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Saturday, January 14, 2017

An Interview with Amy D'Orazio, Author of The Best Part of Love


 An Interview with Amy D'Orazio, Author of The Best Part of Love
By Barbara Tiller Cole

It is exciting to be a part of Amy D'Orazio's book tour and to get a chance to interview her.  I hope you enjoy getting to know her as much as I have.

As an author myself, I made a decision when I began this blog not to formally review other author's work.  I love to read Austen inspired works myself, but I want to honor and celebrate it, not criticize. What is exciting is getting to know authors and giving readers a chance to know their backgrounds and inspiration for writing.

However, when I read a book I like I am VERY happy to share.  I have always enjoyed Pride and Prejudice variations in which Elizabeth is something different from her 'canon' self.  Amy shares an Elizabeth that I really liked from the beginning her new novel!  She is very smart and very brave.  I know that you will enjoy, as much as I did, reading Amy's newest release, The Best Part of Love.

Giveaway from Darcyholic Diversions:

When I was first contacted about hosting Amy, I knew her name sounded familiar.  But it was Amy herself who had to remind me.  She was featured here at Darcyholic Diversions when she was just a Darcyholic reader.  As a part of this blog tour, I will be selecting at least one reader to share your story.  So comment below for a chance to post here!  Maybe you will be as inspired as Amy was and I will be hosting you later as an author as well.  Instead of making you search, you can read Amy's prior post at this link.

Giveaway:

For a chance to win Amy's book, comment below and then click on the Rafflecopter link at the end of Amy's post: 


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And now for the interview:

BTCole:  How were you first introduced to Jane Austen's works? Was it love at first read, or did your love come later?

AD:  I believe I must have first read Austen in high school or college — it didn’t have the impact it had on me in my later years. I think Sense & Sensibility was the first that I read and truth be told, that has never been one of my favorite stories.

I am a scientist, and most of my education was therefore driven in that direction. I expended as little effort as possible in the direction of literature, so I’ve always had the nagging feeling that I’ve missed out on a lot of great reads. Somewhere in my mid-thirties, I decided I would embark on a read of some of the classics, and I’ve been doing that ever since. Happily, I started with Jane Austen, and she will always be, to me, the greatest of all writers. 


BTCole:  What drew you to Jane Austen's works?

AD:  When you read a Jane Austen book, you get a little bit of everything: laughter, tears, sarcasm, wit. It’s all in there, seamlessly blended.

However, that said, to me what makes Jane’s work so unforgettable is her characters. It has always amazed me how she gives such a bare sketch of many of her characters, and yet they come alive on the page. Whether you love them or hate them or don’t know what to think of them, Jane’s characters stick with you and you find yourself wanting to understand them more.

As your book is a Pride and Prejudice variation is it a safe assumption that Pride and Prejudice is your favorite Austen book?  And what is your favorite character?

Pride and Prejudice is absolutely my favorite, hands down! As for my favorite character, I am probably not saying anything too shocking when I say it's Elizabeth Bennet. It amazes me that Jane Austen could conceive of a lady who, over two centuries later, is still so likable and relevant to a modern audience.


BTCole:  When did you first discover Jane Austen-inspired literature? 

AD:  It was a very happy day, I can tell you that haha! On a previous visit to your blog, I know I mentioned a story of how we were searching for something on TV one day and stumbled across a showing of the 1995 P&P miniseries and shortly after that, I learned of the Pamela Aidan trilogy — that was really my first dip into JAFF. From there I was led to the published JAFF books which at the time was not a whole lot, not like there is today.

It wasn’t until I read the acknowledgements in one of Linda Wells’ books that I discovered the world of online forums and unpublished JAFF. That was a pretty thrilling discovery, and to date, it is the online forums that hold most of my favorite stories, although of course there are many wonderful stories which have gone to publication too.


BTCole:  Would you call yourself a ‘Darcyholic’?  Why or why not?

AD:  I guess it would depend on the definition of darcyholicism! I know there have certainly been times when it seemed like the world of P&P filled my mind to the exclusion of all else, particularly in the first weeks/months of my JAFF journey! I’ve been around the world of Austenesque literature for about five years now, and now it's a little different. Some days my mind is filled with new story ideas, and I’m reading a great new story that I can’t seem to put down, but there are other times when it’s less so. I think it's a good thing that it evolved that way because real life wasn’t tolerating the first phase!


