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Friday, September 29, 2017

A Heart-to-Heart with Nicole--Author of 'These Dreams'

 A Heart-to-Heart with Nicole--

Author of 'These Dreams'

By Barbara Tiller Cole

Hi Nicole Clarkston. Welcome to Darcyholic Diversions.  I am glad that you had the time to drop by during your blog tour.  I am very glad to get a chance to meet you and read your novel, These Dreams.  It is an intriguing and fresh variation and I enjoyed it.  Thanks for allowing me a chance to get to know you and your latest book.

Tell us a little bit about you...

I have been married 16 years, with 3 kids. I homeschool them (and I am ignoring “school” at the moment! Naughty mom!). My husband is an engineer, and we live on a quasi-farm in Oregon.

What is a quasi Farm exactly?

Haha! Well, it was the shortest description I can come up with. We have a small equine facility, and we care for a few horses who board here, as well as our own. I grew up with that rather lamentable addiction, and now it’s a joy to share it with my family. We only bought this place in May, after house hunting for well over a year, and the property was in a state of neglect (which is why we were able to purchase it). It’s quite a little bit of work to get everything cleaned up again!

Did you have a career before writing?

I went to Oregon State University for agriculture, and my degree is in Animal Sciences with a poultry emphasis. I joke that I got the degree that was on sale, because there was a discount on tuition for choosing that emphasis rather than Dairy or Horse, etc. I also wanted a job, so poultry seemed a logical choice. As a consequence, I went to work for Foster Farms, a west coast poultry corporation. I held a couple of different positions there, but my last was as a hatchery supervisor. I loved that job in many ways. It was a small group, about 24 employees in all at that location, so I did everything from scheduling chick deliveries to planning egg settings and reporting quality control, overseeing health and safety concerns, employee relations, and planning my boss’ backyard barbecues… he was computer illiterate  .  I did that until our daughter was born, and I was blessed to stay home with her. We have since had two more, both boys.

While I was pregnant with our third child, my husband and I started an RV rental business. That’s not common knowledge in the JAFF world, but we did that for 5 years. We rented toyhauler RV trailers, and we were an instant success because those trailers are hard to find as rentals. Another popular service was that I would deliver the trailers and pick them up at the customers’ houses. We got a loan through the Small Business Administration, and it was a great business for a few years. After the trailers started wearing out (they do that) and we could not replace them due to the structure of our loan, we made the decision to sell them off, pay off our loan, and close the business. That was a relief, because by then I had nursed one infant and potty-trained all three toddlers while spending most of the summers in the big Excursion, driving trailers around town! The good news is that I met a lot of wonderful people and we listened to a lot of audiobooks.

Did you discover Jane Austen on audiobooks?  Or was it a different way?  I am always intrigued to discover how people initially find Jane Austen's works.

You know, I took all the “hard” English and literature classes, and not one of them introduced me to Jane. Sadness! I was a mom of three and starting preschool with the eldest when some of the mom-friends I was starting to make would name-drop P&P. I decided it was above time to find out about it, so I got hold of the 1980 version on Netflix, as well as the Gwyneth Paltrow version of S&S. I am glad I did that, because I always love the book more. After waiting a month on a library hold for both books, I took them camping and read both books twice in three days. I was hooked!

Was it love at first site?  When you discovered Austen?  Or was it an acquired taste?

When I found Pride and Prejudice, I was smitten. Darcy and Elizabeth possessed my imagination completely, until, one fateful day, I stumbled upon North and South. That clinched it. I spent over two years and could not get those couples out of my head during my waking moments. I was obsessed! I read fanfic nonstop, even hiding under the blankets to finish any particularly good stories, but I kept wanting to write my own. One sleepless night, I simply couldn’t stand it any longer. I resolved to use a pen name and just start writing. I had no idea if anyone would read them, but I had to do it. I snuck out of bed and had the first chapter written in two hours!

Do you have a favorite of Jane Austen's books and her characters you would like to share with us?

She’s not flashy, but I adore Mrs Gardiner. She is grace personified. She finds tactful ways to shepherd and guide these girls, even the Lydias who do not wish to be guided. She is the kind of woman we would all wish for a friend, and she’s who I want to be when I grow up. We writers love characters who lend themselves well to drama—Elizabeth Bennet, with her sparkling wit and her propensity to leap to conclusions; Mr Darcy, with his massive wealth and ability to change to please a woman beneath his station; Eleanor and Marianne, with their tragic backstory and their wildly different approaches to love. Still, I think it is the Mrs Gardiners (and Fanny Prices) of the world who make it a better place and who inspire us all to grow into functional, rational people.

What inspired you to write an Austen inspired novel of your own?

