Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Most Agreeably Engaged With Colonel Fitzwilliam! (and Cassandra Grafton)

Today, I am beginning the first in a series of interviews with the cast of characters in Cassandra Grafton's trilogy, A Fair Prospect. Now that he has completed his role in Disappointed Hopes and before he returns for Darcy's Dilemma, I was delighted to have the opportunity to speak with Mr. Darcy's cousin, Colonel Fitzwilliam, and here is what he had to say.

Colonel, thank you for joining me today to answer some questions. I am sure my readers will enjoy getting to know you better.
"The pleasure is all mine, dear lady. Press on; my attention is all yours."

In this first volume, you clearly are an early riser. The first thing I would like to know is, what is your favorite time of day?"

"An easy opening! Be warned, I am prone to garrulousness; do interrupt me if I begin to wax lyrical.” The Colonel settles more comfortably into his seat. “I will own to having a particular penchant for mornings – especially the early morning, just as dawn is breaking, that moment when the sun rises above the horizon. Then, there are the sounds and smells – the birdsong as I head for the stables and an early ride; a welcoming snicker from my mount, the clank of the bridle, the aroma of dry hay in the stalls, the leather saddles..."

Err, Colonel, forgive the interruption, but - how can you hear and smell? You do know that you are a fictional character and not real? 

(Colonel Fitzwilliam gets to his feet, his air and countenance puzzled and a frown upon his brow) "A work of fiction, Madam? How so? I possess all the common faculties, including the five senses." (The Colonel sweeps a hand from his head to the toes of his highly polished boots) "You see before you a fully functioning body - there is nothing fictitious about it. Here." (He stretches out an arm towards me.) "Be at liberty to have a good feel!"

Far be it from me to refuse such a request. I can confirm to you all, dear readers, that the Colonel is extremely...solid! Nonetheless, Colonel, you are a character in a book - you do not in the normal sense of the word 'exist'.

"Then which of the two of us is destined for Bedlam? Is it you or I? If I do not exist, then with whom are you conversing?"

A good point and well made! Perhaps we should make our way together!

I may reside in the pages of a book - several books, from my experience - but I am real nonetheless! As we are agreed that neither of us is hallucinating, pray let us continue."

Of course, Colonel. Now, the story of your cousin, Darcy's, courtship, "(a brief snort emanates from the Colonel as he re-takes his seat)," of Miss Elizabeth Bennet is well documented. A lady, of whom you have possibly heard, a Miss Jane Austen, chronicled their story many years ago, and it has become well-known and well-loved, as have the people involved in it.

"Well loved, eh? All the characters?"

Well, perhaps some more than others.

"Humph. My Aunt Catherine perchance is not numbered as one of them?"

Probably not. Has Lady Catherine always been quite so - difficult?

"As far back as I can recall. Darcy's mother, Anne, was the aunt of choice for me; Aunt Catherine was one to avoid! Now, let us return to my being well-loved. I like that part of this interrogation."

I have been delighted to see how very well received Colonel Richard Fitzwilliam has been by the readers of A Fair Prospect.

"Ah yes. Richard. The forename I am most often given."

Do you not like it?

The Colonel pulls a face. " I am comfortable enough with it. It seems to be the popular choice, though I have borne many names in recent years, amongst them Matthew, Alexander...even Colin! That was a tricky period in my life; I kept having the urge, if you will forgive me my bluntness, to strip off my coat and dive into any nearby body of water! I will admit to being quite relieved when I became Richard again in the next story I was summoned to."

Then what is your real name?

The Colonel looks embarrassed and stirs restlessly in his chair. 

Are you coloring, Colonel?

"Certainly not! It is rather warm." He frowns as he looks towards the window. "This glazing is quite singular. Is it the way of things here to fund two panes where one would suffice?"

It is known as double-glazing. It reduces heat loss from inside and noise from outside.

"It seems a little wasteful; glass is such an expensive commodity." He seems anxious for a change of subject. "Ah, I see you have Miss Austen's original novel at your side."

