It’s been interesting and fun to read about the other authors here and find out a little more about them. There are some that seem so much like me – in fact, two of us share the same birthday on Valentines Day and I think we both attribute that to being hopeless romantics! (Do you know who the other is?) I have also enjoyed reading their individual stories about how they came to know and love the writings of Jane Austen. There are some very different — and some very similar — journeys that brought them to our dear Jane. Here is my story:
I hate to admit it, but I never read Jane Austen in high school. We read Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, and Charlotte Brontë, but nothing by Jane Austen. My first introduction to her was actually through the movies Emma and Sense and Sensibility in the 90s. I enjoyed those two films, but they were not enough to tempt me to read any of her works.
Jump ahead a couple of years. I overheard two friends talking about a 6-hour movie one was watching, how much she was enjoying it, and how far along she was. I inquired what they were talking about, and was told it was Pride and Prejudice. My friend, bless her heart, loaned me the new DVD she had just purchased, telling me I had to take it home and watch it. Little did it realize then how much this film would affect me.
The next day I settled myself in front of the television and began watching it. I will never forget how entranced I was with this story, the characters, and, of course, Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet. While I was anxious to see how it ended, I also didn’t want it to end!
The next day I watched the whole thing again. For the remainder of the week, I left the DVD in and just clicked ‘play’ whenever I had time and watched it several more times. On Saturday I knew I should return my friend’s DVD, so I went to the Best Buy store near me and found one copy. I promptly snatched it up.
After watching it countless times, I was now eager to see how the book compared. As you might imagine, I loved the book. That was followed by purchasing a book that contained all her novels, and I began reading each one, and when I could, viewed the film that had been made about it.
I then turned to the internet. As I searched online about Jane Austen and Pride and Prejudice, I was amazed at how many people seemed to love her works as much as I did. I found websites where people were posting sequels, prequels, missing scenes, modernized, and variations of her novels.
As I read these stories, I came up with a variation of my own. Never having written more than 3 chapters of anything, I estimated this story would be about 7 chapters. When I was done, it was 18 chapters. That was my first attempt at writing a novel, Assumed Engagement.
Within about 5 years, I had written 5 novels as well as some shorter stories. The positive responses were amazing, and people encouraged me to try and publish them. My biggest supporter was my husband, but when I told him that publishers would never publish these ‘what-ifs,’ he refused to listen to me.
In 2006, I decided to self-publish my novels and researched the various self-publishing sites. I chose lulu.com. It was a very positive experience and I don’t regret it. At the same time as I published those, Abigail Reynolds was also self-publishing her 6 novels at lulu. Neither of us knew the other was doing the exact thing, but our books came out at just about the same time, which was a benefit to us both.
Abigail later contacted me and told me I should submit my books to Sourcebooks, as they were picking up a lot of Jane Austen authors. I sent them my 5 stories, but was initially rejected. About a year and a half later, I completed one more story, Something Like Regret, and just after I self-published it, Abigail contacted me again and said Sourcebooks was now interested in my books, but hadn’t been able to contact me. (My email had changed.)
This time Sourcebooks offered me a contract to publish Pemberley’s Promise (which they have retitled Darcy’s Voyage) and Something Like Regret (which they have retitled Only Mr. Darcy Will Do) in March, 2011, and have the option to pick up the others. This has been an amazing adventure, and while I have felt a little overwhelmed at times, it is one that I have thoroughly enjoyed!