Dear readers, I am excited to bring you a new Austenesque author, Ms. Cassandra Grafton. Cassie fell in love with Mr. Darcy at the tender age of 15 when Pride & Prejudice was a set book for her English Lit examination and feels like they have been going steady ever since! Having dabbled in attempts at writing for many years, she finally took the plunge in 2006 to write some P&P inspired short stories for an online community of writers who have since all become friends. The next natural step seemed to be a full-length story, and A Fair Prospect was born.
Ms. Grafton has been gracious enough to answer some interview questions about her and her debut novel, A Fair Prospect.
Welcome, Cassie! It’s so nice to have you on the blog and get to know you and your work a little better. I thought that since you are a new Austenesque author, you would like to tell readers a little about yourself and your writing journey.
Thank you, Jakki, and thank you also for inviting me to your blog!
My only hobby as a child was reading, and when I was engrossed in a book, nothing could penetrate my world – I was oblivious to everything going on around me, much to the amusement of my family. This love of reading inspired an interest in trying my hand at some stories of my own. I started writing in my teens but never completed anything (though I still have these poor attempts locked away somewhere!) Then life took over, and I became a wife and mother, and although I still dreamed of being a writer one day, I never applied myself enough to get beyond the opening chapters of any story.
Then, in 2002 we moved to the USA for five years, and I suddenly had time on my hands! I discovered an online fan fiction community and started to co-write short stories with a fellow member, and thanks to her support, these were the first pieces of writing I ever completed. It was a small step then to discovering the online Jane Austen communities, where, in 2006, I ventured into writing short stories on my own. It was other forum members asking me if I planned to write a full-length story that inspired me to have a go!
What gave you the idea for the premise for A Fair Prospect?
I wanted to write a truly romantic story, one that would touch people’s hearts and that was very much about the characters and their journey.
Initially, I was inspired by the proposal in the rain that takes place in the 2005 film. That scene ends with Darcy walking away and Elizabeth remaining behind, and I wondered what would happen if he came back? As a result, A Fair Prospect opens with the first proposal and that is precisely what happens!
I know that some fans can be divided over how Darcy is portrayed on film, but I have a definite soft spot for both Colin Firth and Matthew MacFadyen, and I believe both of them have influenced my version of Darcy in this story in different ways. Although when I was originally writing it, Matthew’s Darcy was very much in mind, since finishing the story I have worked hard on it to try and leave interpretation open to the reader, and so I now hope that A Fair Prospect can be read by anyone who loves Pride & Prejudice, be it a fan of the book or one of the many TV/film adaptations.
Aside from this, two other things inspired the story. Firstly, how might you see someone differently if you had an unexpected innocent, but physical, encounter with them – how might it influence your thoughts about that person (something I have personal experience of, for it is what turned my husband from being just an old friend into my partner for life).
This led me to thinking about the restrictions on physical touch back in the Regency era – how might it affect Elizabeth Bennet’s thoughts about the man if something, albeit innocent, happened that opened her eyes to Darcy in a physical way? This feeds the opening scenes of my story and introduces a theme that runs through all three volumes: can there be so much awareness in a man's touch?
Secondly, I have always wondered about those months in Pride & Prejudice when Elizabeth and Darcy did not meet. From April to August they were on their own separate paths, but I wanted them to continue in each other’s company throughout all the awkwardness of the aftermath of the failed proposal, to see where this might take them, bearing in mind Elizabeth’s seeing Darcy through new eyes.
From the blub, I see that Mr. Darcy has a bit of competition. Personally, I love a jealous Darcy! I’m dying to know a bit about Mr. Nicholas Harington.
Nicholas Harington and Elizabeth have known each other all their lives – he is the Godson of Mrs. Gardiner (she was at school with his mother and they remain very close friends). He is the middle son of three, and he and Elizabeth have developed a very close friendship over the years, for they are very alike. It is his request for Elizabeth to come to London earlier than planned and to make some stay with her aunt and uncle that precipitates her following Darcy to town a day after he and the Colonel leave Rosings.
A Fair Prospect Volume 1: Disappointed Hopes is currently available, can you tell readers when volumes 2 & 3 will be published?
Volume II: Darcy’s Dilemma will be available in May, and Volume III: Desperate Measures will be out in the summer.
From the publisher:
Nursing his wounds after his rejection by Miss Elizabeth Bennet, Fitzwilliam Darcy returns to London a devastated and humbled man. The lady, meanwhile, is battling the unprecedented feelings stirred by having endured an innocent but intimate encounter with the gentleman in the aftermath of his proposal. Soon on her way to Town herself for an unanticipated stay, she is comforted by the presence of an old family friend, one Nicholas Harington – the son of a wealthy family whose position in society rivals that of the Darcys of Pemberley. Circumstance soon throws Darcy back into the company of Elizabeth, much to their mutual consternation, and also introduces him to Harington who has emerged as a potential suitor for Elizabeth’s hand, a union that is viewed as a fair prospect by all – except, perhaps, Darcy himself.
A Fair Prospect Excerpt:
Preoccupied as she was, it was a moment before Elizabeth realised she was no longer alone and, with a gasp, she found herself face to face once more with the source of her displeasure.
