Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Article in the Historical Novel Society magazine

I've been a member of the Historical Novel Society for about ten years and I've written an article about Mr Darcy, Vampyre for their February review magazine. They issue their review magazine 4 times a year, and twice a year they also issue their Solander magazine, which is full of interesting articles and interviews.

In the article, I explore some of my reasons for writing Mr Darcy, Vampyre. It's a mulit-layered novel and the layers begin with the title. I wanted a title which would warn my regular readers that it wasn't like my other books because I didn't want them to be shocked when they read it. I also wanted to make an ironic comment on the prevalence of vampyres in our modern culture, irony being particularly suitable for anything related to Jane Austen. And of course I wanted an eye-catching title.

Writing Vampyre satisfied a lot of urges for me: the urge to write a sequel to Pride and Prejudice that wouldn't be just another sequel; the desire to write a book in the tradition of the nineteenth century novelists that Jane Austen liked to read, complete with deus ex machina ending; the desire to write a book which acknowledged love as an old, powerful and necessary force; and the desire to take Jane Austen's most famous characters and put them in their historical, political and literary context.

This is an extract from the article.

Casting Darcy as a vampyre not only took the sequel into the Gothic realm, it also made a statement about the the deathless nature of Pride and Prejudice and the eternal freshness of its characters. Mr Darcy is over 200 years old and yet he is forever young and handsome and he still has the power to attract women.

It also made a comment on the relationship between novel and reader. A novel does not exist by itself, it only truly lives when a reader gives up some of their lifeforce in order to vitalise it. Often this is a willing gift, when a reader is seduced by the cover or the synopsis, but there is also a moment when a book takes over. It glues itself to the fingers and sucks the lifeforce from the reader, refusing to let go.

I think this is one of the reasons I'm so interested in Jane Austen, because her books are multi-layered. They are love stories, they are ironic comments on the world in which she lived and they are laugh out loud funny.


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