An Interview With Mary Lydon Simonsen; Author of Anne Elliot, A New Beginning

Very good friend of the blog, Mary Lydon Simonsen, recently gave me some time out of her busy schedule while promoting Mr. Darcy’s Bite to do a little interview (you can find my review here).  I recently started writing some “getting to know you” questions at the beginning of each of my interviews.  It gives readers a chance to get to know the author as a person as well as an author! 

If you could only read one book for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?

Lonesome Dove.  It’s a wonderful epic adventure of the closing days of the American frontier.  The characters are so perfectly drawn that you care about all the good guys and hate all the bad guys and are ambivalent about everyone in between.  It’s the American equivalent of Homer’s Odyssey.

If you had to describe your writing with a color, what color would you choose? Why would you choose that color?

I would choose a soft yellow because I think that color makes you smile, and I like to have people laugh or chuckle or smile at some point while reading my stories.

If you had all the money in the world and could only travel to one place, where would it be? Why?

This one is easy.  I would go to Italy.  I’ve been twice, and it’s addictive.  I love the architecture, art, history, language, people, food, and, most especially, the gelato.  I once stood outside a church built over a Roman temple dedicated to Minerva with a Michelangelo sculpture inside behind the Pantheon facing an Egyptian obelisk on a Bernini pedestal.  Where else in the world could that happen?

If you could meet one person dead or alive, who would it be and why?

George Washington.  He put everything on the line when he took command of the Continental army.  After the war ended, he could have seized power and made himself an emperor, but, instead, he served his country and then retired like Cincinnatus and not Napoleon.

On to your books!!

I’ve read almost everything you’ve written, and see that you’ve written a multitude of different genres from historical fiction, to Jane Austen fan fiction, and now with your newest book, a paranormal romance.  What would you say was the most fun genre for you to write?  What genres have you not written yet that you’d like to try your hand at?

I love writing parody.  The most fun I’ve had as an author was writing Anne Elliot, A New Beginning.  All the rules went out the window on that one.  Despite the comedy, Anne and Frederick stay true to their basic characters. 

Next up is a British procedural mystery.  I’m nervous about this because it requires that I write an outline.  I’m a writer who usually flies by the seat of her pants.  You can’t do that with a mystery.

You and I have talked about the inspiration behind some of your novels.  Would you care to share with our readers which inspirations have been the most influential?

Writing historical fiction is my greatest love.  My first novel, Searching for Pemberley, was very personal because its roots are in the little coal-mining town where my parents grew up during the Depression and their experiences during World War II.  I admire people who pull themselves up by their bootstraps or, in the case of Elizabeth Bennet, someone who will not compromise on her core beliefs, even if it costs her Mr. Darcy.

I think it’s safe to say that you’re a widely popular/successful author in the world of Jane Austen fan fiction.  What type of JAFF is your favorite to write?  Which of Austen’s original books do you most enjoy writing about?

Oh my goodness!  Thanks for the compliment!  In my Jane Austen re-imaginings, I like to keep it light, and that is why I introduced the character of Antony, Lord Fitzwilliam, Earl of Stepton, Darcy’s bad boy cousin.  He can break all the rules and get away with it.  We all love a rascal.  We just don’t want to be married to one.  As for my favorite Austen book, it’s a tie. I have loved Pride and Prejudice since I was a teenager in the 1960s, but as I have grown older, I have fallen in love with Anne Elliot and Captain Wentworth’s much more mature love story in Persuasion.  I have a novella coming out in November, Captain Wentworth: Home From the Sea.

What can you tell us about your upcoming works?  (I hope you tell us that you’re working on a sequel to Mr. Darcy’s Bite)

After the Persuasion novella, I will have a time-travel P&P romance coming out in December titled Becoming Elizabeth Darcy. This one will be somewhat controversial because a modern woman from New Jersey goes back to Darcy’s Pemberley and ends up in Elizabeth Bennet’s body. Although there are lots of light-hearted moments, it is my most serious work since Searching for Pemberley.

As for Mr. Darcy’s Bite, so many people have contacted me about a sequel that I think I might just do it.  It would take place early in the marriage of Darcy and Elizabeth.  Wickham may be back!

