Author Interviews

As the Press expands, our authors will provide their feedback to the fans through interviews as well as other means.

Regency Assembly Press(RAP):When and why did you begin writing?

David W Wilkin(DWW):I had my first bout when I left college. I had been let go six months from my position after graduating so the son of the people I worked for could have a job. Nepotism is a great tradition. My father, allowing me to try my hand encouraged me to write and I worked on a science fiction, a tongue in cheek western, a screenplay, a game module and a fantasy novel. Then reality and rejection letters came in and I went back to the full time workforce. It was 10 years ago that I picked things up at a much more intense pace, taking classes, joining a critique group, and honing my craft.  The reason I write is that I think I can tell a story and I like doing it.


RAP: Do you base experiences and characters in your writing on someone you know, or events in your own life?

DWW:Mostly no. Perhaps sometimes a characterization creeps in. But I do not think any character in my writing is someone I know. Or events are those which I have done. I will sit while typing and think in my head how someone moves about, or does a thing and then write it.


RAP: What books have most influenced your life most?

DWW:There is a difference between influencing a life and being a novelist. That which influenced my writing is Stephen King’s On Writing. The books that influence are lives the most, as I was talking philosophy last night, in our Judeo-Christian world is the bible. It gives us our morals, it sets forth the path of our laws and interactions with each other. In Regency, Frederica by Georgette Heyer shows me the path of the type of Regency I want to write.


RAP: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

DWW:As I mentioned Georgette Heyer, there is also Charles Dickens. In high school, reading the Tale of Two Cities, I found this to be a tremendous story. Then as I’ve read more Dickens, his ability to go off on a tangent and write a whole history in five pages and keep me captivated I think is wonderful.


RAP: What book are you reading now?

DWW:I am working on a history called; ‘The Artist, the Philosopher, and the Warrior: The Intersecting Lives of Da Vinci, Machiavelli, and Borgia and the World They Shaped’ by Paul Strathern. I have a degree in history from UCLA and I think that is also why I like to tell stories through writing. History has always seemed one giant story to me.


RAP: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?

DWW:Scott Lynch and Patrick Rothfuss. But both are disappointingly slow in producing the rest of their works. Perhaps Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time epic which I have been with for 20 years and even though he is dead, it is nearly done (with the help of a successor author.) It has such rich plots and storylines that I find I can read and reread it. All three are fantasy, so not any Regency Romance in them.


RAP: What are your current projects?

DWW:Another regency romance. The Shattered Mirror. It will be available from RAP probably by summer of 2010.


RAP: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

DWW:I did write a piece for a game magazine that they did not tell me was accepted. When the issue where it was published arrived and I saw it, back when I was in college, I was ecstatic. Whatever had motivated me before that, I do not remember and I had worked on projects before that. I had sold a game module that was never published for instance. But I do remember the exhilaration I felt when I saw my byline the first time.


RAP: How do you research your book(s)?

DWW:I have a very large (1000 books+) research library that I have accumulated and there is the internet. A great resource for maps (though I have travelled extensively in England) and wiki articles of things that might not be in my own library. The romance, well that is between me and my true love...

D.W. Wilkin

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Interview and Giveaway with Regency Romance Author, David William Wilkin at JDP News 11/7/2011 (reprinted here)

Today I have an author interview and giveaway with David William (D.W.) Wilkin, who among many other things, writes Regency romances. David has graciously agreed to give away one of his books at the end of this interview, Colonel Fiztwilliam's Correspondence, a Regency romance based on some characters from Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. Read on to learn more about David and find out how you can enter to win a copy of this book! (E-book open to International and US entries, print copy US only)


JDP: Thank you for joining us today, David. How did you become interested in writing about the Regency period?


David: That is a tale, and bear with me, I shall lead you to the end of the trail. I liked history enough from High School to make it my major in college. I specialized in Pre-Modern Asian history while getting my degree which is pretty far from the study of Regency England. But History, I have always found, is stories. I like stories and even before college I wrote some, but after, I started my quest to be a novelist. I also became an Historical Re-enactor.


I joined groups where we made the costumes of the era we were Re-enacting. I learned the dances from those times, and then actually taught well over 1000 people how to do them. Running regular dance practices. My early main focus was Medieval and Renaissance, but one day a friend said, 'Have I got a girl for you to meet,' and dragged me to a Regency Dance. Well, not that girl, but several years later, I met my wife, Cheryl at a Regency Ball.


To woo her (she was very far away), I wrote her a regency romance, a few pages a day, that turned into a novel. When taking a class to further enhance my writing, I resurrected the story and worked on it more. Then over the last ten years, found that a good third of my output was Regency Romances.



JDP: Wow, that’s an amazing (and wonderfully romantic) story! What do you find most fascinating about the Regency era?


David: We of course stylize the era. How many of us portray London or Town, other than full of beauty and elegant living? When of course you step outside those stately homes, and there is filth in the streets. The lower classes are everywhere, and the middle classes are struggling. But in our Regencies, we set aside that and in is light and glitters. That is something I love. It is actually a fantasy world we create each time. 