Yes. You have a relatively minor role in the story. How do you feel when you are given a great many more pages in the continuations and variations that have followed in recent years?

"It is true, she was not overly generous with her use of my character, nor in her description of me! Admittedly, I do not have Darcy's noble features, but I do well enough. Even a second son can be worthy of a young lady's glances!" He grins engagingly. "But I digress. I enjoy the many roles I have been playing. Some are more challenging than others, but I have to admit that I am particularly enjoying my present sojourn within the pages of A Fair Prospect, and I look forward to seeing what is in store for me in Darcy's Dilemma and, ultimately, Desperate Measures."  He pauses. "I suspect there is a latent performer in me; the stage would have been my profession of choice, if I had been born to humbler beginnings."

Which leads me neatly to my next question: are you fond of plays?

"Indeed, though I would always prefer a comedy over a tragedy. With the trials of my profession, I desire nothing more than to be entertained and amused when at leisure."

Then I would like to show you something which may be of interest. I turn to a TV and DVD player at my side and switch it on. The Colonel's gaze narrows and he leans forward in his seat, his elbows resting on his knees as he peers at the image now displayed on the screen.

"What the devil is this piece of wizardry?"

It is a means by which we watch the adaptation of a story. A sort of play is made of it, it is recorded on film and then displayed through mediums such as these.

“Film? But a film is a coating, a layer, nothing more."

Let me show you. I pick up the remote control, watched intently by the Colonel, and press the 'play' button.

A scene from the 1995 adaptation of Pride & Prejudice plays on the screen, the one where Colonel Fitzwilliam is walking with Elizabeth Bennet at Rosings. When it is over, I switch the TV off.

“So that is how they portrayed my indiscretion to Miss Bennet over Darcy’s interference in Bingley’s affairs.” The Colonel grimaced. "It is very like; they did a fine rendition."

There have been several adaptations made through this medium over the years, but this has proved the most popular.  You acquired a nickname after the programme was released.

"Nickname?" The Colonel laughs. “Go on - enlighten me! This will have Darcy well amused!"

Some ladies labeled you "Stud Muffin".

Silence greets this for a moment, and then the Colonel blinks rapidly and sits up in his seat.

"Stud? The meaning is not lost on me - I am flattered - I think! But a muffin is a small cake.” He frowns. “I am not familiar with the term in connection to studs! Yet there is an excellent dictionary and thesaurus in the library at Pemberley; I shall look it up. I trust it is equally complimentary!"

I think it's provenance is later than when the story itself is set. I think it would be safe to say that it is indeed a compliment and perhaps leave it at that!

The Colonel laughs. "As you wish, dear lady, as you wish!"

"We have so far been introduced to a few characters in Disappointed Hopes, most of whom we know something of from Miss Austen's original story, but one of whom is new to us. What do you make of Nicholas Harington at this point in the story?"

"I have yet to make his acquaintance in person, though I have heard the name mentioned. It troubles me, because I cannot recall where and in what context. However, it is clear that you know more than I at this point: is there something I ought to be aware of?"

The gentleman is an old and close acquaintance of Elizabeth Bennet's. They are great friends and have known each other since childhood. He is a second son, like yourself, but of independent fortune - an eligible bachelor."

The Colonel frowns. "This does not bode well. I fear the author has some mischief to make at the expense of my cousin, Darcy. This will test his sanity!” The Colonel snorted. “Perchance he should join us on our journey to the madhouse! The more the merrier!”

In A Fair Prospect, you are depicted as gaining much enjoyment from your food and drink.

The Colonel smiles and pats his trim midriff. "I lead a very active life; fuel is essential to power one's limbs!"

You also appear to enjoy the conversation of Mrs. Collins?

"She is a surprising woman. How anyone of such good common sense could attach herself to such a man is always beyond me."

She is down to earth, Sir. She knows her lack of prospects and acted accordingly to secure her future.

"There is some truth in that. I would be sorry for her, but she seems content enough with her chosen lot."

