I am very excited to have Jennifer Becton, author of Charlotte Collins, as a guest on my blog today. Charlotte Collins is a very original story about one of my favorite Pride and Prejudice characters. After the death of the odious Mr. Collins, will Charlotte be able to find happiness in a quiet life or will she finally be able to discover true love? My original review of the novel can be found here.
Now on to the interview . . .
LAG: What was your motivation for writing a novel about Charlotte (Lucas) Collins? What draws you to her as a character?
JB: I chose to write about Charlotte because I could relate to her. I suppose it’s as simple as that. As much as I would like to think of myself as a Lizzie, I certainly have some Charlotte-like qualities. Charlotte was a good, obedient daughter, and she sought to please her family in all her actions and choices, even those that might lead to her own unhappiness. And though I doubt I would have married someone as silly as Mr. Collins, I could understand why she did it. I wanted her to have the opportunity to make a more adventurous choice.
LAG: In Charlotte Collins, you did a fantastic job of sticking true to Austen’s original characters, while creating great new characters. What was your inspiration for the new characters? Which new character is your favorite and why?
JB: Thank you. I am so glad to find that my interpretation of Austen’s characters seems to remain true to what she intended them to be. It is intimidating to attempt to write a beloved Austen character, especially when everyone’s interpretation will not be the same as mine. Still, I took great pleasure in writing them, but I found equal joy in creating their companions. I fell in love with Mr. Basford as I wrote him, but I also enjoyed writing the villains of my novel. I hope that doesn’t mean I’m wickeder than I thought! But truly, conflict drives characters, and I enjoyed writing the villains because their actions gave the main characters the opportunity to grow and change. Adversity, though unpleasant, usually seems to result in a new awareness of life.
LAG: Did you have to do any research while writing Charlotte Collins on the regency period? If so, did you find out any interesting facts or have any interesting references? Even better, were you able to make a “research trip” to Great Britain?
JB: While my trip to the UK in college does not really count as Regency study, I did a great deal of research on subjects including etiquette, grammar, money, food, and even nineteenth-century American customs. I read many modern articles and books on the Regency period, but I most heartily enjoyed reading original source material such as Domestic Manners of the Americans by Frances Trollope and The Book of Household Management by Mrs. Isabella Beeton.
LAG: When did you first discover Jane Austen? Which of her novels is your favorite?
JB: My interest in Austen began with the BBC/A&E adaptation of Pride and Prejudice in 1995. I watched it in my college dorm room between bouts of study, and afterward, I immediately bought and read as much Austen as I could. I had finally found my literary idol: a woman whose work had endured for almost 200 years and didn’t end tragically.
My two favorite Austen novels are Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion. I adore the characters of Pride and Prejudice, and I felt as if I knew them by the end of the novel. But I am drawn more to the plot of Persuasion. I love plots in which characters have the opportunity to redeem themselves and make the right choice, as Anne Elliot did at the end of the novel.
LAG: As a first time author, what about the process of writing and getting your novel published have you found invigorating? On the other hand, what has been exasperating?
JB: Charlotte Collins is independently published, meaning that I am responsible for every aspect of the book. I wrote it, had it edited, designed the cover, formatted the interior, converted it to an ebook, and undertook all the marketing. Before Charlotte Collins, I had worked for more than ten years in the traditional publishing world as an editor, so I had a great deal of prior knowledge and a large bias against self-publishing.
Now, my opinion has changed. While I certainly respect my colleagues in the traditional world, as an aspiring author, I found the process incredibly frustrating. Invariably, agents and editors had nothing negative to say about my writing, but still, they rejected my novel based on their belief that Austen fans do not buy books about minor characters. I just could not believe this to be true. So I took up the challenge to self-publish and see who was right. As a result, I have a deeper understanding of my own industry and a new-found respect for self-published authors. This has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.
LAG: Are you working on a new novel, if so, can you share any details?
JB: Yes, I am working on another Austen sequel that focuses on Caroline Bingley. I plan to follow her as she undertook life without Mr. Darcy, the gentleman she clearly intended to marry. And as the villainess of Pride and Prejudice, she may not make the best heroine, but I’m hoping she’ll make an interesting anti-heroine. I am also releasing a free short story on Black Friday that describes what happens to Maria after Charlotte Collins.
In addition, I am working on a mystery series and am co-authoring a non-fiction book about overcoming horseback riding fear with Laura Daley. For more information about Charlotte Collins, self-publishing, or my future books, please visit my website (http://www.jenniferbecton.com) and my blog (http://jenniferbecton.blogspot.com).
Thank-you Jennifer for letting me interview you! Charlotte Collins is an excellent novel and I highly recommend it to all lovers of Pride and Prejudice, or just for someone looking for a great regency romance.
Jennifer Becton has been kind enough to send me a copy of Charlotte Collins to review and to giveaway. My gently read review copy is ready to move on and find someone else to enjoy it as much as I did.
If you would like to win a copy of Charlotte Collins, please leave a comment about what intrigues you about the novel or this interview.
As part of your comment, you must include an email address. If I can't find a way to contact you I will draw another winner.
For an additional entry, blog about this giveaway or post it on your sidebar. Provide a link to this post in your comment.
I will be using random.org to pick the winners from the comments.
This contest is only open to US and Canadian residents (Sorry!).
No P.O. Boxes.
The deadline for entry is midnight, Friday December 17th.