I am so excited to interview one of my favorite authors (and people) Nancy Kelley for Teatime Romance. Not only does Nancy write some hot Austen heroes, she also co-owns the site Indie Jane which is all about independently published Austenesque fiction.
Jess: So, Nancy, I hear you started writing Austen adaptation because you heard Darcy’s voice. Tell us more about this Darcy in Your Head.
Nancy: Tall, dark, and handsome… Oh, you mean his personality. Darcy is absolutely honest. “Disguise of any kind is my abhorrence,” he says in explaining his horribly mangled proposal, and that’s really the core of who he is. So then how would a wealthy man who was probably pursued by several ladies (Caroline Bingley gives us an example of this) regard people who were only interested in him for his money? That explains why he’s so reticent to include new people in his inner circle.
He’s also astonishingly bad at reading people for someone who’s so clever. Elizabeth gave him several hints that she was not interested, and they all went over his head. In fact, the moment when I first met the DIMH was when Elizabeth was lamenting that he kept showing up on her favorite path, even though she said she liked to walk there. “I thought that was an invitation, not a warning,” this mortified voice said in my head… and the rest is history.
Jess: You’re known for writing some very sympathetic and attractive male heroes, the male pov sections in your books are very authentic, what’s your secret?
Nancy: Write the character, not the gender. This is a piece of advice I learned from a Harry Potter fanfic author known for nailing Remus Lupin’s character. Figure out who the person is, and write the story consistently for that character.
More practically, when you’re writing a male POV make sure the expressions of emotion are largely unspoken. He’ll show what he’s feeling, but it will be nonverbal. The Emotion Thesaurus is a great reference for learning different ways to show what he’s feeling.
Jess: In a battle of hotness, which of your three heroes (Darcy, Colonel Fitzwilliam, and your newest hero Sebastian Montgomery) wins?
Nancy: Sebastian, hands down. I might be a bit biased–this is the hero I created myself, and I basically put all my favorite traits into one character. Again with the tall/dark/handsome (Richard Fitzwilliam is less tall and less dark, lest you think I have an unbreakable mold), but more than anything, Seb is devastatingly clever. He sees details others miss and his brilliant mind puts them together in a picture that is almost always accurate.
He’s also exceptionally pragmatic, and his ability to compartmentalize his life causes problems between him and Kitty when he leaves London for two weeks without even mentioning he’ll be gone. It’s a natural outcome of his mind however–his conclusions have told him this is what he needs to do, and he just does it without taking anything (or anyone) else into account.
Jess: You’re currently writing a YA adaptation of A Winter’s Tale by Shakespeare, from a “romance” perspective how is writing YA different from writing Austen adaptations/continuations?
Nancy: This is my first time writing YA, and I’m only about 6000 words into the draft. The thing I’ve learned is that teens are just like adults, with the same insecurities and self-doubt. They just don’t have the coping mechanisms in place to present a self-assured front to the world yet. That makes the romance different because all the angst is much more a part of who they are. And if you’re familiar with A Winter’s Tale, you know doubt plays a huge role in the relationship between Leontes and Hermione.
This novel is also different from all my others because the relationship was arranged for the hero and heroine–prince and princess of neighboring countries. They’ve known each other all their lives, but they’re just now getting to know each other… and of course, that’s exactly when things go wrong.
Nancy: Yes. This is my signature move. Fans have you to thank for that; you loved it so much in His Good Opinion that I decided to include it in every book.
I’m not sure how this will translate to YA fantasy or the pirate/Robin Hood trilogy I’m writing next, but I imagine I’ll find a way.
Jess: Outside of Austen’s heroes, what literary hero would you most like to get stuck on a desert island with?
Nancy: My first answer is Sebastian, but I’m pretty sure it’s cheating to choose my own hero. In that case, I have two favorites:
1) Gilbert Blythe. He’s patient, kind, understanding, and he always, always loves Anne. Even in Anne of Ingleside when she ridiculously takes the notion that he’s stopped loving her, he hasn’t–and he’s shocked when she tells him she’s been worried.
2) John Thornton. He falls in love with Margaret when she’s still pretty rude to him–so he sees who she is behind her defenses. He keeps loving her, passionately and tenderly, even after she rejects him. He never lets his mother’s opinion of her sway him.
Looking at that, I guess constancy is my favorite quality in a hero. Plus, they should all be tall, dark, and handsome if possible.
Thanks to Nancy for taking the time to chat with us and also for offering an ebook copy of her novel Loving Miss Darcy to one lucky Teatime Romance reader! All you have to do to win is tell us your favorite of Austen’s heroes in the comments below! And go!