Tell me about Darcy. It is clear he is prepared to open up to you.

"Darce?  I love him! He is more a brother to me than my own. Since his father’s death, our shared guardianship of Georgiana has bound us ever tighter. Of course, therein ends our similarities. Though he is lively enough around those he is comfortable with, Darcy is taciturn by nature and has a more serious mien. He is also, as you have no doubt noticed, extremely handsome!"

If you could describe the people who have accompanied you in Disappointed Hopes in one word, what would it be? For example:

Lady Catherine? “Supercilious.”
Your cousin, Anne? “Shaded.”
Miss Elizabeth Bennet? “Spirited!”
Darcy? “Tall!”
Your cousin, Georgiana? “Sweet.”
Mrs Collins? “Under-valued.”
And finally, Mr Collins? “Who?”

Well, Colonel, I have one final question for you. What appeals to you in a woman?

"Inquisition!" He flashes a quick smile at his interrogator. "Fairness of face - I am not alone in that - but when seeking a partner in life, I will place more value on a quick mind, a ready smile and a warm heart." He pauses, then smiles again. “Of course, if she comes with a considerable dowry, her personal attractions will improve in direct proportion!”
Well, Colonel, I know that you have pressing business to attend to, so thank you very much for taking the time to join us here today. I have enjoyed our discussion very much.

"Thank you for your time, Madam; you are a most charming inquisitor!  It has been a pleasant distraction and most – enlightening. I would be happy to return another time should your readers have further questions for me!"

The Colonel bows as he takes my hand and bestows a kiss upon it before straightening.

"Colonel S. Muffin, Madam; at your service." And with a winning smile, he turns and leaves the room.

 Oh my, catch me as I swoon! (sigh)

The lovely Cassandra Grafton is very generously giving away one, three volume set of her trilogy, 
A Fair Prospect!  Yes, you read correctly! It is open internationally too! I think the Colonel is such a fantastic character...uh, excuse me Colonel,...I mean, man! I love his charm. What do you like? Tell us in your comment for a chance to win this lovely trilogy.  I look forward to reading your thoughts! Good luck to all. Be sure to include your email address in the comment. To prevent unwanted spam, put your email address with an (at) instead of @.  Winner will be chosen in a random drawing. Giveaway ends at midnight, July 20. Extended Giveaway. I will be posting the review for Volume III Tuesday night or Wednesday morning. Comments from that post will be included in the giveaway. If you comment on both posts, you double your chances. 

Personal links for Cassandra Grafton

Purchase the trilogy at:
Barnes & Noble

       AFP Vol III


  1. Colonel Fitzwilliam is an easy-going and friendly person. The only thing is he is evasive about his given name. I long to know what it is and why is he so secretive about it.


    1. We know it is Richard in trilogy, 'A Fair Prospect'! Maybe he is evasive because he doesn't know his given name since it is actually never mentioned! He probably wouldn't want to admit that! :)

  2. Always like the character of the Colonel, so glad he is appearing in other books

    meikleblog at gmail dot com

    1. I love him too. It always makes me sad when he is portrayed in a novel as a bad guy! I don't enjoy that!

  3. That was so fun to read! He was so embarrassed about his name. Thanks!

    sophiarose1816 at gmail dot com

    1. I thought it was fun, too, Sophia. I always have a soft spot for the Colonel!

      Thanks for your continued support!

  4. LOL! What a fun post! Colonel Fitzwilliam has always been one of my favorite characters and I love when he takes a bigger role in variations. Thank you for the giveaway!

    cherringtonmb at sbcglobal dot net

    1. You are welcome and thanks for visiting. I love it when he has a bigger role too. You would love the trilogy. He has a big role and is a great character!

  5. Delightful post and delightful charac...er... gentleman! I always did have a soft spot for the good Colonel myself, and fully enjoyed Cassandra's rendition of him in this series of books. It would appear those charms of his are not only present in fiction based on this interview. Thanks for it!

