Interview With Abigail Reynolds, Author of Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy

Abigail Reynolds, who wrote Pemberley by the Sea (which I reviewed), has written other variations of Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice characters and situations.  In her latest novel, Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy:  The Last Man in the World, Reynolds examines what would have happened had Elizabeth Bennet not refused Mr. Darcy’s proposal.

Abigail took time out of her busy schedule to answer a few interview questions for her tour stop here.  Please give her a warm welcome, and stay tuned for giveaway information.

1.  Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy:  The Last Man in the World is just one of a number of Pride & Prejudice variations you’ve written.  Is this the first one you’ve published through Sourcebooks?  How did that come to pass?  

The first variation I published through Sourcebooks was Impulse & Initiative, and this is the second.  There are four more on the way, including the brand-new Mr. Darcy’s Obsession coming out in October 2010.  I took an unusual road to publication.  I wrote the variations for fun and posted them on the internet, then eventually self-published them just for myself and for some of my online readers.  To my astonishment, Deb Werksman, acquiring editor of Sourcebooks, found them on the self-publishing site and bought the publication rights.  Now Sourcebooks is gradually bringing out the entire series.  I’d never have guessed in a million years that I’d be published!

2.  Your variations on Pride & Prejudice look a significant turning points in Jane Austen’s novel and asks the question “What if?” (such as the ill-fated proposal from Darcy to Elizabeth, which she promptly refuses).  Do you have other major scenes from other Austen novels in mind for a similar series of books

I love all of Austen’s novels (well, maybe I don’t exactly love Mansfield Park, but I admire it), but none of them play out in my head the way Pride & Prejudice does.  Part of the appeal is that I love the characters so much.  When I’m writing, my characters take up residence in my head for months on end, so it’s helpful if they’re characters I like!  I’m not sure I could put up with, say, Emma in my mind for such a long time, given that I always want to strangle her when I read Emma.

3.  Do you have any particular writing habits, like listening to music while writing or having a precise page count to reach by the end of each day or week?  

I tend to write late at night, often with solo classical piano playing in the background because it puts me in a Regency frame of mind.  I often pick up Pride & Prejudice or Jane Austen’s letters and read a couple of pages to get the rhythm of her language going, and sometimes I even type some of it out to get myself started. 

4.  Who is your favorite Jane Austen hero and why? 

Mr. Darcy, with Colonel Brandon as a close second.  Darcy’s shift from his early unpleasant behavior to his later changes fascinates me, and of course his devotion to Elizabeth for her wit and intelligence rather than her beauty is a major item in his favor!

5.  Most authors using classic characters and stories to spur their own creations fell in love with those characters and stories early on, but wanted something more.  Is this how you felt about Pride & Prejudice?  What motivated you to craft your own tale based upon Jane Austen’s story

I’ve always thought that Pride & Prejudice was too short for my taste, and I wish Jane Austen had written out all those scenes she refers to in passing, just so I could have a little more Elizabeth and Darcy.  You won’t be surprised to hear that Pride & Prejudice is my favorite book, and it’s gotten to the point where I sometimes talk back to the characters.  One day I was re-reading the scene at the Lambton Inn for the umpteenth time.  When Darcy left giving Elizabeth only a long, serious look, I wanted to scream, “No!  Don’t do it!  Tell her how you feel!  Give her some hope!  She can’t read your mind, idiot!”  I was so annoyed with him that I sat down and started writing From Lambton to Longbourn, just to show Darcy what I meant.  Yes, sometimes I’m a little too obsessed with Pride & Prejudice

6.  Why choose Jane Austen novels versus other classic authors’ novels. 

Sheer love of the characters and of Jane Austen’s voice and world view.  As one of my characters says in Pemberley by the Sea, I like my coffee with cream and my literature with optimism.  There isn’t that much classic literature that deals with loveable characters and ends happily ever after.  I like books that can be comfort food of the soul.  I don’t think I could take the darkness of Charlotte Bronte for long, for example. 

7.  Which books have you been reading lately, and are there any you would like to recommend? 

I’ve just finished Marilyn Brant’s delightful According to Jane, which tells the story of a modern young woman who has Jane Austen giving her advice in her head.  Another recent favorite is Robin Kaye’s hysterically funny Romeo, Romeo.  I’ve also been reading Maria V. Snyder’s Poison Study series with my teenage daughter.  I’d happily recommend all of those!

8.  Finally, following Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy: The Last Man in the World, do you have any other projects in the works? Do they deal with other classic literature or do you see yourself flourishing in the Pride and Prejudice market?   

I’ve finished the first draft of another Pride & Prejudice variation, and I have some ideas for a Pride & Prejudice sequel in my mind.  I’ve been working on a series of modern novels that continue the story of Pemberley by the Sea (which is being re-released in mass market paperback in Spring 2010 as The Man Who Loved Pride & Prejudice) but aren’t directly Jane Austen-related, but it remains to see if those will ever see the light of day because the market for general contemporary romance isn’t strong these days.  I write for love more than for the market, so I write whatever my muse sends me, but the Pride & Prejudice related stories are the ones that are most likely to be picked up by a publisher.
Thanks for inviting me!

Thanks Abigail for answering my questions and for writing fun novels with our beloved Elizabeth and Darcy!

FTC Disclosure:  Clicking on image and title links will bring you to my Amazon Affiliate Page; No purchase necessary, though appreciated.

***Giveaway Details***

Sourcebooks is offering 2 copies of Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy:  The Last Man in the World to U.S./Canadian readers of this blog.

