It happened when my sister brought home the six-hour-version of Pride and Prejudice. Oh, how we’re ALL familiar with that moment. Right? I wasn’t really into bonnet movies at the time (as we call them at our house). But at my sister’s urging, we planned to watch an episode a night. Well, one thing led to another and our family watched the whole thing in one night!!! At first I found myself urging Lizzy to forget this snob Darcy and go for that cute Wickham guy. Boy, was I wrong. The whole experience was magical—I felt like I lived the story along with Lizzy. I was taken in by the same villains when she was. I had her same prejudice, and my heart melted about the same time hers did, too. When the movie was finished, I was a die-hard Jane Austen and BBC fan. I’ve since watched the movie more times than I can count. Even my dad has it memorized now.
I cannot count how many times I have watched the miniseries. My grandchildren know Mr. Darcy and Lizzy well by now as they have watched with me often. They think Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth are the real ones too. Now back to you, what drove you to start writing your own books? Did you write other things before writing PnP variations?
First I wrote fantasy, but then I looked around at my life and realized that it was more outlandish than anything I could come up with in a fantasy, so that’s when I decided to write a contemporary novel. I felt like Jo in Little Women when I finally began to write what I knew. Since then I’ve written many romantic comedies and a few fantasies, too, but I kept turning to my love of Jane Austen. I appreciated her characters and her portrayal of the social scene. I also realized that I was a bit of a romantic because of my love for regency romances and chick flicks (just like Catherine in Northanger Abbey and her love for gothic romances) and thought it would be funny to base a character on someone like me who adores anything Jane Austen and romantic. And then I’d make her meet her match with the most unromantic, practical guy I could think of.
Last year I went to a play of Little Women. It was fantastic and it revived my love of Jo. Interesting that you felt more like her. Now that you have started writing what you know, do you have a muse that causes your story to lead you at times or do you use an outline and follow it religiously?
I do both. I’m a religious outliner, but I can veer away from that if the story goes a different direction. Originally, I had the main character daydreaming all the time, but it just didn’t fit where I wanted to take the story so I took most of that out.
What is your writing routine?
My writing routine involves turning on the air-conditioner when I get home from work around six. I grab some water and some tissue then sit down on the lazy boy chair (that I bought on clearance from RC Willey—best day ever!). I block all my social media sites with a new writer’s software that I have and then I just go at it. Occasionally real life gets in the way (well, MORE than occasionally), but I prefer that because real life only provides me with more inspiration to write.
You gave us some information about your setting for writing but what about it or any other setting is more inspirational to you when writing?
I usually write in my room with no distractions, BUT I love that I live in the attic. The trees brush up against the window and make me feel like I live in a Swiss Family Robinson tree house. However, the best and most inspirational places where I have sat down to write are the beaches on the Oregon coast, Butchart Gardens, the Alpine hills (close to where I live) in the fall when the leaves turn golden, and my sister’s backyard in Omak Washington with the children running around the pool and laughing. And of course, NOTHING beats writing in a good thunderstorm with a cup of hot chocolate.
All of these settings would be extremely inspirational. I love the sounds of all of them. I recall what you said you about writing a contemporary novel but what about the Regency era of Jane Austen? What about that time is appealing to you?
The romance. The courtship. The rules. The clothes. I am not going to lie—besides a good Jane Austen book, I love a good regency romance where the governess is this young proper miss who turns the household around and everyone falls in love with her, including the dashing hero and the dastardly—though strangely attractive—villain. It’s just so fun!
Oh yes, I must agree with you there. Now, if you will, please tell us something about your newest book that you love most. (if you can without giving anything away)
The valet scene—I’m not going to give that scene away, of course, but it stems from a private joke between me and my sister. When we walked past the bed and breakfast near our house, I always used to tease her that she would find her forbidden love there…and that’s how I wrote it in my book.
I'll be anxious to read that scene. Sounds fascinating. What have you learned from writing that has helped you in your daily life?
Perseverance. When you’re a writer, you can’t give up or your story will never be finished…never be edited…never be published…never advertised to readers. But when you love to share stories like I do, you can’t give up on any part of the process or all of your work will be for nothing. I try to take on that same attitude with life. Sure, you might get tired, but you can’t give up. You can’t. It will all be worth it in the end!