I always wanted to write, but I thought I couldn’t. As a kid, I always had my spiral notebook of very badly written stories, and I wouldn’t let anyone see them. As an adult, I just kept them stored in my head, along with special turns of phrase which struck my fancy. I never dared publish them, though. The stories I kept wanting to write were too mushy for me to be comfortable sharing with my family. I think you could say I always loved dreaming up spin-offs, because whenever a story would touch my heart, I couldn’t help tweaking it in my mind, imagining how future events would play out, etc.

Is "These Dreams" your first novel?  

It is my fifth completed novel. I started on No Such Thing As Luck almost exactly three years ago. About a month after that, I got the idea for Rumours and Recklessness, and I wrote them both tag-team style for several months. Whenever I would get stuck, I’d switch stories. I do that less and less now, partly because I’ve gotten a little more practiced at keeping things moving in my head, but I do have a half-finished N&S story to complete. I’ve vowed this time that I won’t start a second (or a third) until I finish it, but it’s going to be difficult!

What inspired the idea for 'These Dreams'?

I am an angst weenie as a reader, but as a writer, I wanted to challenge myself. I started wondering “What is the worst thing that could happen to D&E, but could still be redeemable in the end?” A kidnapping and presumed death seemed an interesting premise. Darcy was a man of sufficient influence to make him a worthy target, and the timing of the story’s beginning (after Elizabeth had acknowledged her feeings but not confessed them) lent an extra degree of heartbreak.
Rita Deodato had mentioned to me that she always wished someone would write about Colonel Fitzwilliam finding a love in Portugal, and as I began researching the history, I learned that it was, in fact, very possible. In addition, I needed Darcy to be completely beyond reach, so sending him to Portugal was a fortuitous notion.
The dreams aspect was my solution to the problem of creating a link between Darcy and Elizabeth. We all want to see them together, and I can only imagine how they would cry out in their grief in such a situation. For Elizabeth, it is the lashings of guilt and loss which torment her. For Darcy, it is his last thread to sanity. He endures quite a bit of trauma, and even when he returns to England and all he holds dear, he spends some time learning to trust again.
THIS is a big question between me and you...Nicole.... Many people just won't read a story where Darcy dies.  Do you want to share anything as a hint that he lives?   It’s not too much of a spoiler, because even in the book blurb, Darcy is “presumed” dead and unable to do anything to help himself but to dream of Elizabeth.

If there anything you would like to share with readers about your latest book?

PTSD is an underlying theme in this book. Darcy could not endure what he did, return to his home, and have everything go back to the way it was. Anyone would be shaken. Naturally, I did some academic research on the topic, but the most valuable insights I gained were personal. I spent some time talking to a dear friend about the effects of trauma on a family and on relationships. I hope I have done justice to Darcy’s recovery, making it as authentic as possible, without allowing it to dominate the story.

Do you have anything else that you are currently writing?  Want to give us any hints?

I am working on another North and South book currently titled Nowhere But North. I began it in July of 2016 and had a good bit of it complete when These Dreams took over and stole my laptop. I’m eager to get back to it, because it will be wildly different from anything else I have written. While TD dwells on a dream aspect which links the characters together, NBN is written along two separate timelines. It’s a tricky format, because I have two different story arcs (three, actually, since both John and Margaret had a past which led them to their present point). The “main” story begins with a marriage of convenience because Margaret’s father has died, and, in my version of a twist, all her family are still out traveling the world. She appears to have nowhere else to go, so John offers again and she accepts. Their relationship develops as it is reflected off their experiences in the past.  It’s a bit of a risky premise, but I am loving it so far. I hope others do as well!
After that N&S story is finished, I have two more P&P books rattling around in my brain. One is a pure romantic comedy, which is something else I have never done. It will be novella length. The other will be darker in tone, with plenty of angsty longing. It will be set in the early 1900’s, and Elizabeth is a *gasp* American! The horrors, I know.

Anything else that you would like to share with the readers here at Darcyholic Diversions?

The release of These Dreams ended up being more akin to a nightmare. The pre-sale version had a placeholder file while the book underwent final chapter updates and revisions, so the file was not only unedited, but incomplete. There was an error in processing when the CORRECT book was approved for release, and several hundred of the wrong files went out. It was TWO WEEKS before Amazon sent the automated update.
I have stopped receiving questions and head-scratching emails about it now, so I believe almost everyone has their correct book, but during those first two weeks, I had an opportunity to appreciate the JAFF community. Everyone was so perfectly lovely through the whole affair! I cannot describe how that touched me, because that would not happen in any other genre. Perhaps something of Jane Austen’s generous spirit lives on in her fans, because I can even say I survived the experience having made a few friends I hadn’t known before. What a joy you all are!

Thanks again for taking your time to visit us here.  For those that are following the blog tour, be sure to follow the give away links and comment in the comment section here as well.  

