Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Tales of Less Pride & Prejudice with Alexa Adams

Alexa Adams, author of Holidays At Pemberley, a newly released novel, is my guest today. I am very excited to have Alexa visit my blog as part of her blog tour. She has graciously allowed me to interview her and her answers are both informative and thought provoking. I hope that you will find them as interesting as I did. 

I remember seeing First Impressions, the first novel by Alexa Adams, on Amazon and thinking it sounded very good. I purchased it and starting reading it immediately. I was pleasantly surprised at the Jane Austen style of writing that this author used in that book and has continued in her Tales of Less Pride and Prejudice. It was and is quite delightful. 

In celebration of the holidays, Alexa is giving away two of her books, Second Glances and Holidays At Pemberley, winner's choice. More information will be given at the end of the post.

Now please join me in welcoming Alexa Adams.

How and when did your interest in Jane Austen and Pride & Prejudice take root?

My interest in Austen actually began when I found a copy of Northanger Abbey in a train station gift shop when I was 11. At that age, I tended to choose books by their cover (which is how I ended up reading Frances Burney’s Evelina that same year, when I was far too young to make sense of it), and Northanger looked to be filled with romance and pretty dresses, which was my main criteria for a good read. Though I didn’t understand the satire of the story, I knew there was something special about the book, and it was not long before I read the rest of Austen’s major novels. Persuasion, rather than Pride & Prejudice, has always been my particular favorite, but there is something about P&P that opens itself to reimagining and reinterpretation. Of course, like many others, I was completely captivated with the 1995 BBC mini-series when it first aired. It is by far my favorite Austen film, even if it isn’t my favorite of her novels.   

What drove you to start writing your own books? Did you write other things before writing PnP variations?

As I approached my late twenties, it was becoming increasingly obvious that I was not going to happily endure a forty plus year career in sales and marketing. I somewhat abruptly quit my job and took on occasional and part-time work, including freelance writing, while I did some soul searching. I felt pretty lost, and it was in this state that I discovered the world of Jane Austen fan fiction. At first, I only read the books I could find in the bookstore, having no notion there was this entire online world of Janeites busily writing away. I was buying the second volume of a rather famous and very explicit P&P continuation when the lady at the register asked me if it was any good. I explained that the work in question was a great deal too sexual for my comfort, but that I was obsessed and had to read it anyway. She then asked, “Why don’t you write your own book?” I blinked at her a few times, shook my head negatively, and paid for my purchase, but the question stayed in my head. It was not long after that I wrote First Impressions.     

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 recently became acquainted with the term “pantser” (as in fly be the seat of your pants-er), and it perfectly describes my writing style. I often have only a vague notion of precisely where my stories are headed when I start them, and even that is subject to change. Once I begin, the story (if things are going well) starts to dictate its own terms, taking on a life of its own. I feel very much a vehicle, rather than a creator. Of course, that first draft is usually dreadful, and I do lots of revisions, often scrapping large chunks. I rewrote the end to Second Glances, my last book, less than a month before publication.

Is there any setting that is more inspirational to you when writing?

I wish there was! I seem to have to flit about all the time, changing my scenery constantly to stay inspired. I get stuck, I move somewhere else, and the words begin to flow once more. Thank goodness for laptops!

What about the Regency era is appealing to you?

There are few things more charming to me than a empire waisted dress and a bonnet, but I do see a lot of correlations between our own time and Austen’s: both periods of social upheaval and unrest. In fact, this holds true for many of the eras in which Austen’s stories were particularly popular, like World War I, when she brought solace to British soldiers in the trenches. I imagine Austen used her writing to help escape from the cares of the world. Her characters struggle, but rarely from abject misery. There is an order to the world she describes that it comforting to souls in upheaval. Many of us need that kind of refuge right now.

Tell us something about your newest book that you love most. (if you can without giving anything away)

As I begin to read reviews for Holidays at Pemberley, I’m delighted learn that my favorite scene is one which others seem to love, too. It takes place towards the end of the novel, when ALL the members, beloved and bemoaned, of the extended Darcy, Fitzwilliam, and Bennet families gather at Pemberley for the annual Twelfth Night ball. It’s when they all sit down to dine together that Lady Catherine gets spunky. My Lady C is far more mild than Austen’s, but this was my opportunity finally, after three novels, to have her to deliver that wonderful “shades of Pemberley” line. I just love it!  

What have you learned from writing that has helped you in your daily life?

Empathy. Writing forces you to see the perspectives of others and relate to them, whether you like a character or not. It has made me a kinder, gentler person. There is also little so humbling as a scathing review, and while they are painful to receive, learning from and coping with such criticism definitely builds character.

Is there anything special about yourself or your writing that you would be willing to share with us?

