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
Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
Blog – Austen Variations – http://austenvariations.com/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/JCaldwell25
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.