Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Teatime Ten: Shannon Winslow

Shannon Winslow is very excited about the debut of her first novel, The Darcys of Pemberley.  She's been busily blog-touring, and today she stopped by the Teatime Ten!

Hiya Shannon!  It's great to have you here on the Teatime Ten.  Congrats on your Darcys of Pemberley!  Tell us a little about what it's been like since the book's release?  What reviews/response has surprised you?  What has inspired you?
Thanks for inviting me, Emily! It’s been a bit of a whirlwind since The Darcys of Pemberley debuted. Being my first time out, I had no idea what to expect. But it’s going well so far. People have been so supportive, and I’ve been kept busy getting the word out through live and on-line appearances. As for reviews, what has surprised (and inspired!) me most is how passionately people have responded to my mild-mannered little book (most for it, a few against), but then we are zealous for our Jane Austen, aren’t we?

You've mentioned that one of the inspirations for writing this novel was the age-old story of reading one sequel and saying, "That's not quite how I envisioned it!"  (A worthy reason to write a novel, if there ever was one!)  Tell us a little bit about how you framed your Darcy, Elizabeth, and company.

Yes, as I was just saying, we are zealous – and protective – of our Jane Austen! What I saw as departures from her original characters, sensibilities, and style: these were the “wrongs” I set out to right. That crusader’s fire helped carry me through the writing process, producing what has been described as a “purist’s” sequel to Pride and Prejudice.  But I’ve since learned to appreciate other people’s interpretations as well; there’s room for everybody. 

What part of writing The Darcys of Pemberley proved to be the most challenging?  How did you deal with that as an author?

I wanted to stay in the romance genre, but my hero and heroine were already married (happily ever after, we all hope). The trick was to stir up enough conflict between them and around them to sustain a good story, and then resolve it in a satisfying, Jane-Austen-style ending. The book became a tale of two romances, then – the courtship of Miss Georgiana in addition to the more mature love evolving between Darcy and Elizabeth. You see, I do believe romance is possible after marriage as well as before! 

Readers of the Teatime Ten will know that I'm interested in how each Austenesque author approaches Austen's work.  What -isms of hers did you purposely keep?  What did you avoid?  How did you find your own voice while keeping true to her style?

 
When I started out, I meant to keep true to everything Jane Austen. I loved the way she wrote, so why change anything, right? I soon discovered that wasn’t possible, though, or even desirable. For instance, although I have a flare for Austenesque language, there was no point in carrying it to an extreme, making my book unnecessarily difficult for the modern reader. I also needed to venture into territory she hadn’t explored. As a single lady, famous for never writing scenes about which she could have no personal knowledge, she wouldn’t have ever attempted to write what goes on behind closed doors between husband and wife. But I didn’t stress out about creating a distinctive voice for myself. If you hear the echo of Jane Austen in my writing, I couldn’t be more delighted!

I understand that "The Darcys of Pemberley" is just the first in a planned series.  What other corners of Austen's world will you explore?  How much of the series do you have planned out, and how much are you leaving to chance?

I’m not a plotter; I have only the vaguest outline in my mind before I begin writing. For me, that’s how the magic happens – allowing the story and the characters to take me in unexpected directions. That being said, the next book in the series (working title: Return to Longbourn) picks up about five years later and will center on Mary, Kitty, and the heir to the Bennet estate. I’ve started work on in, with three chapters down already. After that, we’ll probably jump ahead in time again and see what the next generation is up to.

When writing, are there any particular rituals you go through?  (Certain time of day, space, ways of dealing with the internal editor, word count goals, etc.)  What words of wisdom would you give to other writers?

Time management is more complicated now with a published book to promote, but my practice in the past has simply been to hide away in my studio and write at every possible opportunity. I’m rather obsessive about it, so I haven’t needed schedules or word count goals to motivate me. I don’t know how to turn off my internal editor. Consequently, I’m always rewriting what I’ve just written before I can move on. That’s just me, though. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it to others. I think each writer has to work within the constraints dictated by their own personality. 

What about Jane Austen's work and worldview do you think is particularly appealing to our world at present?  What makes so many readers turn to her today?

I believe it’s really a combination of things.  First, good writing stands the test of time, and Jane Austen was a gifted story-teller. Plus, the themes she wrote about – finding love, balancing ideals against economic and social pressures, the triumph of the human spirit over circumstances – these subjects are timeless.  I think the other ingredient is the fairy-tale quality of her stories. They take us away from the crudeness and complexity of modern life, back to what seems like a simpler, more gracious time.  I say “seems like” because, with Jane Austen, we don’t see the grittier side of the picture – the poverty of peasants, or the lack of indoor plumbing, decent hygiene, and medical care. That’s okay with me. When I’m reading (or writing) for my own enjoyment, I’m not interested in focusing on the dark side of life.  Hence, my favorite Jane Austen quote (from Mansfield Park) is, “Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery.  I quit such odious subjects as soon as I can, impatient to restore everybody, not greatly in fault themselves, to tolerable comfort, and to have done with all the rest.”

In addition to writing, you are also an independent publisher!  Can you give us six tips about either getting the book itself together (artwork, editing, etc.) and/or publicizing your book that you would share with other authors who are considering Indie Press?

I’ll give it a shot. 

1) Hone your craft. Take classes. Attend writer’s conferences. No amount of self-promotion will make up for a product of poor quality. 

2) Don’t rush to publish. A first draft is just that. Allow time for your masterpiece to mature through feedback and considered rewrites. 

3) Find and join a good critique group. They will see the plot holes and writing flaws that you can’t. 

4) Know your limitations. Taking a book from inception to publication requires a variety of separate skills (writing, story and line editing, formatting, graphic arts, marketing, etc.), and no one is an expert at everything. So -

5) be willing to ask for (and pay for) assistance as needed. 

6) Network with other writers through writer’s associations and social media. You’ll probably find, as I have, that they’re incredibly helpful and supportive. 

Quick!  You've been pulled into a scene from one of you forthcoming books!  Who are you and what's going on?


I’m Mary Bennet, on a Sunday visit home from my situation as governess at Netherfield, and I’m about to meet the new heir to the Longbourn estate – the surprisingly tall and attractive Mr. Tristan Collins. Oh, my!

What's next for Shannon Winslow?

Along with writing Return to Longbourn, I have two more completed novels that I’m polishing up for publication – an independent Austenesque story titled For Myself Alone, and a contemporary “what-if” about, of all things, a minor-league baseball player who gets a second chance at his dream (I managed to work a Jane Austen reference even into that book, however!). I also have an idea for a Persuasion tie-in novel. But the next out will be short stories – two parodies in Bad Austen this November, and, hopefully, Mr. Collins’s Last Supper, a tongue-in-cheek tale about the pompous clergyman’s premature demise, which serves as a prequel to The Darcys of Pemberley. I only wish there were more hours in the day!

Thanks so much for joining our Teatime Ten!

Shannon Winslow is the author of The Darcys of Pemberley.  She hails from the   You can learn more on her official website.


You can follow Shannon Twitter.

You can also buy her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords.

2 comments:

  1. Love the Mary Bennet storyline ... can't wait to read that!

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  2. I hope I can pull it off, Jes. Not sure everybody's going to like where the storyline is headed, but maybe the ending will surprise me!

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