BTCole:  What about it made you want to write an Austen inspired book yourself?

AD:  When I started writing, I firmly vowed it was just for me, I was confident I’d never post it anywhere and certainly never dreamed of publishing. I used writing as a way to pass the time as I’d sit at my kid's sports practices and so forth but eventually I realized that posting allows you to grow a lot as a writer. I am always indebted to those who participate in those as writers and betas and readers and commenters because they helped me learn and hone and improve.

For as great as reading a story is, writing is (to me) even better — you get immersed in the world of D&E!


BTCole:  Your Elizabeth is very different from canon.  What was your inspiration for her character?

AD:  My Elizabeth starts off the story having gone through some pretty traumatic circumstances. She was young, just a teenager, when she was left a widowed mother with a world of responsibility on her shoulders. In thinking about her character then, I just tried to imagine how canon Elizabeth might have responded to those circumstances, and how that would have shaped her. She is still intelligent, still charismatic but, certainly at the beginning of the story, she is a quieter, more sober, and less opinionated version of herself.

Of course, one of the things that draws her to Darcy is that something in him resurrects her wish to tease and converse freely and give opinions on things. She can’t understand it at first but eventually she feels a sense of gratitude towards him for uncovering the part of her that had been trampled down by life. 


BTCole:  Anything else you would like us to know?

AD:  One thing I am often asked about is an original recurring character who is in many of my stories, Viscount Saye. Many want to know where he came from and who, if anyone, is the inspiration for him.

Viscount Saye is Colonel Fitzwilliam’s older brother, heir to the earldom (which I always call Matlock although we know Jane herself never specified it). He is something of comic relief; he is an unrepentant bad boy who, deep down, has a good heart although it grieves him to show it. He likes to say what everyone else is thinking (but too polite to say), and he tweaks Darcy when Darcy most needs tweaked.

There is no true real-life inspiration for Viscount Saye. He is a sort of amalgamation of different people, mostly men, who I have known, and he was largely created as someone who is similar to Darcy (first son and heir) but who does not take life very seriously. Darcy needs that sometimes!


BTCole:  Are you working on another book?  Want to give us any hints?

AD:  I always have two or three new projects working! One thing I have always wanted to do is write something in the style of books that were popular in Austen’s day, the gothic romances like those written by Anne Radcliffe. Of course its hard to imagine a situation in which Pemberley is transformed into a gloomy castle!


BTCole:  Do you have any personal pictures that assist in telling us your 'Darcyholic' story? 

AD:  I don’t really have pictures of that sort of thing although I have many pictures which inspire and help my writing on Pinterest. There is a specific board for The Best Part of Love as well as many other boards I use for research and just general interest!


Book Blurb:

Avoiding the truth does not change the truth

When Fitzwilliam Darcy meets Miss Elizabeth Bennet he has no idea that she — that indeed, the entire town of Meryton — harbors a secret. Miss Elizabeth, a simply country girl from a humble estate, manages to capture first his fascination and then his heart without him ever knowing the truth of her past.

When she meets Darcy, Elizabeth had spent the two years prior hiding from the men who killed her beloved first husband. Feeling herself destroyed by love, Elizabeth has no intention of loving again, certainly not with the haughty man who could do nothing but offend her in Hertfordshire.

In London, Elizabeth surprises herself by finding in Darcy a friend; even greater is her surprise to find herself gradually coming to love him and even accepting an offer of marriage from him. Newly married, they are just beginning to settle into their happily ever after when a condemned man on his way to the gallows divulges a shattering truth, a secret that contradicts everything Elizabeth thought she knew about the tragic circumstances of her first marriage. Against the advice of everyone who loves her, including Darcy, Elizabeth begins to ask questions. But will what they learn destroy them both?

Author Bio:

Amy D’Orazio is a former breast cancer researcher and current stay at home mom who is addicted to Austen and Starbucks in about equal measures. While she adores Mr. Darcy, she is married to Mr. Bingley and their Pemberley is in Pittsburgh PA.

She has two daughters who are devoted to sports which require long practices and began writing her own stories as a way to pass the time she spent sitting in the lobbies of various gyms and studios. She is a firm believer that all stories should have long looks, stolen kisses and happily ever afters. Like her favorite heroine, she dearly loves a laugh and considers herself an excellent walker. 




