Hello, Hello, Hello! I cannot express how tickled I am to be making my debut on Austen Authors. Following the example of my fellow new authors to the site, I will take this first blog to introduce myself and my love of everything Austen.
Although I grew up surrounded by books, I somehow avoided Jane Austen until my early forties. A co-worker half my age was talking about the 1995 version of Pride and Prejudice and I confessed I had never seen it. You would have thought I confessed to not knowing who the President was. Of course she lent me her copy before the week was out and I dutifully watched it. It transported me back to the many times I had sat with my sister and watched the Jane Eyre episodes with Timothy Dalton (my favorite Bond, by the way). I was hooked and Colin Firth’s Mr. Darcy replaced Dalton’s Rochester as my most romantic hero.
After returning the movie to her and purchasing a copy of my own, I started checking Jane Austen books out of the library. In no time, I had read all six, but P&P was my favorite followed closely by Persuasion. The movies followed. Being a slightly obsessive person, I began collecting copies until I have nearly every version of P&P available, one Jane Austen box set, Sense and Sensibility, Persuasion, and a few Mansfield Parks. You know what came next … JAFF continuations and finally variations.
Throughout this journey I was writing suspense romances, but was still learning my craft and had not published. As a bit of an experiment, I began working on P&P variations to hone writing techniques. Though I have enjoyed some continuations, the stories never seemed to match up with what was in my head, so instead I dove into what ifs. What if you changed one factor? How would it effect the rest of the story? And that brings us to today.
Many of you who follow my page know I have just returned from the United Kingdom. I will share more about my trip in future posts, but for today here is a little taste of how my imagination works. I’m not sure how or if I will ever use this, but this little scene played out in my mind as we were walking in the Peak District.
If you are familiar with the area around Matlock and Chatsworth, you know there is a place called Stanton Moor where there are several Bronze Age stones, cairns, and such. In the midst of this moor, there is a circle of stones called the Nine Ladies. Thinking of Elizabeth Bennet’s trip to Derbyshire with her aunt and uncle, I could not help but imagine her dragging them along the paths to find these legendary ladies.
“Lizzy!” Sarah cried from the top of the path. “I think I see them!”
Elizabeth Bennet laughed at her young cousin before throwing a glance over her shoulder to check on her aunt and uncle. Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner were walking arm-in-arm, taking in the views of the countryside. They appeared in no distress over their eldest daughter’s behaviour and waved for Elizabeth to follow the child.
Reaching the spot where Sarah had just been, Elizabeth saw a few stones through the trees and her cousin running toward them. “Wait for me, Sarah!” she called and hurried her steps toward the young girl.
Though Elizabeth was to travel with her aunt and uncle that summer to the Lake District, they had been forced to change their plans due to Mr. Gardiner’s business. As such, the new dates were fewer and fell upon Sarah’s birthday. As a special treat, her parents allowed her to join the party. Elizabeth was pleased with her cousin’s presence for many reasons, but mostly because Sarah was a wonderful distraction. With her youthful exuberance, she kept Elizabeth from thoughts of a gentleman she had terribly misunderstood and might now regret the rest of her life. Her presence also drew Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner’s attention sufficiently that they did not note their niece’s quieter state of being.
“Lizzy, there really are nine of them!” Sarah called as she marched around the circle, patting the tops of each of the low standing stones.
“So I see,” Elizabeth replied as she approached. “Have you found the fiddler?”
Sarah stopped and placed a hand to her eyes as she looked about. “Could that be it there?” She pointed a short distance to what appeared to be a stone rising above the long grass.
Elizabeth had reached her niece’s side and took her hand. “I believe you may be correct.”
With a glint in her eyes, Sarah tugged on Elizabeth’s hand and pulled her into the middle of the stones. “Dance with me, Lizzy!”
Though she attempted to appear stern, Elizabeth could not suppress her smile as she playfully reprimanded the girl. “You are nearly twelve, Sarah, it is time to behave with more decorum.”
“There is no one to see.” She pulled upon her cousin’s hands again. “Please, Lizzy?”
A giggle dissolved her restraint and Elizabeth began to spin her cousin about her as she created a dance for just the two of them. They were laughing freely when a deep voice broke the spell.
“Pray be careful, Miss Elizabeth. The last ladies who danced here still remain.”
Her heart pounded in her ears as she turned to find Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy standing under cover of trees beside a magnificent stallion. His gaze held hers long enough to steal her breath away before he dipped his head toward her cousin then turned his gaze to a spot over her shoulder.
“Might I have the honour of an introduction to your friends?”
Sorry, that’s all I have for now. I look forward to sharing with you in the future, maybe not this story, but I have so many others.
Is there anything that inspires you? How did you fall in love with Jane Austen’s work?