Monday, March 24, 2014

An Interview with Jeanna Ellsworth

Today I have the very great pleasure of welcoming the wonderful author Jeanna Ellsworth to my blog. Jeanna is the author of the brilliant story Mr Darcy's Promise (read my review here) and she has her second story coming out very soon, Pride and Persistence, which she will be telling us a little more about in the interview. I cannot wait for this second story for it sounds like a lot of fun...  

"Undaunted by a threatening storm, Fitzwilliam Darcy of Pemberley insists he must deliver his letter to Miss Elizabeth Bennet–– then tragedy strikes. Riddled with guilt, Elizabeth comes to the aid of the comatose Mr. Darcy and stays by his side until he regains consciousness. She soon learns that although Mr. Darcy has awoken, he has not returned to himself. And with no memory of his first disastrous proposal, he has concluded that there is nothing he wants more than to propose to Miss Elizabeth. 
This humorous journey of love leaves one asking, does persistence pacify prejudice? Can Elizabeth see the real gentleman behind the injury, a man who persists in professing his love to her every chance he gets? In this Regency variation of Jane Austen’s beloved Pride and Prejudice, Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet both learn the value of persistence."


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Welcome Jeanna! Thank you so much for agreeing to this little interview with me. I absolutely love your work, as I think you know, and I am very interested in finding out a little more about one of my favourite authors and about your upcoming release!

1. It is evident from both your first story and this new release that you are an avid Janeite and very much enjoy Jane Austen’s work. How did you first come across Jane Austen and fall in love with the regency world of dancing, carriages and courtship?


Thanks for having me! I admit that I am a young Janeite, just reintroduced in January 2012. I had loved the 2005 movie and even owned a copy of the book Pride and Prejudice that I got from a garage sale but did not earn the title of Janeite until my sister KaraLynne Mackrory started writing JAFF and would send me her chapters to read. Since she was not able to satisfy my thirst fast enough (an author can only write so fast) she would tell me to read other JAFF books that were published. One book led to 50, which led to more, which led to writing! It is a slippery slope, so readers, beware! You have been warned!

How well I understand this! Once I had read one JAFF story I was lost, completely and utterly addicted!

2. Of Ms. Austen’s six major novels, need I ask which your favourite is? I assume from your stories that it is Pride and Prejudice. What appeals to you so much about Pride and Prejudice? The characters, the story, the humour?


You need not ask, Pride and Prejudice is by far my favorite. I love it mostly because the moral of the story (and I kind of like books with morals to the story) is that in order to attract a Mr. Darcy, you kind of have to be an Elizabeth. And in order to attract an Elizabeth, you have to be willing to be a Mr. Darcy!  The other reason I am obsessed with Darcy is because he represents to me how a devoted, persistent man can earn the love and respect by doing only that which life requires of all of us . . . change. I like the saying that if you do not like the results you are getting, than change how you do things. I enjoy cooking and so it correlates that there is no reason to think that if you use the same ingredients that you will come out with a different dish! Darcy had no guarantees or even any hope that changing himself would alter Elizabeth’s view of him, but it did!

That is precisely what I love about Pride and Prejudice, or more specifically, Darcy and Lizzy - they both change for the other.

3. Now, aside from Pride and Prejudice, which other work do you particularly like?

Since I have three girls, the oldest full of sense and logic, the middle daughter with a strong passion for life, and a youngest who can be found exploring at any given time, I admit that Sense and Sensiblity if my next favorite. It is even the last Jane Austen book I read. I had a date night with my girls and watched the movie the other day and they giggled at the similarities.

Well I can see why this comes second! I have a special love for Sense and Sensibility for a similar reason actually; my older sister is very much like Elinor, and I am rather like Marianne!   

4. In your two stories you take Ms. Austen’s plotline and explore a ‘what if’ idea and take the story down a completely different route. Why did you want to write these variations? Did you want to explore the world of Lizzy and Darcy a little more? I adore reading these ‘what if’ variations as I cannot get enough of Lizzy and Darcy, so please keep writing them!


I wrote because I was questioning my sanity. Truly. I had a psychology class in nursing school and even though it was 15 years ago, I’m pretty sure that hearing voices in your head was a bad thing. Ha Ha. I had read so much Jane Austen Fan Fiction that the characters were literally alive in my head (and heart!) I had plots and entire scenes playing out in my head. I would dream about “what if’s” and I decided that I should either start writing them down or start taking medicine! It has been nonstop ever since I wrote the first plot outline. I’m currently half way through with my fifth book and it has only been 2 years since writing. I love it and will probably never stop so I’m glad you can’t get enough.

Miss Austen's characters are so well written and known to us that I can understand how the characters could come alive in your head - you just know very easily what Mrs Bennet would say, or how Lady Catherine might act!