Even in movies, or especially in movies, the clothes our heroines and heroes wear are never smudged with dirt, or tattered. I find it hard to imagine that everything would look so clean back in the day. So on my Planet, where I recreate the Regency, I can enter the world of the Aristocracy and Nobility, and share those titles, and those riches. I think of it as a great escape.


JDP: Ah, yes, I relate to your cleaned up fantasy world. Only my characters live on Planet Medieval, rather than Planet Regency. I’m always interested in how authors research their historical novels. Could you tell us a little about how you researched the historical background for Colonel Fitzwilliam's Correspondence?


David: Colonel Fitzwilliam's Correspondence is of course a sequel to Pride and Prejudice. So first, I reread Austen's classic. My book also focuses on Darcy's cousin, who does not get a lot of play in a novel set during the Napoleonic Wars. It was still a time where a very rich man could purchase their rank, and one can imagine that the Earl of M----K, as Austen calls Fitzwilliam's father, having done so for his son. 

           

As a history major, I have delved into military history, and have learned a thing or two about the Napoleonic Wars. Philip Haythornwaite's Wellington's Military Machine, Sir Charles Oman's History of the Peninsular War, David Chandler's The Campaigns of Napoleon and David Gates The Spanish Ulcer all have places on my bookshelf along with dozens of others about the battles and period of the war. In addition to many books about the Regency. Knowing about the war and thinking about the Colonel, I knew that he had to be a participant in it.


I knew that by bringing the two together, I could craft a story with a little steel in our hero. (I hope I've conveyed that.) And that during the period, many, many men were affected truly by the war.


JDP: Can you share with us your top three favorite research books or other resources?


David: For the Regency era, my all time favorite is What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew by Daniel Pool. Very similar but with enough extra is Kristine Hughes Everyday Life in Regency England. Last, since I have been influenced by Georgette Heyer in creating my view of the Regency since a friend told me at one of those Regency Dances I just had to read Frederica, is Jennifer Kloester's Georgette Heyer's Regency World.


JDP: Ahhh, I love Frederica, by Georgette Heyer! (And Friday’s Child and These Old Shades and The Convenient Marriage and The Talisman Ring… Oops! Better stop and get on with the interview!) Are there any historical figures from the Regency era who particularly intrigue you?


David: We often forget that that across the channel a whole slew of characters, who were very much effecting what happened in London, were alive and influencing all of Europe. I think the most exciting is Ney. If your readers hear of his defense of the Grande Armee as it retreated from Russia and crossed the bridge at Kovno. Heroic stuff. 


In England and our Regency, I love the many fictional Age of Sail officers. Hornblower shall always be a favorite, followed by Ramage, Bolitho, Drinkwater (isn't that a great name that Richard Woodman gave us for a Naval Hero?) Nelson then is fascinating to me as are some of the other great British seamen, Hornblower's Pellew was a real historical figure. Militarily Wellington and his generals are also fascinating. Henry Paget, a great cavalry commander that returns from the Peninsula and promptly runs-off with Wellington's sister-in law. Wellington thus cannot have him serve on his staff, at least not until Waterloo years later and there his leg had to be amputated. He lived almost 40 years after that. Stapleton Cotton (What a great name), a Cavalry officer who lived to the age of 91 after the war.


What of Sir Harry Smith, who Heyer immortalizes in The Spanish Bride. Later to become a Lt. General and his wife, saved from Badajoz, becomes the woman that the cities (3 of  them) of Ladysmith is named after. Beau Brummel and his Dandy Club, all I find fascinating


JDP: It was truly a fascinating age. What inspired you to write Colonel Fitzwilliam's Correspondence?


David: Before I was a teenager, we were flipping through channels on television, when my mother, who thought she could order us when it came to control of the tv set, made us stop on an old black and white show. 'That's my favorite,' and then she made my three younger brothers and I watch it. It was Olivier's Pride and Prejudice and yuck!  Fast forward into my twenties and I began to appreciate that movie, and then in my 30's loved it. I even delved into reading the original piece of chick lit and enjoyed it as well. While I do not think of myself as a tremendous fan of Jane Austen, her work certainly got me interested in the Regency, along with the re-enactment activities I was becoming involved in. And then I read Heyer.


What a hoot! Georgette's use of language to evoke a period was tremendous and that further gave me an appreciation for the period. As I spent more time with the Regency, meeting Cheryl who would become my wife in that society, I also worked on my writing. Also working on a true Historical of the Peninsular war. While researching that, the pieces fell into place for a sequel to Pride and Prejudice. Something that Cheryl and I would also watch is the A&E (1995) version of each year. So many write about Darcy and Lizzy and so few acknowledge that the war was occurring and that those of the Ton were quite concerned that the Little Corporal go down to defeat. I thought it an important gap that needed to be addressed.