1.  Leave a comment on this interview about what you would like to ask Abigail Reynolds.
2.  Leave a comment on tomorrow’s review of Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy.
3.  Blog, tweet, Facebook, etc. this giveaway and leave a link here.

Deadline is Jan. 11, 2010, 11:59PM EST


  1. Tweet! Tweet!


    nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net

  2. Great interview! She has read an amazing amount of books!

    nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net

  3. Thanks for the interview… it has given me more books to read!

    Question for A. Reynolds:
    Do you have any stories about any of the minor characters, like Kitty, Mary or Charlotte's sister Maria?

    Tweeted: http://twitter.com/cmckane/status/7624116330

  4. Hi Abigail! I've loved this story from the first reading and am so proud of you being published so the rest of the world can love it as well. Congrats again on being published and I'm looking forward to seeing more Variations at Amazon!

    A HG Fan,

  5. Abigail Reynolds says

    Thanks again! Laura, I don't have any plans for a Sense & Sensibility book, but who knows what might happen? S&S and Persuasion are my other Austen favorites. I've written a modern novel loosely based on Persuasion – it's a sequel to Pemberley by the Sea – but it remains unpublished, alas.

    FrankSandy, I'm not sure where my ideas come from! Usually I'm talking to another Austen fan and a little voice suddenly says, "What if…."

    dsandyboy, I never actually decided to become a writer. The reason I am one is because writing is addictive, and once I started, I couldn't stop!

    DEBIJOT, interesting that you should ask how I'd see them acting in 2010. That's the question I answer in Pemberley by the Sea/The Man Who Loved P&P. I tried to develop modern characters who were the equivalent of Elizabeth and Darcy – a difficult job since the social mores are so different – and threw them together to see what would happen. They fell in love right on schedule, but the situation was more complex because we live in a more complex world with instant communication. Darcy and Elizabeth didn't have to consider anybody else when they decided to marry, but today it would be impossible to do without family and friends being well aware of it. Good thing I love complications!


  6. Very insightful interview. How do you think these characters would interact in the year 2010?

  7. Not only does this look like a fun book to read, it looks like a fun book to write! Hope I win!

    Kim at bookstorepeople dot com

  8. nice post. thanks.

  9. When did you decide to become a writer.

    [email protected]

  10. FrankSandy says

    How do you come up with your ideas for your novels? [email protected]

  11. Laura Hartness says

    Enjoyed the interview! I've now added the upcoming The Man Who Loved Pride & Prejudice to my Goodreads "To Read" list.

    Abigail, you mentioned that Colonel Brandon is a favorite character of yours. Do you have any plans to write a book related to him and/or the Sense & Sensibility characters?

    Thanks for hosting the giveaway- here are my extra entries:

    Tweet: http://twitter.com/lhartness/status/7406648065

    Blog Post: http://calicocritic.blogspot.com/2009/12/contests-of-week-december-30th.html

    Sidebar: Added to my Giveaways sidebar on the same blog: http://CalicoCritic.blogspot.com

    Contest post on Book Blogs website at 11:06am (EST):

    And if it counts, I'm also a follower of Savvy Verse & Wit.

    Thanks again!

    Laura Hartness
    The Calico Critic
    [email protected]

  12. Impulse and Initiative was a lot of fun for me to read! I had never heard of this author's road to publication. That's awesome! I bought a copy of the self-published Last Man in the World for myself as a late Christmas present. 😀

  13. Robin Kaye says

    Hi Abby~ Love the interview and I love everything you've written! I've been a huge fan for years and I remember the day I found out that we were both Sourcebooks authors–I'm so glad you enjoyed Romeo, Romeo!

  14. Thanks to Serena and everybody who commented! Katy, I average about a book a year, but it's been as short as three months and as long as three years, depending on how my muse is cooperating. Anna, I had the same response to the title when my editor proposed it, but they're quite keen on it. How about the "-ing Mr. Darcy" titles? We have Seducing Mr. Darcy, Loving Mr. Darcy, Conquering Mr. Darcy, Waiting for Mr. Darcy, and Dating Mr. Darcy. I don't know how readers can keep them straight!

    Stacy, I'd say Edmund Bertram takes the prize for my least favorite Austen hero. I can't understand what Fanny Price sees in him.

    My current project is another Pride & Prejudice variation, this time where Elizabeth never reads Darcy's letter after the first proposal. It was a violation of social rules for an unmarried lady to receive a letter from a single gentleman. What would have happened if Elizabeth had followed the rules instead of her instinct?

    Thanks for your interest!

    Abigail Reynolds

  15. Great interview. P&P is my favorite Austen and I can't wait to read what happens if…

  16. I would ask her what she's working on now,what's next? cardshark42(at)hotmail(dot)com

  17. stacybuckeye says

    Great interview! Who is her least favorite Austen hero?
    stacybooks at yahoo

  18. bermudaonion says

    I love the story of her publication by Sourcebooks! You always ask great questions, Serena.

  19. Great interview! No need to enter me, as I already have a copy, but I added it to my sidebar.

    I think it's interesting that they're re-releasing Pemberley by the Sea with a different title. The new title reminds of that book I read ages ago, The Man Who Loved Jane Austen. LOL

    Diary of an Eccentric

  20. Lovely interview and why or why are all the darcy/austen fiction giveaways restricted!!!

  21. Great interview! Mr Fitzwilliam Darcy is already on my wishlist, but now Pemberley by the Sea is going on it too. 🙂

    Question: How long does it generally take you to write one of your novels?

  22. Michele at Reader's Respite says

    Love this interview and I just love it when someone self-publishes and then gets picked up by a publisher!