I am very excited to have Jack Caldwell on my blog today discussing his new fantastic novel, The Three Colonels: Jane Austen's Fighting Men. Click here for my review.
LAG: I loved the premise of THE THREE COLONELS – Jane Austen’s Fighting Men. What inspired you to write about Jane Austen’s fighting men and the battle of Waterloo?
JC: During Jane Austen’s lifetime, England was in almost constant warfare with France. She had brothers in the Royal Navy; one because an admiral. She wrote about the politics of the navy in Mansfield Park and Persuasion, but never anything about what the navy did, or the army either, in any of her books. Fighting and dying, that is. There was a disconnect there I wanted to fill, and it just so happened that the epic Battle of Waterloo occurred only a few years after Pride and Prejudice was published. That was too close a coincidence to pass up.
LAG: What is the most interesting fact that you learned about the Battle of Waterloo in your research?
JC: The Emperor Napoleon was surprised that his marshals were uneasy over the plan to attack Wellington. They had fought the duke in Spain and knew how good he was, especially in defense. Napoleon had never fought Wellington, was overconfident, and dismissed his underlings with, “I tell you that Wellington is a bad general, the English are bad troops, and this will be a picnic!” Yes, the great Napoleon actually said that (in French – ce sera l’affaire d’un déjuner).
LAG: In THE THREE COLONELS, Caroline Bingley has a change of heart and a wonderful love story. Why did you decide to write Caroline as a heroine rather than a villain?
JC: I’m weird, in that I never thought of Caroline as a villain. I know many readers consider her the archetypical “Regency mean girl,” but IMHO, that’s a bad rap. Yeah, she wanted Darcy, but not in the way Elizabeth eventually would. She wanted the status being Mrs. Darcy would bring to her. She was trying to elevate herself from trade to society. She’s nowhere near as bad as Lucy Steele, Isabella Thorpe, or Mary Crawford.
She’s not all bad, even though she tried to break up Jane and Bingley. She did warn Elizabeth about Wickham—it was Elizabeth who blew her off.
I always thought the girl was redeemable, so I redeemed her. She’s still Caroline, but she uses her sharp tongue for good, not evil. She is vain—but really, so is Lizzy, to a certain amount. Caroline and Elizabeth are not BFFs, but I think they will, in time, grow to like and appreciate each other, now that they are not in competition.
LAG: I loved your explanation for why Anne de Bourgh was an invalid. How did you come up with a unique, yet simple explanation?
JC: I needed Anne to get well so that Fitzwilliam could woo her. Her illness had to be one that was caused by her environment, rather than some chronic disease. It had to be something Regency science would not recognize, but we would. It also gave me the chance to put some light moments in the book. I won’t say much more, but a character’s name gave me the inspiration.
LAG: What was your favorite moment in this novel?
JC: Wow, that’s tough. This one is very close to my heart, and there are many moments that I love to re-read. Caroline’s fight with her former friend at the engagement ball, when she “lets her inner witch free.” The moment Anne admits she loves Fitzwilliam. Brandon and Marianne’s leave taking at Delaford. But the part I like the best is the last chapter.
LAG: How did you decide which of Austen’s military men to use for this novel? Any future novels planned with Captain Wentworth or General Tilney (I did like the General’s brief mention in this book!)?
JC: When I thought up THE THREE COLONELS, both Brandon and Fitzwilliam instantly came to mind. After all, Waterloo was fought on land—I had to use soldiers. Since I also sent Wickham to Waterloo, I threw in Denny. But I also wanted to write about Caroline Bingley’s reformation, so I needed a love interest. It had to be someone new—a “Dark Darcy,” if you will. Since the title came to me immediately, I needed a third colonel, and he was it. Thus was created Colonel Sir John Buford.
Interesting that you bring up future novels. Fan fiction readers know I’ve written two companion manuscripts to THE THREE COLONELS. One is a sequel to Persuasion named Persuaded to Sail (formerly The Unexpected Passenger), featuring Captain Frederick Wentworth and his lovely wife, Anne. The other is a Jane Austen/Scarlet Pimpernel crossover entitled The Last Adventure, staring Captain Frederick Tilney. We’ll see if Sourcebooks picks them up.
LAG: What are you currently working on?
JC: I’m writing a sequel to THE THREE COLONELS named ROSINGS PARK. It deals with life in Regency England after Waterloo.
LAG: Thank-you for the great interview - I am so happy to see there will be a sequel! I can't wait to read it!
About the Author - Jack Caldwell is an author, amateur historian, professional economic developer, playwright, and like many Cajuns, a darn good cook. Born and raised in the Bayou County of Louisiana, Jack and his wife, Barbara, are Hurricane Katrina victims who now make the upper Midwest their home.
His nickname—The Cajun Cheesehead—came from his devotion to his two favorite NFL teams: the New Orleans Saints and the Green Bay Packers. (Every now and then, Jack has to play the DVD again to make sure the Saints really won in 2010.)
Always a history buff, Jack found and fell in love with Jane Austen in his twenties, struck by her innate understanding of the human condition. Jack uses his work to share his knowledge of history. Through his characters, he hopes the reader gains a better understanding of what went on before, developing an appreciation for our ancestors' trials and tribulations.
When not writing or traveling with Barbara, Jack attempts to play golf. A devout convert to Roman Catholicism, Jack is married with three grown sons.
Jack's blog postings—The Cajun Cheesehead Chronicles—appear regularly at Austen Authors.
Web site – Ramblings of a Cajun in Exile – http://webpages.charter.net/jvcla25/
Blog – Austen Authors – http://austenauthors.net/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jack-Caldwell-author/132047236805555
Sourcebooks has graciously offered a giveaway of one copy of The Three Colonels: Jane Austen's Fighting Men by Jack Caldwell.
If you would like to win a copy of this book please leave a comment about what intrigues you about the this book or this interview with Jack Caldwell.
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 (or a monte carlo simulation in excel) 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 April 13, 2012.