Monday, January 10, 2011

Interview and Giveaway: Mary Lydon Simonsen

Please join me in welcoming author, Mary Lydon Simonsen to Debbie's Book Bag today! Mary is here to talk about her book, The Perfect Bride for Mr. Darcy. Sourcebooks is graciously offering two copies of this novel for giveaway, see details at the end of the post.

DEB: Mary, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
MARY: First, I would like to thank-you for hosting me on your blog. Now, for a little bit about myself. I grew up in North Jersey (near NYC) where I met my husband of 35 years and immediately moved to Dallas. After our two daughters, now grown, went off to school, I reinvented myself and became a special education assistant in Maryland and Arizona before retiring in 2006. It was actually a knee operation that launched my writing career. I got bored staying home after the surgery and decided to give writing a try. That was five years ago.

DEB: Tell us a little about your Jane Austen inspired book, The Perfect Bride for Mr. Darcy?
MARY: The setup for the story is the same as Austen's Pride and Prejudice. Darcy proposes to Elizabeth at Huntsford, and she rejects him for the same reasons - his arrogance, his interference in Jane and Bingley's romance, and his supposed mistreatment of George Wickham. So that's that. Right? Not if two female relations of Darcy have their say. Darcy's cousin, Anne De Bourgh, realizing that Elizabeth is perfect for Darcy, puts a plan in place. Along the way, she enlists the aid of Georgiana Darcy, so that our beloved couple comes together at Pemberley. I tried to write a witty, light-hearted story - something to make you smile.

DEB: What was your inspiration for this book? How is it alike and different from Jane Austen's original work about Mr. Darcy, Pride and Prejudice?
MARY: I wanted to pen a novel where some of Austen's minor characters were brought to the fore. Other than her naivete in agreeing to an elopement with Wickham and that she adores her much older brother, we know little about Georgiana Darcy. I wanted to give her a voice, and that voice would be one of a teenager: curious, nosy, and wide-eyed. We know even less about Anne De Bourgh. She is supposed to be "sickly and cross" and intended for Mr. Darcy, but I always viewed her as a sympathetic character because her mother was the unappealing Lady Catherine De Bourgh. She is the driving force in bringing Darcy and Lizzy together.

DEB: What type of research did you do for this book?
MARY: Much of my research was done over the past thirty years. Early on, I was enamored with the Georgian Era of which the Regency Era is a part, so I've been reading about it for a very long time. Between resources on my bookshelves and the internet, I was able to find an answer to just about every question I had without leaving my office. I do try to be as accurate as possible because history is my first love, but I'm always learning new things.

DEB: What is your normal writing day like? Do you have things that have to be in place for you to write comfortably?
MARY: I do most of my thinking (i.e., plotting) while doing housework. I have a cat and a dog, and they shed enough fur in a day to make a little bunny rabbit. By the time I am finished sweeping my floors, I am ready to sit down and write. That usually lasts about three hours. The afternoon is divided between running errands and spending time with my seven-year-old granddaughter who visits me after school. She will now be joined by her brand-new baby brother. In the evening, I pretend to watch TV with my husband. Little does he know I'm usually mulling over the next chapter of my story.

DEB: What was it like when you got the word that your first novel would be published?
MARY: Over the moon might come close. I had self-published first incarnation of Searching for Pemberley, my first novel, and had sent an inquiry to Sourcebooks about publication. That afternoon, I received a call from Deb Werksman, acquisitions editor at Sourcebooks, telling me that she had already read my novel and wanted to buy it. I considered myself to be extremely fortunate as I have never had a rejection letter, which is good, because I cry easily.

DEB: Do you have advice for new writers?
MARY: Don't forget why you started to write in the first place. It's easy to forget that when you are trying to get a book published and have so many hurdles in front of you. Write because you love to write.

DEB: When you're not writing, what kinds of books do you like to read? Do you have a favorite author?
MARY: I like to read history, especially about World War I and II and the Regency Era. But when I read fiction, it's usually a mystery - but not the gory kind. My favorite authors are Charles Todd and Beverly Cleverly, who write post World War I detective stories.

DEB: What are you working on right now?
MARY: Actually, I'm working on two novels: a time travel back to the Regency Era and a Darcy and Elizabeth story that takes place right after World War I. Darcy and Lizzy had met in a hospital in France. They just didn't know it. It was a short story that I decided to expand.

DEB: Tell us one thing that people may not know about you?
MARY: I was born a generation too late. I enjoy big band music and fashion, cars, and pace of my mother's generation - the 1930s and 1940s. My favorite movie is Casablanca, and I love the Andrews Sisters, especially when they are singing "The Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy from Company B".

Debbie, thank-you for having me. It's been a pleasure.


Sourcebooks has generously offered two copies of The Perfect Bride for Mr. Darcy by Mary Lydon Simonsen to two readers from Debbie's Book Bag. It's easy to enter and the rules are simple.

~You must be a Google Friend Connect follower to participate.
~The giveaway is for US and Canadian addresses only, as the publisher will be sending these out directly.
~The deadline to enter is Midnight EST, January 24th.

1. Please leave a comment on this post in appreciation the author for taking time out of their schedule to join us.

2. Fill out this FORM to be entered.

EXTRA ENTRIES: you will be asked about these on the form

+5 for following me on Twitter (sidebar)
+5 for being an Old follower
+3 for being a New follower
+5 for putting this giveaway on your sidebar
+5 for entering any other giveaway (currently) on my sidebar
+10 for putting my button on your sidebar
+10 for subscribing via E-mail
+25 for getting the word out about this giveaway, via blog post, twitter, facebook, etc.
+50 for signing up to participate in the 2011 Cozy Mystery Challenge (sidebar)


Mary Simonsen said...

Hi Debbie, Thank you for hosting me. Your interview was fun. :) Mary

OzarksUSA said...

Thank you for the opportunity to enter the book giveaway!

justpeachy36 said...

Thanks for stopping by Mary!

Glad to have you Lady of the Ozarks!

Melissa A said...

Mary's interview brought me here! It's great to learn about Mary!

But this looks like a great blog! I'll be sure to come back.

Unknown said...

This book looks great!

Unknown said...

Thanks for the great giveaway. I can't wait to read your book.

Unknown said...

This sounds like a great book! I just wanted to mention that I grew up listening to my grandmother's big band 78rpm albums. I still have most of them!

Thanks for the giveaway,
onebookshy at yahoo dot com

BrendaC said...

Wow would love a chance to read this book! Thanks for the opprotunity.I am a GFC follower kittycrochettwo at msn dot com

Laura H. said...

Thanks for the giveaway! The novels you're working on now look intriguing as well! Good luck!