Sara Angelini Speaks About Writing

Sara Angelini, author of The Trials of the Honorable F. Darcy, is stopping by the blog today to discuss writing. If you missed my review of her novel, check it out. Also stay tuned for a giveaway of her novel.

They say the first rule of writing is to write what you know. In my first book, The Trials of the Honorable F. Darcy (a modern adaptation of Pride and Prejudice), that’s exactly what I did.

Like my Elizabeth Bennett, I am a young attorney who works in San Francisco and drives a MINI Cooper. I have had my share of encounters with cranky judges. What’s that, you say? Well, er, no, I didn’t actually meet a swoonfully handsome judge, romp around England with him while engaging in hot monkey sex, break up and make up, and strut myself down the aisle with him. Not precisely. Maybe I fudged that part a bit. So sue me. I dare you. *grin*

Aside from the obvious parallels of an attorney writing a story about an attorney, my job influenced my writing in a more roundabout way. You see, I already write a tremendous amount for my job. I write letters, memos, briefs, and appeals on a daily basis. Unfortunately, legal writing is challenging, technical, and mind-numbingly tedious. When I go home at the end of the day, I want to unwind with something light and fluffy.

Enter Pride and Prejudice 1995 and Colin Firth. After a rainy weekend of repeatedly rewinding “In vain I have struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you,” followed by fast-forwarding to that dreamy Pemberley gaze (you know the one I’m talking about!), I found myself randomly perusing the interwebs in search of completely unwholesome, empty-calorie Colin Firth brain candy.

Apparently, Colin Firth is the Willy Wonka of Jane Austen Fanfic Candyland. I found a virtual sweetshop chock-full of red-hots, dark chocolates, savory caramels, and even nut-filled nougats. Some stories were discarded after the first bite, some were set aside to savor after dinner, but mostly I gorged like a five-year old on his first Halloween binge. And like said five-year old, I felt mighty sick on Monday morning.

After the initial sugar rush had worn off, I discovered that most of what I was reading on the internet was, well, not very good. I found myself rolling my eyes at plot foibles or gnashing my teeth at ridiculous character inconsistencies. I muttered under my breath “Had I ever learned to write romance, I would have been a true proficient!” Convinced of my own genius, I decided to give it a whirl.

I of course found that writing romance was easier said than done; I started off with a Regency that was rife with purple prose and stiff dialogue. I hacked out a paranormal short story (which is still close to my heart) but wanted to do something meatier. That’s when I remembered the golden rule of writing: write what you know. I sure as hell didn’t know Regency, so I decided that it would have to be a modern re-telling of Pride and Prejudice.

What could I write that would do justice to Jane Austen’s creation while being true to myself? How could Darcy and Elizabeth translate to modern characters? If Regency mores about intermingling social circles and pre-marital sex are no longer relevant, where would the conflict arise?

In Pride and Prejudice, the main conflict is the practically unbridgeable social gulf between Elizabeth and Darcy, which is not relevant in today’s world. How could I write an appealing Darcy who remained aloof and reserved in a world where social circles overlap and mix freely? How? HOW??


Go back to what you know. Lawyers are bound by a strict code of ethics. Really. All lawyer jokes aside, ethics is a big deal to the legal community. We’re well aware of our reputation as cold-blooded, unblinking, cartilage-skeletoned sharks. We try hard to be nice. Ever see a shark try to smile? It ain’t pretty. But I digress…

A character like Darcy (proud, rigid, but with a good moral compass) would make a perfect contemporary judge. From there, it all fell into place. A courtroom romance would create an ethical violation with very real, possibly career-ending, consequences. The struggle to resist temptation, and to ultimately give in to that temptation, provided the conflict. The characters’ willingness to compromise provided the resolution. And Lou Hurst provided the comic relief.

Satisfied with my original idea for Judge Darcy, I took another gander at Jane’s (yes, I was now on a first name basis with her) Pride and Prejudice. And there, on page 94 of my annotated version, Miss Bingley says to Darcy:

“Do let the portraits of your uncle and aunt Phillips be placed in the gallery at Pemberley. Put them next to your great uncle the judge.”

Aw, shit.

Oh well, I went with the idea anyway, and The Trials of the Honorable F. Darcy was the result. Thank you, Ms. Austen.

Does your job influence what you read or write?

Thank you Sara for stopping by the blog today. Sourcebooks is offering my U.S. and Canadian readers a chance to win 1 copy of Sara Angelini’s The Trials of the Honorable F. Darcy.

To Enter:

1. Leave a comment on this post telling me what part of this guest post you enjoyed most.

2. Leave a comment on my review and leave a comment here that you did so.

3. Blog, Tweet, or Facebook this giveaway and leave me a link.

Deadline is October 9, 2009 at 11:59 PM EST

Check out the rest of the blog tour here:

September 24

The Good, The Bad, The Unread Guest Blog


September 25

Romance Junkies Guest Blog



September 28

Savvy Verse & Wit Guest Blog


September 29

Yankee Romance Reviewers


September 30

Pop Culture Nerd Guest Blog


October 1

A Journey of Books Guest Blog


October 2

Fallen Angel Reviews Guest Blog



October 5

The Long & Short of It Reviews Guest Blog


October 6

Love Romance Passion Guest Blog


October 7

The Serenity Gate Interview


October 8

A Bibliophile’s Bookshelf Guest Blog


October 9

Books and Needlepoint Interview



October 13

Books Like Breathing


October 14

Romance Reader at Heart’s Novel Thoughts


October 15

Fresh Fiction Guest Blog


October 16

Booking Mama Guest Blog



  1. [TSS] Big List of Book Giveaways – Oct 4 says:

    […] Trials of the Honorable F. Darcy, by Sara Angelini, at Savvy Verse and Wit (ends Oct 9, US and […]