JDP: I agree. I think even historical romances sometimes need to be placed in their historical context. Please tell us a little about your Regency romance, Colonel Fitzwilliam's Correspondence.


David: Originally I envisioned that the Colonel would emerge and have a romance, but I quickly put Kitty into the scene. With Lydia gone, I found Kitty torn between wanting to be a better young lady than she had been while her more boisterous sister led her about, but also still a person of fun. I knew that the growth that occurs in all of us over time could be telling for one such as Kitty moving from being a girl to a woman. 

           

I also knew that the war lasts for years, and a woman, if not married before her lover goes to war, most likely would not wait and appear to be on the shelf. When I placed the first letter in the story as a device to appease and contain the ever flighty Mrs. Bennet, I had no realization that would become the device I could employ for the entire story, but the truth is that England was growing closer by virtue of the post. Look to the original and the post between Jane and Lizzy telling of Lydia's flight. Look at the missive Darcy places in the hands of Lizzy to explain himself. There is a great deal of letter writing occurring.

           

I believe that carries my book. That it is also the change in our hero, who becomes a great correspondent and uses his connections back in England to keep him sane amidst the battlefields of Portugal and Spain. The crux of both his growth, and that of his love interest occurs when he returns from the war. I attempt to place my own use of language, as did Heyer, into the story. I think this is a dividing point for my readers. Some have related that they find this works for them, while others expecting this book to be our current use of language can't get past that.

           

The last caveat of a work based upon another's writing is that many have their own ideas of what should be happening to the characters the original author created after writing The End. I of course take all those characters in the direction I chose. I used the last few paragraphs as a guideline, and I used Aldous Huxley's view of Pride and Prejudice's Catherine de Bourgh portrayed by Edna May Oliver for mine more than some of the others. Austen says that Lady Catherine and Elizabeth will make amends in the final paragraphs of the novel. The Olivier movie (1940) I think shows that clearly. (Edna May beats Judi Dench in this portrayal, hands down-IMO)


JDP: Are you working on any new projects?


David: Always. Currently being edited by my core group is a modern romance. I don't want to say too much, but as it is Halloween, there are certain spectral beings that bring humor and channel Cupid. There are a few other Regencies also being edited at the moment. One called Beggars Can't be Choosier, the other is Two Peas in a Pod. The last about identical twins and mistaken identities. Beggars has the underlying theme that so many Regency marriages were founded on, marrying for money.

D.W. Wilkin at JDP Newshttp://jdp-news.blogspot.com/2011/11/interview-and-giveaway-with-regency.html

An Interview with Author David W Wilkin


David Wilkin has been a historical re-enactor for twenty-five years. Most of that he has taught the dances of those past times to other re-enactors. With a degree in history and a passion for writing he has turned his hand to penning several novels about the past. A member of the English Historical Fiction Authors blog, today I interview him to tell us a little bit more about his work and the time periods he specializes in.


Where did you grow up, and where do you live now?


I am a Los Angeleno. Born in Los Angeles California. Went for two years of college at UC Santa Cruz before coming back to town and finishing at UCLA. I have spent the rest of my life here in Southern California.


You majored in History. How do you use that in your daily life?


In my daily life I have been a manufacturing executive for 20 years. History comes into play only when I relate stories to the workers about how we did it in the old day. Or an idea on how to counsel the employees. Citing how other companies in the world (I am an avid reader of business history) have overcome an obstacle and gone on to success. Talking about a Regency Dandy like Beau Brummels, or about Prinny, does me little good on the shop floor.


How did your interest in writing begin?


I liked creating stories when I was a child. Then in college I actually submitted an article and it was published. When I graduated, after my first out of college job ended, I tried my hand at writing stories. I find in comparison to what I create now, there was a lot more editing at the end of my drafts when I started then now.


How long have you been writing now?


Over thirty years. But the last ten have been the most fruitful period. And of that, two and half years ago we had to close my own company, Aspen Interiors. We made the woodwork found in the Cheesecake Factory restaurants. That was a blow, and so I turned to writing every day after sending out the resumes. I have written 9915 pages in the time between closing Aspen and reentering the work force. Lots of first draft material, some second draft, and some items actually now in print.

Where did your interest in the Regency Era come from?


That is a tale, and bear with me, I shall lead you to the end of the trail. I liked history enough from High School to make it my major in college. I specialized in Pre-Modern Asian history while getting my degree which is pretty far from the study of Regency England. But History, I have always found, is stories. I like stories and even before college I wrote some, but after, I started my quest to be a novelist. I also became an Historical Re-enactor.


I joined groups where we made the costumes of the era we were Re-enacting. I learned the dances from those times, and then actually taught well over 1000 people how to do them. Running regular dance practices. My early main focus was Medieval and Renaissance, but one day a friend said, 'Have I got a girl for you to meet,' and dragged me to a Regency Dance. Well, not that girl, but several years later, I met my wife, Cheryl at a Regency Ball.


