Interview with Jayne Bamber: Happy To Be Her Friend And Not A Family Member!!
I am happy to welcome Jayne Bamber to Darcyholic Diversions today! Her new book, Happier In Her Friends Than Relations, you will find an enjoyable, meaty (at 260k pages), creative read with over half of Jane Austen’s characters who seem to make an appearance at some point during the story! With a particularly evil Jane, the death of at least one of Pride and Prejudice’s characters and a redemption for Lady Catherine there is a lot here to appreciate! Hope you enjoy getting to know her and the inspiration for her latest book!
Oh, and be sure to comment AND follow the rafflecopter link for Jayne’s give aways!! And don’t forget to join Darcyholic Diversions, like my page book page or join our Facebook Group
Jayne, when did you first discover Jane Austen’s writings?
I discovered Jane Austen in high school, and was instantly hooked. I have my mom to thank for that - she took my siblings and I to the
library regularly throughout my childhood, and I was an even more avid reader than she had expected - I remember being reminded more than once that it was not appropriate to bring books with me to the dinner table!
I also had a mom who loved to read and spent many happy hours with her at the library as well as sharing books. While I didn’t bring book to dinner in childhood I have been known to do so these days much to my Darcy’s distress. When and how did you truly fall in love with Jane’s works?
By college I had read all of Jane Austen's books, and the completion
of Sanditon by 'a lady' was my gateway drug to the wonderful
(addictive!) world of JAFF. In the last dozen years I've read a couple
hundred fanfics, if not more.
Yes, who would have thought there were so many Jane Austen inspired works and the number grows exponentially now that so many people have read and been inspired to write more. So many Darcyholics out there!
Tell us about your family.
In addition to my bibliophile mother and father, from whom I got my oddball sense of humor, I have a younger brother who is still
finishing up high school, and has been dabbling in writing like his big sister! I have a sister in Colorado who has got me itching to move there myself and hoard all the fuzzy dogs together! I have 2 other sisters here in Texas, who read the book and presumed that the characters of the Parker Sisters were based on them – they weren’t, as they are characters from Sanditon, but I did begin to see the resemblance! I also have wonderful husband of 4 years, who is equal parts Mr. Darcy and Mr. Tilney, and is finishing up his residency here in Houston. No kids, but we have 2 very spoiled fur babies, Ringo and Pearl.
I know that writing is something you are enjoying. Did you or do you have a career outside of writing?
Other than writing, I am in between careers for now. I’ve done all
sorts of things in the best, from waiting tables to insurance,
pharmacy, and a brief (awful!) stint in wedding planning. Most
recently, I was in the hotel industry for 7 years, but took a break to
finish my first novel and get it published. Perhaps writing will be my
new career - that would literally be my dream job!
What inspired you to write Jane Austen inspired literature of your own?I have wanted to write for as long as I've been reading. Like Jane
Austen, I went through a 'juvenilia' phase - lots of emo poetry,
journaling, and early novellas that were entirely too light-hearted. I
started jotting down book ideas more seriously a couple years ago, and eventually my list of ideas started taking shape.
What inspired Happier?
To be honest, it was a bit random. I had wanted to write a JAFF story
for a while, and I was always adding to the list of story scenarios
and ‘what-ifs’ I have – there’s probably enough plot bunnies on there
for a lifetime of writing, finally I decided to just pick one and
start really writing, and this was the one I chose. It started as just
a quick paragraph on my list of ideas, based on the concept of chain
reactions taking place at the beginning, and affecting how Lizzy and
Darcy get together. On Darcy’s side, the chain reactions have to do
with Georgiana’s mischief at Ramsgate, while on Lizzy’s side the chain
reaction begins with Bingley never coming to Netherfield, which leads
to Jane marrying Mr. Collins, and changing her quite a lot as a
In reading your book, I was so intrigued how many of Austen’s
characters you managed to fit into just one book! And yet, Rebecca
Fitzwilliam is in many ways your central character. As Emma doesn’t
leave Highbury, she has much of Emma’s determination for matchmaking.
What was your inspiration for her character?
