Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Introducing Shannon Winslow, Austenesque Author

Today I invited Shannon Winslow, author of The Darcys of Pemberley, to guest blog. (See my review on Indiejane.) Please also check out her blog and follow her on Twitter--she's a great asset to our Jane Austen community.

Thank you, Nancy, for inviting me to guest blog for your readers. I love making connections with other fans of Jane Austen, and talking about how I happened to write my first novel, The Darcys of Pemberley.

I was as surprised as anyone that I should turn out to be a novelist. You see, although I’d dabbled in other creative mediums (music, art), I’d never given any serious thought to writing. Besides, I had a practical career, a house and husband to look after, and two sons to raise. I barely had time to read a book, let alone write one.

Then about eight years ago, I discovered Pride and Prejudice and simply fell in love – with the beautiful story, with Darcy and Elizabeth, with the elegant period language, and with Jane’s witty writing style. I couldn’t get enough. It became my passion – or arguably, my obsession. Still, it might easily have amounted to no more than yearly rereads of the novel and countless watchings of the ’95 film adaptation.

Undertaking a huge creative project, like writing a first novel, requires a ton of inspiration (which I had, thanks to Jane Austen), but also a major dose of motivation. I found mine in an unexpected place: in the first Pride and Prejudice sequel I stumbled upon.

I’m fascinated with the “what ifs” of life. What if this had happened instead of that? What if I had turned right instead of left at the crossroads? These questions play a significant role in my second novel, and serve as the central theme for my third (both yet to be published). They also apply to my life, and to my writing career in particular.

What if I’d resisted the impulse to buy that movie at Costco years ago, the one with Colin Firth’s handsome face on the cover? Would I have ever discovered Pride and Prejudice? I don’t know. But I’m pretty sure that if I had loved that first sequel (a book praised by many other JA fans), if it had been everything I was personally looking for, I never would have written a sequel of my own.

I wrote The Darcys of Pemberley, first and foremost, to satisfy my own longing to continue the story the way I thought Jane Austen would have done herself, to spend more time with her characters and in their world. In the process, I discovered another passion – a passion for writing that has changed my life.