Thanks for taking the time to discuss your work with us!

Thank you for having me.  It’s always a pleasure to visit with you.  This was fun!

Make sure you check back in tomorrow for my review of Anne Elliot, A New Beginning!  For more information on Mary and her novels check out her website here.  Check out my reviews for her other novels: A Wife For Mr. Darcy, The Perfect Bride for Mr. Darcy, A Walk in the Meadows at Rosings Park, and Darcy on the Hudson.

#57 A Review of A Walk in the Meadows at Rosings Park by Mary Lydon Simonsen

Mary Lydon Simonsen has cemented herself as one of the most creative Jane Austen fan fiction authors out there.  Each new novel and/or novella takes us on a new journey with the characters we know and love from Austen’s works.  A Walk in the Meadows at Rosings Park is a treat for Pride and Prejudice fans, as we’re presented with two short “what-if” stories about Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy.  As you know, I am a big fan of the “what-if”s” already, but A Walk in the Meadows made me excited and anxious to read what would happen to Lizzy and Darcy all over again!  I happily turned the pages of these two-stories-in-one as I followed Lizzy and Darcy through alternative plots that very well could have happened.

The titular story poses the question: what if Mr. Darcy left Meryton the day after the assembly in which he makes his disastrous “not handsome enough to tempt me” statement, and never met Elizabeth again until her visit with the Collins’ in Kent?  Upon finally meeting again Darcy finds the words he so erroneously spoke about her are still on the tip of Elizabeth’s tongue.  Darcy is taken aback, realizing simultaneously how much he loves her and how much he hurt her at the same time.  Thus, they begin to rekindle their relationship with a walk in Rosings Park.  With the help of his cousin Anne, Darcy comes up with a plan that will hopefully have him winning Lizzy’s heart.  Will the feelings of Elizabeth’s heart be able to overcome the doubts in her head?

The second (bonus!) story by Simonsen is entitled Darcy Steps In, and asks: “what if Darcy finds out that Mr. Collins wants to propose to Elizabeth?  Darcy is unsure as to what Elizabeth’s response would be if a marriage was proposed between Collins and herself, due to the entail on the estate.  He begins to feel nervous and jealous, which thrusts him into action.  He decides that he must have a chat with Collins that will hopefully give all parties their desired wishes in the end.  Will Darcy’s plan work, or will Elizabeth’s feelings of duty outweigh those of her heart and mind?

As always Simonsen injects her subtle humor into the stories, especially as these stories include none other than that ridiculous oaf Mr. Collins!  It’s these subtleties that always make me enjoy her writing.  She has a way of writing a more playful Darcy, and really who doesn’t want to read how their relationship would play out with that kind of Darcy?  Simonsen’s Darcy freely teases Lizzy for her impertinence, and is honest about his opinions and feelings.  (Not opinions and feelings like “oh you’re terribly wrong for me but I’ll make you an offer of marriage anyway”)  Darcy himself is humorous and it’s watching Lizzy fall in love with that man that makes Simonsen’s work a favorites of mine time and time again.

Both short stories were wonderfully imaginative and could definitely have the potential to become full-fledged novels on their own.  Both had a well-developed plot that could have easily carried the story through many more pages.  However, she was able to take these stories and move them along quickly so that we got right into things without further ado.  I feel that this definitely worked to her credit, and made both stories exciting and a quick read.  These works definitely show her strength as an author, for the strong plot lines Simonsen has imagined easily pulled me into her world of “what-if’s”, and made me glad to follow this latest iteration of the genre she’s mastered so well!  I would highly recommend this novel to those readers who want to cut out the supporting characters in their JAFF works.  With A Walk in the Meadows you’re either with Darcy or Elizabeth the whole time, much to the readers delight!

5 out of 5 stars

This is my twenty-sixth completed review for the Historical Fiction Challenge

Quail Creek Publishing (2011)
Paperback, 150 pages
I’d like to thank Mary Lydon Simonsen for my review copy of A Walk in the Meadows at Rosings Park!  As always, it’s so appreciated!