Monday, October 24, 2011

Interview and Giveaway: Mary Lydon Simonsen

Please join me in welcoming Mary Lydon Simonsen back to Debbie's Book Bag! Mary is here to talk about her latest release, Mr. Darcy's Bite. The publisher is sponsoring a giveaway for one copy of Mary's book, see details at the end of the post. 

DEB: Mary, tell us what you’ve been up to since you were here last?
MLS: Hi Deb. Thank you for inviting me back. Since we last visited, I’ve been a busy bee. In addition to Mr. Darcy’s Bite, Sourcebooks published A Wife for Mr. Darcy, and I have self-published a novel, Darcy on the Hudson, and three novellas: Mr. Darcy’s Angel of Mercy (set in the years after WWI), For All the Wrong Reasons, and A Walk in the Meadows at Rosings Park. I’m working on a Persuasion re-imagining and a P&P time-travel novel right now. Thanks for asking.

DEB: Tell us a little about your latest book, Mr. Darcy‘s Bite? Do you plan to write others and make it a series or will it be a single title? 
MLS: Brief synopsis: While a teen traveling in the Black Forest, Fitzwilliam Darcy is bitten by a werewolf and becomes one himself. As a werewolf, he always expected to marry another lupine, that is, until he meets Elizabeth Bennet. The question is: can Lizzy accept a man who is part beast? There are also other complications: danger of exposure and another woman vying for Darcy’s affections. Although Darcy is a werewolf, this is primarily a love story.

As for sequels, possibly. I have received requests from readers for a sequel. But if I did write a tie-in to Mr. Darcy’s Bite, it probably would be in the years right after their marriage and the dangers Lizzy and Darcy faced together. That would be fun. I could write about a villain, possibly Wickham, who learns of Darcy’s secret and threatens to expose him.

DEB: I have read your other Austen-inspired fiction titles and I have to say this one is markedly different in that you incorporate a paranormal element into your story. What made you decide to take that direction with this book?
MLS: I’m rather surprised myself that I wrote a werewolf story. It started as a short story for a Jane Austen fan fiction site just in time for Halloween 2009. The response was so great that I expanded the story. Before I knew it, I had a full-length novel, and I was having a really good time doing it. My daughter, who is a huge werewolf and vampire fan, loved it! That was gratifying.

DEB: When you are researching for a particular book, what kinds of resources do you use and what is most helpful to you in finding out what you need to know for your novel?
MLS: I have an extensive collection of Georgian Era non-fiction books which I use to get an idea of the big picture of that time period. There are also some fantastic Regency internet sites, such as Jane Austen World, that are wonderful for checking up on bits of minutiae. And there is always Wikipedia for a quick fact check. For instance, I needed to know if carbolic soap was available in 1826 for a time-travel novel. It wasn’t.

DEB: A lot of my readers are writers and they are interested in how you first got started writing. What gave you the confidence to try to sell your manuscript?
MLS: I recently celebrated my 60th birthday. In my thirties and forties, I tried to write a novel. Both efforts ended up in the circular file (aka, the trash). It wasn’t until my mid-fifties when I was sitting home twiddling my thumbs waiting for a knee replacement that I again tried to write a novel. In my ignorance, I decided to write an epic: Pemberley Remembered, a three-era historical novel with Pride and Prejudice as the connecting thread. In my ignorance, I dove into the deep end of the pool. I was very fortunate in that my editor, Deb Werksman, saw my self-published book on Amazon and read it. She called to offer me a contract. The much edited novel is Searching for Pemberley. Believe me, I know how fortunate I was to have Sourcebooks find my book and contact me!

DEB: Do you have advice for new writers?
MLS: This may sound simplistic, but believe in what you write and develop a really thick skin. Through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, etc., writers are able to self-publish their novels, but it also means that people can write reviews about your books. The first bad review can really take the wind out of your sails and cause you to question your ability to write, but if you know you have penned a good story, then eventually the hurt will pass and you will move on.

DEB: My readers are also interested in you as a person. Name one pet peeve that you have?
MLS: I am a very green person and a recycling fanatic. If I see someone throw away anything that is recyclable, it drives me nuts.

DEB: My readers are also interested in you as a person. Name Tell us one thing that readers may not know about you?
MLS: Before I had children, I was a legal secretary. After my two daughters started school, I changed careers. Because both Meg and Kate had learning disabilities, I read everything I could about their particular disabilities, and I became a special education assistant in public schools in Maryland and Arizona. I’m very proud of that.

DEB: If you could travel to any time period when and where would it be?
MLS: My parents were from the World War II generation, and I love the fashion, music, and movies of that era. I can easily picture myself working for General Eisenhower’s staff in London prior to the invasion of France. The big downside: no air conditioning and a rather casual approach to sanitation.

DEB: What books are you most interested in that are coming out in 2011?
MLS: I have just started Candace Mallard’s Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President. It’s about James Garfield, who, as it turns out, was a brilliant progressive. Even though I grew up in a town next to Garfield, New Jersey, I knew next to nothing about him. The second one is Claire Tomalin’s biography of Charles Dickens. Dickens is one of my favorite authors, and I really enjoyed Tomalin’s Austen biography.

Deb, thanks again for having me. This was fun. By the way, I love your blog background. It has to be one of my favorites.

Check out my review of Mr. Darcy's Bite, later today!


Sourcebooks is sponsoring a giveaway for one copy of Mr. Darcy's Bite by Mary Lydon Simonsen.

~ You must be a Google Friend Connect follower to participate.
~ US and Canadian Addresses only (Publisher Request).
~ The deadline to enter this giveaway is Midnight EST, November 7th.

1. Please leave a comment in appreciation to the author on THIS post.
2. Please fill out the FORM.


Mary Simonsen said...

Hi Deb. Good to be back at Deb's Book Bag. I'm looking forward to reading your reader's comments.

Trez said...

What a great interview. I think if I had to time travel I would not want to. That's why we find other era's so exciting - because we don't live in them.
I can't wait to read Mr. Darcy's Bite. It sounds very intriguing and of course I love Mary's writing, she is one of my favorites when it comes to Jane Austen.

cyn209 said...

thank you for this giveaway!!!
Mr Darcy's Bite is on my WishList!!
good luck to Mary!!!

lag123 said...

I can't wait for the P&P time travel novel!

Lag110 at mchsi dot com

In Julie's Opinion said...

Thanks for a great interview and an awesome giveaway! I've had my eye on this book for a while now:)

Anonymous said...

Really enjoyed the interview and thanks for the giveaway!