To woo her (she was very far away), I wrote her a regency romance, a few pages a day, that turned into a novel. When taking a class to further enhance my writing, I resurrected the story and worked on it more. Then over the last ten years, found that a good third of my output was Regency Romances.


When did you first begin to think about writing a novel, and what motivated your
decision?


As I mentioned, when I left college I got a job right away. But six months later, nepotism and diminishing revenue meant cuts. I was out. So then I turned my hand to a science fiction, a tongue in cheek western, a fantasy. All have potential, but they need another edit based on all that I have learned about the craft. When unemployment ran out, and I only had rejection slips to show for it, I went back into the workforce.


Did you study the Regency when you were at University?


Not at all. I studied a little on the English Victorian era. I had a class on the American Revolutionary era, but otherwise I focused on premodern asian history, and then european, before Napoleon. The Regency era did not hold any interest then. I was college age and a guy. The medieval and renaissance had a lot of battles that appealed to me and the many stories such as King Arthur (whose time period is before the medieval era of course, but all the movies come out with medieval armor and fighting) or Richard Coeur de Lion.


What do you think is the hardest part of writing?


The middle is often hard. To keep everything energized when the Boy is struggling to redeem himself for the Girl, or to capture her interest. I have it plotted but often by the time I get there, secondary plot lines are coming into play and what I had originally glimpsed as interesting when I first thought to write, is now eclipsed by other better ideas. Then the true hard part is editing. Somedays I would rather take a catnap while reading my own words. I of course pretty much remember what they say and where it is going. (Not that I think so highly of my work knowing that it does need editing. But somedays a nap seems very appealing.)


Do you find it easy to choose character and place names


I cheat. I look up in the long list of peerages names and change a thing or two to get them right. Then for place names, I look for an area I want to put the action at, and if it needs to be fictitious I think up something. Using @@@@ford, or @@@@ ton often works. There are a lot of fords and tons in England.

Please tell us about your books.


I’ll just talk about the Regencies if that is alright. By far the most popular is Colonel Fitzwilliams Correspondence. It is a sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Originally I envisioned that the Colonel would emerge and have a romance, but I quickly put Kitty into the scene. With Lydia gone, I found Kitty torn between wanting to be a better young lady, than she had been while her more boisterous sister led her about, but also still a person of fun. I knew that the growth that occurs in all of us over time could be telling for one such as Kitty moving from being a girl to a woman.


I also knew that the war lasts for years, and a woman, if not married before her lover goes to war, most likely would not wait and appear to be on the shelf. When I placed the first letter in the story as a device to appease and contain the ever flighty Mrs. Bennet, I had no realization that would become the device I could employ for the entire story, but the truth is that England was growing closer by virtue of the post. Look to the original and the post between Jane and Lizzy telling of Lydia's flight. Look at the missive Darcy places in the hands of Lizzy to explain himself. There is a great deal of letter writing occurring.


I believe that carries my book. That it is also the change in our hero, who becomes a great correspondent and uses his connections back in England to keep him sane amidst the battlefields of Portugal and Spain. The crux of both his growth, and that of his love interest occurs when he returns from the war. I attempt to place my own use of language, as did Heyer, into the story. I think this is a dividing point for my readers. Some have related that they find this works for them, while others expecting this book to be our current use of language can't get past that.


The last caveat of a work based upon another's writing is that many have their own ideas of what should be happening to the characters the original author created after writing The End. I of course take all those characters in the direction I chose. I used the last few paragraphs as a guideline, and I used Aldous Huxley's view of Pride and Prejudice's Catherine de Bourgh portrayed by Edna May Oliver for mine more than some of the others. Austen says that Lady Catherine and Elizabeth will make amends in the final paragraphs of the novel. The Olivier movie (1940) I think shows that clearly. (Edna May beats Judi Dench in this portrayal, hands down-IMO)


My other two Regencies are a little more of the typical pieces one finds with my twist. I try to emulate as best I can Georgette Heyer. So I don’t write to a Harlequin formula but my own. In each I tried to evoke certain parts of the history that is occurring. In The End of the World the location is Cornwall. At this time the first railroad track was laid, without a train, to transport the copper from the mines to the ships that carted it to wales. My fictitious mine is the site where this is first adopted. Not that it plays a central point to the entire tale, but it is there as background. Something our hero brings to the story.

In The Shattered Mirror we have a story that evolves around the true end of the war. It ended twice of course, since Napoleon came back. And when it ends a second time, our heroine, who wants a hero, is going up to Town (London) for her first season. When in Town, she meets, runs into, a man she played with as a child. He, however, is now crippled from an injury sustained in the war. I think that is a side we forget about and I find that most of my heroes have some sort of PTSD. They have seen demons and have to confront them and come to terms with them. I think a great many other heroes in the genre are not beset by such problems. None I have read at least.

