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.

#54 A Review of Darcy on the Hudson by Mary Lydon Simonsen

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If you’ve been reading my blog, then you know that Mary Lydon Simonsen  is one of my favorite Jane Austen fan fiction writers because her writing, her characters, plot, and creativity make her novels an extreme pleasure to read.  When Mary emailed me and gave me the opportunity to read not one, but three of her self-published novels, I immediately jumped at the bit.  Of these three novels, she included her newest installment, Darcy on the Hudson, which is being released today!  It’s different from the other novels of hers that I have read, as it is a re-imagining of Pride and Prejudice, taking place in a heavily Dutch-influenced New York.

After Georgiana’s narrow escape from George Wickham’s sinister plan of revenge, Darcy decides to take her with him and Charles Bingley on their trip to America.  Darcy hopes that the trip will bolster her spirits and boost her confidence, while giving her a new and quiet environment to heal her broken heart.  Bingley’s Uncle Richard offers to play host to the three while in America, introducing them to the Hudson River Valley portion of New York.  Upon their arrival in New York, Darcy meets a young American woman named Elizabeth Bennet.  Just like in the beloved original, Darcy and Elizabeth fall for one another, although this time there are historical and social factors at play, threatening to tear them apart.  Lizzy is just as outspoken as ever, this time about the impending war between America and England.  This makes Simonsen’s decision to make Lizzy an American even more inflammatory, as the obstacles between her and Darcy become even more insurmountable as ever.  Wickham and Caroline Bingley make their appearances as evildoers, and there is even a new love interest for Georgiana thrown into the mix.  One of the most interesting changes that readers will really enjoy is the transformation of Mrs. Bennet.  No longer a hysterical and floundering character, Simonsen makes her a new woman of resolve and wisdom beyond her years.  She helms the ship of her family with grace and power, and really makes a 180 degree turn.  With all these new changes and undertones of unrest, will Darcy and Lizzy be able to find true love?

Simonsen shows a true mastery of the historical fiction genre with the attention she spends on details.  Nothing is too small for her notice whether it be the names of new characters or the types of food being eaten.  Each detail of the novel plays a part in shaping the world she’s creating.  Having grown up in New Jersey for a good portion of my life, it was fascinating for me to read about places in New York that I grew up next to.  It added to my extreme pleasure of the novel by teaching me new things, while still being entertained by my favorite Jane Austen characters.  Not only was it fascinating to learn about the New York region, but the book offers a lot of insight into the Dutch culture and the political reasons behind the War of 1812.  Simonsen even includes a bit of an index in the rear of the book to learn more in-depth about certain people/places/events that she mentions throughout the course of the work.

As I mentioned earlier there are various changes to the characters we know and love.  I can’t tell you what a joy it was to read a Mrs. Bennet who wasn’t obsessed with yelling and carrying about.  She offered prudent advice to her daughters, in the hopes that it would guide them in the decisions they made for themselves, while remaining true to who they each were.  This character change alone made me begin to rethink Austen’s original storyline and wonder how different the younger Bennet girls might have been with a mother who showed a little more restraint and decorum.  Even Caroline Bingley has a bit of a “generous” moment!  It’s these little twists and turns that make Simonsen such a fun author to read.  She takes the readers on an old journey that is full of surprises, making it completely new again.

If you’re willing to keep an open mind with the character changes, and would like see Darcy and Elizabeth thrown into a new location and situation, then I highly recommend Darcy on the Hudson.  The ending alone will have any romantic head over heels in love with Darcy all over again.  

4 out of 5 Stars

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

Darcy on the Hudson by Mary Lydon Simonsen
Quail Creek Publishing (2011)
Paperback, 288 pages
ISBN: 9780615513263
My very special thanks to Mary for sending me a copy of Darcy on the Hudson.  It is truly appreciated!!