    (Don't need to enter me into the drawing as I already have the trilogy)

    1. Hi Tess! Thanks for visiting! Wasn't the interview fun? I loved it too. Yes, I agree with you. I do believe his charms are ever present! He charmed me for sure! :)

  6. I like his affability very much, and his openness - he doesn't seem to hide anything. But I am curious what he means ab out his cousin Anne's being "shaded."

    ~ junewilliams7 {at} yahoo {dot} com

    1. Hi June, thanks for commenting! We may have to prevail upon the Colonel to elaborate a bit more about Anne's being shaded!

  7. I like the Colonels humor - he is a friendly gentleman! I have never laughed so much doing a reading of an interview! He seems like he prefers the same kind of women as his cousin Darcy well almost at least, he is spirited, has a pleasant openness about him, and I am still a bit in doubt which name he prefers, Richard or another of the names he has been given? He was very evasive about his given name, I can't wait to see what his name is truly! And I do wonder what he meant about Anne being "shaded"? And please enter me for the giveaway of the wonderful "Fair Prospects" books!


    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed the interview, Sophia-Elizabeth! It was fun to read!

      I appreciate your comments and your support.

  8. Cassandra, this interview was perfect! One of my favorite things about your trilogy is Col Studmuffin's subtle humor. You got it just right. Love your writing and your books. No need to enter me in the drawing, as I already have the books.

    1. Ah, Colonel Studmuffin! Surely that is his 'real' name! :) Thanks for stopping by Jan and for commenting!

  9. What a lively and enjoyable interview that was!! I think I just fell more in love with Colonel StudMuffin then I was before! Thanks!!


    1. I fell more in love with him myself. He is such a fantastic 'man' in Ms. Grafton's trilogy that you will love him even more!

  10. This interview was such fun! I particularly liked his urge to jump in a pond when he's called Colin, made me giggle, while simultaneously giving me delicious mental imagery, win/win :)

    Thanks for the giveaway opportunity, frawli1978(at)gmail(dot)com

    1. That was a great part, wasn't it! He does have such a fun sense of humor! I liked your idea of mental imagery! :)

  11. Cassandra and Janet, thank you both for such a fun read! The idea of an interview with the dear Colonel is great, and the dialogue was brilliant and above all, spot-on! Also, many thanks for including the pictures. Of all the choices in different adaptations, this is and will always be the one and only Col. Fitzwilliam, as far as I'm converned :)

    Pls don't worry about including me in the giveaway, I already have the books, I just wanted to pop by and say hi & thanks.

    1. Hi, Joana. I'm so glad you popped in! Didn't Cassandra do a fantastic job with the interview? It was such fun! I think those pics also depict the Colonel the best! He was just so cheery!

  12. I just love Colonel Stud Muffin! (I wonder what Darcy would say to that appellation? hehe) This is a great interview and you've captured his personality and sense of humor wonderfully. It always throws me a bit when his name is not Richard in JAFF.

    Thanks for the fabulous giveaway!

    monicaperry00 at gmail dot com

    1. Wouldn't it be great to hear Darcy's opinion of this appellation for the dear Colonel? :) I always think of Colonel Fitzwilliam as Richard, too. He just seems like a Richard to me.

      Cassandra Grafton captures his personality perfectly in her trilogy and he has much more 'read time'! I enjoyed his part in the books tremendously!

      Good luck in the giveaway.

  13. Janet, thank you for taking such good care of the Colonel. I did wonder where he had gone and was very relieved to see him return. He had a lovely time and complimented you on your engaging manners!

    It's lovely to hear so many readers have enjoyed your interview with him!


    1. Taking care of the Colonel was my pleasure, indeed! I could not have had a more agreeable guest! I am thrilled he had a lovely time!

      Thank you for being my guest, Cassandra, and for bringing the Colonel along for the visit. I look forward with much anticipation to our future interviews! :)

      I will be extending the giveaway a few days as I have been unable to post the review for Volume III. I will be announcing that later!