Forcing himself to execute a bow, Darcy ignored her outraged tone and launched into speech.
“Be not alarmed, Madam. I have no desire to continue our discourse. I am come merely to escort you back to the parsonage; you cannot walk in conditions such as these.”
“Really, Sir? Is that so?”
He was unsurprised at the indignation in her tone. Yet despite her lack of regard for his conduct, when presented with the curricle and thus the means to remove her safely home and dry, he had been unable to do anything but rein in his own humiliation and anger and return to do just that.
As the older brother and guardian of a young teenage woman, Darcy knew full well how to stand his ground, and he met the challenging look in her eye with one of his own. Yet before he could respond, she spoke again.
“And how do you propose to escort me, that I might have no need of the power of walking?”
“I have a curricle waiting at the end of the path, Madam. I must insist upon your accompanying me. This storm shows no sign of abating.”
"And pray who are you, to determine what I may and may not do?”
Darcy was cold and wet, almost to the point of numbness. It went without saying that she must be experiencing something similar, if not worse, for her garments were hardly proof against the rain that was even now making its presence duly felt. If he was not so very angry, he was certain he would feel something – frustration, despair even – but this was no time for such indulgence.
“Your response, Madam, whilst not unexpected, does you no favour.”
“How so, Sir?”
“What do you gain from refusing to return to the warmth and security of the parsonage in such a swift and easy manner?”
“I retain the freedom to choose the manner and timing of my return, without recourse to one such as yourself!”
Part of him wished he could leave her there but Darcy knew he would regret it later, and he said in a biting voice: “If you will not accompany me willingly, then you leave me no choice. I shall remove you to the curricle myself!”
He was in no fit state to acknowledge his triumph as, for the first time in their acquaintance, he appeared to have robbed Elizabeth Bennet of the power of speech. She glared fiercely at him, a blush staining her damp cheeks, her mouth slightly open.
Then, she bit out, “You would not dare, Sir!”
Darcy let out a bitter laugh. “Do not tempt me, Madam. I am in no humour for games.”
Pursing her lips, she threw him one more glance full of fire, then stormed past him down the path at a rapid pace.
Within moments, they were both installed under the raised hood of the curricle, and Darcy guided the horses up a bank in the direction of Hunsford parsonage. The journey progressed in a powerful silence; the only sounds were the soft thud of hooves against the sodden earth and the staccato raps of the rain on the leather hood.
He focused his gaze on the horses, his fierce desire to look at Elizabeth countered by the disparagement he might perceive on her countenance. Impatiently, he flicked the reins. Despite his endeavour, it was impossible not to be conscious of her beside him. The sodden fabric of her coat was so close to his own equally saturated leg that every lurch of the conveyance threatened a touch he was ill-equipped to contend with. Thus it was with no little relief that he determined the low wall that formed the boundary to the parsonage’s garden, and soon he halted the curricle and vaulted from his seat with almost indecent haste.
Hardly pausing to draw breath, he made his way round to the other side. Despite her ill opinion of him, he could not allow her to descend from such a height without assistance, yet it was no surprise when he fetched up in front of her to see that she was poised upon the edge of her seat, clearly intending to dismount unaided.
She met his look with a glare, raising her chin as their eyes locked. Resolutely, Darcy held out his hand, his intention apparent, struggling to contain the flash of anger that flared when he detected the look of disbelief that briefly crossed her features.
The fury Elizabeth had felt during her earlier confrontation with Mr Darcy vied with her annoyance at being obliged to accept a place in his conveyance. There had, for a fleeting moment, been a look in his eye back there that had persuaded her she had pushed him as far as it was wise to go and that his proclaimed intent to pick her up and bodily throw her into the curricle was no idle threat.
Yet here she was, safely returned to the sanctuary of the parsonage, blissfully empty of its sycophantic incumbent for a few hours, and certainly drier than the gentleman in front of her, who was currently being drenched anew by the treacherous onslaught of a fresh downpour, whilst she remained protected by the large hood of the curricle.
Elizabeth refused to acknowledge his outstretched hand. Agitated as she was by their angry confrontation and by his insistence on seeing her safely home, she remained in no mood to give him credit for his gesture and in no humour to accept it.
Refusing to break eye contact, she fixed him with a glacial look as she stood up and took the prideful step that must preface a fall. Her foot slipped on the wet footboard, and she fell forward with nothing to grasp onto but the shoulders of the one man she least wished to encounter.As the full weight of Elizabeth’s body struck him, Darcy took a step backwards. His arms had reflexively caught her, but as the speed of her fall propelled her forward into his unintentional embrace, he found himself clasping her to his body, her hands tightly gripping his shoulders and her eyes wide with surprise mere inches from his own.
Now, the moment you all have been waiting for!! In celebration of releasing her first novel, Cassandra Grafton is giving away 2 copies of A Fair Prospect (print or any format of eBook ~ winner’s choice)! To enter, simply comment on this interview telling us what intrigues you about this book or ask Cassandra a question about her debut novel.Please leave your email address so I know how to contact the winner. For extra entries, tweet about the giveaway and follow Cassandra Grafton on Twitter. Please comment that you have done these things. OPEN INTERNATIONALLY!!
Giveaway ends April 1! Good Luck!!
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