Heart to Heart With Heather
It is my pleasure to host heather on her current blog tour. I remember first reading Heather’s newest book when she was posting it on the Austen boards. It is always a treat to have one of the authors I have come to know publish! I am very happy for her and hope you will enjoy our conversation. Be sure to read the entire interview and go to the bottom for more information about winning one of Heathers book! Extra points for joining my blog, and/or commenting on this interview.
BTC: Hi Heather. I am so glad to be visiting with you! And that is what I like to do with my interviews. It is much more fun to read if sound like we just sat down to chat over tea and biscuits.
Heather: I love the idea of having more of a conversation than filling out a bunch of answers in a questionnaire. I'm happy to start here.
BTC: I remember reading your story ‘way back in the day’ in my first couple years on the JAFF boards and enjoyed it then! And I enjoyed reading the not published version. Seeing a finished product after living with a story a week at a time is very exciting for the author and for the reader. Did I read it at Hyancith Gardens or AHA?
Heather: I'm flattered you remember reading my story. I posted it 8 years ago on AHA, a few years after I discovered both Jane Austen and fan fiction. So, I haven't quite been in the Austen fanfic world long enough to have been at HG, but close. This publishing project has been fun for me in a lot of ways, but particularly because I hadn't thought about this story in a long time even though it means a lot to me. It's the first piece of fiction I ever wrote.
BTC: I know that feeling of birthing your book and that freedom to think about doing something else! Tell me a little bit about yourself.
Heather: Telling you a little bit about me will begin to answer about how I found Austen and started writing. I live in a suburb in upstate New York, the same town I grew up in.
BTC: Upstate New York has a very special place in my heart as my husband found THE center of excellence for his cancer in Rochester. Now, did you always plan to go to school and return to your home town?
Heather: I didn't plan it that way, but as I was finishing graduate school in archives and records management and planning on what city I wanted to move to, I met and married my husband.
BTC: Well returning home for the love of your life makes a LOT of sense. Were you high school sweethearts?
Heather: No, we met when I was away at school. But he had a house two miles from my parents' home and he's in a narrow career field: there isn't exactly a need for nuclear engineers or nuclear physicists in every town in America. We liked the area, he had a great job, I could find work nearby; it just made sense to stay. That was in 2006. I worked in newspaper preservation at the NYS library and then worked in a small-town library until I decided to stay home with my son in 2010. Since he's started elementary school I volunteer at the school library a few days a week.
BTC: I am always curious how people find Jane Austen’s books in the first place. I found my first variation back when I was in high school. I don’t remember what it was but my mom found it and brought it to me, so excited that she had found a Pride and Prejudice Part 2! I wish I could have talked to her about it and when I was first writing. My Mom passed in 2005 and was gone before I started writing myself. It was part of my therapy to start with. I can’t remember when I found my first JAFF story online but I know it was between 2001 when I had surgery and my friend loaned me her P&P VHS tapes and when I spent many hours helping my husband recovery from his cancer surgeries. I was hooked by then and that was 2005. I actually saw the 2005 P&P while my husband was still in the hospital in Rochester. So Heather, tell me your story of how you found Austen and variations.
Heather: Even though I was a European history major, a librarian, an avid reader, and Anglophile, I didn't read Austen until 2005. I know, it's a crime. I had no idea what I was missing. And whenever I'm happily deep down in the Austen rabbit hole (writing, Elizabeth Bennet England tour with a friend, ordering a regency gown, researching, JASNA, being on AHA, etc) and my husband either teases or tries to get me to do other things, I can say it's his fault.
BTC: Thanks, by the way, for sharing some of the pictures from your Austen tour of England which are weaved in and out of this entire post! And we will talk more about that in just a bit. But go back. I want to know how you can blame your husband for your Jane Austen obsession.
