isle of Wight. The story I'm currently working on is based in this location.
I've lived in Hertfordshire for may years now - Bennet county! I adore it here and am lucky enough to be surrounded by huge, grand Georgian houses and parks to inspire my writing.
Is writing your career job?
Yes, I'm lucky enough to be able to treat writing as my day job. Before I took the plunge into writing, I used to work in academic administration, but it was a means to an end and writing is my vocation. I'm thoroughly enjoying being able to concentrate on it more.
Well, academic administration might have given you a desire to do something else from what I have heard from a friend of mine, lol. When you are aren't writing what do you do with your time?
Well, it might sound silly, but I love writing. I often choose to write over any other activity - especially TV which I rarely watch (apart from Game of Thrones, of course!).
Oh, I am a GOT fan as well! I knew there had to be some cross over GOT lovers out there!
I'm secretly proud of having discovered the books years before HBO got hold of them, but I love the series just as much. But as well as writing and immersing myself in dragon-lore, I love spending time with my kids, family and friends. I enjoy reading, though I do far too little of it. I play the piano - about as well as Elizabeth Bennet, if not a little worse - and I love walking. For the last four years I've taken part in endurance walking events for charity. It's great fun and keeps me in shape - which is good because my favourite hobby is eating chocolate and drinking wine.
I'm also fascinated by old houses. Probably because my parents used to take my brother and me visiting them all the time when we were younger. I adore trying to imagine how people used to live. Also, my own family history is quite interesting - my 4xgreat uncle was Roger Fenton, famous photographer of the Crimean War. He and his family were quite well to-do and owned estates and houses and bank balances that would have rivalled Mr Darcy's back in that era. Sadly, the whole lot was lost on bad investments (darn it!) but I love trawling through all the family records, seeing all the houses they used to own and all the people they used to associate with, peers and royalty included. There's a novel in all of that somewhere that I will write one day. I'm brewing that plot bunny while I work on other things ;)
That is fascinating. My great grandfather owned a large section of what is now the high rent district in Greater Atlanta. Glad I didn't know that until I got older... I will be interested to see where that plot bunny goes. I have an entire farm of bunnies I am afraid. How did you discover Austen's works and what inspired you writing etc.
I studied Austen at school and loved her. I watched the 95 P&P miniseries and loved her even more. But it wasn't until I was at home with very young children that I really got stuck into Pride and Prejudice with a bit more zeal. (You go a bit stir crazy when you only have babies to talk to, so Austen's wit was a welcome sanctuary!) I adore Austen's humour. It's quintessentially English; sarcastic, tongue in cheek, but never mean-sprited. I wish directors of TV and movie adaptations would show more of it, but they always focus on the drama and the brooding. It's a shame, because I don't think most people associate Austen with humour and they ought to.
I think that is why over the years I have come to really like Emma. At least when adaptations are done of that novel we see the humor of Jane Austen. It is hysterical that you mention the work 'brood'. I was part of a work group that wanted to name themselves the brood. I just insisted on not doing that. We ended up being the 'colony' which I don't like either, but it much better than than the brood.
So did you become addicted to brooding Mr. Darcy?
Well, he's difficult not to love, isn't he? Once I got myself re-hooked (as it were) on Mr Darcy, I discovered JAFF, and read an embarrassing quantity of that before I decided to have a go myself. It was nice to get back to writing. My job before I had kids didn't involve writing, because, frankly, it doesn't pay the bills! But I studied Literature and Philosophy at university and adore writing and playing with words, so finding that I hadn't completely lost the ability to string a sentence together was a very pleasant surprise.
Mainly - and I think this is probably true for most people who read JAFF - I just wanted to see Darcy and Elizabeth's 'what next' told my way. I have a lot of favourite JAFF stories - many that I absolutely love and re-read very often - but inevitably there are always parts where I say "No! Don't do that to them! Don't let this happen!" I wanted to try and write a story that answered all my personal wishes for how they would succeed as a couple. There were a few unfortunate side effects for other characters along the way, but I soon learnt that the tension in a story has to come from somewhere, and I was determined that in mine it wasn't going to come from Darcy and Elizabeth.
I enjoyed your humor! I think that I have an comedian inside of me so I appreciate that in others. Without giving away too much, I enjoyed the humor of Bingley's character. I have trouble with Bingley. I often accidentally leave him out... Tell me what inspired you in regards to his character in your story?
In canon, I see Bingley as quite immature, with too little conviction in his own opinions, too much reliance on the opinions of others, and not enough responsibility to accept the fault when it's his. His thoughtlessness when he leaves Jane without word simply because Darcy and his sisters tell him to, makes him selfish. That's what I played with in Mistaken. I've kept him in character, in that he is still well-intentioned and affable, and also still capricious and thoughtless. What's different in Mistaken is that he's unchecked (Darcy refuses to advise him any more) and as a result, his worst traits are accentuated. He is not unkind and never malicious, but he's completely oblivious and far too ready to blame everyone else for his misfortunes, simply because nobody told him NOT to make those bad decisions. He's funny because he's clueless, but there does come a point in the story when clueless ceases to be amusing.
