Pat Santarsiero, author of Thursday's Child, is my guest today. Her journey to writing, her love for Pride and Prejudice and Mr. Darcy may have begun on a slightly different path than some but the end result is the same. We are all obsessed Janeites that keep begging for more good stories involving our favorite hero and heroine, Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet. I first learned about Pat and her book when I purchased it on Amazon a few months ago. As the old saying goes, "The rest is history." (Don't miss the giveaway!)
Please welcome Pat Santarsiero.
First, I must thank Janet Taylor for a few things; one, for inviting me as a guest on More Agreeably Engaged; second, for allowing Thursday’s Child to be part of her beautiful 2014 Elizabeth and Darcy calendar and lastly, for recreating so many wonderful Pride and Prejudice moments through her artistry. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
How I came to write my first book was completely a fluke. I have always considered myself a late bloomer; in everything, from boys to writing. I am fairly new to writing and never had any literary ambitions. I’m embarrassed to say that up until 2001 Jane Austen was just some author I had heard of who wrote unexciting books about Regency England.
And then something quite ordinary happened that had an extraordinary affect on my life; I went to the movies and saw Bridget Jones’s Diary.
To say that particular experience changed my life would be a vast understatement. I saw Colin Firth and I was a goner. I had never even heard of him before, but once I saw him, I had to know, watch and own everything he had ever done on film.
When I sent for the 1995 BBC version of Pride and Prejudice, it started a chain of events that continues to this very day. I decided I had to read all of Jane Austen and I did. I started searching the internet for Pride and Prejudice fan fiction sites and read every story I could find. I think I read almost every one of them posted on Hyacinth Gardens. I still miss that site as it was my favorite.
As I read all these stories, I came to know these characters so well, that I convinced myself I could write a story too. I had never written anything before, but I always felt I had a flare for the dramatic, especially in my real life. I have always imagined conversations in my head in anticipation of certain situations I had to face, and, of course, they were always in the extreme and nothing like the conversations that actually took place.
I had this idea about Darcy and Lizzy, strangers entering into an usual agreement, each for their own reasons, rattling around in my head for at least two years before I finally sat down to write it . I’ve been told I have an unusual process for writing, as I have no storyboard laid out as to what exactly comes next, but rather I envision what I consider certain key scenes in my mind and find ways to connect them. Of course, I did have a beginning, a middle and an ending in mind before I started “Thursday’s Child”, but how I got there was just as much a surprise to me as to my readers. One thing I believe to be true, is that you have to let the characters direct the story. You can’t force them to do things contrary to the personality traits you have established for them.
Here is an excerpt from “Thursday’s Child” as Lizzy is being interviewed as a candidate for a most unusual position.
“Have you any health impediments?” she asked.
“No, aside from the normal childhood ailments, I have never been ill.”
“What of your parents and siblings, do they also enjoy good health?”
“My father died about a year ago, but the rest of my family is alive and well.”
“What of mental impediments? Do any members of your family suffer from such a malady?”
If it wasn’t for her state of unease, Elizabeth might have found that particular inquiry almost humorous, for it was certainly subject to conjecture. Her mother suffered from many nervous conditions.
“Not to my knowledge,” was the best she could offer.
Elizabeth heard whispering and, for the first time, realized that there was someone else in the room. She looked slightly to the left of the woman and saw a silk screen that was completely devoid of light. Someone was sitting behind the screen, and, although she could not see them, they obviously could see her.
After the whispering stopped, the woman asked her to stand. Elizabeth rose from the chair and stared directly into the woman’s eyes. She then turned her gaze slightly to the left towards the source of the whispering voice. Imagining that she was staring directly at whoever was behind the screen, she raised her chin in an act of defiance.
Elizabeth was then asked to turn around and then finally to sit again. She complied with all that was asked. She was so nervous that she was starting to get lightheaded. She was also starting to get angry.
Again the woman conferred with the mystery person behind the screen. “Is there not some other more conventional way you might obtain the money you require?”
