Tuesday 10 May 2011

Interview and contest: Maria Hamilton and Mr Darcy

 Help me welcome Maria Hamilton to my blog :) She is the author of Mr Darcy and the secret of becoming a gentleman. The book is out now and at the bottom of this interview there is a contest to win a copy.

Welcome to Mur-y-Castell!

Could you tell us something about yourself, so we can get to know you better?

I live in southern New Hampshire with my husband, son, and daughter, and my neurotic (half black lab/half greyhound) dog, Poseidon.  I attended Boston College where I earned a B.A. and then a M.A. in history.  I received my J.D. from Harvard Law School.  I presently work as an attorney in Boston.  I am an avid bicyclist.  I love movies, the Red Sox, and travel. 

Your newest book is called Mr. Darcy and the Secret of Becoming a Gentleman; can you tell me what it is about?

In Pride & Prejudice, the evolution of Fitzwilliam Darcy from an aloof man unable to understand his emotions to a gentleman worthy of Elizabeth Bennett's love occurs primarily out of the reader's view.  My novel Mr. Darcy and the Secret of Becoming a Gentleman allows the reader to explore his unseen heart, his struggle to understand Elizabeth's rejection, and his determination to win her regard despite his previous failings. 

I introduce the reader to Mr. Darcy after Hunsford when he is attempting to overcome Elizabeth’s rejection and struggling with the knowledge that he has unfairly separated Mr. Bingley from Jane.  He determines to correct his mistake much earlier and in the process of doing so has to return to Hertfordshire.  He asks Jane for a private interview in order to determine if she still has feeling for Mr. Bingley and Mrs. Bennett assumes that Darcy has come to court Jane. Once Darcy is thrown into Elizabeth's company again, he vows to show her, by every civility in his power, that he can please a woman actually worth having.  Without the barriers of preconceived notions between them, Darcy is forced to learn how to express his passion and gain her respect.  Through his determination, Elizabeth is able to overcome her poor first impressions and understand the value of his love.

How did you get started on writing Jane Austen variations?

When the film Bridget Jones Diary was released, it reminded me of how much I loved Pride & Prejudice.  I reread it and then watched a DVD of the 1995 BBC miniseries.  Afterwards, the characters just sort of stuck with me. I then read Abigail Reynolds’ Pride & Prejudice variations and some other stories that at the time were available on the internet and they slowly inspired me to write my novel. 

I gravitated toward writing a variation because I always felt there were missing scenes from Pride & Prejudice that I wanted to flesh out and explore.  For example, Darcy asking Mr. Bennett for permission to marry Elizabeth, Darcy telling Bingley that he was in love with Elizabeth and had wrongly separated him from Jane, Caroline learning that Mr. Darcy had asked Elizabeth to marry him (twice), and how Darcy and Elizabeth navigated the transformation from suitors to intimacy.  In particular, I wanted to write the dialogue between Darcy and Elizabeth while they are courting and becoming comfortable in each other’s company.  I felt that this could be best done by to envisioning a different course for the story where all of those scenes could be played out more fully.  I think my new novel Mr. Darcy and the Secret of Becoming a Gentleman succeeds in doing so.

Who is your favorite Jane Austen hero/heroine? And why?
Mr. Darcy is my favorite because he has is so steadfast.  His good qualities aren’t really apparent at first but you eventually come to respect him and then love him. He is smart, loyal, and if you listen very carefully, funny in a wry sort of way.  Moreover, unlike most people, he has the capacity to change.  He seems so self assured and even arrogant, but in the end, he has enough courage to humble himself in order to reassess his behavior. That sort of mix self-awareness and confidence is rare to find and very appealing to me.

If you could become any Jane Austen heroine, whose life would you choose?
Elizabeth Bennett, of course.  She’s smart, witty, kind, thoughtful, well read, and occasionally petty and stubborn– what is not to love about her.  I know Jane Austen once said that she thought her “as delightful a creature as ever appeared in print” and I agree.  Her family situation is not ideal but there is real affection there.  Each member of the Bennett family has both virtues and flaws and as a result, they all seem very real to me.  I can therefore imagine what it would be like to live at Longbourne and imagine I would be as alternately happy and exasperated as Elizabeth is.  Besides, wouldn’t I eventually get to marry Mr. Darcy and move to Pemberley.