Heather: Here's why--He thought he'd earn some points in 2005 by taking me to see Pride and Prejudice because it seemed like a romantic date movie, but I wasn't about to see a movie that was based on a book without reading it first. I think they teach you that day 1 of librarian school ;). I got a copy from the library and that was the beginning. I fell in love with the clever dialogue, the humorous secondary characters, as well as the two good but flawed characters who become better people and deserve one another. It was a slippery slope from there! (No, I didn’t like the movie. Beautiful imagery, but too many things were different from the book. Give me the 95 version any day of the week!)
BTC: Now you are not going to get an argument from me! As I am a Colin Firth Darcy fan! But then again, I did once begin a war! Maybe we could begin it again!
Heather: I think I'd even take David Rintoul and Elizabeth Garvie over 2005. But if that's too inflammatory for your readers we don't have to print that ;). No need to start a brawl.)
BTC: As you can see Heather, I did include your comments! Now if you had been on the other side of the Darcy war I may not have! :)
Heather: It's interesting to me that writing was a way for you to grieve for and connect with your memories of your mom, and I started writing to find an identity outside of my role as mom. I do think that our personal lives, our families, can't help but have an impact on how and what we write. I suspect most people in this fandom can remember either the story or the situation that drew them in.
BTC: I suspect that you are correct about that. That there is something that drew the majority of us in and healed something within us.
Heather: I know it's only been a few paragraphs, but I feel like I've been chattering about myself FOREVER. I'm an introvert and I'm not used to yet confessing that I write Austen fanfic, so if we were at a party, you would have gotten my name, my husband's job, my kid's age, and that I'm a stay at home mom. And I would have asked all about you and you would have left without knowing anything about my loving Jane Austen or writing a book or that I'm perpetually stuck halfway through a couch to 5k training app.
BTC: Well, I personally think that making an interview into a conversation makes an author feel more comfortable. So I personally am glad that you are chattering! Additionally, I admire anyone who is committed to training for a 5k! You mentioned Austen’s secondary characters. Any particular favorites amongst them?
Heather: Each novel has their own character or two that I just have to laugh at because they add so much humor through their absurdities. Not the villains or the plot devices, but the sort of characters where readers can really get their personalities through just a few lines. I guess Miss Bates might be my favorite, the 'great talker on little matters'. I love how Austen just lets her loose on the narrative from beginning to end. She's a bore, and we're all made uncomfortable by how she goes on, but her monologues show us what's going on behind the scenes in Emma. I think that's brilliant writing and I can't help hate Emma a little bit for the way that she treats Miss Bates while she's on her road to self-discovery.
BTCole: Do you want to tell us anything more about where you live in upstate New York?
Heather: I live near Albany, about 3 or 4 hours east of Rochester. Northwest New York is a lovely area, but I can't imagine is has many happy memories for you. Two months is a very long time to uproot your life and be a care giver. I'm so pleased to hear that the team in Rochester were able to save your husband. I'm always cheered to hear stories of survivors.
I was a history major in college, so I spent a lot of time with the research librarians, and I decided that I wanted to be the one to find and catalog and preserve those original materials to make them available to researchers. But I don't have any regrets as to staying where we did. I'm close to my parents, and my son gets to know his grandparents. At the time, I didn't want to go through the stress of finishing my degree, getting married, and selling my husband's house and both of us moving across the country to find new jobs all within a few months of each other. After we were married, my husband always said we could move if I found a job. I had a list of cities where he would be able to find work and there certainly were libraries or archives nearby. But I realized I was happy where I was, and moving away just to prove a point that I could move away and be an archivist seemed ridiculous.
BTC: Well, there is a wonderful part of coming back home. I am now living in Louisville KY which is my husband’s home. He is thrilled to be back here and it is beautiful so I am grateful to be here!
BTC: Do you forsee reentering the work field at some point? Or do you have the writers bug and want to just do that?
