Q&A with Monica Fairview
Monica Fairview is an ex-literature professor who abandoned teaching criticism about long gone authors who can't defend themselves in order to write novels of her own. Monica can be described as a wanderer, opening her eyes to life in London and travelling ever since. She spent many years in the USA before coming back full circle to London, thus proving that the world is undeniably round.
Monica's first novel, An Improper Suitor, a humorous Regency, was short-listed for the Romantic Novelists' Association's Joan Hassayan prize. Since then, she has written two traditional Jane Austen sequels: The Other Mr. Darcy and The Darcy Cousins (both published by Sourcebooks) and contributed a sequel to Emma in Laurel Ann Nattress's anthology Jane Austen Made Me Do It (Ballantine).
Originally a lover of everything Regency, Monica has since discovered that the Victorian period can be jolly good fun, too, if seen with retro-vision and rose-colored goggles. She adores Jane Austen, Steampunk, cats, her husband and her impossible child.
If you'd like to find out more about Monica, you can find her at www.monicafairview.com, austenauthors.net, www.monicafairview.blogspot.com on Facebook and on Twitter @Monica_Fairview
First of all, let me say a big thank you to Marcie for her great interview questions. I enjoyed the challenge of answering them.
I’m really pleased to be joining you all here on To Read or Not to Read. I say: To Read!
1. When did you first fall in love with Jane Austen and her books?
It seems like I’ve always been in love with her, but that can’t be true, of course. I think I fell under her charm when I was studying Pride and Prejudice in high school. We had a wonderful English teacher and she really emphasized the humor. That class was so much fun! I went on to read all her novels except Mansfied Park, which didn’t appeal to me at the time.
2. You've written quite a few books based on Pride and Prejudice. Is this your favorite Austen novel?
I never get tired of Pride and Prejudice. There are so many aspects to the novel: dysfunctional families, rebellious teenagers, elopements, social snobs and ambitious socialites as well as raising serious questions about class and gender roles. It’s a novel with a lot of substance while at the same time you can also see it as a lighthearted, funny popular romantic comedy. How many books can straddle both worlds like that?
3. Please tell us about your latest book, Steampunk Darcy?
You might want to think Douglas Adams meets Jane Austen. Except it’s less funny than Douglas Adams, and not as brilliant as Jane Austen.
Steampunk Darcy is set in a futuristic, Neo-Victorian Bostontown. Seraphene is summoned to Longbourn Laboratories as a consultant to help Darcy rebuild Pemberley as it used to be when Darcy and Elizabeth lived there, but it soon becomes clear that Darcy has a secret which gets them both into serious trouble.
Steampunk Darcy is a romance, an adventure story, a post-apocalyptic novel and a comedy.
4. How is Steampunk Darcy (the character) different from Regency Darcy?
William Darcy is a descendent of Darcy. He resembles him physically. Like Fitzwilliam, he’s very powerful and well aware of his position in society, which gives him a similar kind of arrogance. He also has a very strict code as a gentleman. But unlike Darcy he isn’t shy. He’s quite willing to turn on the charm deliberately to get people to do what he wants. And he’s very, very stubborn. And then, of course, there are the clothes. Darcy is fond of monocles and doesn’t go anywhere without his walking stick and top hat. He’s a Victorian gentleman.
5. Have you ever thought about writing about other characters in Jane Austen's books? If so, what characters?
In The Other Mr. Darcy, I wrote about Caroline Bingley as well as Darcy’s American cousin Robert. In The Darcy Cousins I wrote about Georgiana, Anne, and their cousin Clarissa. I have a story in Jane Austen Made Me Do It that’s a continuation of Emma. Explores what happens when Mr Knightley tries to move in to Hartfield.
6. Who do you prefer as Darcy . . . Colin Firth or Matthew Macfadyen?
I’m a strong Colin Firth fan. I love those intense, smouldering looks, and the way his stiff shirt collars stop him from moving his head yet he still someone manages to express all those feelings. But I also really like the vulnerability that Matthew brings to the role. He gives us a Darcy who is insecure and sensitive. I have a soft spot for sensitive men.
7. What book are you currently reading?
I just started reading A Clockwork Fairytale by Helen Scott Taylor and I’m really enjoying it.
8. What are you working on now?
I’m working on three projects that are quite different which means I’m only just keeping up the juggling act. The first is a traditional Regency romance and the second is a Spanish Civil war novel, which is a long-term project of mine that I work on in between books.
The third is coming out in April 2014. It’s a YA prequel to Steampunk Darcy called Uprising. It follows the story of Seraphene during the Uprising and the general chaos that follows. It’s a post-apocalyptic novel so it’s a bit darker than Steampunk Darcy, but I’m really enjoying writing it.
9. If you could be a part of any family in Jane Austen's novels, which family would you choose?
Now that’s hard. Jane Austen doesn’t have many loving families, does she? I think I’d like to be part of Catherine Moreland’s family. I’d like to have a large family and her parents seem very supportive and kind. I certainly wouldn’t want to be Mrs. Bennet’s daughter.
10. What's your favorite thing about fall?
That’s an unexpected question, Marcie. At first I thought you were asking me something biblical about Adam and Eve and the first thing I thought of was that grape leaves weren’t a good fashion statement. But you’re talking about other types of leaves, right? I like red and orange – they’re my favorite colors (apart from purple). I like the sound of crisp leaves crunching under my shoes.
There’s a particular flavor to the air in the fall, too, a kind of sharpness that seems like the cutting edge between summer and winter.
How about some of you readers out there? What is it you like about the fall?
William Darcy is obsessed with his ancestors. So much so that he intends to rebuild Pemberley (destroyed during the Uprising) stone by stone, and he wants to employ reconstruction expert Seraphene Grant to help him.
Or does he? Seraphene wasn’t born yesterday. She can smell a rat, particularly when it stinks all the way up to her airship. She knows Darcy is hiding something. But with the Authorities after her and her other options dwindling by the moment, the temptation of genuine English tea and a gorgeous Steampunk gentleman are very difficult to resist.
But what if Darcy’s mystery job courts nothing but trouble? What if Darcy is harboring a secret to kill for? When kiss comes to shove, will Darcy’s secret destroy Seraphene, or will it be her salvation?
Join us on a romantic adventure like no other in this whimsical Pride and Prejudice-inspired tribute, featuring Darcy (of course) Wickham, dirigibles, swash-buckling pirates and a heroine with fine eyes and an attitude.