You’re definitely on to something with that! So yes, Rebecca Fitzwilliam is very similar to Emma, so much so that by the end of the book I had decided that the two should be cousins on the maternal side. The first inspiration for Lady Rebecca, though, was actually myself. She started out as my voice in the story, saying what I would have been thinking in any situation – telling off Caroline Bingley when she deserves it, and trying to push Lizzy and Darcy to admit their feelings for one another. Also like myself, she is small, snarky, a bit bougie at times, and fiercely devoted to the ones she loves. She was tremendously fun to write!
That answers SO much about her character in the story and I am sure I would love hanging out with her or with you! Jane Bennet has never been a favorite character of mine, yet you
appear to really dislike her! Was there any particular inspiration to create such an evil Jane?
I didn’t always dislike her, though I think at this point it’s going
to be difficult to be difficult to ever write her as a good person, in
future stories! I had originally intended for Jane to get some
redemption, but I posted chapters weekly on A Happy Assembly and
Archive of Our Own as I was writing, and the overwhelmingly positive
reaction I got to Bad Jane encouraged me to take her wickedness past the point of redemption – I have no regrets!
Who is your favorite character in your book?
Oooh, that’s a tough one! Lady Rebecca is dear to my heart, being my own creation, but I suppose it would almost be cheating to prefer a character based on myself. I will say I’m very partial to Mary Bennet and how she develops in this story; I think she has the potential to be the kind of friend Lady Rebecca doesn’t yet realize she needs. I’m also unapologetically fond of Lady Catherine, even in the canon, but definitely with the character arc I’ve given her. I could almost see myself, to quote Oscar Wilde, turning into her in about a hundred and fifty years.
I am planning to do a sequel! In fact, I have plans to make this a
series. The series name is Friends and Relations, and the working
title for the sequel is A Wider Circle of Friends and Relations. The
end of Happier drops a lot of hints about where book 2 will go. Lady
Rebecca will be making good on her threat to Mr. Knightley, to visit
her cousin Emma in Highbury. Mary Bennet will play a larger role in
the story, and there will be a conclusion to where we leave off with
Jane and the damaging information she possesses about Georgiana. We haven’t seen the last of Caroline, either, and we’ll even find out who Harriet Smith’s real parents are, so it should be a wild ride! The
characters from Persuasion and Northanger Abbey have yet to make an appearance, but I do plan on pulling them in to Book 3.
Is there anything else you would like to share with the Darcyholic
I’d like to close by thanking everyone who has helped me get to this point! I have made some delightful friends in the JAFF community. I also want to thank everyone who read this story as a work-in-progress on A Happy Assembly and Archive of Our Own. I think that getting so
much positive feedback encouraged me to keep going, when I might not have otherwise done so. There were times when the comments and responses I got helped shape how the rest of the story developed, and though it turned out differently than I had originally planned, I am so pleased that this was the case. I intend to post updates on my Facebook page as I write, and like I did with Happier, I will absolutely take reader feedback into consideration, so if there is
anything readers want to see in the sequel, I hope they will let me
So I understand you want to share an excerpt of Happier in Her Friends Than Relations with us….
Yes! I’ve talked a lot about Lady Rebecca, who is Richard
Fitzwilliam’s sister, and Darcy’s cousin. The following excerpt is
from her first meeting with Elizabeth Bennet, when they cross paths in the park in London, introduced by their mutual friend Mr. Bingley.
Lady Rebecca rolled her eyes, offering Elizabeth a private smile as she moved closer. “Would you care to join me in walking this way, Miss Bennet? There is a prettyish little sort of wilderness I should like to take a turn in.”
“It would be my pleasure,” Elizabeth agreed, and her arm was instantly seized by Lady Rebecca, who swiftly steered her away from the others.
“Indeed I believe it shall be my pleasure, for I have been eagerly anticipating this interview since first I heard of you.” Elizabeth could only gape in astonishment, and Lady Rebecca continued. “Have no fear I am about to warn you off Mr. Bingley, though no doubt that is what his sisters are hoping for. You shall not find a true friend in either of them, whatever they dissemble.”
Finding her voice at last, Elizabeth replied, “I believe I am under no illusion as to where I stand with Miss Bingley.”