Heather: I get a variant of this question a lot: "Now that your son is in school all day, are you going to get a real job"? I sigh and smile politely. Sometimes the tone behind the question (and I don't mean to imply it all in your case, Barb!) is that I have done no work for the past 9 years, but now I'm free to finally DO something. That raising my son doesn't have the same value as if I worked and got a paycheck. I want to be the one to put my son on the school bus, and I want to be the one here when he gets home. I like volunteering in the school to see all the kids and so the teachers know me (his school has 600 students, the district as a whole 10,000). And, I like having a few days a week free between 8 and 2 in order to write. So, I'm content to let the masters degree hang on the wall while I re-teach myself how to add fractions to get through math homework and write happy endings for Darcy and Elizabeth.
BTC: Well, I am glad I didn’t offend you. I am not like Carolyn Bingley! I certainly don’t want something in the manner of my speaking to offend anyone! Anything particular you would like to let us know about the book itself?
Heather: I can honestly say that Mrs. Bennet in the book has not inspired by my attitudes toward an identity beyond parenting! I think she's irrational and willfully disregards the feelings of others. Not that she deserves to be mocked by her husband or has no a reason to fear for her daughters' futures. Both she and her concerns are cruelly dismissed by Mr. Bennet. But that doesn't change the fact that she misbehaves, she won't save money for her children, she openly prefers some of her children over the others, and she's self-absorbed.
What did inspire me to write was being at home with a new baby after quitting my library job and wanting something outside the feed-clean-play-nap routine. I thought that I could write a little drabble to post on AHA, and I always liked those quicker resolution after Hunsford short stories. The one problem with those for me was you never got to see the hard work Darcy and Elizabeth had to do after that to get to the happy ever after. It was implied that it would happen, but I wanted to see those discussions and know their thought processes. I thought I would spend a few nap times setting up how they could get to Longbourn after Kent, something cute and fun and short. But after several thousand words they were still in London! I really wanted to get right how Darcy and Elizabeth would have to both reform and see the other in a better light to get a realistic and faster HEA. From there I quickly saw possible implications for trouble with Lydia's trip to Brighton if Darcy and Elizabeth had begun to reconcile, and what started as project for a day or two turned into something much more.
BTC: Ok back to the Regency gown you mentioned! I have been looking at patterns myself! Now that I live in Louisville I need to have one for the annual Jane Austen Festival here!
Heather: I don't have my regency gown yet. The picture on the cover of His Choice of a Wife is by a woman with a store called RegencyCouture and she is going to make me one. I should be all set for an AGM promenade. Or, maybe just around the house. I do have pictures of me in a gown from my trip to England in June, but that one wasn't made for me (it's way too short!). Lyme Park (P&P 95 exterior) had a costume department and you could dress up complete with gloves, bonnet, reticule, and shawl.
BTC: Well it is a lovely picture of you! I envy you your trip! I was in England in the late 80’s but it was before my Austen obsession started! I was based in York while my husband was working there for several weeks and had a BritRail pass I will I had utilized more! But I did see some lovely things! Tell us more about your tour.
Heather: What my dear friend has called the Elizabeth Bennet Tour was our attempt to see "all the celebrated beauties of Matlock, Chatsworth, Dovedale (and) the Peak." We spent five days in Derbyshire and visited Dovedale, Lyme Park, Matlock Bath, Chatsworth, and Haddon Hall. We stayed in Bakewell, a possible inspiration for Lambton, and everything was absolutely stunning. Not to mention all the inspiration for future stories! I would go back tomorrow if I could. I attached a few pictures (I have hundreds!). You can include any that you think readers will be interested in.
BTC: I think some of my favorite scenes in your book were when Darcy interacted with the Gardiner children.
Heather: It caught my interest that you mentioned Darcy's interactions with the Gardiner children because I hadn't thought about it before. In fact, there's an extra scene that I wrote during editing that included the Gardiner children, so taken altogether Darcy does have quite a few discussions with them. Children are guileless, and Darcy can be so honest and resentful of deception that it does seem like a good fit.
