Introducing A Headstrong Girl:
Today I’m happy to welcome June Williams to Darcyholic Diversions Last summer, June made her publishing debut with Honor and Integrity, a short story collection co-authored with Aimée Avery and Enid Wilson. This month, June is part of a new collection – Headstrong Girls – co-authored with Enid Wilson and Debra Anne Watson. All four ladies have been part of the Jane Austen community for years, and I’ve met June and Aimée in person. This is another in the posts celebrating "All For The Love Of Darcy Month". Be sure you have your entry in to Win a Kindle by clicking on the top Left Link on this blog!!
Barb: Hi, June! Looks like you’ve been busy, getting hooked on publishing.
June: Well, you know how addiction works – you can’t have just one. Not that you and I know about addiction, of course.
|Aimee Avery, Headstrong Girl-June, and Barbara in Ventura, CA|
Barb: Ahem. You told me the new book’s title is Headstrong Girls.
June: Yes, there are seven short stories and one short film script, most of them about Lizzy and Darcy. I wanted to write about some of Jane Austen’s other headstrong girls – such as Caroline Bingley, Lady Catherine, and Lucy Steele – but the Muse didn’t cooperate this time; perhaps they’ll be in a future collection. This new book has writings from the Regency, present-day, and future (the year 2313). The collection has elements of mystery and romance, plus the tag-along story has some… hmm… not to give any spoilers, but there are ... ahh … special characters? Special creatures?
Barb: Aliens from the future?
June: Not this time; it’s a Regency story set at Netherfield. In a tag-along story, one person starts it, and the next chapter’s writer cannot change anything written previously. Debra Anne was adventurous – she wanted to wrap up the story, not knowing what Enid and I would write. Enid began by killing someone – not Lizzy or Darcy, naturally. Then I inserted a naked Amazon and cast doubt on the killer’s identity, which was easy because I didn’t know who the killer would be. Debra Anne came up with an incredible ending!
Barb: How did you get your inspiration to write for this book?
June: The book’s theme is “headstrong girls,” so – for ideas – I looked up the definition of “headstrong” in several online dictionaries, and I also read parenting forums about how to raise headstrong children. What did not work is when I did an image search on a photo website, looking for “headstrong;” the search results were all … donkeys!
Barb: (laughs) I wonder what Lady Catherine would say.
June: She thought “headstrong” was an insult, but headstrong people have many good traits such as determination, persistence, and sensitivity to others. Sounds like Lizzy Bennet to me, and I think Darcy loved her for being headstrong. Really, Darcy was a headstrong boy.
Barb: What are the differences between publishing your first and second books?
June: With Honor and Integrity, I only had to write new stories, since Enid did all the book’s formatting, and Aimée created the gorgeous cover and handled the administrative work with the publishers. Aimée is currently busy with her job and her own graphics consultancy so she’s sitting out this collection, so this time I get to handle the admin details, and Debra Anne is the debutante.
Barb: Usually, the second time for something is easier than the first.
June: There are advantages both to being first and second. You know that Pride and Prejudice was about first impressions – our first impression of Darcy was negative, but he improved on acquaintance; Darcy’s first proposal had more romantic words, but his second proposal was the one Lizzy accepted. My first foray in publishing was a “wow!” experience – very exciting; this time, it feels like it’s more work but it’s also deeply satisfying. My modern story turned into my first crime fic so it was more challenging to write than I expected, but I learned more about the U.S. legal system and I got to work with two great JAFF lawyers as advisors. That part hasn’t changed – with both books, I’ve worked with good friends. I’ve met Debra Anne twice, been to Aimée’s home, and worked closely with Enid. One day, we’ll get Enid to California for more than a layover. She has just visited Florida for three weeks with a seven-hour layover in California; the only thing she could do in Los Angeles in that time was to visit Colin Firth’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. She’s another one with addiction, LOL. She has the tough job of being ringleader in this circus.
Barb: I’ve heard many mothers say that they forget the pain of labor and delivery after they see the baby. Is that true of your books?
June: Absolutely. I had forgotten all the work of proofreading and editing. This time, Enid taught me more about formatting, too – you know, the old “teach a person to fish” thing. I’m really thankful for the help received from already-published authors, who are gracious to help new folks. It’s almost circle-of-life – readers become fanfic writers, fanfic writers become published, published stories are read by new readers, published authors help new writers become published.
Barb: I’m asking everyone this month to post about why you love Darcy.
June: I grew up with a dysfunctional family. My parents’ marriage was unhealthy in every way, but as a child, that’s what I saw, so it seemed normal to me. When I joined Jane Austen boards, the ladies – and gentlemen – didn’t just discuss JA’s novels; they also shared about their lives and families. In fanfic stories, I read about how Lizzy and Darcy would have behaved as a married couple. When my own marriage became unhealthy, I realized that I didn’t have to stay in it. He didn’t want to become like Darcy – I’m not talking about Darcy’s “fine, tall person, handsome features, noble mien” or his 10,000 pounds; I’m talking about how Darcy was willing to mature and grow as a person. Darcy steadfastly loved Lizzy even after her family became disgraced, he saved her family without telling Lizzy about it, he sought her presence, and he was a selfless, generous man of hard work and principle. Darcy is a giver, not a taker.
Barb: Darcy’s shoes are hard to fill.
June: But he’s not an impossible ideal. Many writers base story scenes on their real lives and also on their principles. I think Jane Austen created her heroes with an eye to her male relatives. Her maternal uncle, James Leigh-Perrot, was willing to stay in jail for months with his wife when she was arrested for stealing a bit of lace. That sounds like a Darcy-thing. We can all find good role models in our circle of friends and family, people who are a little like Darcy – or Wentworth, Brandon, or other JA hero.
Barb: My father-in-law died last month; he left big shoes to fill, too. He supported his parents during the Depression, and he was a World War II hero. I could use him as my inspiration for a Darcy story, with the right plot bunny.
June: Exactly, and your husband is just like his dad. Darcy is not an unattainable ideal; remember that Jane Austen said, “Pictures of perfection, as you know, make me sick and wicked." Reading about JA’s heroes teaches us who she was, the qualities she valued, and the husband she hoped to have. Happy Valentine’s Day, Barb!
Barb: Happy Valentine’s to you and all our readers!
Debra Anne, June, and Enid are giving away an eBook copy of Headstrong Girls; and Aimée, June, and Enid are giving an eBook copy of Honor and Integrity. Entries will be based on comments to this blog post. To enter, tell us below about your first and second time doing something, and whether you would like Headstrong Girls or Honor and Integrity.
About the Authors –
Aimée Avery, a California native, became a world traveler at the tender age of six. Moving from place to place, she spent a good deal of time dreaming up situations for her favorite characters from books and television. Aimée is currently employed in the newspaper industry and is happily married and living along California’s beautiful Central Coast.
Debra Anne Watson is a lover of books and the English language, who has always enjoyed reading and editing, but discovered the joys of writing but a few years ago. She works as a computer professional and lives with her active family in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
June Williams has always loved to write, although her first book – written at age eleven – had only one copy. In her checkered career path, she taught English as a Second Language, wrote for a U.S. Congressman and a business magazine, created technical manuals, ran a startup, and wrote advertising copy. She lives in Northern California.
Enid Wilson loves sexy romance. Her writing career began with a daily newspaper, writing educational advice for students. She then branched out into writing marketing materials and advertising copy. Enid lives in beautiful Sydney, Australia.