“Yes, I thought as much. Very good. Mr. Bingley said you were clever, but I must admit he is… easily impressed. I have seen others fooled by certain ladies’ insincerity, and I am glad you suffer no such delusions.”
“That is very forthright of you, Lady Rebecca. I wonder at your divulging as much to a complete stranger.”
“Pah! I am determined we are to be the best of friends, Miss Bennet, and I must advise you that it is in your best interest to let me have my way in this matter, for I would like to be of assistance to you, if I can. And I must make this perfectly clear, whatever his sisters say, I am certainly not a rival to you for Mr. Bingley’s affections. Does this please you, Miss Bennet?”
Elizabeth hesitated. “If we are to be friends, might I take the liberty of expressing equal candor with your ladyship?”
“I should like nothing better.”
“That is certainly a relief. What is celebrated as frankness in ladies of one station may be scorned as impertinence when exhibited by others of less importance.”
Lady Rebecca laughed. “I do hope you shall pardon my rank, Miss Bennet.”
“Perhaps, in time, I shall forgive you for it,” Elizabeth quipped, pausing a moment before answering Lady Rebecca’s question. “To be honest, I have not yet decided the extent to which I welcome Mr. Bingley’s attention. My situation is complicated—recent events… I find I am not myself of late. And if my assumption is correct, his sisters would prefer he marry a lady more like yourself, one who could offer the connections in society they desire.”
“And I suppose I need not describe to you how very unlikely that event would be? Not merely because my family would disapprove of the match ten times as much as Miss Bingley objects to you—this would really be nothing to me if I believed we would suit, but we do not. I should drive him out of his wits, I am sure, if he did not drive me mad first.”
Elizabeth gasped, her eyes wide with astonishment at such a speech.
“I see. Perhaps you like him more than you realize,” Lady Rebecca said with a gentle laugh. “He is a very affable gentleman, but he is not for me, and I would not have his dreadful sisters convince you I am a threat, when in fact you shall find me a most willing ally. It would amuse me very much to thwart those two sour sisters, and if it would bring about Mr. Bingley’s happiness in the process, so much the better!”
“You are very kind, Lady Rebecca.”
“Well, Elizabeth, I shall hardly trespass on your privacy by demanding any further answer as to your feelings towards Mr. Bingley— though, of course, should you care to venture any, I should be most willing to listen.”
“As I said, I am not yet sure.”
“I understand it is an acquaintance of short duration.”
“You might say that. I met him at a ball, and he has called but once since then.”
“I suspect his sisters will do everything in their power to prevent his calling as often as he may prefer, and he will remain entirely too good-natured to see through their machinations.”
“I can well believe it. Miss Bingley has made her sentiments quite clear.”
“Strange, when you think about it,” Lady Rebecca mused. “You are the daughter of a gentleman, while his family comes from trade. Any alliance between you would be an elevation for him, whatever your fortune.”
“Yes, I suppose you are right,” Elizabeth agreed, wondering just how much her new friend already knew about her.
“You shall find that is often the case, Elizabeth. Now, I shall detain you no longer, for I can see Mr. Bingley is quite eager to have you returned to him, and my brother seems most interested in furthering the acquaintance well. Or perhaps he means to vex Miss Bingley! You will find him a closer match to your wit, I daresay.”
Elizabeth arched an eyebrow. “And is he your equal in frankness?”
“No indeed, he is far my superior in that respect! He was a colonel in His Majesty’s army for many years, until this past twelvemonth when our elder brother’s passing elevated him to the position of viscount. He has retained many of the qualities of a military man in spite of his new responsibilities.”
Lady Rebecca led Elizabeth back to where the rest of the group was walking along the bank of a little stream that ran through the park. Lord Hartley smiled almost as broadly as Mr. Bingley on perceiving their approach. “Miss Bennet, I am delighted my sister has seen fit to return you to us. I trust you two are old friends by now.”
“Bosom sisters,” Elizabeth replied, hoping her cheer concealed her astonishment at all that had passed in their quarter hour of conversation.
