Tuesday, March 11, 2014

An Interview With Jack Caldwell

I'm so pleased to welcome Jack Caldwell to my blog this week. He kindly agreed to visit and allow me to ask a few questions. I hope you will find his answers just as fascinating as I did. There is also a giveaway so be sure to check out the info at the bottom. Now join me in welcoming Jack Caldwell.

How and when did your interest in Jane Austen and Pride and Prejudice take root?
I saw the 1980 Pride & Prejudice mini-series on PBS and was impressed. I went out and bought The Collected Works of Jane Austen and have been a fan of hers ever since.

What drove you to start writing your own books? Did you write other things before writing P&P variations?
In 1996, I wrote a play, but I did not start writing novels until 2005. I had discovered JAFF (Jane Austen Fan Fiction) by then, and while some was very good, much of it was not. After complaining about it to my lovely wife, Barbara, she challenged me to do better. The result was THE THREE COLONELS (published 2012). Since then, I have written ten novels, four of which are published.

Do you have a muse that causes your story to lead you at times or do you use an outline and follow it religiously? What is your writing routine?
I cannot write without an outline. My stories are journeys, and I have to know where they are going. My muse, however, will often add something to the mix, or make a supporting character more central to the overall plot.
I write every day, and if I can put down 2,000 words, I call that successful.

Is there any setting that is more inspirational to you when writing?
I write at my desk in my home office.

What about the Regency era is appealing to you?
As a writer of historical fiction, I pick time periods that are interesting. The Regency Period (1811-1820) occurs during a pivotal point in world history. The Napoleonic Wars come to a climax in 1815 at Waterloo. The War of 1812 is really the final battles of the American Revolution. And, most importantly, the Industrial Revolution had begun the destruction of the English agricultural society that Austen knew so well with the application of the steam engine, although no one realized this until many decades later. Really, the end of eras and beginnings of new ones, like the Regency, is fascinating.
The same thing happens in my first published book, PEMBERLEY RANCH (published 2010). It takes place in 1870, during Reconstruction in Texas, after the Civil War. This is not the heyday of the American West—it is rather the beginning of the end of it. The new railroads, and the civilization it brought with it, turned the frontier into the America we know today.

Tell us something about The Companion of His Future Life, your newest book, that you love most. (if you can without giving anything away)
Jane Austen was a genius for turning a phrase. She is also very funny. What I enjoyed about THE COMPANION OF HIS FUTURE LIFE was taking some of Austen’s immortal dialogue and giving it to other characters. It doesn’t change the overall story, but it puts a delightful spin on her words.

Is there anything special about yourself or your writing that you would be willing to share with us?
I have the ability to control my dreams. Therefore, I run my writing through my head at night, like a movie, to see if it works. If it doesn’t, I can “back it up” and start again. Once I’m happy, I commit it to paper. Cool, huh?

Do you have a modern day author that has inspired you? If yes, what was it about their writing that was an inspiration?
I read a lot of historical fiction writers, like Patrick O’Brian, James Clavell, Herman Wouk, James Michener, and Alison Weir. It’s important to learn from the best. I also read works from my fellow Austen Variations authors.

Now for a very important question, we all have our special reasons for loving Mr. Darcy—what are your reasons?
Frankly, I think Fitzwilliam Darcy is misunderstood. Yes, he’s stiff and uncomfortable in social settings. But really, at the end of Pride and Prejudice, does he really change?  I say no. In essentials, he’s the same as he ever was. The guy is a prince among men. It’s Elizabeth who changes, and changes a lot. She grows up, learns to be less judgmental, and falls out of love with her own opinions. Only then can she see Darcy for who he really is—a quiet, reserved, decent, generous, passionate, loyal, and loving man. He’ll always be stiff as a fireplace poker in London Society and among strangers, but Elizabeth knows his secret and loves him. Not in spite of his limitations, but because of them.
If you want a true flawed Austen hero in need of reforming, your man is Captain Frederick Wentworth of Persuasion. He deserves the merry hell Anne Eliot unwittingly puts him through in Bath!


About the Author:
Jack Caldwell is an author, amateur historian, professional economic developer, playwright, and like many Cajuns, a darn good cook. Born and raised in the Bayou County of Louisiana, Jack and his wife, Barbara, are Hurricane Katrina victims who now make the Suncoast area of Florida their home.
His nickname—The Cajun Cheesehead—came from his devotion to his two favorite NFL teams: the New Orleans Saints and the Green Bay Packers. (Every now and then, Jack has to play the DVD again to make sure the Saints really won in 2010.)
Jack’s novels include PEMBERLEY RANCH, THE THREE COLONELS, MR. DARCY CAME TO DINNER, and THE COMPANION OF HIS FUTURE LIFE. In 2015, he will release the first four books in his epic CRESCENT CITY series.
When not writing or traveling with Barbara, Jack attempts to play golf. A devout convert to Roman Catholicism, Jack is married with three grown sons.
Jack's blog postings—The Cajun Cheesehead Chronicles—now appear regularly at Austen Variations.
Web site – Ramblings of a Cajun in Exile – http://www.cajuncheesehead.com
Blog – Austen Variations – http://austenvariations.com/
           
                                  
Thank you so much for being my guest and answering my questions, Jack. It was a pleasure and a privilege to have you visit. I wish much continued success with your novels as they bring much enjoyment to all of us.