D.W. Wilkin at English Epochs 101http://englishepochs.blogspot.com/2011/12/interview-with-author-david-w-wilkin.htmlhttp://jdp-news.blogspot.com/2011/11/interview-and-giveaway-with-regency.htmlshapeimage_10_link_0

How did you start your writing career?


I've always liked stories. Hearing them, reading them, and then thinking about what happened next. That led to my own stories and the desire to write down the best ones so others could partake of them as well.


Who is your favorite author?


When writing a regency romance, then Georgette Heyer is my favorite author. But when not in the mode, for the sheer joy of the story, Charles Dickens is my favorite. I think he understood telling a story best and I like to think when I tell a story, others find I capture their interest as he captured mine.


Where do you research for your books?


I have an extensive library of books, over 1000 on history, culture, architecture. The needs that one as a genre writer uses. Now though we have wikipedia and google maps. Both of which are invaluable to me. When places some lords manor house, I can zoom down to great detail and see the lay of the land. It is much less expensive then flying to England and checking for myself, though should my books breakout, I'm on the next plane!


Does your significant other read your stuff?


When I was courting my SO, one of the things that united us was my writing her a romance. It was my first foray into Regency and we had met at a regency dance. As I crafted the story, she read it, but since, I have to twist her arm. It makes me wonder, especially since there is a question about it, if others have the same difficulties with their spouses.


Do you have critique partners or beta readers?


I do, but I am always looking for more. I think I produce more than they can handle. I took a critique class as part of getting a writing certificate from Cal State Fullerton some years ago. The group from that class continues to meet once a month for over a decade now. They are my first line of readers, and recently I have started a new writing group after relocating. Every writer needs more than their own pair of eyes on their work.


Do you listen to music while writing? If so what?


I have an extensive collection of music and over the last few years digitized everything onto the computer. I need the background of music to be my white noise to keep the distractions away. To allow me to concentrate. So I let it go onto shuffle play. It is one giant jukebox. Classical, opera, rock, pop, soundtracks. Can you imagine the expense before recorded music if i were to write with quill and ink? I would need a large orchestra, and many singers sitting outside my window serenading me. But then should they choose a selection I just did not want to hear, the fast forward button would be shouting, 'Next Song!' which would make one just a little guilty.


What book are you reading now?


I am reading Maggie Secara's Molly September. A piratical romance by a good friend. Before that, I just finished books 9 & 10 in Simon Scarrow's Macro and Cato series. The Gladiator and The Legion.

If you were to write a series of novels, what would it be about?


I am working on that. Two series actually. They are both fantasies. The first I started over 20 years ago (don't all of us who write in the genre have such a series in their drawer?) Both have political, economic overtures. The first was conceived as a trilogy with a coup d'etat, civil wars, and magic. The second is more the avenging hidden prince, but I threw a unique device of an imperial game contest (others have that device as well, I suppose.) In order to succeed our hero must win the contest, but also must have the entire empire ready to back him. At the beginning he is a boy, he may have the right to succeed, but he has not earned it. By the end of the series, after a long dangerous road, he will have earned the right. Here there is no magic other than very active pantheon of Gods who push and pull at their faithful to get things going the way they wish.

D.W. Wilkin at Laurie’s Thoughts and Reviewshttp://lauries-interviews.blogspot.com/2012/01/colonel-fitzwilliams-correspondence-by.htmlhttp://jdp-news.blogspot.com/2011/11/interview-and-giveaway-with-regency.htmlshapeimage_11_link_0

Dancing, Ghosts, and Jane Austen: An interview with author David Wilkin


Today I’m talking with David Wilkin, an author who normally specializes in Regency period novels. For this latest work, he satirically takes on the Jane Austen/monster mash-up trend in JANE AUSTEN AND GHOSTS.

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  1. 1)Tell us about your book.


JANE AUSTEN AND GHOSTS is a story about the making of the classic works of Jane into a movie with the twist that has recently come these last few years of including everything Jane with some type of monster. The novel is set in the here and now at a movie studio. Jane, being deceased, now falls into a category that we could include with zombies and vampires, werewolves and other monsters that Hollywood has done to death, so to speak. Jane now would be a ghost.

And were Jane a ghost, from the other side, she in my interpretation would not like at all what so many have done to her stories. Thus a haunting by Jane who most assuredly has been rolling over in her grave seems in order.


  1. 2)What inspired this book?


I actually have a cousin at the studios whose job is much like my protagonist, Ellis Abbot. Elizabeth, I mean Ellis Abbot is a finder for the studio. He looks for works that would make a great movie, and when he sees PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND Z*****s it was only natural for him to think that this would make a great camp movie. I played with that idea in my mind and what my cousin does, but I thought Jane would hate to see these movies made. She would probably hate to see these books having been written. (Though I never read one until I had finished the first draft of JANE AUSTEN AND GHOSTS, I was then very much surprised that the first seemed a graft onto Jane’s writing.)