5. Do you think there is another one of Ms. Austen’s stories which would have the potential for a ‘what if’ variation, or do you think that Pride and Prejudice holds the most possibility with the plot and characters for such stories?

At this time I’m sticking with Pride and Prejudice, however, I’ll let you in on a little secret. I have this little urge to try a non JAFF regency romance with all original characters! It feels scary but kind of a fun challenge too!

Oh how exciting! It would be a challenge to come up with all your own characters but it would also be fun!  I hope you do try this one day.

6. What is your opinion of modern variations of Ms. Austen’s work such as Clueless, or the bollywood Pride and Prejudice or the recent YouTube series The Lizzy Bennet Diaries, or even paranormal variations such as Pride and Prejudice and Vampires? Would you ever think about writing a modern variation, or like me, do you prefer her stories to be kept to the era in which they belong?


The hardest part about many of the modern takes is they lose the innocence of the Regency romance; the stolen looks or touches that exaggerate the attraction. There are some great ones out there but I imagine it would be hard to write a modern take on P&P without letting the relationship turn into something modern. It is so common place now to kiss and even sleep with who you date, but there is just something so much more romantic and long lasting (and are we not wanting to read a happily ever after?) when the relationship is based on respect and friendship. I’m not saying it isn’t possible to write a modern take without the sex, but there are not many who keep it off the page. I certainly enjoy reading it when the authors let my imagination do all the work!

7. Mr Darcy has to be one of the most famous heroes in all of literature and for many the saying ‘searching for Mr Right’ turned into ‘searching for Mr Darcy’ after coming across Pride and Prejudice (well, it did for me!). What appeals to you about Mr Darcy? Is he a fun character to develop and explore, as you did so well in Mr Darcy's Promise?

My daughters do not fully grasp the man Mr. Darcy is and who he represents to all us who adore him. I tell them he is the perfectly-imperfect gentleman. By that I mean, he is sooooo imperfect, but like our smartphones, he autocorrects into something that is just right. And just like autocorrect, he occasionally makes a big mistake (Hunsford) and has to atone for his sins. But he does it like a real gentleman. He realizes that his pride and prejudice are his greatest hurdles to finding happiness and his every action from that realization on are efforts to humble himself. He changes into a man who is worthy of the woman he loves, but only after realizing that she was worth changing for. A man who can love so deeply and passionately that he makes the change within himself without any promises of securing her hand is a man worthy of an Elizabeth.
 
That is a very interesting comparison! But what you say is actually very true - he does autocorrect into something just right. He really is the 'perfectly-imperfect gentleman', as you say, which is why we love him!

8. Now aside from Mr Darcy, which other characters do you enjoy developing in your stories? The humorous Colonel Fitzwilliam perhaps, or the rather shy Georgiana? Who do you find the hardest to write about? And the easiest? 


Colonel Fitzwilliam is my favorite minor character. In Pride and Persistence, he is downright loveable! So wise and so smart and has such tender (friend-like) moments where he helps Elizabeth through the trauma of Darcy’s head injury and helps her find humor in his multiple proposals. He is the main character of the book I am writing now, called Hope For Fitzwilliam. I do love Georgiana and Charlotte too. I can’t say I’m all that fond of Bingley (don’t respect a man who will not fight for the love of his life) or Jane who always feels so weak. I find them hard to write because I don’t love them. This logic doesn’t hold true with every character I do not like. I admit I kind of love writing scenes with Caroline Bingley even though I hate her character, but she is just so nasty! It is too much fun to write her set down!
 
I also love Colonel Fitzwilliam - I look forward to your story where the Colonel takes centre stage! And I always love to see Caroline Bingley getting a set down!

8. There are many scenes in your book (and I imagine in this new story as well!) which are highly romantic and had me sighing (and swooning!) with happiness! I really admire you for keeping your novels clean; it just shows how stories can be highly romantic whist remaining clean, unlike quite a few variations out there. How important is this to you? 


Even though Mr. Darcy’s Promise was a forced marriage scenario where it would be appropriate for them to make love, I found that leaving that stuff off the page was fun, even forcing me to get creative! I have to admit I have ulterior motives as well. One, my kids read my books and I do not want them to imagine their mom writing love scenes. Yuck! Two, I’m single and getting sexually frustrated is not pleasant! Ha ha! I started keeping a list of all the clean books I have read on my website that I feel represent what I would be willing to let my daughters read. Check out my Recommended Reads page on my website, www.heyladypublications.com I am always willing to add a book if it is clean and entertaining and since I started the list after I read so many JAFF books, it is not all inclusive. I do not intend to omit any of the good clean ones intentionally and love recommendations from other readers who appreciate all the sex and language being left off the page.

9. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading Mr Darcy's Promise and I was thrilled when I saw that your second story was being published soon, Pride and Persistence. The routes you choose to explore in your first story was very interesting, but I believe the premise of this newest story is the most intriguing for me. What enticed you down the route of head injuries and memory loss? Where did your inspiration come for? 

I am a neurological ICU nurse and one day I was trying to take a nap before a night shift and suddenly I started giggling to myself because I was imagining Mr. Darcy with a frontal lobe injury. I was imagining scene after scene where he lacked memory, emotional control, reasoning, and logical complex thought. Pride and Persistence starts out with a tragic accident where Mr. Darcy gets a head injury but as his limitations become apparent, the tragedy becomes more than just a little humorous. Many events that occur in the book are true to life events or behaviors that a real patient with a frontal lobe injury would have. To be honest, my inspiration comes from every single experience I have in life. It could be a sermon at church, it could be a grocery store janitor, it could be the man who flipped me off, either way, I see stories all around me, and I feel compelled to write them. Head injuries can be the hardest thing to cope with as a patient or family member so my goal in writing this book, and writing it as a romantic comedy, was to help those who struggle see and feel the hope at the end of recovery. I even dedicate the book to those patients and families as well as the staff of Neurological ICUs.

How wonderful! It is brilliant where your inspiration comes from, particularly for Pride and Persistence, in that many of the situations and events which occur as a result of the head injury are actually things you have seen in real life! I really can't wait to see it!

10. The story to Pride and Persistence sounds like a lot of fun. Although your first story had its share of humour, would you say that this was more of a comedy than your first story? I believe you have described it as "Pride and Prejudice meets 50 First Dates"? 


It could be called 50 first proposals! I wrote so many proposals, with them showing subtle improvements each time (showing Darcy’s condition was improving) that I now almost cringe when it is time to write a proposal. But I admit this is by far the funniest book I have written. My fellow author JAFF addict junkie, (My sister KaraLynne Mackrory who has published 3 JAFF books) deems this her favorite of all my books. Although it takes a few chapters to get past the initial suspense of the accident and his precarious condition, soon the world of finding joy, laughter, and healing in head injuries opens up. It was a very fun book to write.

I always love humour in a book, as well as romance, so I am sure this will be just up my street! (I highly recommend KaraLynne Mackrory's stories as well!)

11. I will wrap up the questions now, but one final thing; I think I see from your website that you have some other stories written or are in the process of writing? You must excuse my impatience, for I realise that your second story has only just been released, but I had to ask!


Yes, since I self-publish, it takes a bit of time to get my work to the public. I firmly believe that I should not go into debt to fund the editing or cover so I use the royalties from the previous book to fund the next book. I also am rather addicted to having an original painting done for the cover that I can hang in my living room and that takes months to paint. Pride and Persistence should be published by April 1st, if not sooner, and my third book, To Refine Like Silver, is tentatively planned for a November 2014 publication. My fourth book is the first in a series of 4 books called The Hope Series. I am hoping to publish them fairly close together which means they may not start publication until a year or more from now. I do like to post them on the online communities like Darcyandlizzy.com and Meryton.com because the readers have such interesting comments and it is very rewarding to see how each chapter influences them.
 
I will be keeping my eyes out for all your other stories!

Thank you so much for interviewing me! They were wonderful questions and I hope you all will get a chance to read Pride and Persistence when it comes out! I always love to hear from my readers! This is one way I get one step closer to you all! Thank you so much for this opportunity, Sophie. It is amazing how this world that Jane Austen created 200 years ago is affecting so many people today. I can only imagine her being in awe at the scope of her influence.

Thank you again for participating in this interview with me. Good luck with your new book – it will be just as successful as your other story, I know it will. I cannot wait to read it! And I completely agree with you; it is amazing how Ms. Austen's work can bring so many people together 200 years later!
 
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I really look forward to reading this story when it is (hopefully!) published April 1st! Keep an eye out for my review which I should be posting in a few weeks. Thank you again to Jeanna Ellsworth and good luck and all the best for future stories! To find out more about all her stories - published and works in progress - visit her website !

Your affectionate friend,
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3 comments:

  1. Great interview questions, Sophie! I struggle with good questions and yours are excellent! Loved your answers, Jeanna. Your approach always comes across so honest and full of life. It is contagious and I always smile when reading your thoughts. Thanks for the insight you share and for your wonderful books. Can't wait to read your new one!

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    1. Thank you Janet! I find interviewing difficult as well! And I agree! Aren't Jeanna's answer just charming and brilliant! Thanks for commenting!

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  2. Thanks Janet! It is always fun to do an interview and share with others my love of Austen. It is a great compliment that I come across honest and full of life. I see that as a perfect mixture and admit that is just how I am. I'm a little bit Darcy and a little bet Elizabeth.

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