Thursday, September 20, 2018

Obstacles...Belén Paccagnella

I'm thrilled to be a part of the Obstacles Blog Tour and have Belén Paccagnella, Meryton Press's newest author, visit More Agreeably Engaged. Belén already has quite a following in the fan world. She posted her stories at A Happy Assembly and was much loved. After reading her book, I can see why. I hope you get a chance to read it soon. It captured my attention from the first page! 

Belén is answering some questions for us today. I'm sure you will find her answers as interesting as I did. If you would like to ask a question yourself, please leave it in the comments below. Without further ado, I give you Belén Paccagnella!


Belén, as a new JAFF author, I am sure you have a lot to share with us about your love for Austen and the steps you took from going from aspiring writer to a published writer. Would you share with us some of your background and tell us about the person behind this story.

I was born in Buenos Aires, which is Argentina’s capital. There was a brief period in my youth where my family moved to Brazil, and I attended high school there, in the city of Curitiba. My family owned a farm outside of the city, where we had cows, horses, and other animals. This helped shape the foundation of my love for horses, as well as rural life. I have a grown-up daughter and I’m still working full time.

My love for Jane Austen began when I saw the movie Sense and Sensibility. I didn’t initially know the author of the book, but I fell in love with the story as well as the characters and the portrayal of English society in Regency times. Then I watched the 1995 Pride and Prejudice adaptation, which took my obsession to a whole new level! After re-watching the series over and over again, I found several fanfiction sites and read everything that was published on the boards, both stories set in Regency and modern times. It wasn’t long before I started imagining my own stories until one day I gathered the courage to post my first piece. Although I studied in a bilingual school, I was quite insecure about my English at the time, so I was very apprehensive about posting my stories. I was lucky that everyone was so kind and encouraging and welcomed my stories, despite their flaws.

Please share with us the premise of your new release, “Obstacles,” including what helped you decide to publish this story.

The story was originally written in 2002 and then revised and re-posted a couple of times. I knew that several authors were pulling their stories from these sites and publishing them, so one day I decided to do the same thing.  I occasionally received emails from readers asking about the story and even received emails telling me that they would buy my story if I ever decided to publish it, but, for one reason or another, I never took that final step. For many years, publishing was just a dream I always had, but wasn’t sure I would ever fulfill. Then, in 2016, everything changed. I had breast cancer and when all of my treatment was over, I made the decision to finally become a published author. I contacted the lovely ladies at Meryton Press, and here I am, publishing my story.

I love the idea of a story set in the world of competitive horse jumping. How did you get to become so knowledgeable about this sport and what led you to write a “Pride & Prejudice” story within this setting?

I used to ride a lot in my youth (on the farm), I took riding lessons, and I attempted some jumping, but I never really competed beyond the novice level. Yet, I absolutely loved the sport, so I went to every show near my home, and I watched every tournament I happened upon on TV.  My knowledge about international competition was a bit limited when I started writing the story, so I did a lot of research and talked to friends who were involved in grand prix tournaments. It’s much easier now; you can find everything online—from interviews with top riders to how they fly the horses for the Olympics—but at the time, and especially in my country, information was scarce.

Choosing this setting was a no-brainer. Growing up among horses and going to riding clubs gave me a fairly good idea of how this world worked. People with resources owned the best horses, and paid to take lessons with the most exclusive teachers, while the rest of us took our lessons on the club’s old horses. As an enthusiastic 12-year-old, I didn’t care if the horse I was riding was one-eyed, but many years later, I understood the differences and applied them to my story.   Show-jumping is a highly competitive sport, as well as one of the most expensive and exclusive ones. Now it’s a huge industry, but it’s still a practice associated with wealth and aristocracy. Therefore, I thought it was the perfect backdrop for a Pride & Prejudice adaptation.

As a writer of a modern JAFF story, why do you believe Austen’s characters and themes resonate so well within a modern-day setting?

Austen novels are very character driven, and most of their conflicts are timeless and can be easily adapted to modern times.

Was your entry into Jane Austen Fan Fiction as a reader, and if so, how do you find JAFF stories that you’re interested in reading?

I’m the kind of reader that either gets hooked and won’t leave the book until I finish it, or I just drop it at the third page if the plot doesn’t interest me. If it’s well written and the characters are interesting, I’ll read it. Also, when I like an author, I read all their stories because I know I won’t be disappointed. Since I’ve been away from the boards and published JAFF for some time, I have a lot to catch up right now.