Are you working on something new and exciting right now?
I am working on two new variations.  One explores a darker version of Pride & Prejudice where Mr. Darcy is not able to find Wickham or force him to marry Lydia.  It has less traditional elements than other variations and focuses on how harsh it was for a woman to live in regency England.  The other is a more traditional variation based on a short story I previously published on the internet.  I alternately work on them depending on whether I am in a dark or light mood.   

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Sit down and write every day.  As you write, keep track of your plot as it unfolds temporally and then go back and reexamine each character’s motives and separate journey to ensure each person in the story has full and logical “life” of their own.  Each day you write, go back and edit what you wrote the day before.  Try not to use the same adjective more than once in a chapter. Write for yourself and then worry about how you get published afterwards.   

If you are interested in Maria’s writing style, she has two Pride & Prejudice short stories available on the internet at http://www.austeninterlude.org/maria/maria.html 

Thank you Maria :)


1. Open to US and Canada
2. Ends May 16th
3. Just go ahead and enter. 
If you want to you can ask Maria a question, comment on the interview, or the book. Or tell me which JA heroine you would want to be (or the man you'd choose ;)

Closed: winner Missie


When Elizabeth Bennet refuses his hand, Darcy is devastated and makes it his mission to change. By every civility in his power, Darcy slowly tries to win her affections, but Elizabeth is not easily swayed. Darcy vows to unlock the secrets that will make her his. He curses himself for his social awkwardness and appearance of pride, and sets out to right the wrongs he's done her family.

Elizabeth's family and friends misunderstand his intentions, and being in Elizabeth's presence proves to be both excruciating for the shy Darcy-and a dream come true. For the first time in his life, he must please a woman worth having, and the transformation leads him to a depth of understanding and love that he never could have imagined.


  1. Thank you for the interview Maria :)

    I think I will answer my own question now. I do like Lizzy but I do not know if I am a Lizzy, I am sort of Catherine Morland and Anne mix. I would sure love to get Captain Wenthworth for that heartbreaking letter he wrote...but then Darcy has Pemberley ;)

  2. Great. Darcy is my favourite too.

  3. I loved Pride and Prejudice. This book sounds great. Please enter me.

  4. I have a hard time reading classics...I just finished Pride and Predjudice this past year and LOVED it. I guess I just needed to read the right classics. This books sounds wonderful!

  5. Oooh, looking forward to that darker variation of P&P!

    I'd pick Captain Frederick Wentworth! I love him to pieces.

    Thanks for the giveaway!

    missie at theunreadreader.com

  6. I'd love to win a copy (I wrote the title on my TBR list after I read your review!!).

    My question for Marie: Do your coworkers know about your writing? I'm always curious about that when an author has another profession.

  7. I would be Marianne although Pride and Prejudice is my favorite of her books. Thanks!


  8. Such an interesting twist on JA. She'd be so excited to read this book, I'm sure.

    As to the character I'd like to be, I'll go against the Darcy tide and say Wickham. He's such a scoundrel that I'd like to play that role. Maybe I could change the entire plot by turning Wickham's wicked heart into a kind, caring type. Oh, no. That would ruin everything. I'll just be content to be twisted and wicked. :-)

    I'd love to win and read Maria's book. Please enter me: http://writegame.blogspot.com
    cleemckenziebooks AT comcast DOT net

  9. Great interview! The book sounds wonderful, thanks for the chance to win a copy.


  10. Good advice for new readers and a nice interview - I wish you all the best!

  11. Lke the author, Darcy is my favorite character too. If I could choose to be an Austen heroine, I would either be Elizabeth Benett or Elinor Dashwood.

    (Not an entry)

  12. This book sounds great! I know I would love it. Count me in!


  13. An author who loves the Sox! I'm in:)

    Please enter me!

    mk261274 at gmail dot com

  14. Amazing interview! Honestly, I'd just want to be Darcy because he exudes amazingness ;)

    iswimforoceans at gmail dot com

  15. What a great interview! I'm loving the sound of this book, I was intrigued after reading your review, but now I'm itching to buy it:) I think I would have to agree on being Lizzie, she's just so strong and smart, and of course she ultimately wins Mr. Darcy and who wouldn't want that?

