This is my first launch on Austen Authors, but my fourth Austen book to be published, and my sixth in total (I wrote two YA titles for Harlequin Teen). That doesn’t stop me from being nervous, but mostly about sales.
For those of you following the Darcys and the Bingleys series (and if you are not, there’s a healthy amount of family trees and summaries in the introduction to the book), The Ballad of Grégoire Darcy is the fourth book, and a transitional one. They’re all transitional in some fashion, but they have different focuses.
I’d be lying if I didn’t say I actually had more to sweat over with book 3, Mr. Darcy’s Great Escape, as it’s by far the darkest book in the ten-book series, but it’s the wheel on which the series turned for me. People who were reading it back when I posted it on Fanfiction.net either dropped the series there or continued as a loyal reader to the end of the series – it’s kind of a trial-by-fire. It also sets up the “adult” cast, making pretty much all the final additions to the three families: the Darcys, the Bingleys, and the Maddoxes. After that there’s a couple more marriages, but mostly children who are waiting to grow up and become fully-realized characters. In book 5, the oldest children are finally old enough to take part in the conflict in a meaningful way (George Wickham’s son, George Wickham, is 18 in that one I believe.
In the meantime, book 4 – I tend to just number my books in my head rather than refer to their titles – is a quiet period when I can focus on characters who were still in flux in books 2 and 3, being Grégoire Darcy (Darcy’s illegitimate brother) and to some extent, Mary Bennet. It was a relief for me when I was writing it to not be juggling a ton of different plotlines, only focusing on a single character with a couple manage subplots (Caroline’s husband’s relationship with the Prince Regent, Mary Bennet’s potential marriage, Bingley’s travels abroad, Mr. Bennet’s 80th birthday). This was also the point in the series where I definitively started putting things in specifically because I wanted to use them in future books. There’s a few scenes, like between Darcy and his 12-year-old son Geoffrey, that are more character building for the future than plot for the book itself. The same with Darcy and George Wickham’s son (whose name is also George).
I also felt some freedom to move away from the Elizabeth/Darcy and Jane/Bingley relationships that were so central to the first book. At this point they’re married, they have kids, they’re not boring but they’re in comfortable grooves where they love and respect each other, so there isn’t much conflict, just the support that is necessary during external conflicts. Darcy goes through some family issues in this story, and Elizabeth is there to support him, not because she’s a supporting character but because it’s what she does – she has become so integral to his life and character not just in a romantic love way but in a functional way that it would be weird if she didn’t. Jane and Bingley are still different people, where Bingley has these strange collections and hobbies and pets and Jane has to deal with them, but it’s not a hardship for either of them because the love and support is assumed, and rightfully so.
There’s the story of a great rabbi whose wife had a problem with her foot, so he took her to the doctor and said to the doctor, “Her foot is hurting us.” And that’s how I view an ideal marriage, not so much with the foot pain but with the innate understanding of the other’s needs because they are your needs as well.
Anyway, The Ballad of Grégoire Darcy deals with all this, and I’m very honored to have gotten to publish a fourth book. I owe it all to you – my readers. Literally, I actually do, because if people hadn’t bought the first three, there wouldn’t be a fourth.
As to book 5, we’ll see!