Contact Info: 
(Each website, where possible, is linked to the name.)

Website     


Facebook: Amy D’Orazio

Twitter  

Instagram: amydorazio

Pinterest    


Buy Links:

The eBook will be available on Amazon, January 6th. I will try to get the link to you for the eBook as soon as I get it. The Paperback should follow in two to three weeks.


Blog Tour Schedule with Links A. D’Orazio 

  6 Jan My Jane Austen Book Club; Guest Post, Excerpt, Giveaway
  7 Jan Just Jane 1813; Review
  8 Jan Babblings of a Bookworm; Vignette, Giveaway
  9 Jan Every Savage Can Dance; Guest Post, Excerpt, Giveaway
10 Jan Tomorrow is Another Day; Review
11 Jan Savvy Verse & Wit; Character Interview, Giveaway
12 Jan Half Agony, Half Hope; Review
13 Jan Austenesque Reviews; Vignette, Giveaway
14 Jan Darcyholic Diversions; Author Interview, Giveaway
16 Jan From Pemberley to Milton; Review  
18 Jan Obsessed with Mr. Darcy; Review
19 Jan My Kids Led Me Back to Pride & Prejudice; Vignette, Giveaway  
20 Jan Diary of an Eccentric; Review
21 Jan More Agreeably Engaged; Vignette, Giveaway







Wednesday, December 21, 2016

A Christmas Love Letter from Mr. Wickham


 A Christmas Love Letter from Mr. Wickham

I am happy to have Mr. Wickham visiting with us here at Darcyholic Diversions! He is having a contest! Whoever has the best comment will win a personalized email directly from Mr. Wickham, either to you or someone you love!  So may the best comment win! BTCole (PS--Thanks to Catherine Curzon as well!)


Blidworth, 8th January, 1811

My dearest girl:

Ah, how long ago Christmas feels now, how chill the fire in the hearth, colder even than the snow that has fallen undisturbed the empty fields beyond my billet. And yet, no matter how thin the blanket, how long and hard the marching, I have my own warmth, my own fire, and it is you who has sparked it.

My life now is all military and manoeuvre, yet your smile is never far from my mind, your soft voice singing me to sleep and laughing me into gentle wakefulness.

I remember well those days, not so long ago, when we walked through the crisp frosted meadows in search of mistletoe, your dainty hand in my own, your cheeks flushed with laughter as much as with the cold. Yet Ill wager our embraces were enough to keep you warm, to chase out the winter as it descended. Those embraces, my love, burned as hot as any summer, blazed brighter than the candles that lit our Christmas night or the plum pudding on which we dined so royally.
 
Those sprigs of mistletoe we gathered saw us well through those nights, and any gentleman would have been a sorry soul indeed had he not honoured the promise made by that berry and kissed your rosebud lips. God bless you, God bless us, for having the foresight to gather enough to see us through to Epiphany, for no couple could have spent a finer twelve nights than we.

I have word that I shall be in Bath once more by the close of the month and that your gentleman is not expected home until a month beyond that. I have found, not more than a short walk from where I am currently whiling away my days, a rich and splendid supply of fresh mistletoe. I shall bring us a few fresh sprigs, my love, and with you once more in my bed, our stolen nights shall be as fine and flaming as any yuletide hearth!

Wait for my signal via the lamp black seller, and you shall be in my arms once more before the month is out.

I am your slave, my love, and will count away the days.

G


George Wickhams papers are transcribed at Austen Variations   by Catherine Curzon,
a royal historian who writes on all matters 18th century at www.madamegilflurt.com. Her work has been featured on HistoryExtra.com, the official website of BBC History Magazine  and in publications such as Explore History, All About History, History of Royals and Jane Austens Regency World. She has provided additional research for An Evening with Jane Austen at the V&A and spoken at venues including the Royal Pavilion in Brighton, Lichfield Guildhall and Dr Johnsons House.

Catherine holds a Masters degree in Film and when not dodging the furies of the guillotine, writes fiction set deep in the underbelly of Georgian London.

Her books, Life in the Georgian Court, and The Crown Spire, are available now.

She lives in Yorkshire atop a ludicrously steep hill.