  16. I have always liked Pride and Prejudice and would love to read this book. Thanks for having the giveaway.

  17. Vivienne
    Awww Colin Firt ;)

    Thanks for stopping by!

    I am the same, then I read Jane Eyre and loved it.

    Yay, he is so wonderful :D I love him

    Good luck!

    Good choice

    Wow, that is a first, but then I did come across a Wickham once and I really liked him there, cos he was wicked in a good way

  18. Thanks Anne

    Thanks Ana :)

    Thanks for stopping by misha, and good choices :)

    I am sure you would

    Lol, go Sox :D

    Hihi, yes Darcy is made of awesome

    She gets the house, I mean what a house ;) But she is smart, and witty and just a great character

    Hi Joni
    Good luck!

  19. Lovely interview! And it proves my secret theory that becoming a lawyer prepares one for becoming an author!

  20. Love Bridget Jones Diary. I first got interested in P&P after watching BJD and finding out it was based on P&P.

  21. If I ever would read a Pride and Prejudice spinoff, I think it would be this one. Nice interview.

  22. Great interview ladies. The book sounds fantastic. Mr. Darcy is my fav Austen hero as well.

  23. Great interview! This book is definitely on my to-read list. Mr. Darcy and Capt. Wentworth are pretty well tied for my affections, but Darcy may have a slight lead at the moment. :)
    If I was a Jane Austen character, I think I would be a cross between Elizabeth and Anne with a touch of Marianne's wildness at times.

    My question: With so many wonderful Pride and Prejudice variations out there, what was the hardest part about making your's new and original?


  24. Oh great interview! As to what man I'd chose? Please! It's Darcy all the way! :)

    books (Dot) things (at) yahoo (Dot) com

  25. Thank you so MUCH for this amazing interview. Very insightful.

    I'd love for a chance to win this book.

    My favorite Jane Austen character has to, undoubtedly, be Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy. Not just because he's handsome, or loyal - but because he does what most other men fail to do. What is that, you may ask. He tries to become a better man for the woman he cares about, rather than let his pride or his prejudice cloud his judgment in choosing the love of his life. And BECAUSE I love Darcy best, if I had to choose to be a Jane Austen character, I'd love to be Elizabeth Bennett, just so I could end up with him! :)

    Thanks for the amazing giveaway opportunity! :D

    GFC Follower: ~Enamored Soul~
    Email: Enamoredsoul(at)gmail(dot)com
    Twitter: @inluvwithbookz

  26. Thanks Audra :)

    I loved that movie too! It was just awesome

    Good to know

    I do think he wins the vote

    Good mix :) And you like the best heroes too.

    Lol, silly question I know ;) darcy always win

    Aww lovely :) He sure does just that, and for that he is a great hero

  27. Interesting interview. I'm not a big Jane Austen fan so I probably won't be reading this book but it was interesting to read the author's intentions in writing it. It's like fan-fiction for classics.

  28. It has been awhile since I have read any Jane Austen books, but love that time era! Would love to win the book

  29. On all the Jane Austen heroine quizzes, I always end up with Marianne Dashwood. I truly love her, but I love Lizzy Bennett too. Maybe a combination of the two?!

    Thanks for the giveaway!

  30. I love your advice for aspiring writers, especially the part about writing for yourself first. I do that myself - I write what I would want to read. A good day is when I'm excited about reading a certain book and then remember/realize that it's one I wrote!


  31. I would love to win this for my Jane Austin obsessed fiancee.


  32. Simcha
    You are so right there :) And many of them started like that

    These books are simply wonderful :)

    A combo is good, I am sure not just one person. I honestly think I am a bit of Mr darcy too, lol

    I am the same too :)

    I am sure she would love a pressie like that

  33. presently have my eyes on capt wentworth ;-D

    question for maria: who is your favorite JA naughty boy?

    vvb32 at yahoo.com

  34. I love everything Pride & Prejudice. And the BBC mini series... I've watched it many times. :) Mr. Darcy is my favorite. Please enter me.
    tuffbeinglt at yahoo dot com.




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