Why did you decide to write a forced marriage scenario? What about it intrigues you?
When I discovered the wonderful world of Fanfiction I read almost everything that was out there. But as it usually happens, the more you read, the more picky you become. Some stories became too sweet and mushy for my taste and I walked away for angst for the sake of angst. I remember distinctively the first forced marriage story I read in 2000. I was fascinated by it, by the idea of Elizabeth and Darcy overcoming their issues and dealing with their problems as a married couple and not apart as it happens in the original novel. As a reader, I want them to interact, to argue, and to really know each other before falling in love. The only way to achieve that, at least in a Regency context, is by marrying them early in the story. Making it against their will makes it even more interesting, at least to me!
I feel the same way you do. I don't like angst for the sake of angst. That does nothing for a story. I also want Darcy and Lizzy together as much as possible and witness them interact. Thankfully, you have lots of that in When Duty Calls. I loved the scene where Darcy sent a letter and locket to Elizabeth. Was there anything specific that inspired that scene?
Not something specific per se. That scene was written with the purpose of keeping them apart until the wedding so Elizabeth wouldn’t have the chance to ask Darcy about Wickham. Initially, it was going to be a very short letter that would increase Elizabeth’s animosity towards her betrothed. But something quite unexpected happened as I was writing Darcy’s letter. I am a very visual person, scenes flow in my head like videos which I then translate into written words. So, here I was envisioning of this scene of Elizabeth sitting on her bed, opening the letter, sulking because her plans are ruined, when suddenly the image of a heart-shaped pendant falling from the envelope appeared in my mind. I wrote it down and, of course, Elizabeth reacted to this beautiful token and the passionate declaration engraved behind. It only added to her confusion. She wants to hold on to her hatred, but she wishes things were different between them. The locket also shows the reader Darcy in a more benign light, because, until that point, he comes out as a complete idiot.
That scene was truly well done. You showed Elizabeth's confused state of mind and emotions quite well. As the story progresses from that letter and gift of the locket, readers begin to see the Darcy you meant us to see. Even though this scene is later in the book, you made Darcy “real” and likable when he fell into the water going after the frog. Was that a fun scene to write? What about the way he hushed Lizzy’s protests? That was well done!
It was, wasn’t it? Who doesn’t love a wet, cheeky Darcy? That was actually the first scene I wrote for this story. The very first one. The image of him stealing a kiss from his wife in front of everyone popped in my mind and I wrote it down. I knew it had to be a forced marriage scenario, so then I sketched the entire story around that moment. Aside from the sudden kiss, the other thing I love in this scene is Mr. Gardiner’s comment on Darcy’s method to silence a woman. It was a fun way to wrap it up.
How interesting that the "wet scene" was the first one you wrote! I love that! Yes, Mr. Gardiner's comment was wonderful! I laughed when I read that part and I agreed with him! Tell us something about When Duty Calls that you love most. What is your favorite scene? (if you can tell us without giving anything away)
Two of my favorite scenes have been posted during the blog tour, so I won’t be spoiling much. There is also one happy scene I like a lot, and it’s the one where Darcy gives Elizabeth the letter. She comes to bid him goodbye and runs like a maniac across the house because she overslept. It was great fun to write that one. But I also like angst and drama, so there are also a couple of sad scenes that I think are beautiful and poignant. One of them is the one where Elizabeth sheds her first tear at the townhouse and Darcy sees her crying. That is a turning point for him and it’s the kickoff for some important character growth.
Oh, I love the scenes you mentioned too, and some of my favorites have been in the blog tour. I loved your book, so I can pick quite a few favorite scenes! I must admit that I prefer novels set in Regency times so I was thrilled that you wrote this one in that era. Do you prefer to write stories that are in Regency times or modern times?
Being a native Spanish speaker, I find easier to write modern. But I like both. Modern allows me the possibility to play around with the original plotline, while Regency has more complexity and richness in the vocabulary that challenges me to try harder. For this rewrite I read 4 Jane Austen’s novels to be more in tune with Regency ‘lingo’.
Wow! That is dedication. Obviously you've read lots of Jane Austen! How and when did your interest in Jane Austen take root?
It happened when my sister insisted that I watched the 1995 BBC mini series. It was love at first sight. Before that, I didn’t even know about Jane Austen.
Watching the 1995 BBC miniseries was love at first sight for me too. What drove you to start writing your own books? Did you write other things before writing Austenesque stories?
When I was kid, around 11 or 12, I used to come up with episodes of my favorite show and then tell them to my cousins or friends (who obviously shared my passion for that show). So, I guess, fanfiction is in my genes! Even know, when I watch a movie or tv show, a ‘what if’ storyline always manages to sneak into my mind.
That's neat. Can it be troublesome when watching shows though? You must have a strong muse! Does that muse cause your story to lead you at times, or do you use an outline and follow it religiously? What is your writing routine? Is there any setting that is more inspirational to you when writing?
I usually come up with the general idea, the backdrop for the story, and I sketch out the characters. It’s easy to get confused and switch names or places. Then I start writing. Random ideas and scenes pop in my head and I write them so I can use them when the right time comes. Sometimes the characters take me in a different direction and, if it works, I adjust the plot so they can be part of the story. But I somehow find my way back to the original plotline. Side stories and secondary characters are usually the ones that grow beyond what I imagined initially. It happened with Jane’s and Bingley’s storyline in Appearances (maybe I’ll publish it one day). That was a very interesting side story to write and I loved how it became entwined with the main character’s arc.
I'm fascinated with the possibility of "Appearances" and the side story entwining with the main character's arc. I hope you will publish it someday. Now for my last question, what have you learned from writing that has helped you in your daily life?
It certainly improved my English! And my knowledge about the things I write. I do a lot of research when I’m writing story. I also met very interesting people along the way and made great friends.
Readers, do you have any questions for Belén? If so, please leave them in the comments. I'm betting she will be happy to answer them.
Thanks so much, Belén for taking the time to respond to each of my questions. I enjoyed all of your answers.
Should you want to find Belén on social media, her contact info is below.
You may purchase the book at these links.
If any of you have missed any stops along the away, you can go back to each of the blogs and read the posts as well as enter the giveaway for one of the eBooks of When Duty Calls. There are eight being given away so your chances of winning are good!
When Duty Calls Blog Tour Schedule
March 11 Diary of an Eccentric
March 12 So Little Time…
March 13 Austenprose
March 16 Babblings of a Bookworm
March 17 Donadee’s Corner
March 18 Savvy Verse & Wit
March 19 Interests of a Jane Austen Girl
March 20 Austenesque Reviews
March 21 More Agreeably Engaged
March 23 From Pemberley to Milton
March 24 My Vices and Weaknesses
Meryton Press is giving away 8 eBooks of When Duty Calls. Thank you to all following the blog tour and good luck in the giveaway. As of today, March 21st, there are four days left to enter the giveaway which ends at 12:00 AM on the 26th.