Thursday, June 21, 2012

Pride and Pyramids

I’m starting to get very excited about the release of Pride and Pyramids on July 1st. It’s long been a dream of mine to write a sequel to Pride and Prejudice, and although I’ve written a bit about the  Darcys after their marriage before, this is the first full-length novel I’ve written about them (apart from Mr Darcy, Vampyre, which is a paranormal and so I’m not counting it here.)

 The first time I wrote about the Darcys post- marriage was in Mr Darcy’s Diary, which continues for a few months after the wedding. Then of course I wrote Mr Darcy, Vampyre, which is a what-if story. Then, set in the real world again, I wrote a novella called A Christmas Present for the anthology A Darcy Christmas. It gave me a chance to write about the birth of the Darcys’ first child, a little girl named Elizabeth after her mother, but called Beth by everyone.

 When I turned over various ideas for a full length novel, I came up against a variety of stumbling blocks: there were already a lot of books about the Darcys settling into Pemberley and continuing with their lives and I couldn’t see the point of writing another one; then, too, there was the problem that a book needs tension and conflict to keep the pages turning, but I didn’t see the Darcys settling into a future of tension and conflict. I didn’t want to give them affairs or miscarriages or marital difficulties. I wanted to give them a happy ever after.

 The problems seemed insurmountable, until one day I was chatting to one of my friends, Jacqueline Webb. Jackie and I have known each other for years. We met at an RNA chapter meeting and as we both write historical romance we had plenty to talk about, as you can imagine. Well, on this occasion, we got onto the subject of Pride and Prejudice and the difficulty of writing a sequel. Jackie had already written a book set in Egypt and suddenly something clicked. Egyptology was very big in Jane Austen’s day and no one had ever taken Elizabeth and Darcy to Egypt before.

 Emails flew back and forth as our ideas began to take shape. We knew that Mr Darcy’s father died an early death, and this could be owing to a weakened constitution following a mysterious trip to Egypt with Colonel Fitzwilliam’s father – something which was accurate for the period. We decided to give Colonel Fitzwilliam a younger brother who had been inspired by his father’s adventures and who would infect the Darcys with his enthusiasm. The book would have excitement and adventure courtesy of their travels (together with tombs and pyramids and a very spooky Egyptian doll)  and plenty of romance courtesy of Elizabeth and Darcy’s ongoing love for one another.

 We were both seized by the idea and set to work. The book quickly took shape, and when I pitched it to my editor at Sourcebooks, Deb Werksman,  she loved the idea. She loved the book, too, and we all love the cover.  It has just the right feel for the novel, and, best of all, it includes a portrait of Elizabeth and her youngest daughter.

The portrait is by Elisabeth le Brun, a real life painter who is mentioned in the novel as she is about to paint a portrait of the Darcy family. I have always loved her portraits, and Darcy echoes my feelings when he says how much he admires le Brun’s informal style, and how well it will suit Elizabeth.

 The advanced reading copies have already gone out, and I was thrilled to see this advance review on Goodreads. I hope you love the book as much as we do!

Amanda Grange


Elizabeth Hawksley said...

What a terrific idea, Amanda! I wish 'Pride and Pyramids' every success.

I, too, am an Elisabeth Vigee-le Brun fan. She had a very exciting life herself. She was a favourite painter of Marie-Antoinette and the French court, and had to flee at the outbreak of the French Revolution. She ended up staying six years in Russia.

I bet she had a story to tell.

Christina Courtenay said...

Sounds fascinating, Amanda! I love anything to do with Egypt so will look out for this!