Playing with the idea that Jane had rolled over in that grave in Winchester Cathedral (I visited her grave in 2007 and also looked for the God Begot House then as well which my cousin Arnold once ran a store out of just a few feet away) I thought what other Ghosts might accompany Jane to set things to right. What could come of that, and then how to link my knowledge of Hollywood (I worked at Dick Clark Productions when younger and taped every single American Bandstand there ever was) to that of Jane Austen.


  1. 3)For over two hundred years, people have been reworking Jane Austen. Besides simply mild setting time shifts, we’ve had modern updates, such as EMMA being reworked as CLUELESS and more extreme cultural transformations such as the Aishwarya Rai-lead Bollywood take on Austen, BRIDE AND PREJUDICE. Why do the works of an English woman who wrote so long ago about a fairly narrow socio-economic range of characters still appeal to so many people all over the world today?


I think that we have a love story in this and it is a little complicated. Thank you, Wickham, Lydia and Georgiana. That love story is a key to why we return to PRIDE AND PREJUDICE as perhaps the favorite of the tales. (I have to admit to liking PERSUASION at this time of life more.) The characters and the stereotypes we find in the work are all well detailed and where some parts of Jane’s writing would be far from considered a great novel today, her ability to spin a good story endures.


I look at the Regency Romances I delve into, including COLONEL FITZWILLIAM’S CORRESPONDENCE, my Jane sequel, as a dance with the beginning our seeing the Hero and Heroine. Then one or the other takes a fancy to the other, but that can not be returned. Boy meets Girl. Boy likes Girl, and of course Boy loses Girl. The next part is critical, Boy endeavors to get Girl back. Wentworth shows up in Bath and crosses paths with Anne, or Darcy after Elizabeth is found at Pemberly goes to London to make things right between Lydia and Wickham. Our Heroes must then do something heroic to show their love. In Jane Austen and Ghosts, Ellis has to do something to show his affection has something behind it as well.


  1. 4)Despite the various direct updates and the re-imaginings, it’s only in recent years that it’s become popular to try and fuse Jane Austen’s work directly with rather discordant elements such as zombies or sea monsters. Do you feel this nothing but a gimmick, or does it imply something deeper about our interface with Austen’s work?


I have to think that the mashups of the Austen stories with Monsters are gimmicks. Not a deep exploration of the theme of Love and love in a society where arranged marriages were normal. I can not speak to having read the first of the monster mash-ups beyond the Assembly Ball scene. With that book showing so much in the way of using Jane’s own writing and not original from the author, I think that highlights that it is riding on Jane’s work. Kudos to the author for a creative idea, but perhaps more kudos if the story had been completely written by the author and not grafted onto Jane’s writing.

For JANE AUSTEN AND GHOSTS, I hope those who read it find that I have been very creative in telling a light hearted romp that plays up Hollywood, Jane, B-Movie actors, and Hollywood legends, and the books that are in this recent trend. I think that the tale will bring a smile to the face of Janeites and others who read it.


  1. 5)What is the most common thing you feel people misunderstand about Jane Austen’s work?


I think that Jane is not the be all and end all of what the Regency period was about. Jane’s work gives us a great glimpse of country life for the edges of the Ton, where she was firmly ensconced. But so many Regencies talk of Dukes and Earls and with Jane we do not see that lifestyle at all. We have to look elsewhere to glimpse it and even when we look at someone like Darcy, or the Elliots, we do not see the members of the first stare.


  1. 6)You became interested in the Regency by studying period dance and teaching it. My own dance knowledge is fairly limited compared to yours, but I’ve noticed more than a few times, for instance, a film tossing the waltz in before it’d been introduced to England. Do you feel film and television adaptations of Regency, Georgian England, and Austen works tend to get the dance right, completely wrong, or something in-between?


They get dance wrong. Mr. Beveridge’s Maggot is one of our favorite dances, and the one done in the Colin Firth/Jennifer Ehle P&P where they dance together. Choreographers of the period had to redo the steps that were on film because so many had done what they had done on screen and it was wrong. (The real version is better IMO) There is a lovely piece choreographed in Paltrow’s Emma, again beautiful on the screen but wrong. Or in the Olivier/Garson P&P, the Assembly Ball is filled with dances that come after the period.


There are plenty of great dances for the period, but the movies are just not correct. And waltzing is just out. Jane Austen died in 1817 and waltzing, as I wrote in an article at http://englishhistoryauthors.blogspot.com/ in an article on waltz in the period, would have been about 3 years done. It would seem a stretch for Jane to have learned it, decided to have her characters master it, and then be able to dance it in such a short period of time.


  1. 7)Which do you prefer: contra dancing or the waltz?


I like them both. I had been known a few decades ago, to dance 4 nights a week, several of that contra dancing. (Great exercise, lost lots of pounds) But for wooing and it is Valentine’s Day, nothing beats the waltz, and after a couple years of waltzing, I was able to be proud of my waltzing. A sought after partner here in Southern California at the local balls we have.


