Guest Post with Mary Lydon Simonsen: Happy Birthday to Jane Austen!

Posted December 16, 2014 by Sophia Rose in Guest Post / 45 Comments

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Hello Everyone! It’s Jane Austen’s birthday today and we’re (okay some of us) are celebrating Any excuse for chocolate cake and ice cream, right? This is The Delighted Reader’s second time inviting in a special guest on Jane’s birthday to talk about her legacy by one who has helped keep it vibrantly alive.

Mary Simonsen was a natural choice to be our guest. I was introduced to Mary – or at least her name- through her fantastic book, Searching For Pemberley, when it caught my eye at the bookstore a few years back. Since then, I’ve read several of her book offerings and found her to have a wry wit and personable voice as well as a good caretaker of historical romance in several eras. I love it that she is willing to chat and hang out with readers on Facebook or the two blogs where she contributes. I’ve had the opportunity to read and review about a dozen of her publications and have another ten or so on my TBR pile (I know people, don’t say it, I know… ‘The Pile’!). Her original characters- the delectable and unrepentant playboy aristocrat Anthony Fitzwilliam and tenacious, attractive detective Patrick O’Shea- are two of my favorite fictional heroes. I’m thrilled that Patrick’s series will continue on.

So without further rambling, let me turn it over to Mary! Welcome, lady! So delighted you could stop by.


Let me begin by thanking Sophia Rose for having me as a guest on The Delighted Reader. It is always a pleasure.

In honor of Jane Austen’s 239th birthday on December 16th, Sophia Rose asked me to write about Austen’s legacy. Even if you aren’t an Austen diehard fan, you probably have seen or read something inspired by a forty-something spinster who lived in rural Hampshire in the early 19th Century with her mother and sister. Have you seen Clueless or read Bridgit Jones’s Diary? Both are based on Austen novels, Emma and Pride and Prejudice, respectively. If you went to the movies to see Bride and Prejudice, you were watching Pride and Prejudice Indian style.

Anohter Place In Time by Mary Lydon SimonsenJane’s opening sentence in Pride and Prejudice is one of the most famous, and most easily adaptable, openings in all of literature: “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” As a joke, and because I grew up in North Jersey, I was asked to write a Jersey version of Pride and Prejudice. This was my opening: “Everybody knows a single guy with a wad of cash needs a broad to spend his dough on. Need a ring? I know a guy.” (I was channeling Tony Soprano.) The Jersey Pride and Prejudice will never happen (and that’s probably a good thing), but it was fun working through the author’s most famous scenes in a Jersey accent.

In the past nine years, Jane Austen has inspired me to write a historical novel, ten re-imaginings based on Pride and Prejudice, one of which features Mr. Darcy as a werewolf, Mr. Darcy’s Bite, one of my personal favorites because it’s a story about love and acceptance. I also wrote a parody of Persuasion where Anne Elliot is a jogger, and that story is available at www.austenvariations.com under “Free Reads.”

Recently, I wrote a modern novel, Another Place in Time, where an Austen expert travels from 2012 Baltimore to 1812 London to help Mr. Darcy secure the hand of Elizabeth Bennet. It was a lot of fun because Darcy got to see modern America, and Christine O’Malley experienced the Regency Era first hand with all its warts. There is a love story between Christine and another famous P&P character. But if the two got together, would they live in modern America or 1812 England? I can tell you that as alluring as it is to picture yourself dancing in Regency Era gowns with men in tight breeches, I like flush toilets, deodorant, cell phones, and my Prius.

To mix it up a bit, three years ago, I wrote a novella, Three’s A Crowd, about Patrick Shea, a detective sergeant serving on the Metropolitan Police in London. It received such a warm reception that I wrote two more in the series: A Killing in Kensington and A Death in Hampden, where Patrick is now working at Scotland Yard. After completing the third novel, I realized that I wanted to stay with the Patrick Shea series and that I needed to say goodbye to Jane Austen. I decided to stage my fourth Patrick Shea mystery at a Jane Austen conference in the South of England where murder was done! Here is the blurb from the back jacket:

Dying to Write by Mary Lydon SimonsenIn need of a break from his job at Scotland Yard, Detective Sergeant Patrick Shea of London’s Metropolitan Police is looking forward to some quiet time at a timeshare in rural Devon in England’s West Country. However, when he arrives at The Woodlands, Patrick finds himself in the midst of a Jane Austen conference.