“No, there is not,” replied Elizabeth.
“No relatives from whom you might borrow? Or perhaps some young gentleman who might offer for you and resolve your financial situation?”
Elizabeth’s mind immediately went to Mr. Collins. She knew her mother still had not forgiven her for rejecting his offer of marriage. When he had proposed that day, Elizabeth had been adamant in her refusal. She was grateful that Jane had left for London on the previous day with her Aunt and Uncle Gardiner. She knew if Mr. Collins had met Jane first, she most likely would have been his first choice, as Jane was five times as pretty as the rest of the Bennet sisters. She knew, too, that Jane would have acquiesced in order to save her family.
“If borrowing the money I required was a possibility, I would not be here. And despite my situation, I have vowed never to marry if I cannot do so for love.”
Again, the whispering began. However, this time Elizabeth could discern that it was a male voice coming from behind the screen. The anger she had been suppressing began to rise in her chest.
“Does the gentleman suffer an impediment, a defect of speech perhaps, that prohibits him from speaking to me himself?” asked Elizabeth, trying to keep her voice as even as possible.
Taken somewhat by surprise at the young woman’s impertinence, the older woman said, “I’m sorry, but you cannot know the identity of the gentleman. This situation is of a very personal and confidential nature. If a mutual agreement is reached, a future meeting time and place will be arranged. Of course, he must have your word that you will not disclose any of the details of this arrangement to anyone.”
“I am not asking that he make himself known to me, only that I be allowed the opportunity to hear his voice.”
“To what purpose, my dear?”
Before Elizabeth could reply, the gentleman spoke. His voice was deep, yet softer than she had expected. “I have no objection to speaking with you directly, if that is your wish; though I cannot perceive what hearing my voice would reveal to you.”
“I believe the sound of a person’s voice and their manner of speaking can be quite telling, sir.”
The room was silent for a moment. Then the gentleman asked, “Can you tell me for what reason you require this money?”
“Just as you, sir, do not wish to have certain personal information disclosed to others, I, too, wish to keep the particulars of my situation private. I will only say that it is a personal family matter that must be acted upon quickly if it is to be resolved in a satisfactory manner.”
The gentleman again whispered something to the older woman who nodded her head. The gentleman then asked, “Is this something you have done before?”
“No, never, sir!” came Lizzy’s immediate reply.
The silence this time went on longer than the last. He stared at her from behind the screen. She sat uncomfortably in the straight back wooden chair. After several moments, the silence was broken as the gentleman finally spoke. “Do we have an agreement then?”
Elizabeth looked down at her hands in her lap and replied in an almost inaudible voice.
The experience of posting my story on Austen Underground was exhilarating and gratifying and all the wonderful comments I received from the readers encouraged me to turn it into a book. It is now available on all e-book devices and the soft cover version is online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
I am currently working on my next story, which is about half way finished and is tentatively titled “The Last Waltz”. I am looking forward to the positing experience once again.
Of course, my Mr. Darcy will always be Colin and it is amazing to me how a simple crush (okay, I admit it’s more than a crush) on an actor could have such a positive, long range affect on my life. For I am convinced had anyone else played the part of Mark Darcy in Bridget Jones’s Diary I would not have started down this road. I would never have read Jane Austen, never have written a book and never have met so many amazing people who are just as obsessed with Jane Austen and Pride and Prejudice as I am.
It has been a wonderful experience.
I am so glad to have you as my guest today, Pat, and I loved reading how your adventure began. I think it is fascinating how the extreme love for Jane Austen can begin in such a variety of ways. Thank you for visiting today and for sharing your story. I was thrilled to have Thursday's Child as part of my 2014 calendar and am happy that you enjoy my interpretations of some favorite Pride and Prejudice 'moments'.
Pat Santarsiero is kindly offering two soft cover books to give away! This giveaway is international! Thank you very much! To be entered leave a comment below as I always love reading your 'say 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 ends at midnight, November 8.