My writing, like my personality, is impulsive. I’ve always wanted to be as calm and pragmatic as Elinor Dashwood, but I am much more like Marianne. This leads me to rush through stories in my excitement to get it all down on paper, often not taking the time I should to fully develop the plot and characters. I’m trying to improve.

Do you have a modern day author that has inspired you? If yes, what was it about their writing that was an inspiration?

The modern writer who most directly influenced my work is Abigail Reynolds. I was rereading one of her novels when the idea for First Impressions came to me. I think it is safe to credit her with pioneering the sub-genre of “What if?” Austenesque.

Most of the writers who’ve inspired me, like Austen, are long dead. I prefer to read 19th century literature.

Now for a very important question, we all have our special reasons for loving Mr. Darcy, what are your reasons?

Mr. Darcy is an idealized man. For a mere mortal to combine total devotion, intelligence, moral integrity, and a vast fortune is too much to expect. Of all his fine qualities, I think its the extent and totality of his love for Elizabeth that most attracts me. He is also the only one of Austen’s heroes who has to prove himself worthy of the heroine. In fact, several of her heroes (Edward Ferrars, Edmund Bertram, Captain Wentworth) are patently unworthy of their heroines, yet each wins his lady’s hand with only minor struggle. Mr. Darcy steps out of his sphere of comfort, alters his behavior, and rescues Elizabeth’s family from disgrace. The man who would do all this is a remarkable specimen, indeed! I’ve long said I grew up on the day I learned to prefer Mr. Darcy to Mr. Rochester, the favorite hero of my teenage years. Now it is hard to imagine what I ever found attractive in him at all. I’ll take Mr. Darcy over pretty much any gentlemen in literature, and I’ll continue to remind myself of the ways my husband resembles this prince charming of Pemberley, rather than dwell on where he, like all men, falls short.

Alexa, I love your answer to the last question, especially your last sentence. You show an intuitiveness that I admire. To dwell on the good rather than short-comings is a goal we would all do well to achieve! Thank you for sharing that thought and for allowing me the privilege of interviewing you. I wish you much success with your books and look forward to many more novels from you.

Thank you also for allowing me to host a giveaway of two of your books. This giveaway is for a paperback or eBook for Nook or Kindle, winner's choice, to winner/s in the USA. If the winner/s is/are international, then the giveaway is for an eBook for your Nook or Kindle. The winners may choose which of the two books being offered that they would like to receive. Again, the two books are Holidays At Pemberley and Second GlancesGood luck to all. Leave a comment to be entered. We want to hear your say in the conversation. 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, December 9. 

Purchase these books and others
by Alexa Adams at Amazon and Barnes & Noble


  1. This is lovely, Janet! Thank you so much for having me visit and for your kind words. It's been a pleasure!

    1. I am so excited to have you visit this week, Alexa. I have enjoyed your books and hope to have more from you in the future.

      Happy Holidays!

  2. I enjoyed your interview ladies. Always fun to find out how someone gets into writing and Jane Austen. I enjoyed reading this trio of books too with the little changes to the characters and the new characters added along with an alternate storyline.

    Please do not enter me in the contest as I already have a copy.

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Sophia. It is always good to have you visit and comment. Glad to hear that you enjoyed these books too.

  3. Even though we have "known" each other for five years Alexa, I learned so many new things about you through this interview! Wonderful questions, Janet! Alexa - I love how you described your experience writing novels, feeling more akin to a vehicle than a master creator. So happy you did give credence to that lady at the register's suggestion!

    1. Thanks, Meredith! Coming from you that is quite a compliment.

      I too, am so happy she decided to write her own stories!

    2. Ha ha! Has it been five years? I feel like a radically different person than I was then, and writing has had a great deal to do with the change (motherhood might have played a wee factor, too). So glad you enjoyed the interview!

  4. Lovely interview, Janet! I always enjoy reading about personal experiences of the authors I follow. It makes them closer somehow :) And I loved the answer to the last question, we should really dwell on the good. But since I am not married, I keep dreaming my own Mr. Darcy exists somewhere! Thank you for the chance to win one of Alexa's books!


    1. Thank you, Maria. I'm so glad you stopped by. I hope your Mr. Darcy exists somewhere too. Keep dreaming and don't give up!

  5. I'm a BIG christmas nut & always imagined that Xmas at Pemberley would be fantastic to say the least. A twelfth night ball will be a sight/experience to treasure! Sadly I don't have an ereader but still wanted to say that Holidays at Pemberley sounds amazing :)

    1. I think Christmas at Pemberley would be beautiful! The Twelfth Night Ball in this book sounds lovely. I hope you get to read it. Thanks for stopping by.

    2. There will be more opportunities to win paper copies over the coming weeks at my blog, some international.

  6. Thanks for the fantastic interview, Janet and Alexa, and thanks for the chance to take part in the giveaway!


    1. You are welcome, Joana. Thanks for visiting! Good luck.