DEB: Rebecca, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
RAC: Hello Debbie, many thanks for inviting me to your blog today! The information about the author provided at the back of each volume of the Pemberley Series - is completely accurate and I'll include it here:
"Rebecca Ann Collins is the pen name of an author in Australia who loves Jane Austen's work so much that she has written a series of ten sequels to Pride and Prejudice, following Austen's beloved characters, introducing new ones and bringing the characters into a new historical era."
I have been writing since about the age of ten. It is one of my greatest joys and growing up a rather lonely child for many years; my siblings were much younger. It was an interest I could indulge in without any limitations.
DEB: Tell us a little bit about the latest book in the Pride and Prejudice sequel series, The Legacy of Pemberley?
RAC: The Legacy of Pemberley is the final volume in a ten book series, which follows the lives of the Pemberley families over a period of fifty years since Elizabeth Bennett married Mr. Darcy. Having observed the lives and loves of three generations of Darcy's, Bingley's, Gardiner's and others in this fascinating family, I thought it was time to bring the series to an appropriate conclusion. This doesn't mean that everything is tied up in a neat package, but we do see how the younger members of the families carry on the great legacy of the Pemberley traditions of family, loyalty and responsibility.
While most of the characters do their duty by their families and their community, some others are selfish or weak and fail to live up to expectations.
DEB: What was your inspiration for this book? Have you always been a Jane Austen fan? What prompted you to write a sequel to her work?
RAC: I was originally inspired by Jane Austen's own world view in Pride and Prejudice to write the first of The Pemberley Chronicles. As new characters were developed, they had their own stories to tell. In The Legacy of Pemberley some of these stories are drawn to a conclusion.
I have always been a dedicated fan of Jane Austen since I first read Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice at the age of twelve. I have studied and researched that period of English history for many years.
I was "prompted" to write the first volume of The Pemberley Chronicles by a friend, who had complained about some rather superficial "sequels" that came out in 1996 and 1997, in which the original characters of Jane Austen were distorted and treated like people in a soap opera. She urged me to write something different and some months later I began work on The Pemberley Chronicles (the title of book one, and eventually the entire series), which was published in December of 1997.
DEB: What type of research did you do for your book?
RAC: A huge amount of research into the literary, historical, social, medical, political aspects of life in 19th century England, as well as work on the ordinary domestic and family arrangements of that era. Having studied both History and Literature at University, I was able to do much of the work myself.
DEB: What is your normal writing day like? Do you have things that have to be in place for you to write comfortably?
RAC: My writing day usually begins late morning, after I have completed other family chores - and walked the dog. It continues well into the afternoon, with a short break for a cup of tea and a snack lunch.
I like to work in an organized way. I make notes well ahead of each piece of work I do, before starting a draft on the computer. I gather information from various sources: personal visits, books, internet files, archival materiel from libraries, etc., as well as work of writers in that period. Austen herself is a primary source for clues to her characters as we move into the Victorian era, including Charles Dickens, Mrs. Gaskell, George Eliot and others. I also use certain essential reference books - which are always to hand.
DEB: What was it like when you got the word that your first novel would be published?
RAC: That was back in 1997! I have almost forgotten - except I know I was thrilled. But I shall never forget my feelings of seeing the first copies! It's an absolutely mind blowing experience.
DEB: Do you have advice for new writers?
RAC: Very simple advice - write about people and subjects about which you feel strongly, things you can write about with conviction and love, rather than produce stuff you think will sell on the market. It's the only way.
DEB: When you're not writing what kinds of books do you like to read? Do you have a favorite author?
RAC: I read a lot of biography and history. Apart from Jane Austen, I like to read Charles Dickens, and John Galsworthy from that era and several 20th century writers.
DEB: What are you working on right now?
RAC: Sorry, I can't give you many details, but I'm working on a new book, and it is also set in the same period. It will be published by Sourcebooks in the Fall of 2011!
DEB: Tell us one thing that people may not know about you?
RAC: My very first published story was a Children's Page of a Sunday Newspaper (in Australia), when I was ten years old.
Thank-You for being with us today, Rebecca. Look for my review of The Legacy of Pemberley later today.
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