Rebecca watched with satisfaction as Elizabeth worked her magic on Richard and Mr. Bingley. There was no artifice in the girl’s manners—no, she was perfectly genuine, perhaps unaware of the full extent of her charms. After months of fending off Caroline Bingley’s determined overtures of friendship, Elizabeth Bennet was certainly a breath of fresh air.
Rebecca hung back from the rest of the group, more interested in observing on this occasion. The Hursts sat a little away from the others on a bench beside the stream, sharing what appeared to be as dull a conversation as one might expect from the two of them. Mr. Bingley had offered Elizabeth his arm and was strutting with pride at having his lady at his side. Richard was walking nearby, speaking with great animation to Elizabeth despite Miss Bingley’s covetous grasp on his arm.
As Rebecca looked on, she felt certain she had made the right decision in offering Elizabeth her friendship. She was poised and graceful, her appearance genteel, without any of the airs that ladies such as Miss Bingley put on. Most importantly, Elizabeth struck her as honest and forthright, and such a person was a rare gem in the fashionable but vicious social circle Rebecca had been born to. There were advantages to her position in the ton, to be sure, but having friends she could trust had never been one of them.
Too often, Rebecca had found the ladies she thought were her friends were simply using her to get to her brothers, or wooing her and her dowry on behalf of their own brothers. Caroline Bingley, guilty on both counts, was by no means the worst of them, though she was persistent.
Richard had finally extricated himself from her clutches and seemed to be adorning himself with flowers from a nearby bush, while Elizabeth and Mr. Bingley offered laughing advice. Miss Bingley finally grew vexed enough at their neglect to retreat, seeking out Rebecca to voice her displeasure.
“Miss Bingley, I rather wonder at your deserting my brother in the midst of such folly,” Rebecca observed.
Pursing her lips with displeasure, Miss Bingley replied with a haughty sniff. Rebecca smiled, enjoying the sight of Mr. Bingley offering a small crown of flowers to a rapidly retreating goose. Richard shouted his encouragement as Elizabeth laughed and teased them both.
After a few minutes of strolling sedately behind the others, Miss Bingley observed, “How disappointed I am to have missed your little conversation with Miss Eliza Bennet. I am sure you must have delivered one of your famous set-downs, for she looked entirely discomposed.”
“Indeed? Why ever would I do such a thing? Have I some tendency, of which I am unaware, towards rudeness?”
“No indeed, it is only that—well…”
“Perhaps you believe that I may perceive her as a rival of sorts?”
“Oh no, there is simply no comparison! She is certainly nothing to your own natural grace and beauty.”
“That is kind of you. In truth, I am very glad to see that your brother has taken such interest in her. She would be a fine match for him.”
“Oh, Rebecca, surely you tease me!”
Rebecca could scarcely suppress her amusement. Perhaps it was wrong to needle Miss Bingley so, but the wretched harpy had brought it on herself. “I assure you, Miss Bingley, I am perfectly serious. Miss Bennet is the daughter of a gentleman. In this regard, she quite outranks your brother, for all his wealth, until such time as he becomes landed gentry. I understand he was quite close to leasing an estate this past autumn. It is such a shame he did not follow through with the plan, for it would have been quite an elevation for him.”
Miss Bingley scowled. “I believe there were some serious objections to the property. The environs were quite remote, and the neighborhood entirely unrefined, the nearest village hardly deserving of the word.”
“And yet, it is often the case with large estates that the surrounding townships are smaller and more parochial. It is up to the neighboring landowners to elevate these little villages through commerce and patronage. This is something you must learn, Miss Bingley, if you aspire to such a station yourself. The local village supplies the servants who come to work at the estate, the food and goods that are purchased by the landholders, and the services they often require. Should you like to have your carriage repaired by a craftsman who is bitterly aware that you hold him and all of his acquaintance in contempt? I think not.” Rebecca eyed Miss Bingley triumphantly, as the lady struggled for a reply.
“What an edifying perspective, Lady Rebecca. I believe I shall collect my brother, for I find I am quite fatigued. I thank you for your company.” Miss Bingley, appearing a little flustered, dipped into a curtsy before making a hasty retreat.
Rebecca gave a slight nod. “The pleasure has been entirely mine.”