First of all, we love the blog, austennights.blogspot.com – it’s a great resource for anybody looking for more beyond the story.
What drew you to Jane Austen’s works as projects for rewrite? Are you working on others at the moment?
Heather: I get that question a lot and for me, it’s always the Characters. Austen’s characters are so vivid and real, and I know I’m not the only one who spends time thinking about them and imagining them in different situations.
My next project is updating my first novel, Longborn and Pemberley Go to War for publication, and after that I’d like to play with Northanger Abbey a bit.
When you first developed the idea of FDRS, what led you to the music industry and a concert tour as your modern setting?
Heather: I wish I could say, “Well, Darcy is dead sexy and Rock Stars are dead sexy, so Rock Star Darcy is Ultra Dead Sexy.” But I can’t. The truth is I was inspired by a song that haunted me as being so Darcy-like. I’m a big believer in art being inspired by art and the importance of working in a creative environment. So I took that song, imagined what a modern day, successful musician Darcy would be like and went from there.
“Darcy” says in your 8/18 blog post that “…[Austen’s] language is amazing. She precisely expresses what is happening, without ever telling too much or spoon-feeding the reader.” Did you aim for the same balance in your writing style? (It worked, btw.)
Heather: Thank you! I did aim to emulate Austen in that regard, and let me tell you, it’s way harder than it looks. It meant I needed to carefully balance telling the story with telling too much. It’s an exercise in trusting the reader-and trusting yourself to be able to communicate what you mean.
In the original, Charlotte’s story pretty much ends after she throws in her lot with Collins; however, you use the incident as more of a turning point than a terminal one. Is that because of her place on the tour, or did you feel a more personal connection to Charlotte that inspired you to redeem her?
Heather: I’m not sure I redeem Charlotte any, and after what I put her through, I’m not 100% certain that she wouldn’t want to go back to her cozy home with her poultry. I’m sure I don’t relate to her personally, but I do find her fascinating. I’m an optimist (Jane-like) and she’s so extremely pragmatic. But I did really enjoy drawing out her story and playing with what she would do. And I think there are parts of Charlotte that everyone can relate too. We’ve all had moments when we’ve felt we’re the ‘plain one’ and don’t stand out. And we’ve all had moments when we’ve felt like we’re supporting characters in a big drama. That’s Charlotte’s realm and she’s pretty comfortable there, so when Richard, who’s a big deal, starts to see her as a person, it becomes her struggle in the story, and again, I think that’s something we can all relate too.
Heather: Actually, I don’t think Anne does much at all, but she’s certainly more active than she is in Austen. Here’s my take on Anne- have you ever considered what it’d be like to be her? To have her mother? I’m thinking she must have some major rage issues she’s suppressing in Austen’s work. But nowadays, she’d have more freedom to express her rage, which is why she’s pretty cranky. She is also an excellent foil for Darcy- she gets hotter as she gets mad and he gets cooler. She’s trying to rush things along and he’s deliberately slowing down, slowly sipping his tea, just to piss her off. I love that. I could write stuff like that all day long.
Some of the intimate scenes are pretty explicit and gritty – obviously a departure from the original! How does that tie in to your overall vision for the story – is it a critical element or simply a nod to the updated setting?
Heather: Early on someone asked me if I could cut out the sex in FDRS and I thought about it (very) briefly, but I really couldn’t. It’s about Rock Stars and that basically means they’re not living a ‘rated PG’ lifestyle. If anything, I worry I made them too tame. Plus I use the sex scenes as a way of ‘showing not telling’ what the characters are feeling and how they’re relating to each other. When I wrote Richard and Charlotte’s first scene together, I described it to my friends as ‘casual sex’. They all looked at it and said, “no, it’s not” but my characters didn’t realize that yet.
So, I’m going to have to go with ‘critical element’ for $200 Alex.
When you set FDRS and P&P next to each other, do you see the original characters and their namesakes as separate individuals, or do you interpret them as two parts of the same timeless whole?
Heather: Some of the characters are very much two parts of a whole: Darcy and Elizabeth, Charles and Jane, Lady Catherine and Mr. Collins. But I also feel that Richard Fitzwilliam and to a lesser extent Caroline Bingley are original. Charlotte is in between: She’s got Austen’s pragmatic personality but I take her on a very different trip.
Thank you for having me here and I’m looking forward to hearing from your readers.