A Covent Garden Gilflurts Guide to Life: www.madamegilflurt.com

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Holidays with Zoe Burton: A Time of Remembrance


 Holidays with Zoe Burton:  A Time of Remembrance

(I have so enjoyed getting to know Zoe Burton over the last week.   I thank her for her willingness to share here at Darcyholic Diversions, and I thank her for the depth of emotions she has been willing to share with us in the short story she has written below.  Wherever we go, there we are.  Don't be afraid to share your feelings at the holidays.  Hug a furry friend, find a friend and talk, write a story, sing a song and cherish your memories. I now turn it over to Zoe.  Don't forget to comment below for a chance to win her drawing! Barbara Tiller Cole)

First, I would like to thank Barb for inviting me to share with you! Thanks, Barb!!  :)

For many of us, myself included, Christmas is a difficult time of year. If you have hooked up with me on Facebook, you probably already know that I put up my Christmas tree the other night. This is the first time in years that I have decorated, and to be honest, I only did so because I felt like I could not live in Burton Cottage and not decorate, at least a bit. What you don’t know is that I was hit with a mass of unexpected emotions, and sobbed my way through the assembly of the actual tree. Unlike Elizabeth Darcy in my story, I did not have a Mr. Darcy to comfort me.
As my sobs lessened to merely tears running down my cheeks, I began to pray and to consider ways that I could get through this season without coming unglued on someone. In the end, I remembered the Reason for this season.
I truly tried to write a fluffy, upbeat story full of hope, because, quite frankly, I could use some myself. Sadly, that is just not possible for me at this point in my life. Maybe next year.   I was not happy with this little tidbit when I wrote it, but I ran it past a friend, who said that it was sweet, but not “merry.” What it is, is honest, and possibly a bit raw. I dedicate this little one-shot story to all of us who struggle, for whatever reason, to get through this season of unrelenting Bingley-like creatures greeting us with cheer. Remember that there is hope that one day, our pain will lessen and we, too, can be reasonable facsimiles of Charles and Jane Bingley.

After you read, feel free to leave a comment. I am offering one commenter two of my ebooks…if you win, you get to choose any two of my titles and I will send you a link that allows you to download them.  A commenter will be drawn next Sunday night 11:59 pm.  Please include your email address in your post if you are not already connected to Zoe or Barbara.  Thanks and Good luck!