All About These Dreams 
By Nicole Clarkston
Book Blurb:

An abandoned bride
            A missing man
                        And a dream that refuses to die...

Pride and patriotism lend fervor to greed and cruelty, and Fitzwilliam Darcy
is caught at the centre of a decades-old international feud. Taken far
from England, presumed dead by his family, and lost to all he holds dear, 
only one name remains as his beacon in the darkness: Elizabeth.

Georgiana Darcy is now the reluctant, heartbroken heiress to Pemberley,
and Colonel Fitwilliam her bewildered guardian. Vulnerable and unprepared,
Georgiana desperately longs for a friend, while Fitzwilliam seeks to protect her
from his own family. As the conspiracy around Darcy's death widens and 
questions mount, Colonel Fitzwilliam must confront his own past. 
An impossible dream, long ago sacrificed for duty, may become his only hope.

Newly married Lydia Wickham returns to Longbourn- alone and under
mysterious circumstances. Elizabeth Bennet watches one sister suffer and
another find joy, while she lives her own days in empty regrets over what might
have been. Believing Darcy lost forever, she closes her heart against both pain
and happiness, but finds no escape from her dreams of him.

Author Bio:

Nicole Clarkston is a book lover and a happily married mom of three. Originally from Idaho, she now lives in Oregon with her own romantic hero, several horses, and one very fat dog. She has loved crafting alternate stories and sequels since she was a child watching Disney’s Robin Hood, and she is never found sitting quietly without a book of some sort.

Nicole discovered Jane Austen rather by guilt in her early thirties―how does any book worm really live that long without a little P&P? She has never looked back. A year or so later, during a major house renovation project, she discovered Elizabeth Gaskell and fell completely in love. Her need for more time with these characters led her to simultaneously write Rumours & Recklessness, a P&P inspired novel, and No Such Thing as Luck, a N&S inspired novel. Both immediately became best selling books. The success she had with her first attempt at writing led her to write three other novels that are her pitiful homage to two authors who have so deeply inspired her.

Nicole was recently invited to join Austenvariations.com, a group of talented authors in the Jane Austen Fiction genre. In addition to her work with the Austen Variations blog, Nicole can be reached through Facebook at http://fb.me/NicoleClarkstonAuthor, Twitter @N_Clarkston, her blog at Goodreads.com, or her personal blog and website, NicoleClarkson.com.

Contact Info: (Link is embedded in the name)

Buy Links:

Buy Links for Nicole’s other books:



Blog Tour Schedule:

09/19   So little time…; Guest Post, Excerpt, Giveaway
09/20   My Jane Austen Book Club; Vignette, GA
09/21   From Pemberley to Milton; Review, GA
09/22   Interests of a Jane Austen Girl; Review, Excerpt, Giveaway
09/23   Just Jane 1813; Review, GA
09/24   My Vices and Weaknesses; Excerpt, GA
09/25   Babblings of a Bookworm;  Guest Post or Vignette, GA
09/26   Diary of an Eccentric; Review, Giveaway
09/27   Half Agony, Half Hope; Review, Excerpt
09/28   Darcyholic Diversions; Author Interview, GA
09/29   My Love for Jane Austen; Charcter Interview, GA
09/30   Margie’s Must Reads; Guest Post, Excerpt, GA
10/01   Savvy Verse and Wit; Review, GA
10/02   Austenesque Reviews; Character Interview, GA
10/03   Obsessed with Mr. Darcy; Review, GA
10/04   From Pemberley to Milton; Guest Post, GA


The giveaway will consist of 10 eBooks and is international. For bloggers hosting a giveaway, paste one of the following Rafflecopter links into your blog. If you do not have GA by your date and want to participate, please include the Rafflecopter in your post. Reviews may include a 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 These Dreams by Nicole Clarkston. Each winner will be randomly selected by Rafflecopter and the giveaway is international.


  1. Great interview. Enjoyed learning more about Nicole and how she discovered JA. As a fan of North & South, I completely understand her fascination with both couples.

    1. Aren't they delicious? And starting on Monday, I have a date with the Thorntons and my laptop. :-D I hope they have coffee!

  2. Lovely interview! I always like getting to know authors better. :)

  3. Great interview, Barbara and Nicole. I enjoyed learning more things about you, Nicole! :) It was interesting reading about your thought processes on how These Dreams came about.

    I'm ready for your John and Margaret date on Monday!

  4. Thank you for sharing your story. Your life has been so varied with poultry (Mrs. Bennet would be proud), and a rental business and now writing. These Dreams sounds like a truly fabulous book. Thank you for the giveaway.

  5. That was a great interview, Barbara and Nicole. But I have one question to ask regarding Nicole's answer. Is there a Gwyneth Paltrow version of S&S? I thought it the actress acted in Emma. Or you have mistaken another actress name in S&S? Or you are referring to an audiobook?