  1. 8)You’ve written several works set directly in the Regency. Can you briefly describe those for us?


I have 3 Regencies currently available. COLONEL FITZWILLIAM’S CORRESPONDENCE, THE SHATTERED MIRROR and THE END OF THE WORLD. I consider all three a little different. The first of course is a continuation of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE. We look at the war through the Colonel’s eyes, and we look at society through Kitty’s. As the Colonel is away in Portugal and Spain, letters are sent back and forth and we catch up what is happening with our favorite characters as life moves on. That this lasted sometime, we have developments in all the lives of the characters continuing even as our heroes in this story become united, and parted, in their own ways. And of course we can not forget Lady Catherine. She is present as well (Though my interpretation is more that of Edna May Oliver)


In THE SHATTERED MIRROR, I deal with the effects of the war on our hero, and how a man wounded in the war, as so many were, might think that there can never be love again for him. As a Regency, we know that somewhere along the way there will be love, so our Heroine is young and vivacious and wanting to find love with a real hero of the war. Not realizing that our wounded hero might very well be that man.


Last I have THE END OF THE WORLD, where our heroine does not expect to find love being in the shadow of her sister. Here my hero also is not looking to fall in love as he runs from his own demons only to find the girl and her family beset by neighbors and those who once were friends.

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Thanks, David.

D.W. Wilkin at JA Beard’s Unnecessary Musingshttp://riftwatcher.blogspot.com/2012/02/dancing-ghosts-and-jane-austen.htmlhttp://jdp-news.blogspot.com/2011/11/interview-and-giveaway-with-regency.htmlshapeimage_12_link_0
D.W. Wilkin at My Jane Austen Book Clubhttp://thesecretunderstandingofthehearts.blogspot.it/2012/03/talking-jane-austen-with-david-wilkin.htmlhttp://thesecretunderstandingofthehearts.blogspot.it/2012/03/talking-jane-austen-with-david-wilkin.htmlshapeimage_13_link_0

TALKING JANE AUSTEN WITH ... DAVID WILKIN

A new "Talking Jane Austen with ..." session. My guest today is David Wilkin, author of "Colonel Fitzwilliam's Correspondence" and "Jane Austen and Ghosts".  Enjoy our Austen chat! 


Welcome at My Jane Austen Book Club, David, and thanks for accepting to talk Jane Austen with me. First of all , do you mind telling  us something about yourself? 

An evaluation in high school suggested I should either be a businessman or a dancer. So I am a businessman, having spent two decades in the woodworking industry and opening a company that does the wood interiors of restaurants.

The dancing part resulted in my mastering the dances from the mid fifteenth century to modern times, and teaching them. I have run several different regular dance practices, and entire dance weekends of these historic dances.


The fondness for the past does not just extend to the pleasantry of dance, but to the study of the conflicts from which History predominates. War gets a lot written about it. That was perhaps my earliest exposure, army men, leading wargaming, and role-playing games. Or just gaming in general. I was around when the first Computer Gaming magazine debuted. I not only have an extensive library of books, but also games, and play many, not more on computers rather than across the table from an opponent over a board, or with miniatures representing our armies.

The extensive library of books, the vast reading that I have indulged in has also had me turn my hand to writing. Starting with simple sketches while in high school and college to completing novels after graduating. I continue to hone this craft.


What is your opinion? Do you think Jane Austen is very angry for what is happening to her works? Vampires and all kind of monsters have invaded her world!

I think Jane would be very angry at what is happening to her works. From her writing I find that she looked at her society and used her stories to not only comment on society, but t ogive hope to the lives of the woman of her society. She was confined to a certain life based on her birth and that England was a very stratified place to live at the time. Her tales were to give women of the Regency a belief that they could be smart, intelligent and destined for a happy marriage. She wrote before the time of Shelley’s Frankenstein and Stoker’s Dracula. But as I understand it, the heroine portrayed here in these new adaptations far exceed anything Lizzy Bennet or Emma Woodhouse ever did


However, it seems  our world has gone vampire/monsters crazy. Have you got your own  interpretation of this phenomenon? Why is our world so attracted by this kind of supernatural characters?

I can’t really comment on the attraction of the pheonomena. I really do not like watching flicks that scare me. I like Aliens better than Alien because the Marines attack back. I’ve read Dracula twice and I can see that it is a literary masterpiece. I have not read much else, Anne Rice, or others, though what I have read in the genre was never as strong as Bram Stoker. My interpretation is based on ghosts of course as the title of my book suggests. For it, I hope I have grasped another romantic influence, Rex Harrison as the Ghost, in the Ghost and Mrs. Muir.


The story in your book is set in the world of moviemaking. Of course, any work by Jane Austen made into a movie is  a bankable project, but don’t you think that  sometimes the screen adaptations might  distort the real tone of the novels ?

I live out here in Southern California. For a brief time I worked in “Hollywood” doing a night shift for Dick Clark Productions. I taped every American Bandstand and other productions of the company to send to the copyright office. I made my 15 minute pitch to a producer at the end of my gig, but that didn’t fly. So on to other career choices.