BTC: Any other hobbies you would like to share?
Heather: Beyond researching regency era carriages or what certain words mean now versus what they meant in 1812? Beyond writing and editing? Like, hobbies that people outside this fandom could understand? I'm perpetually behind in scrapbooking, my bowling average is 160, and I 'jog' on the treadmill, which means I briskly walk while I wonder if I'll ever be able to run 5k.
BTC: Anything else you would like to tell us about your book?
Heather: Aside from writing a unique variation that came from the desire to see a quicker resolution after Hunsford, I think another theme is how women then, and even now, bear the consequences of anything deemed to be misconduct whereas the man involved moves on without having to take any responsibility. Lydia is thought to have 'come upon the town' and her entire family is on the brink of scandal when she runs off with Wickham, but his reputation for gambling and womanizing doesn't bar him from anything. Maria Rushworth runs off with Henry Crawford and ends up being hidden away for the rest of her life, but Henry can still flit around town. Willoughby seduces Eliza Williams, gets her pregnant, and abandons her, and even though his aunt and Colonel Brandon hold him accountable, he's still allowed to move in polite society. Women bear any and all repercussions, be isolated and bring scandal to their entire families, whereas the men can do as they please and are welcome almost anywhere. His Choice of a Wife touches on this double standard and I think in some ways it shows how much things have improved and yet how that double standard is still very much relevant in our culture today 200 years later.
BTC: Heather I think that is a fascinating subject! I would like for you to come back and visit with me again and we can have more of a general discussion about Jane Austen then and now and the role of women in her stories. She, herself, was a successful unmarried writer. And while her true success was not until after her death, I think she did a great deal to former the rights of women.
Thank you so much for visiting with us today!
Front cover photograph of Heather Moll’s book courtesy and copyright RegencyCouture, Regency fashion for today's Jane Austenista!
When a man’s honor is at stake, what is he willing to risk for the woman he loves?
After a disastrous marriage proposal and the delivery of an illuminating letter, Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet hope never to lay eyes on one another again. When a chance meeting in Hunsford immediately throws them in each other’s way, Darcy realizes his behavior needs correcting, and Elizabeth starts to appreciate his redeeming qualities. But is it enough to forgive the past and overcome their prejudices?
Jane and Bingley’s possible reconciliation and Lydia’s ill-conceived trip to Brighton pose their own challenges for two people struggling to find their way to love. When scandalous news threatens their chance at happiness, will Darcy and Elizabeth’s new bond be shattered, or will their growing affection hold steadfast?
Heather Moll is an avid reader with a B.A. in European history and a M.A. in library science, so it is astonishing that she did not discover Jane Austen until her late-twenties. Making up for lost time, she devoured all of Austen’s novels, her letters, and unpublished works, joined JASNA, and spent far too much time researching the Regency era. She is thrilled to have found fellow Janeites and the JAFF community, if only to prove that her interests aren’t so strange after all. Heather is a former librarian turned stay-at-home mother who struggles to find time for all of the important things, like reading and writing.
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/HeatherMollAuthor/
Twitter Author Page: https://twitter.com/HMollAuthor?lang=en
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Heather-Moll/e/B07V5KLGB8/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1
Goodreads Page: https://www.goodreads.com/HeatherMoll
Blog Tour Schedule
July 25 More Agreeably Engaged
July 26 Babblings of a Bookworm
July 27 My Love for Jane Austen
July 28 Half Agony, Half Hope
July 29 Austenesque Reviews
July 30 From Pemberley to Milton
July 31 Savvy Verse & Wit
Aug. 1 Darcyholic Diversions
Aug. 2 Diary of an Eccentric
Aug. 3 Margie’s Must Reads
Aug. 5 So Little Time…
Aug. 6 My Vices and Weaknesses
Meryton Press is giving away 8 eBooks of Heather Moll’s His Choice of a Wife.
Use the link below to go to rafflecopter on website.