The Wenches do the Austenesque Extravaganza

We would like to thank Meredith for the kind invitation to participate in the August 2011, Austenesque Extravaganza. It is truly an honour to be numbered among this exceptional list of authors. Of course, the invitation to take part came with a certain amount of angst and pressure as we agonized over choosing the subject of such an auspicious post, and we discussed it at some length (but then again, we seem to find it impossible to do anything without first discussing it at some length). Finally, we managed to narrow it down to two options:

  1. The question we get asked most by our loyal and lovely readers – “How? How do two people who live in different countries and time zones, who communicate exclusively through email and IM, manage to work together to produce a story in such a (we flatter ourselves) seamless manner?” Or…
  2. The question those of you who don’t know us yet are probably asking – “Since you’re always going on about how great Pride and Prejudice is, why the heck don’t you write about Elizabeth and Darcy?”

Well, since we are all aflutter over the thought of first time visitors, we decided that this occasion best lent itself to Question 2. (And to our trusted and loyal friends, we hope you will be patient with us, we do plan to get to Question 1 in the near future.) But without further ado… Here’s why the heck we don’t write about Lizzy and Darcy:

From Pemberley to Cumbermere.
How a love of Pride and Prejudice turned into a new world of Holly and David

How can you not love Pride and Prejudice? How can you not read it time and time again, each time finding renewed delight in the familiar, yet timeless love story, in the elegance of the language and the delightful, wicked humour of it while at the same time, always finding something new and wonderful to marvel at? How can you not despair over Mr Darcy’s clueless arrogance? Or cheer atElizabeth’s liveliness and shake your head at her tendency to rush to judgement? How can you help but fall in love with the characters  that surround them as you do your own family – no matter how ridiculous, silly, pompous, pitiful, annoying or funny they are. And, more to the point of this blog post, how can you not go on living with this wonderful cast long after the book is finished, reliving and recreating their finest (and most devastating) moments and letting your fancy follow them onwards with their fictive lives?

Well, of course you can’t! You watch adaptations, read spin-offs, take an interest in Regency fashion and customs—and lose yourself in fan fiction…

As did we, and through a funny spot of online intercourse and role playing, we found each other and the need to keep living in the Austen universe by creating a little special niche of our own. A niche where we could rule supreme and shamelessly indulge ourselves, staying true to the times but without the need for strict adherence to anything like “canon”.

First we wanted a match for Mr Darcy. He is, after all in Wickham’s words, a very different man in his own circle of friends: “His pride never deserts him; but with the rich, he is liberal-minded, just, sincere, rational, honourable, and perhaps agreeable, — allowing something for fortune and figure.” We wanted to see him at his best, among his equals. And so we gave him a friend, a peer of the realm, no less, to be certain we could catch Darcy among his own and see what he was really like. Lord David Baugham was born! Little did we think our dear creation very soon would surpass his role as companion and sidekick and take on a life of his own, in our minds even over-shadowing his fastidious and wealthy friend.

He has many faults, just like Darcy, but they are of an opposite nature. Lord Baugham is a peer with a troubled past and difficult childhood, as of course, befits a romantic hero. His father was a drunk and a libertine. His mother was a tragic figure. But he is also deliciously flawed in his personality in a way we always hoped would save him from turning into a stereotypical character and making him both much more interesting and more lovable. When we first meet him, he is impatient and nervous, flippant and silly, easily bored and tending to run away from anything that threatens to awaken his deeply hidden sense of duty and moral compass. Somewhere inside Lord Baugham is a good man who just cannot get out, because he sees no reason to change his leisurely and somewhat rakish ways. He is well-to-do, but not as rich as Darcy, nor will he ever be, (though he does have a house in Town, so Mrs Bennet could not disapprove of the connection) but a burden of responsibility stalks him and he does his utmost to outrun it at every turn. We found him interesting enough to want to give him a companion in turn; one who would both complement and clash with him in order to find out who this man really is and what he is truly capable of. Hey presto, Holly was born! And Holly Tournier, we decided, must be Elizabeth Bennet’s cousin because that’s the way it is in all the great old novels and in that way we can throw them all together most effectively!