Despite Regency Era dresses, bonnets, and parasols, a deep divide exists between the Jane Austen fan-fiction community, those who enjoy expanding on the author’s work by writing sequels and re-imaginings, and the Janeites, those devotees who think anyone who tampers with the original novels is committing a sacrilege. When one of the conference speakers is found dead, Patrick is back on the job trying to find out who murdered her. Is it possible that the victim was actually killed because of a book?

Even though I will no longer be writing Jane Austen re-imaginings, it was a great nine years. I got to know Jane and her brilliant novels, and I became acquainted with a whole network of fellow Austenesque writers and fans, including Sophia Rose, who enriched the Austen experience for me.

 

To celebrate Jane’s birthday, I am hosting a giveaway of an e-book for Another Place in Time as well as Dying to Write. To enter the giveaway, please leave a comment on where you would go if you could travel through time and which book you would like to win. Thanks for your time. This was fun.

 

Another Place in Time: Nook | Amazon

 

Dying to Write: Nook | Amazon

 

Websites:

www.patricksheamysteries.com

 

Austen blogs:

www.austenvariations.com

www.marysimonsenfanfiction.blogspot.com

 

Thanks for stopping today, Mary! I love those movies you mentioned. Bride and Prejudice is awesome. Time for a re-watch.

Let’s talk Jane Austen, her books, movie adaptions and, for an opportunity to win one of Mary’s books, share where you would like to time travel.

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I was born and raised near Sacramento, CA. I have read since I was four years old and developed tastes that run the gamut of literature. I went away to college and have a degree in education, a certificate in family history research, and a certificate in social work. I worked for a non-profit agency with low income families for 20 years which included being responsible for the children’s library and promoting/teaching adult literacy. I have lived in Southeast Michigan for the last 18 years and I am currently a book addicted homemaker with a cat and husband who keep me grounded. Recently, I made it a challenge to review each book that I have read as a favor to author friends who said reviews are important. I have done reviews for Good Reads, Amazon, eBay, and Smashwords, but mostly at Goodreads and Amazon.

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Sharonda
5 years ago

I haven’t read any of Jane Austen ‘ s books but I have see several movies that reference it.

Myself, I would love to travel to Egypt. ..it’s one of my dream vacations 🙂

Sophia Rose
5 years ago
Reply to  Sharonda

Ooh, good pick, Sharonda! The pyramids, Sphinx and the tombs are on my list too.

Sharonda
5 years ago
Reply to  Sophia Rose

I will get there one of these days, lols.

Mary Simonsen
Mary Simonsen
5 years ago
Reply to  Sharonda

I would like to visit Egypt in the time of the pharoahs, but I’d want to go first class. 😉 Thanks for stopping by.

Joy Dawn King
Joy Dawn King
5 years ago

What!!! You are not planning to write more Jane Austen stories? I believe that my heart just broke. (I have both of these books already so please do not enter me.) I loved, loved, loved when Darcy walked into the conference at the start of the book and asked the ladies where in the world they thought he was while Bingley was out socializing. I had never thought of that in all of my readings of P&P. I read and reread A Walk in the Meadows probably 20 times while I was undergoing treatment for my brain tumor. It was… Read more »

Sophia Rose
5 years ago
Reply to  Joy Dawn King

I was thrilled when Mary said she could do a post for today, Joy. She does have some pretty amazing stories under her belt, doesn’t she.

Joy Dawn King
Joy Dawn King
5 years ago
Reply to  Sophia Rose

Yes, she does. I cannot begin to imagine your TBR pile, Sophia Rose. Amazing!!! You wear me out with all you do in a year.

Sophia Rose
5 years ago
Reply to  Joy Dawn King

Hah! I have you fooled, Joy. I just look busy. And that pile, ugh! I’m doing something about it for the Austenesque challenge and a few others next year. 😉

Mary Simonsen
Mary Simonsen
5 years ago
Reply to  Joy Dawn King

Joy, I am deeply touched. Thanks so much for your lovely comments. It’s readers like you that have kept me writing. When I learn that one of my books has helped someone during a rough spot, it makes all the editing and re-editing and re-re-editing worth it.

Kathy Langenstein Berlin
Kathy Langenstein Berlin
5 years ago

I am very sorry you are leaving JAFF behind. your books are delightful and I read them over and over. I also enjoy Patric Shea and will be reading more of his mysteries. But, like your other fans, I cannot help but ask you to reconsider.

Sophia Rose
5 years ago

They are wonderful stories, Kathy! I’m glad to have read them too. Thanks for visiting!