A Christmas for Remembering

Zoe Burton


The last few Christmas seasons had been difficult for Elizabeth Bennet Darcy. Eight years previously, her beloved father, Thomas Bennet, had passed from this earth a mere fortnight before the celebration of the Savior’s birth. Two years after that, just when she was regaining a sense of normalcy, her mother passed, on the very day that marked Mr. Bennet’s death. Elizabeth held her breath the following Christmastide, ending the season with a sense of relief that everyone she loved had survived. However, the following year, four years after her father and two after her mother, Elizabeth’s sister Lydia died in childbirth. While she was not close to that particular sibling, she was a sister, and Elizabeth had loved her. Within days of the notification of Lydia’s death, word was received at Pemberley of the deaths of her Aunt Philips and her cousin-by-marriage, Anne de Bourgh. All three had passed within days of each other, in the same week that marked the passing of Mr. and Mrs. Bennet.
Elizabeth had been devastated to lose so many people she loved within such a short span…five family members in as many years, and all during the weeks leading up to Christmas. She began to dread the month of December, and refused to participate in the decorating of the house. The housekeeper who had replaced Mrs. Reynolds, Mrs. Baker, took over that duty. Of course, while the family was in mourning, there were no decorations at all, but the following years, Mrs. Baker did her utmost to assure that Pemberley was as festive as she could make it.
Darcy was worried about his wife, though he tried not to let it show. Elizabeth was still witty and charming, but there was a sense of sadness about her now that had never been present before. He tried to talk to her about it many times, but every time, she simply assured him she was well and changed the subject.
After three more tense Christmas seasons with no deaths, Elizabeth began to once again relax, and as this fourth December approached, she finally opened up to her husband about her feelings. Darcy was relieved to see that his beloved wife’s sadness seemed to lift after their discussion, and she began taking an interest in some of the activities she had given up during her time of grief, including making plans to decorate for the Christmas season.
Christmas Eve arrived, and with the help of the staff, Elizabeth began to place the greenery, mistletoe, and kissing boughs that she so loved in the yellow drawing room where the family and visitors would all see them. She started out well enough, though rather more stoically than might be expected. Suddenly, in the midst of arranging a spray of pine on the mantel, Elizabeth began to sob. The pain of her losses, that she had thought she had overcome, attacked her senses unexpectedly. The maids who were with her froze for a few minutes, uncertain about what to do. Eventually, though, one took off out the door to find Mrs. Baker, and another ran to the study for Darcy, while the third led her mistress to the settee and settled with her there, wrapping her arms around Elizabeth and speaking soothing words.
~~~***~~~
Darcy was seated at the desk in the study, reading a letter from his cousin, when someone began knocking frantically at the door.
“Come!”
The door swung open, and a panicked maid stepped in, speaking even as she curtseyed. “Begging your pardon, sir, but Mrs. Darcy needs you.”
As the maid expected, that was all it took for Darcy to rise from his seat and stride to the door.
“Where is she?”
“The yellow drawing room, sir.”
Darcy was gone before she finished speaking, bounding up the stairs to the indicated chamber. He entered to find his wife held tightly by another of the maids and sobbing as though her heart were breaking. The servant, having heard him enter, rose to allow him access to his wife, whom he picked up. Seating himself with her in his lap, he wrapped his arms around her shoulders and her waist and held her tightly to himself. He let her cry her sorrow out until Mrs. Baker arrived, and then, after quietly asking the housekeeper to finish the decorations herself, rose with Elizabeth in his arms and carried her to their chambers.
Settling her on the bed, Darcy joined her there, leaning against the headboard and cuddling her beside him, once again wrapped in his embrace. Her tears had subsided, and she began to explain to him her feelings. When she had finished, they were quiet for a while, considering her words and working out in their heads a method to get her through this time.
“I am so sorry, Fitzwilliam. I had thought I was recovered from my grief.”
“No, no, you have nothing to be sorry for. You have done well in the last months, and I see the renewed joy in your mien and in your behavior. This is simply a minor setback.” Darcy paused while Elizabeth nodded, her hair rubbing his coat and becoming mussed. “What can we do to remind you of the joy of the season?”
“I do not know,” she replied in a small voice.
They thought a while longer, and soon an idea came to him. “What if…Elizabeth, you have heard of the Tractarians and the old Christmas traditions they have added to their celebrations, have you not?”
“Yes, I have. The group wishes to incorporate more High Church celebrations than we have had in the past. My sister Mary has written of the Eucharist being taken at the church in Meryton.”
“Why do they do these things? What is the purpose of such celebrations?”
“To remember the gift of the Christ child.”
Darcy nodded. “Yes, a gift, the ultimate gift, to each of us. A new life, should we choose to accept it.”
Elizabeth nodded again, not sure where he was going with it, but beginning to feel some excitement.
“My love, you have suffered great losses at this time of year, and it has been a painful season for you for a long time. However, you have been given a gift, a great and wonderful gift, and I believe that you may need a reminder of it to help you retain your joy during this next fortnight. What say you to asking Mr. Sawyer to carve us a Nativity scene? You know he is able to work quickly and still create quality items. He has made many toys for our children over the years, some of them last-minute. We could set the crèche up in the drawing room, where you can see it and remember.”
“Oh, Fitzwilliam! I love that idea! Let us go find him now and make our request.”
Darcy readily agreed, and the couple rode out to the woodcutter’s house to describe what they needed. Over the course of the next three days, Mr. Sawyer carved a Christ child in a manger, a Joseph, and a Mary, as well as a small stable to set them in. The Darcys set the arrangement up in the drawing room, just as they had discussed. They had many visitors between Christmas Day and Twelfth Night, and the couple took great pride in describing the scene and the reason for having it.
Elizabeth had other moments that season and in future Christmas seasons where grief tried to overtake her. When it happened, she made her way to her favorite Christmas decoration and contemplated the gift of the child given to all men by God. She knew that she would meet Him in heaven one day, when it was her turn to pass from this life, and she rejoiced in the surety of her salvation.
Zoe Burton, Author
Member, Austen Authors, PAN member-Romance Writers of America, and Jane Austen Society of North America

My Blog: Austen Promises
My Amazon Author Page