Holly Tournier, then, is Mr Bennet’s niece, the daughter of an invented sister. This sister of Mr Bennet’s borrows many traits from her own niece Elizabeth in that she is head strong and very capable of holding strong opinions and acting on them. In fact, we have decided, this strong-headed-ness is something of a Bennet family trait, because Arabella Tournier née Bennet’s daughter Holly is very much of the same mould: a determined and strong girl who knows exactly what she likes—or doesn’t like to be more precise—and she very quickly decides she does not like Lord Baugham. The feeling, as it happens, is mutual. Once we had these new characters sketched out, we decided to place them all inScotland, in a little village in the Boarders called Clanough, to have it out and have each other.

Then a funny thing happened on the way to Happily Ever After. We became more interested in telling the story of these new characters than in re-telling the story of Miss Bennet and Mr Darcy. After all, we had invested so much time into fleshing them out… and was not Miss Austen’s original telling of the story of Darcy and Elizabeth perfection in itself? And had not other Austeneseque authors already explored the ‘what-ifs’ brilliantly as well? In short, we fell in love with Lord Baugham, the wicked man, and with sweet, stubborn Holly and happily went off trailing them!

In Twixt Two Equal Armies, our first book, we plucked Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy straight out of Pride and Prejudice, just after Elizabeth has given Lady Catherine deBourgh a piece of her mind in the prettyish kind of a little wilderness, and transported them to Clanough to find their way. Confused and upset,Elizabethflees to the safety of likeminded women at her Aunt Arabella’s and her cousin Holly’s cottage. As it happens, Lord Baugham, Mr Darcy’s particular friend, owns a prettyish kind of little wilderness of his own nearby, in the form of a hunting lodge called Clyne Cottage. Mr Darcy soon convinces his friend to escape to the place he loves the most, as well as to receive his best friend there. After a few misunderstandings and tribulations, we let Mr Darcy and Elizabeth return south to settle their business the way they do in the novel while we follow the rocky path that Lord Baugham and Holly seem to be determined to travel. In fact, we ended up following them through seven more stories (and counting!) and expanding into our own little spin-off series set in other Centuries! Two of these stories have been published as books by Meryton Press and we are hard at work at getting the third one spruced up for the same honour.

What can we say, we love them. Holly and David are silly and stupid and act extremely badly sometimes, but we love them for what they do to, and for, one another, and for the wonderful times they have given us while writing their story. How these two come to love and live with each other is a wonderful journey. It has been a delightful process both for them and for us and if you haven’t had the chance to get to know them yet, we invite you to come along for an enjoyable ride. Leave us a comment or question below for a chance to win a free copy of our books, courtesy of Meryton Press.

 

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  1. tina
    Susan Kaye
    25/08/2011 at 8:25 am Permalink

    Spin-offs are the best. I love writing the characters of Persuasion, but it’s the original characters that pop out of the woodwork as you’re going along that bring real joy to the writer’s heart. David and Holly sound like a lovely pair of originals.

    Thanks for the post, ladies.

  2. tina
    Margaret
    25/08/2011 at 11:44 am Permalink

    Very interesting process. I feel enlightened thank you! I really enjoyed this post! Wonderful insight! Please count me in!

    Margaret
    singitm(at)hotmail(dot)com

  3. tina
    araminta18
    25/08/2011 at 12:36 pm Permalink

    Ooh, sounds interesting. I don’t normally care too much for spin-offs, or original characters (usually I’m there just for Lizzy & Darcy) but this sounds awesome! I’d love to read the whole story!

  4. tina
    BeckyC
    25/08/2011 at 2:39 pm Permalink

    I have had my eye on your books for some time. I am game for anything Austen inspired. And now I am very curious how you make your writing process work…..

  5. tina
    KarenMC
    25/08/2011 at 5:50 pm Permalink

    Hi Gail and Tina!
    Loved your post, and love your characters as well. David Baugham is one sexy beast, IMHO – and Holly is a perfectly sharp, spunky woman that’s just right to make him the man he should be.
    Thanks for sharing them with us!

  6. tina
    Chelsea B.
    25/08/2011 at 6:20 pm Permalink

    Thanks so much for this intriguing post!! 🙂

  7. tina
    LucyParker
    25/08/2011 at 6:29 pm Permalink

    Holly and David spark and crackle! I’m a big fan of theirs, and yours. Plus, I love the historical eras you write for them. Looking forward to your new book. Congrats!

