Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Sharon Lathan Writes Mashups!

Did I grab your attention? Are you worried I’ve gone over to the dark side, and will next be tossing in ghosts or elves into my Austenesque novels?

As tempting as that might be (the elves, anyway) y’all can take a deep breath and rest easy. I have no inclination to veer off into the fantasy realm.... although if you ask my husband, logically I should since I’ve been reading fantasy novels as a favorite genre since I was twelve. Of course, what he fails to remember is that while I have read every Tolkien novel a couple dozen times (an underestimate), and do consider Ender’s Game one of the best sci-fi books ever written, I have forever been extremely eclectic in my tastes.

This leads me to why I declared so dramatically that I write mashups.

By definition, a “mashup” is a novel that combines a work of existing literature with elements from a different genre. Obviously those mashups that grab onto a genre wildly opposite the original - such as Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, the first novel labeled a “mashup” - are what one instantly imagines. Nevertheless, if going by the strictest definition, a mashup does not have to include otherworldly creatures or settings more commonly located in the fantasy section of the book store.

I didn’t realize this tendency within my novels until examined in retrospect, but instinctively from page one I was combining a variety of genres within my saga. One is right there in the previous sentence... “my saga”

I wasn’t content to pen a one-book continuation, or leave my focus on Darcy and Elizabeth. My love for multiple-book family, generational sagas meant I couldn’t resist carrying on the Darcy family.... all of them.... even ones I created.... for as long as possible. Eight novels and counting!

Another genre I tossed into the mix was historical fiction.

Remember that Jane Austen was a contemporary writer. Her novels are set in what is a historical period to us, but not so to her. There is a huge difference between writing a contemporary novel and historical fiction! Austen was writing for readers who knew the English landscape, political situation, social mores, day-to-day life, and so on. If she had attempted to set her novels in Medieval times, she would have faced the same challenges historical writers today face:  Telling a comprehensible story with relatable characters, while also accurately capturing and explaining the atmosphere of a past period.

Trust me, this is not easy! Every modern historical novelist struggles with this balance... and we have the internet!
My book shelves attest to my long-held passion for fat historical novels. Thus it was natural for me to delve into the research, but the true joy is sharing my passion for history with readers. Often I must rein myself in, or employ a subjective editing knife, to prevent a narrative from toppling over into non-fiction, lecturing zones!

Even with that awareness, I suspect there have been Darcy Saga readers whose eyes glazed over from time to time! Sorry about that, but now you know its because I am writing a mashup! Usually I cleverly blend my educational bits into interesting dialogue, as seen in the excerpt below from The Trouble With Mr. Darcy.

            “Is the crossing into Italy as formidable as they say?” Georgiana asked. Her voice and expression showed exhilaration at the concept and not a shred of fright, music and Mr. Butler forgotten.
            “Oh, indeed it is,” her cousin answered in an ominous tone, winking sidelong at Darcy, who frowned. “The pass of Saint Bernard through the Valais Alps to Aosta is roughly fifty miles of narrow winding pathways overlooking plunging gorges and rising to elevations over eight-thousand feet. All around you are towering snow-clad mountains touching the heavens. It is breathtaking to behold! God at His greatest display of artistry. One must be hardy to cross and incredibly brave.”
            “You have crossed it yourself, Herr Oeggl?”
            “I have, twice I am proud to say.”
            “An adventurous soul is my son,” Baron Oeggl declared.
            “I am Austrian. And Austrians climb mountains fearlessly, yes, Mutter, sein?”
            “So I am continually informed,” Mary agreed dryly.
            Herr Oeggl grinned. “You shall see, lieblich cousin, that the Great St. Bernard is a marvelous adventure. We shall tread the road bloody Napoleon crossed with his army of 60,000, descending into an unaware Saint-Rhemy with war chariots and gun carriages. He was branded a fool to attempt crossing in May while the heavy snows blocked the pass, but fool or tactical genius his ploy succeeded. History is plentiful along the pass.”
            Lizzy shivered. “One hears such tales of woe related to that pass. Are you sure it is wise to take that way?”
            “It is the closest and well traversed, Cousin. Thousands of people travel that way each year. One must be diligent and prepared, naturally. That is why we will not depart until well into June, for one thing, and we will move slowly with guides.”
            “And you will shelter at the hospice for a day or more of rest,” Darcy stated, it not a question.
            “Goodness knows I will need the hiatus.” Lord Matlock stretched his legs as if already imagining the ache from an arduous ride.
            “The monks who honor Bernard of Menthon by maintaining the hospice will treat you well, my Lord. The food is hot and satisfying, the fires raging, and the travelers constant through the pass. The monks and their dogs also patrol the trails for unsavory folk bent on thievery. That is no longer the concern it once was.”
            “I hear the dogs of St. Bernard are as big as mastiffs. Is this true?”
            “It is, Cousin,” Jurgen, youngest son of Herr Oeggl replied, leaning forward in his chair and holding his hand shoulder level. “Like small horses they are, but gentle. They gaze at you with their enormous brown eyes and compassion touches your heart. You can see why they love rescuing stranded people, risking their own lives selflessly to aid humans. It is beautiful.”
            “My son is a lover of animals.” Herr Oeggl smiled fondly. “He wishes to join the monastery I believe and devote himself to breeding the St. Bernards. Hence his interest in this journey, unlike my lovely nieces who want to shop in Milano.”
            “Milano designers and fabrics are unlike anywhere else, except perhaps Florence.” Romy sniffed. “It is worth any hardship for fashion.”

If you are a fan of typical mashup novels and got excited when you saw the title of this blog post, I do apologize. Nothing fantastical will be entering into my books any time soon. (And for those who believe my interpretation of Mr. Darcy borders on fantasy, or at the least “too good to be true”, my husband proves otherwise!)

However, if you are drawn to my looser definition of a mashup, then perhaps The Darcy Saga novels are right up your alley!

Are you a fan of generational novels and/or in depth historical fiction? Speak up proudly, and share your favorite titles.

Sharon Lathan Bio--
Sharon Lathan is the best-selling author of The Darcy Saga eight-volume sequel series to Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice. Sharon began writing in 2005 and her first
novel, Mr. and Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy: Two Shall Become One was published in 2009. Her eighth novel was released in April 2013, The Passions of Dr. Darcy, an epic tale of an English physician in Georgian Era India.

For more information about Sharon, the Regency Era, and her novels, visit her website/blog at: www.sharonlathan.net or search for her on Facebook and Twitter. She also invites you to join her and other Austen novelists at Austen Authors: www.austenauthors.com

Thank you, Sharon Lathan, for being my guest today, and for your entertaining and very interesting post! I decided to put my comments at the end rather than take anything away from your great attention grabbing title!  I enjoyed your excerpt too! Thanks again for sharing with us. 


  1. I wasn't worried Sharon. ;D

    Enjoyed your post.

  2. Fascinating mashed-up definition of a mashup, Sharon. A fun blog. Just keep writing -- never mind what it's called!

  3. Thanks for the great post, Sharon, I really loved it, and thanks for sharing your passion for history with us!

  4. Sharon, thank you for being my guest this week. I enjoyed very much reading your story and learning more about your writing. Thank you for sharing with us.