For Jane’s work, it is very bankable and I think there is an appeal for all regencies that if produced with the right budget, could make a profit amongst those of us who love this era. Of the productions of the work, I think the only fail I can recall is the 1999 Mansfield Park. (Which was one of Cheryl and my first dates) The other that you might call a fail is the 1940 Pride and Prejudice by Huxley and with Olivier and Garson. That however is one of my favorites and why I came to the love the regency era. Edna May Oliver as Lady Catherine is a hoot…

But aside from my favorites and those I don’t like your question is if the movies drift from the tone of the novels. We look at the supporting characters I think in Jane’s work as caricatures of people and stereotypes so that they enrich the story with humor and pathos. We see the leads as those characters we aspire to be and to have lives as. I think the adaptations in film for the most part hit the mark admirably.


Jane’s world is so down-to-earth, all sense and balance do you think fan fiction mostly  respect those features?

I have to say, that I have not read much fan fiction based on Jane. I have read the Stephanie Barron mysteries which I love for the footnotes. I have read a few sequels, and then I have my own, Colonel Fitzwilliam’s Correspondence. I spent a great deal of time thinking about Colonel Fitzwilliam and the war. The war that Jane ignores a great deal in her writing. Even in Persuasion it is off camera. I don’t think you could have lived in England with the war occuring and not have had it touch you in a much greater way than Jane’s characters seem to be effected. For my sequel I did my best to convey the drama that the war could have upon a family, and in this case the Bennets and the Darcys.

Without spending time with a great many other authors in the genre of writing fan fiction based on Jane’s work, it would be unfair of me to speak about that. I do know that were one to want to elevate their writing, you need to respect what Jane did with her characters, and you also need to provide characters to have some fun with, as Jane did as well.


What is the appeal of Jane Austen and her world to nowadays readers? What’s the secret of her huge global success ?

Jane has always had an appeal. She gives us a Regency world that is clean and bountiful. All of her heroines are part of the lower upper class, or for Fanny Price, quickly sent to an upper class house. How many of us want to be part of the richest wrung of society? Then Jane has kept the underside, the part of the world that does not appeal away. Including the war as I have mentioned.

The Regency may not have been as pretty as the picture Jane has painted, but she did paint it so nicely that it is a canvas that those of us who write Regencies have been able to use ourselves in our endeavors to leave the world as an ideal and not as the reality that it was.


If Jane had  lived nowadays what kind of novels would she have written?

I think she would have written literature for women. Strong heroines, and here, instead of class boundaries that kept a women thinking they would have only one avenue in life to pursue, she would have placed them in a dead-end job, or having chosen the wrong career. Something that they would realize and begin to transform themselves, not with the aid of a hero character such as Darcy. The man would be something they would pick up and drag along as they evolved and completed their transformation.


What is it that you best love in her world and in her work?

I love the sense that things do come out for our heroes and heroines. Happy endings may not be how we are going to be rewarded in life, but in fiction, it is a reward I like a great deal.


What is your favourite Austen novel, hero and heroine?

Persuasion is my favorite tale, while I have to say that Elizabeth Bennet is the ultimate heroine. I love Captain Wentworth, but then to have the wealth of Darcy and to be so exceedingly correct and right is something I wish I could live as. Captain Wentworth and his emotions however seem to be more the lot in life for those of us not born to the highest wealth in the land.


As a lover of the Regency and a Janeite what are you next projects to spread more Austen passion?

I’ve been thinking of perhaps doing something with Margaret Dashwood. Where Colonel Fitzwilliam and history, as well as the last few paragraphs of Pride and Prejudice lent me some firm ideas, Margaret seems a very open character and I do not want to write something that would go to far afield. In the meantime I will release two more, at least, regencies that don’t touch on Jane’s characters this year. One a classic play on a rich heiress and penniless lord. The other about identical twins whose characters are different even should they look exactly alike. That of course is where the drama, trouble and humor will stem from. I have completed the first drafts of both of these novels and am beginning the second draft.


Could you please tell us something more about your new novel: Jane Austen and Ghosts?

As I mentioned, I spent some time in Hollywood, and then my cousin does exactly what our hero of JAnG does. He reads everything he can to see if the studio could make a good movie from it. I thought of that and the various Zombie, Vampire and Sea Monster books and it came to me that Jane isn’t very happy about these works. That they find some way to twist her tales away from the core values.

I then thought that the tale of making these works into a movie, one where as they are doing so, Jane might come back and have a thing or two to say would be humorous. Playing upon that ,the story reflecting a key Jane storyline as well seemed to add to the writing. In the end I have a nicely received short piece that entertains one and all.

Thanks for the interview, I hope that your readers have found this interesting and I am open to answering follow-up questions!


Thanks a lot, David, for being my guest today. Good luck with all your incredible activities and passions!