I loved imagining the character that I would cast in the role as the “England’s Hottest Horseman,” which is a nickname for the Darcy character in your story. Do you have any actors in mind who you would cast in this role?

Originally, Darcy was based on a gorgeous picture of Olivier Martinez I found online. Now he looks a lot like Tom Ellis.

I can certainly see Tom Ellis as Darcy! Click on the two names above and it will take you to a Bing page full of each man! :) What do you think? Okay, back to the interview since we must move on, what can readers do to support your work and stay in touch with you?

I love to have feedback from my readers! I used to post my stories chapter by chapter, and one of the things I liked most about that process was to read the comments made by readers and their interpretations about how a certain scene developed. They were so passionate and sometimes their analysis of the situation surprised me, because I didn’t think of it from that perspective. It’s very rewarding. Even now, many years later, I still receive emails from people who read my stories, asking me when I’m going to publish them. Readers can reach me at my personal email:

Thank you for stopping by to visit with my readers and good luck with the new release!

Thank you for having me and for all you are doing to support fan fiction and fan-fiction writers.

Book Description:
Not all obstacles are restricted to the show-jumping arena… Though Elizabeth Bennet lives an uneventful life instructing young equestrians at Longbourn, the family farm, she dreams of winning a show-jumping competition on Liddy, her spirited mare. But her life is upended when a team of world-renowned riders arrives at Netherfield, the neighbouring estate, and uses it as their training headquarters. As she assists the newcomers and their prize-winning mounts, she meets William Darcy, a wealthy and arrogant—albeit talented—rider with Olympic aspirations. He first insults and then ignores Elizabeth, and her feelings teeter between disgust at his hauteur and admiration for his equestrian prowess. As she discovers first-hand the rigors of a world for the elite, will Elizabeth change her perspective about love, trust, and the foibles of her own family?

Originally known as “Obstacles to Overcome,” Obstacles pays homage to Pride and Prejudice in the highly competitive world of equestrian show jumping.
Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Belén Paccagnella discovered the world of Jane
Austen fan fiction after watching the 1995 BBC miniseries of Pride and Prejudice.
In her teens, she lived in Brazil when her family moved to the city of Curitiba due
to her father’s work. She moved back to Buenos Aires a few years later, where she
studied agronomy but finally pursued a different career and started working
in the development administration of shopping centres.

In 2001, she started writing both Regency and modern stories adapted from the
Pride and Prejudice storyline, merging drama, humour, and adventure while creating
characters with unique traits.

Belén still lives in the suburbs of Buenos Aires, where she shares her home with her
daughter and her pets while spending her time working, reading, and writing.

Obstacles Blog Tour Schedule:

September 17 / My Jane Austen Book Club / Guest Post September 18 / Diary of an Eccentric / Excerpt Post September 19 / Austenesque Reviews / Vignette Post September 20 / More Agreeably Engaged / Author Interview September 21 / So Little Time / Excerpt Post September 22 / Just Jane 1813 / Guest Book Review September 23 / My Love for Jane Austen / Character Interview September 24 / From Pemberley to Milton / Excerpt Post September 25 / Margie’s Must Reads / Book Review September 26 / Babblings of a Bookworm / Vignette Post September 27 / My Vices and Weaknesses / Book Review September 28 / Of Pens and Pages / Book Review

Meryton Press is offering eight eBooks copies of Obstacles.
The giveaway runs until midnight, September 30, 2018.

Terms and Conditions:
Readers may enter the drawing by tweeting once a day and daily commenting on a blog post or a review that has a giveaway attached for the tour. Entrants must provide the name of the blog where they commented. If an entrant does not do so, that entry will be disqualified.

One winner per contest. Each winner will be randomly selected by Rafflecopter and the giveaway is international.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thank you, to Meryton Press, for the awesome giveaway, and to Claudine Pepe, for organizing the blog tour. I'm happy to have been included. Belén, I wish you much success with your new release. 


  1. Hmm..Tom Ellis is a fine choice for Darcy. :) Thanks for sharing your own story about finding JAFF.

    1. Thanks for stopping by Jan! Wasn't her story interesting! Yes, Tom Ellis is fine! :)

    2. Isn't he? I fell in love with him while watching Miranda and instantly imagined him as Darcy. Love his accent. Thank you Jan for your lovely comments.

