Interview with Victoria Connelly, Author of Dreaming of Mr. Darcy

I recently read and reviewed and loved Dreaming of Mr. Darcy by Victoria Connelly, which is the second book in her trilogy for Jane Austen addicts — just like me.  If you’re looking for drama on and off the movie set in Lyme Regis as an adaptation of Persuasion is filmed, this book fits the bill and even offers more Austen fun.  Characters resemble Emma, Darcy, and the other characters we know and love, but the story is modern and fast-paced as Connelly’s cast makes their way in the world and take ahold of their passions.

Connelly was kind enough to answer some interview questions about her writing and the book, so please give her a warm welcome and feel free to join in the conversation.

1. Tell us about your writing space. Do you have a specific place that you prefer to do your writing? 

We have just moved to a little cottage in rural Suffolk and I now have my very own study which I love!  From my window, I can see fields full of horses.  It’s lovely and peaceful and I’m surrounded by books and photos for inspiration.  My desk is a big old Victorian pine table, cluttered with pen pots, photo frames and mugs.  I love my desk and I’m very happy working there but I’m equally happy working with my laptop when we go away.  I can work in most places as long as it’s quiet and there aren’t too many distractions.

2. What does a normal writing day look like? 

I like to get a bit of writing in first thing in the morning before walking our dog and taking care of our hens.  Then I work until lunchtime, walk the dog again and then write until the middle of the evening.  I try to write about 1,000 words a day and – if it’s not going well – I can still be writing late into the evening.  The joy of working from home is that you can set your own timetable and make your own rules so, if it’s a lovely sunny day, you can down tools and have a day out or work right through the weekend if you want to.

3. What sorts of things inspire you?  

Well, for the last few years, Jane Austen has been my big inspiration.  I’ve been rereading her books, watching the glorious adaptations and visiting the Austen locations of Hampshire, Lyme Regis and Bath which all helped inspire my trilogy about Austen addicts.  Other things that have inspired past novels have been junk mail (which inspired Molly’s Millions), Venetian masks (inspired Unmasking Elena Montella) and my husband being sent to a war zone inspired my novel Flights of Angels!  Inspiration comes from all around me: people, places, other books and films – I’m never short of ideas which is really exciting.

4. Do you have any quirks when it comes to your writing process? 

When I start a new novel, I like to get a new coloured A4 file and I put all sorts of things inside it like photographs, maps, leaflets etc.  But the very first thing that goes inside it is a spider diagram with all my characters’  names on it.  I can’t begin a new novel until that is in place!

5. Anything else you’d like to share! 

Last year, I released some books on Kindle including three magical romantic comedies that were all published in Germany.  One – Flights of Angels – was even made into a film but this is the first time the novels have been available in the English language and they’re all doing really well as ebooks.  I also plan to write a novella sequel to my Austen addicts trilogy where the main characters from each of the books return to Purley Hall in Hampshire for a special Christmas Austen conference.  It should be available in time for next Christmas so watch out for that!  I think Kindle is a really exciting way forward for books.

Thanks, Victoria Connelly, for answering my questions.

Dreaming of Mr. Darcy by Victoria Connelly

Dreaming of Mr. Darcy by Victoria Connelly is the second book in her Austen Addicts trilogy, and is a must have in any Austen fan’s collection for its unique set of characters and the clear references to Mr. Darcy, Captain Wentworth, and more.  Starring Kay Ashton, who works in a dead end and thankless job, and she’s surrounded by a unique cast from her mother’s friend and fellow Janeite to the cast of actors that invade her new Bed and Breakfast in Lyme Regis.  Kay finds herself playing Emma Woodhouse on one occasion, only to find her results end up much the same as Emma’s, but all the while, she’s looking for her own dashing hero and trying to rekindle the passion she has for painting.  Beth is the prototypical actress diva who wants all of the attention for herself, and she surrounds herself with the rest of the cast, including the dreamy Oli Wade Owen.  But Gemma is not the typical actress — she’s shy and often in the shadow of her mother, a famed television and movie actress whose career is practically non-existent until she weasels her way into the production of Persuasion, produced and written by Adam.

“It was funny that she should be dreaming about Mr. Darcy, because she’d been drawing Captain Wentworth for the last few weeks now.  Darcy had been the main subject of her last book — a collection of drawings in pen, and watercolour paintings of scenes from Pride and Prejudice.” (page 5 ARC)

There are moments in the novel when Connelly tells the reader of the Austen connection, which could have been left up to the reader to discover, but that is not bothersome when readers are swept away by the antics of Beth to get Oli’s attention or when Kay is berating herself for falling for an actor like Oli when she knows she shouldn’t.  Nana Craig, Adam’s granny, is a hot little ticket with her poking and prodding of Adam in the right direction to get his love life moving, and she has some choice advice for Kay as well.  Living in Lyme is not as romantic as Kay imagined, but her imagination sometimes runs away with her and gets overblown in more ways than one.  Readers will get the idea that she hasn’t lived much of her life outside the covers of an Austen novel the way she goes on, but its always in fun and helps liven up the interactions she has with her star guests.

“Kay settled back into her seat and adjusted the red hairpiece above her left temple.  It felt like it was slipping.  She looked in the wing mirror.  She wasn’t all that sure about herself as a redhead.  She’d had visions of being transformed into a beautiful pre-Raphaelite nymph, but she believed she looked more like a slightly baffled red Irish setter.”  (page 174 ARC)

Connelly creates characters that are lively and fun, and readers will love hanging around with them as they gossip, maneuver, and fall flat on their faces looking for romance.  While Austen characters and stories do play a role here, they aren’t necessary, as the novel and its characters could stand on their own.  There is a mix of arts here from screenwriters to actors/actresses and painters, which is juggled well by Connelly.  With the number of heroes, heroines, and secondary characters and subplots, it would be easy to get lost if it weren’t for the author’s ability to juggle those story lines and ensure that readers never miss a beat or feel bogged down by one story or another.  On a deeper level, the novel is about making dreams come true, following your passions, and living life to the best of your ability even if it means making a giant leap of faith to do it.  If you’re looking for fun, Lyme is the place for you and Dreaming of Mr. Darcy by Victoria Connelly is an excellent read to take you on an escape by the seaside.

Mailbox Monday #151

First, I would like to congratulate (Ryan) on winning My Soul to Take by Tananarive Due (my review) from the last Mailbox Monday giveaway.

Mailbox Mondays (click the icon to check out the new blog) has gone on tour since Marcia at A Girl and Her Books, formerly The Printed Page passed the torch. This month’s host is the Mailbox Monday tour blog.

Kristi of The Story Siren continues to sponsor her In My Mailbox meme.

Both of these memes allow bloggers to share what books they receive in the mail or through other means over the past week.

Just be warned that these posts can increase your TBR piles and wish lists.

Here’s what I received this week:

1.  You Are My Only by Beth Kephart; finally my 5 pre-ordered books arrived (so the two of you readers who have won a copy should receive them soon from me) and 1 autographed copy from Beth after I won her Treasure Hunt, which I will treasure forever.

2.  Dreaming of Mr. Darcy by Victoria Connelly for review in January from Sourcebooks.

3.  Christmas at Pemberley by Regina Jeffers for review in December from Ulysses Press.

4.  Henry Tilney's Diary by Amanda Grange for review in December from Berkley/Penguin.

5.  The Unexpected Miss Bennet by Patrice Sarath for review in December from Berkley/Penguin.

6. Ivan and Misha by Michael Alenyikov, which I won from Unabridged Chick!

7. All the Flowers in Shanghai by Duncan Jepson from Library Thing Early Reviewers.

What did you get in your mailbox?