Jack Caldwell is giving away one print copy of The Companion of His Future Life to a lucky winner and the giveaway is domestic, US only. To be entered leave a comment below as I always love reading your 'share in the conversation'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 will end at midnight, March 17, 2014. 

30 comments:

  1. Great interview, Jack and Janet! I've always admired the amount of history you weave into your stories. I'm going to have to read Pemberley Ranch since it takes place in 1870s Texas which is when my ancestors moved to the state after Sherman burned their plantation in Mississippi. I'd also love to read your latest novel.

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    1. Thanks, Jan. I'm glad you stopped by.

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  2. I have enjoyed reading The Three Colonels and Pemberley Ranch. They were the first Austen variations I'd read written by a male. Thank you for such wonderful stories. I look forward to the release Companion of His Future Wife for the NOOK. My email is skamper25(at)gmail.com.

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    1. I'm glad you visited my blog, Deborah Ann. Isn't it interesting to read these stories from a man's perspective?

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  3. I loved Mr Darcy Came to Dinner and this new book sounds to be as good. I completely agree how Darcy is constant from beginning to end, whereas Elizabeth has to go through a journey to discover who the real Darcy is. Great interview, it was fun to learn more about the author.

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    1. I liked Jack's reasons for liking Mr. Darcy too. I thought they were spot on!

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  4. Nice interview, Janet and Jack! I enjoyed reading through the responses. Good point about Darcy's personality not changing. I've read two of Jack's books and love his writing.

    Thanks for the giveaway opportunity.
    sophiarose1816 at gmail dot com

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    1. Thank you, Sophia. I loved Jack's responses too, especially about controlling his dreams and also his thoughts on Darcy.

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  5. I really loved Pemberley Ranch and The Three Colonels for entirely different reasons. I look forward to reading this latest from Jack Caldwell.

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    1. Hi Regina. Thanks for coming by and commenting! Good luck in the giveaway.

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  6. Thank you for such an informative interview. I always love to hear how different authors approach their stories and how disciplined they can be about writing every day. I love your take on Darcy and I tend to agree with you (there is something so appealing about a brooding, misunderstood Darcy) but I believe he does try, for Elizabeth's sake, to be more conventionally social. I look forward to reading 'The Companion of His Future Life' as 'Pemberley Ranch' was one of my favorites!

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    1. Hi Pat. I'm glad you stopped by! Loved your comments about Darcy! :)

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    1. Hi flyinggirl4. Glad you enjoyed the post. Come back and leave your email for a chance to win the book!

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  8. Great evaluation of Mr Darcy I totally agree! I am new to Jacks work, as a lover of P&P which of Jack's books would you recommend?

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    1. I think you would enjoy any of Jack's book. He is an excellent writer.

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  9. Thanks to both Janet T and Jack Caldwell for bringing this interview to us!.

    I'm reading Mr. Darcy Came to Dinner now and I'm loving it. I did read it before it was published on one of the blog. I find though it's very similar, it's different enough that it feels 'new and improved'. I love when a book will make you laugh out and this book delivers and then some.

    Unfortunately, I came late to JAFF and missed out on the opportunity to read CRESCENT CITY when it was available. These are my most anticipated books by Mr. Caldwell. I love the culture, romance and flavor of the great lady LA. ;)

    Once again, thank you both for sharing!

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    1. So glad you stopped by. I enjoyed your comments!

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  10. I have never heard of anybody controlling their dreams before, very impressive! I'm looking forward to reading this book, as I'm interested to see how it affects the story for Mary and Collins to be together, but please don't enter me for the giveaway as I'm outside the US :)

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    1. I found the 'dream' response quite fascinating and would love to know more myself! Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Ceri!

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  11. The cover is GORGEOUS! Draws a dreamer to want to open the book and see what is inside. jjjking(at)juno.com

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    1. Isn't the cover beautiful! I believe Ellen Pickles did it!

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  12. I loved Mr. Darcy came to dinner. I agree that he can be misunderstood. Great interview.
    saganchilds(a)gmail.com

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    1. Hi Sagan, thanks for visiting and commenting. Good luck with the giveaway!

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  13. Great interview! I really enjoyed Pemberley Ranch and The Three Colonels and I am looking forward to reading this new book!! Thanks for the giveaway!!
    kellik115(at)yahoo(dot)com

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    1. Thanks, Kelli. Good luck with the giveaway. Glad to hear you liked those two books!

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  14. I have been pending Jack's books. This last book sounds very good. I have enjoyed the interview, Janet. It always is grateful for a point view of a man writer. Thank you for the opportunity to win a copy.

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    1. I agree with you about a male writer's point of view. It gives a whole new perspective, doesn't it! Good luck in the giveaway!

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