Writing a JAFF story that begins after Darcy and Elizabeth's awful 'Hunsford' moment, enables the exploration of how they both set about correcting their misconceptions. It was fun dealing with a character (Bingley) who'd had no such self-awakening and was still bumbling along entirely unawares, just as Elizabeth and Darcy were before they smacked each other down with a few home truths. It's surprising just how much of a pickle a person can get themselves into just by being oblivious to his own faults!
Do you have a new story that you are writing?
Yes, I'm working on another regency story, though this one isn't JAFF. I have a few plot bunnies for other P&P spin offs which I will hopefully get to, but this other one is champing at the bit to be written so I'm pandering to the muse and going with it. To anyone who knows how long it took me to finish Mistaken I will just say that I am aiming to get this one finished sooner!
Anything else you would to share with the readers here at Darcyholic Diversions?
Thank you for popping in to listen to me chat with Barbara, everybody! Feel free to ask me other questions in the comments if there's anything you want to know that we haven't covered, or you can interact with me on Twitter, FaceBook or my blog (links below). I hope you enjoy the story!
Mistaken Media Kit
By Jessie Lewis
Fitzwilliam Darcy is a single man in possession of a good fortune, a broken heart, and tattered pride. Elizabeth Bennet is a young lady in possession of a superior wit, flawed judgement, and a growing list of unwanted suitors. With a tempestuous acquaintance, the merciless censure of each other’s character, and the unenviable distinction of a failed proposal behind them, they have parted ways on seemingly irreparable terms. Despairing of a felicitous resolution for themselves, they both attend with great energy to rekindling the courtship between Darcy’s friend Mr. Bingley and Elizabeth’s sister Jane.
Regrettably, people are predisposed to mistake one another, and rarely can two be so conveniently manoeuvred into love without some manner of misunderstanding arising. Jane, crossed in love once already, is wary of Bingley’s renewed attentions. Mistaking her guardedness for indifference, Bingley is drawn to Elizabeth’s livelier company; rapidly, the defects in their own characters become the least of the impediments to Darcy and Elizabeth’s happiness.
Debut author Jessie Lewis’s Mistaken invites us to laugh along with Elizabeth Bennet at the follies, nonsense, whims, and inconsistencies of characters both familiar and new in this witty and romantic take on Jane Austen’s beloved Pride and Prejudice.
I’ve always loved words—reading them, writing them, and as my friends and family will wearily attest, speaking them. I dabbled in poetry during my angst-ridden teenage years, but it wasn’t until college that I truly came to comprehend the potency of the English language.
That appreciation materialised into something more tangible one dark wintry evening whilst I was making a papier-mâché Octonauts Gup-A (Google it—you’ll be impressed) for my son, and watching a rerun of Pride and Prejudice on TV. Fired up by the remembrance of Austen’s genius with words, I dug out my copy of the novel and in short order had been inspired to set my mind to writing in earnest. I began work on a Regency romance based on Austen’s timeless classic, and my debut novel Mistaken is the result.
The Regency period continues to fascinate me, and I spend a good deal of my time cavorting about there in my daydreams, imagining all manner of misadventures. The rest of the time I can be found at home in Hertfordshire, where I live with my husband, two children, and an out-of-tune piano. You can check out my musings on the absurdities of language and life on my blog, Life in Words, or you can drop me a line on Twitter, @JessieWriter or on my Facebook page, Jessie Lewis AuthorJessie Lewis.
Contact Info is within the author bio. (with embedded links)
Mistaken (Amazon US)
Mistaken (Amazon UK)
Mistaken is also available on Kindle Unlimited
Blog Tour Schedule:
10/03 My Jane Austen Book Club; Vignette, Giveaway
10/04 Darcyholic Diversions; Author Interview, Giveaway
10/05 Just Jane 1813; Review, Giveaway
10/06 Diary of an Eccentric
10/07 My Love for Jane Austen; Character Interview, Giveaway
10/08 Of Pens and Pages; Review, Giveaway
10/09 From Pemberley to Milton; Guest Post, Giveaway
10/10 Half Agony, Half Hope; Review, Excerpt
10/11 Savvy Verse and Wit; Review, Giveaway
10/12 So little time…
10/13 Babblings of a Bookworm; Vignette, Giveaway
10/15 Laughing With Lizzie; Guest Post, Excerpt, Giveaway
10/16 Austenesque Reviews; Vignette, GA
Terms and Conditions:
Readers may enter the drawing by tweeting once a day and daily commenting on a blog post or review that has a giveaway attached for the tour. Entrants must provide the name of the blog where they commented. Remember: Tweet and comment once daily to earn extra entries.
A winner may win ONLY 1 (ONE) eBook of Mistaken by Jessie Lewis. Each winner will be randomly selected by Rafflecopter and the giveaway is international.