Mary Simonsen
Mary Simonsen
5 years ago

Hi Kathy. Thank you so much for your kind words, but I’m afraid the well has run dry. Fortunately, for every Austen fan, there are so many good writers out there writing Jane Austen re-imaginings. You’ll never run out of something to read!

Mary Simonsen
Mary Simonsen
5 years ago

Okay, these comments are getting me teary-eyed. Sophia, what lovely words! I can’t tell you how much they mean to me. You have been so supportive of my efforts. I really can’t thank you enough.

Joy Dawn King
Joy Dawn King
5 years ago
Reply to  Mary Simonsen

I totally understand about the well running dry. However, it often happens that water will seep back in. If that’s the case, just know you already have a fan base to count on.

Mary Simonsen
Mary Simonsen
5 years ago
Reply to  Joy Dawn King

Ahh! You can’t see me, but I have my hand over my heart!

Sophia Rose
5 years ago
Reply to  Mary Simonsen

No thanks necessary! I love your stuff so it’s quite easy to share about it.

Ah, no crying! We only cry over stories around here. 😉

kimbacaffeinate
5 years ago

I love a good retelling and look forward to trying some of these. Austen has been a favorite and one I introduced my daughters too. They were amazed at how the books had been reinvented over the years.

Sophia Rose
5 years ago

I’ve always been amazed how popular Jane Austen remains though she was so witty and dealt in stories that are pretty timeless so maybe I’m not so amazed. 😉

Mary Simonsen
Mary Simonsen
5 years ago

Hi Kim. I really enjoyed writing time travel b/c I could still have Darcy and Elizabeth from Pride & Prejudice, but with modern sensibilities. I had my cake and ate it, too. Thanks for commenting.

Sophia Rose
5 years ago

I’ve always been amazed how popular Jane Austen remains though she was so witty and dealt in stories that are pretty timeless so maybe I’m not so amazed. 😉

Braine TS
5 years ago

All the time travel is so romantic! I’m not one for sci-fi version and I can tell the books aren’t bogged down with science and gadgets. Keep on getting inspired!

Sophia Rose
5 years ago
Reply to  Braine TS

No, this one doesn’t get bogged down with the scientific side of time travel. There’s an explanation and then it gets back to the story and characters. I loved how the story balanced both sides with one of the heroes visiting the present and then the heroine visiting the past.

Mary Simonsen
Mary Simonsen
5 years ago
Reply to  Sophia Rose

Hi Braine.I think you will enjoy Another Place in Time if you enjoy romance as there are two love stories. Thanks for stopping by.

june77
june77
5 years ago

You still should write the Jersey P&P! I can see Darcy being from snooty Connecticut and Lizzy Bennato from Jersey. But you know I love Patrick Shea, too; one day he will get a holiday, unlike the working holiday you gave him in ‘Dying to Write.’ XD If I could travel through time…. there would be many places to go and see, but I suppose we shouldn’t try to change history and disrupt things. So I would go back to the Roanoke colony in 1590, see what really happened and where they vanished to. And then I would come back… Read more »

Mary Simonsen
Mary Simonsen
5 years ago
Reply to  june77

Lizzy Bennato! I love it. Or Lizzy Benatini! My sisters and I tried to peek into the homes of the well heeled in Greenwich, CT, but the hedges were too high and, of course, they all had gates. Perfect place for Mr. Darcy. Re Roanoke – It would be cool to go back to Roanoke, but if you do, wear good shoes and bring a machete in case you have to make a run for it. As always, it’s good to hear from you.

Sophia Rose
5 years ago
Reply to  june77

LOL, June! That would be a fun story.

O_o Roanoke, yeah….one of history’s mysteries solved.

Monica P
Monica P
5 years ago

Wait, what? You’re not writing Austenesque anymore? I have to say the thought makes me sad. Searching for Pemberley was one of the very first JAFF I read. In my imagination you, Abigail, Regina and Kara are the 4 pillars of my JAFF library- now my building is gonna tip over! 🙁 In all seriousness, I do understand that people change and not everyone wants to do the same things forever. I’m happy you’re still writing and like Joy said, you’ll always have your fan base. I only hope that if Darcy and Lizzy (or Antony!) start invading your brain… Read more »

Sophia Rose
5 years ago
Reply to  Monica P

Thanks for stopping by and giving Mary some love and good wishes, Monica!

