What inspires you?
I get inspiration for stories in what I think are weird places. Music has triggered a couple of older stories, but walking across the street has just as much of a chance as triggering something in my head as a line from a book. My plot bunnies always seem to be breeding.
What inspired you to become a writer?
Writing is in my blood. My maternal grandfather was a newspaper man. My father wrote. It’s more compulsion than inspiration most of the time. I just need to get things out of my brain and on to the page. For years, I affectionately called this “functional schizophrenia.”
Your first published novel, Second Impressions, is set in Regency England. What inspired you to write it?
I like to be challenged and had never written a Regency before. Linguistically, I’m not comfortable there so I wanted to see what I could produce outside of my comfort zone. Also, I always had this idea that, if given the chance, Lizzy would rather be rid of her family if Jane were no longer there to keep her company.
Your latest book, The Sweetest Ruin, takes place in this century. What motivated you to bring Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy into the modern world?
I prefer Moderns because I like to see how writers—including myself—tackle modernizing the characters while keeping their essential character traits. How do you justify Darcy being so aloof or Lizzy being so headstrong in this new setting? It’s always more fun for me to try to find answers to those questions.
Fans of Second Impressions describe it as
“Well written, realistic relationships in a historical setting”
“it’s fun, witty, sensual, and full of love.”
Can they look forward to more of this in The Sweetest Ruin?
In what ways?
I think this version of ODC (Our Dear Couple) has a great rapport. Give them a couple of martinis and a terrier and I hope they could pass for Nick & Nora Charles, who were sort of my template for this pair.
The books you have written are very much drawn from Pride & Prejudice. For the rest of us equally smitten with the book, tell us what got you hooked on this particular Austen book?
I was in college and, of course, my English Lit class covered P&P. I am ashamed to admit that I blew off reading it and just went for P&P ’95. And fell in love with the story. Colin Firth helped. And Jennifer Ehle was a treasure. Over the years, I have, of course, actually read the book. And the aspect that keeps me coming back is that it’s a smart, honest Cinderella story.
In a genre filled with hundreds of P&P variations, what do you bring to the table that’s makes your story unique?
Oh, that’s tough. My first thought is naughtiness. When I write Lizzy & Darcy they are almost always just a bit cheeky. And, of course, I write adult fiction so there’s no shying away from love scenes in my stuff. This is probably another reason I lean more heavily toward Moderns.
What is the number one thing you hope readers take away from the experience of reading The Sweetest Ruin?
Joy. The origin of this story was a writing challenge put forth by my readers at the Hyacinth Garden. They didn’t think I could write a low angst story so I wanted to show them that I could while repaying them for sitting through stories where I murdered Jane Bennet and paired Lydia and Charles. (We had a very specific name for things like that in the Garden: F*** with Canon.)
What would you say to someone who loved Second Impressions but is hesitant to jump into a modern genre like with The Sweetest Ruin?
I think that, although Jane might be a smidge scandalized by the naughty bits in the book, she would understand why they’re there, and that she would recognize her characters. Moderns give ODC new challenges and opportunities. Who wouldn’t want to see Lizzy banter with her gay best friend or Darcy be bullied by Georgiana?
Thanks to Amy for kindly responding to my questions. The Sweetest Ruin is newly released on Amazon.