  8. tina
    Bonnie Carlson
    25/08/2011 at 6:33 pm Permalink

    Just recently purchased this book. Can’t wait to read it.

  9. tina
    tina
    25/08/2011 at 9:36 pm Permalink

    Hello everyone!
    Thanks so much for your comments! To tell the truth, Gail and I have been struggling to find the time to devote ourselves to our writing lately and have mostly been reduced to *shudder* extensive editing work when not stuck in real life so your comments and this whole Austenesque Extravaganza has been really inspiring! What a wonderful community this is!

  10. tina
    Jakki L
    26/08/2011 at 2:51 am Permalink

    I thought your books sounded interesting before, but now I really think your books sound interesting! I hope you get your third one published soon! 🙂 I am adding these to my TBR list!

  11. tina
    FHC
    26/08/2011 at 6:33 pm Permalink

    wow! what a fun writing journey ~ thank you for sharing and introducing us to another new read! well done…

  12. tina
    Joanna Yeoh
    26/08/2011 at 6:34 pm Permalink

    Interesting, the focus on this new couple you have given is!

  13. tina
    Valerie R.
    26/08/2011 at 7:54 pm Permalink

    I LOVE spin-offs!! I have so many on my to-read list, this one included, that I have no idea when I’ll get them all read. Of course, it doesn’t help that I continue to add to that list almost daily! LOL 🙂

  14. tina
    Amanda Mauldin
    27/08/2011 at 10:53 am Permalink

    Hmm, I actually had not heard of these books before. (This surprises me as I try to keep abreast of things, but there it is.) However, I’m very much intrigued about Miss Holly and Lord Baugham. I will definitely try to get my hands on these.

  15. tina
    tina
    28/08/2011 at 11:17 pm Permalink

    Oooh! To be on anyone’s TBR List is a great honour! There are so many fantastic books out there. We hope you get around to (hopefully) enjoying ours one day. When you do, please let us know what you thought!

  16. tina
    Lúthien84
    30/08/2011 at 11:12 am Permalink

    To tell you the truth, I have not heard of your books before I read a great review at Austenprose. Thanks for sharing your story of creating new characters in your P&P spin-offs. Would love to have the opportunity to read them.

  17. tina
    Lieder Madchen
    04/09/2011 at 6:55 pm Permalink

    Your characters sound wonderful! I am going to have to read your books. 🙂

  18. tina
    Lanie
    25/03/2012 at 7:05 pm Permalink

    I love Twixt. Still, with all the P&P fanfiction that I read, it is still one of my absolute favorite. I love Baugham and Holly. Such rich and beautiful characters.
    And I love all the spin-offs of David and Holly, they are really fun to read.

    Love your writing, Gail and Tina!

  19. tina
    Jo Starks
    09/12/2012 at 11:25 am Permalink

    I want to thank you both for your brilliant writing. I read both books and immediately read them again. (Just in case I missed something, lol) They were just as good the second time around.
    Loving Lizzie and Darcy as I do and being P&P obsessed. I just happened upon these books. Well I am so glad I did. I find that I am just as in love with Lord & Lady Baugham! He is so hot! I do so hope that the third book is on its way soon!!!!!! I CAN NOT WAIT to find out what happens when they get Cumbermere castle. Please tell me the book is done! I hope there is more in the series. Thank you both again I really really enjoyed… Please let me know the time table of the third and hopefully fourth or more books.

  20. tina
    Jo Starks
    09/12/2012 at 12:14 pm Permalink

    Well I just found the third book in the series The West yet Glimmers. I don’t know how I missed it. Just got it on Kindle.. Now I’m a happy camper!

  21. tina
    gail
    10/12/2012 at 1:30 pm Permalink

    Thank you Jo, I’m glad you found The West Yet Glimmers and I hope you enjoy it. We’re so proud that it received a 5 Star review on Austenprose.

    http://austenprose.com/2012/12/08/the-west-yet-glimmers-the-lord-lady-baugham-stories-by-gail-mcewen-tina-moncton-a-review/

    Do let us know how you liked it.