  2. Would love to win a copy! Loved this years ago online. It’s a classic JAFF! Not to be missed.

    1. It is an excellent book. Thanks Christina, and good luck in the giveaway.

    2. Thanks you Christina! I'm thrilled that everyone remembers the story.

  3. I'm trying again on a different device, third time lucky??
    I'm not a horse lover myself, the only time I have been on a horse was as a child at a summer fair when I had a pony ride. Unfortunately the saddle on the horse in front slipped and the man holding the reins of my horse went to help, my horse decided it was snack time and put its head down at which point I slid down over its head and landed on the floor!
    This won't stop me from reading your book though.

    1. That was not a good experience! I hope it didn't hurt you. I'm glad your experience won't keep you from reading the book. It is an excellent read.

    2. Hi Glynis, Glad to know you'll give the book a chance despite your traumatizing experience.

  4. I do love learning how a person comes to Austen. What a wonderful share about Belen's background, too. The showjumping world seems like a clever setting for P&P.

    1. I do too, Sophia Rose. It's always neat to learn how their love of Austen came about. Belén is a lovely person and a good writer. Her setting was clever, indeed. I hope you get a chance to read the book soon.

    2. Thank you Sophia. Reading Austen and meeting this wonderful community has been one of the best things that happened to me.

  5. I have that email! Dearest Belén was so kind as to send me a missing chapter from one of her online posted stories (not this one) several years ago. As this interview proves, she's a kind person. Congratulations on your recovery from breast cancer, Belén, as well as the decision to publish. We as readers benefit! Thanks, Janet, for asking the good questions on our behalf.

    1. That was very nice of her. I bet you were thrilled. She is a nice person, I agree. Thank you for stopping by, Suzan. I'm glad Belén decided to publish too.

    2. Thank you Suzan! I remember sending it to you, a missing chapter of Appearances. I'm editing When Duty Calls right now and Appearances will follow after.

  6. Great that you are now a published author, Belén! And thank you for sharing about a bit of yourself with us. I'm sorry to hear that you had breast cancer. Hope you have completely recovered and that it will not occur again.

    Janet, good job on asking the right questions! I adore the cover. Did you design it by any chance?

    1. Thank you Luthien! I'm fully recovered now. Janet designed this beautiful cover. She's a lovely and very talented lady. The picture of the horses from the back cover was taken at Netherfield (the location from the BBC series). She was so kind to use them for my story.

    2. Thank you for stopping by, Sylvia. I always love to read your comments. As Belén said, I did design the cover, but the front design was all her idea! That scrapbook is mentioned several times so it was a fitting choice. Using one of my pictures from the horses at Netherfield 1995 (Edgecoat) seemed like the perfect choice for this book. We had the back cover taken care of before the front cover! :)

      I do hope you get to read the book soon. I think you will love it! Darcy will make you love him all the more!

  7. Enjoyed the interview. I never thought about Tom Ellis as Darcy before but I definitely think he would be an excellent casting choice.

    1. I didn't know of Tom Ellis until about two or three years ago. He would be a good casting choice! Thanks for stopping by and good luck.

  8. Thank you all for the lovely welcome!

    Suzan, I remember sending that to you. It's been so long, and it feels great to be back to the world of JAFF.

    1. Congratulations, again, Belén. It was great having you as my guest. I'm happy to know you are fully recovered. That must have been a very trying time. My two sisters both had breast cancer and both survived it. Success stories are always wonderful to hear!

  9. What a journey you have had Belen and I wish you and your book great success! Not to get sidetracked, but Tom Ellis makes a fabulous modern Darcy! I am looking forward to reading about 'England's Hottest Horseman'! Thank you for a chance at the giveaway! Great cover Janet!

  10. Congratulations on this release.

  11. Oh dear, the comment I thought I'd left last night seems to have disappeared into the black hole of cyberspace. Ah well!

    Thanks for a lovely interview ladies. As to your Darcy, I think I agree with your current choice of Tom Ellis, Berén. Although Mr. Martinez looks pretty good, too!

    I used to ride many years ago but was never anything more than adequate at it but loved to watch equestrian sports here in the UK when they were popular on TV. Sadly, it seems only the Olympics get any coverage nowadays. My riding days came to an abrupt end due to a back injury and in addition to being warned that another fall could cause permanent damage, I kind of lost my nerve as well.

    Best wishes for your venutr into published fiction!

  12. I read this before it was removed for publication. It’s now on my TBR (again) list. Congrats on publishing.

  13. I look forward to reading this book. Thank you.