Mary Simonsen
Mary Simonsen
5 years ago
Reply to  Monica P

Monica, You are so sweet–and have been since we first “met.” If every Austen writer had a friend like you, they would be in Austen heaven. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Sophia Rose
5 years ago
Reply to  Monica P

Thanks for stopping by and giving Mary some love and good wishes, Monica!

Lúthien84
5 years ago

Like Monica and the other commentors said, I’m also surprised that you aren’t planning to write Austenesque novels anymore, Mary. It is through Searching for Pemberley that I first get to know your talent of inserting real historical moments in your works. I’m so sad that you are leaving the world of JAFF behind but I do hope you will find the inspiration to write more JAFF stories in future. If I could travel back in time, I would love to visit the Regency period. I don’t plan to stay there forever as I would miss modern conveniences like bathroom,… Read more »

Sophia Rose
5 years ago
Reply to  Lúthien84

Thanks for visiting, Luthien! I’m with you. Going back in time would be fun, but just for a visit.

Mary Simonsen
Mary Simonsen
5 years ago
Reply to  Lúthien84

Hi Sylvia. I’m not surprised by your choice of the Regency Era knowing of your love for Austen. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you.

Susanne Barrett
Susanne Barrett
5 years ago

Not very originally, I’d love to go back to Regency England, to a village like Meryton and live in a modest estate home like Longbourn. While I write on my laptop for the sake of convenience, I do my journal writing with a quill pen and an inkwell, usually by candlelight. I’m not a fan of Empire waists, but otherwise, I think I’d love Austen’s time period. 😉 I love Austeneque novels, so I’m sorry that you won’t be writing more. But I also love mysteries, so I’ll be looking for your Patrick O’Shea series. I’d love to win a… Read more »

Sophia Rose
5 years ago

Good luck, Susanne!

I would look awful in an empire waist dress so that’s out, but that is so cool that you journal with a quill pen by candlelight.

Mary Simonsen
Mary Simonsen
5 years ago

You write with a quill pen! My hats off to you. That’s another thing that makes Jane’s work so amazing–she did it all with a quill pen. I can’t imagine editing around the margins. Thanks for stopping by.

Jakki Leatherberry
Jakki Leatherberry
5 years ago

What a great post, Mary! And as you can see, your stories will be greatly missed within the community. Looks like readers better jump on the Patrick Shea bandwagon. You have touched so many lives through your writing and friendly nature. 🙂 Hmm. If I could travel anywhere in time where would it be? That is a tough question. There are so many places to travel. Anywhere in Italy that you mention in When They Fall in Love back in its day would be great. The Depression, the Roaring Twenties, the fifties, I could go on. Why don’t you just… Read more »

Mary Simonsen
Mary Simonsen
5 years ago

Jakki, You’re so sweet. Thanks for your kind words. I’m with you. There are so many places I would go. I’d like to “observe” Geo Washington at Valley Forge, Napoleon signing his abdication, my ancestors in Ireland. Like you, I could go on and on. Merry Christmas, my friend. Thanks for commenting.

Sophia Rose
5 years ago

Hi Jakki! Thanks for popping in and for the lovely words for Mary. I still need to read that one. Nice choices for the time travel.

Carole in Canada
Carole in Canada
5 years ago

Mary, I am sorry to hear that you wont be writing JAFF. I love your novels, especially ‘A Wife For Mr. Darcy’, ‘Becoming Elizabeth Darcy’ and ‘Perfect Bride for Mr. Darcy’. However, I do love a good mystery and have your Patrick O’Shea novels on my wishlist. I too would like go back to Regency or early Victorian times in England. Be a guest in a lovely manor home and take part in a ball. I would miss modern conveniences though. It’s fun to watch ‘Lost in Austen’ as a modern girl does go back! Thank you for the giveaway..either… Read more »

Mary Simonsen
Mary Simonsen
5 years ago

Thanks, Carole. It’s nice to be appreciated, and you have always been so generous with your comments. I think most of Austenites would like a quick trip to the past, but I would miss a bathroom!

Sophia Rose
5 years ago

Good choices for your favorites, Carole! I think you’ll love Patrick’s stories when you try them. Thanks for dropping by.

Mary Simonsen
Mary Simonsen
5 years ago

Okay, these comments are getting me teary-eyed. Sophia, what lovely words! I can’t tell you how much they mean to me. You have been so supportive of my efforts. I really can’t thank you enough.

Sophia Rose
5 years ago
Reply to  Mary Simonsen

No thanks necessary! I love your stuff so it’s quite easy to share about it.

Ah, no crying! We only cry over stories around here. 😉