Is there anything special about yourself or your writing that you would be willing to share with us?
My sense of humor. I think it stems from my family. We’ve experienced a lot of financial hardships when we were younger, but we always found a way to laugh about it. If we couldn’t chase after the ice cream truck like the other kids in the neighborhood, we could pretend that we were princesses caught in a strange kingdom and the guy driving the ice cream truck was a troll who had nefarious plans to draw us out from our castle so he could kidnap us. And then the idea seemed so hilarious that we’d laugh and heap more crazy ideas on top of that. That comes out a lot in my writing. My characters might face tough situations, but they usually take it on with a pretty good sense of humor that makes things fun.
Never giving up and a sense of humor in tough situations are great attributes. Your answer was inspirational and moving. Thanks for sharing it. What about modern day authors? Is there one that has inspired you? If yes, what was it about their writing that was an inspiration?
James Herriot—I remember picking up one of his books “All Creatures Great and Small.” It was so far from the normal romance that I liked to read. But when I opened it, I found myself laughing so hard that I cried. His descriptions were so vivid and the situations he brought up were so ridiculous, yet so real—I could see them happening to me. Afterwards, I had the biggest crush on this author (though I had never seen him—no internet at the time—I imagined him as a distinguished and slender British man who looked like the human version of the Great Mouse Detective). For the longest time after reading those books I wanted to live in Yorkshire and be a veterinarian. That soon faded when I realized that I was awful in all of my science classes, so I settled for writing those kinds of adventures instead. The thing that I hope to emulate from him is the sense of love in the depths of chaos.
That is a good thing to emulate. Speaking of love, I now have a very important question. We all have our special reasons for loving Mr. Darcy, what are your reasons?
The way he looks at Lizzy. Have you noticed? His heart is in his eyes. He would willingly do anything for her, sacrifice everything to make her happy. No ulterior motives, he just loves her. Even in the book you can tell he’s looking at her that way.
And then you can’t forget that lake scene in the six-hour version, plus the storm scene in the Keira Knightley one. Beautiful, beautiful man.
Thanks for featuring me on your site, Janet. I love it here!
I'm so happy to hear that. Thank you for being my guest. Your post was enjoyable and helped me and my readers get to know you better. I wish you much success with your book, Jane and Austen. It sounds delightful. I also found your answer to the last question quite touching.
The book blurb, author bio and links to Stephanie's books plus contact information are below.
Meet Jane - an impractical, starry-eyed wedding planner, if love can't match what she's read in a book, she doesn't want it. And then there's Austen - a pragmatic, logical-to-a-fault financial consultant; even if he were interested in someone, he wouldn't know. Jane believes that if Austen could just experience a fairy tale romance, he would secretly love it. And Austen's pretty sure that if one of Jane's beloved heroes escaped from the pages of her dog-eared novels, she'd run and hide.
But when Jane's life turns upside down, the only one she can turn to is Austen; thought he's got his own troubles of the heart...and she's afraid that he's enjoying them more than he should.
Stephanie Fowers loves bringing stories to life, and depending on her latest madcap ideas will do it through written word, song and/or film. She absolutely adores Bollywood and bonnet movies; i.e., BBC (which she supposes includes non-bonnet movies Sherlock and Dr. Who). Presently, she lives in Salt Lake where she's living the life of the starving artist. Stephanie plans to bring more of her novels out to greet the light of day. BE sure to watch for her upcoming books, including YA fantasy, steampunk, science fiction, mysteries, a compilation of short twisted fairy tales, and more-many more-romantic comedies. All of them clean and all of them fun. May the adventures begin.
Jane and Austen (Hopeless romantics)
Clean, light and fun romantic comedy, PG
Thank you again for being my guest today, Stephanie. It was great to have you. I hope you will visit again when some of these other novels 'greet the light of day'. I noticed you have others that have already done so!
Stephanie has very generously offered a $10 Amazon gift card for giveaway. The giveaway is available for gift cards from Amazon US and Amazon UK. Thank you so much, Stephanie! We want to hear your share in the conversation so leave a comment to be entered in the giveaway. Be sure to include your email address in the comment. To prevent unwanted spam, put your email address with an (at) instead of @. Winners will be chosen in a random drawing. Giveaway ends at midnight on September 15, 2014. Good luck to all.