Finding JAFF Inspiration in Unlikely Places

Finding JAFF Inspiration in Unlikely Places

For me one of the best parts of writing JAFF has been encountering a community of writers and readers who are equally interested in and passionate about Jane Austen’s works.  Who else will debate whether Bingley deserves Jane’s love or if Fanny Price is a sufficiently active heroine?  If I tried to initiate such a discussion with my husband and kids, their eyes would glaze over long before I was satisfied the topic had been thoroughly explored.

It has been a joy to discover this community and a huge source of support.  My JAFF Facebook friends will help me quell my doubts about my writing, buck me up when I’ve had a bad day, and celebrate my successes with me.   I’ve also found friends who share my love of purple, my struggles with motherhood, and my somewhat skewed sense of humor.

But I have to say that one of the most unexpected benefits was when a fellow Austen Author unknowingly inspired the plot for my latest book, Chaos Comes to Longbourn.  Last summer Joana Starnes wrote the following on her Facebook page:  “A shocking outcome to the game of ‘Marrying Mr Darcy’ last night: Caroline Bingley eloped with Wickham, Elizabeth Bennet ended up a spinster, Charlotte Lucas married Mr Denny and Mr Darcy married LYDIA!! If this were a book, I couldn’t read it.”

In my response to her post I agreed with Joana that this would be a terrible ending for a JAFF novel, but I suggested she think of a way to write such a book and make it plausible.  Joana replied that that would be beyond her powers as a writer.  That should have been the end of it.  But the exchange got my writer’s brain going in rather devious ways.  It was a challenge.  How could I make such unlikely pairings work (even if it not those exact pairings)?

I started to think how such a novel could be plausible—particularly the part of about Darcy and Lydia. It would necessarily have to be a comic novel; that combination of personalities could never be anything other than humorous.  Of course I thought in terms of having them be engaged; a marriage was simply too traumatic to contemplate.

I began to wonder:  If Darcy were engaged to Lydia, what impact would it have on other characters?  Soon I had a plot in which everyone is engaged to the wrong person:  Jane and Collins, Elizabeth and Bingley, Charlotte and Wickham.  I was very proud of myself for working out how these improbable betrothals had come about.  Of course, then I had to figure out how to untangle everything so they’d all have a happily ever after….

I had great fun writing Chaos Comes to Longbourn, and my readers seem to be having great fun reading it.   As always I am very grateful for my community of readers and writers and their support of my work.  And, right now, I am especially grateful that Joana wrote that particular Facebook post.  She had no idea what she was starting! 🙂

Please enjoy this excerpt from Chaos Comes to Longbourn.  Wickham has been maneuvered into proposing to Charlotte Lucas:  

Tilting her head to the side, Charlotte frowned at Wickham as if he presented a puzzle to be solved.  After a moment, she shook her head.  “I am not sure you would make a good husband.”
          What?  Wickham’s pride was pricked.  Women always wanted him!  He was charming.  Charming is what he did!  Well, and attractive.  How could she be so blind?
           I shall show her.
           Suppressing a premature grin, Wickham slid from his seat and settled next to Charlotte on the settee.  She did not lay down her damn needlework, and he did not like playing second fiddle to embroidery.
He inspected her gown.  A serviceable muslin, it was more modest than most dresses he encountered—which unfortunately meant less skin was available.  But he could rise to this challenge.  He leaned close enough to smell her faint honeysuckle scent and kissed his way down her neck.
She paused her needlework.
And then resumed.
Aside from a small furrow in her brow, his actions did not appear to have attracted her notice at all.  Damnation!  What was wrong with the woman?  That maneuver should have earned him a shiver, a deep sigh, and perhaps some kisses in return.
He ran a finger under the edge of her neckline, right on the top of her shoulder.  Perhaps she needed verbal seduction.  “You are very beautiful.”
This provoked a reaction but not quite the one he expected.  She turned toward him, frowning.  “No, I am not.  Why would you say so?”
Wickham blinked and allowed his hand to drop.  Every woman loved being told she was beautiful, did she not?  He swallowed, attempting to reestablish his equilibrium.  “You are beautiful to me,” he murmured.
She pursed her lips.  “I sincerely doubt that, Mr. Wickham.  You are acquainted with many prettier women.”  She moved the position of her embroidery to get better light.
Very well.  It was time for heavy artillery.  He leaned forward until his lips nearly touched her ear.  “I love you.”
She snorted.  “Do not be absurd.  You barely know me.”

14 Responses to Finding JAFF Inspiration in Unlikely Places

  1. Coming back to comment (some days are so busy mail is not opened): Having now read this book I loved it. Well done.

  2. I too enjoy sharing my love of P&P variations with so many lovely people. It has opened up a whole new world so thanks to you and the other authors. I love this excerpt – go Charlotte!!! I love how Wickham gets his “charm”!!! thrown back in his face ?. I also like the idea of Darcy throwing property at Lydia to try and get rid of her. I am assuming that he does end up with Elizabeth in which case I will definitely have to read it. Thank you.

    • Hi Glynis, Thank you for sharing such sweet sentiments and I’m glad you enjoyed the excerpt. Rest assured that everyone ends up with their proper spouse at the end of the book. 🙂

  3. OMG!!! I love that excerpt. Dear Charlotte does not hold back and will tell it like it is. She was the perfect foil for Wickham. I can just see it. What a scream.

    I have waited anxiously for this book. I love a good farce and can hardly wait to read it. I am waiting to see if I win an ebook from all the give-a-ways I’ve shamelessly submitted my name to. If I don’t win…no problem…I have enough in my book fund to purchase it IMMEDIATELY and will read it as fast as I can. I am not averse to rudely pushing the book I am currently reading aside so I can read it right then.

    I have watched this in the various blogs and the response has been good. Everyone is talking about it. I am so glad you are in AuAu. Welcome and may you write to your heart’s content.

    • Hi JW, Thank you so much for your endorsement! I do hope you win a giveaway and I hope you enjoy the book. Although I feel a little (just a little) guilty about the book you’re pushing aside. 🙂

  4. To tell the truth, I met the news about release of Chaos Comes to Longbourn with great trepidation: Darcy engaged to Lidia and Elizabeth to Mr.Bingley! And Charlotte to Wickham! I am incapable of seeing the way out of such chaos:) But..but…but..this excerpt is so funny:)) And I begin to wonder and wish to know more. Thank you for sharing this delightful piece.

    • Hi, I promise that everything ends happily for everyone (well, as happily as Wickham and Lydia can be). And getting there is pretty funny. Thank you for your interest!

  5. I loved reading Chaos Comes to Longbourn… As each plot change and surprise occurred, the drama and the giggles ramped up. So much fun to read and to attempt to anticipate how or if it might all unravel and hopefully work out – I think my tipping point was when Darcy offered Lydia his London townhouse! Keep the great ideas coming, please!

      • Victoria – your books are an awesome delight to me. In this crazy world with all the real drama, I prefer P and P drama distraction from time to time! I have gone into an interview with my boss (used to be a Mr Collins type) and wonder what Lizzy would say – and even if I didn’t say it in real life, thinking it gave me the inner giggle to keep perspective! You obviously possess the potential to have inner giggles at all times. May they carry you through the good and bad days so common to us all!

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