Keeping the faith

 
 Jane Austen's Writing Table

Jane Austen's Writing Table

 

Hands up Jane Austen fans. Stop! Too many to count. Hands up those whose favourite novel is Pride & Prejudice. Oh dear, really, all of you? Then you may wonder why I have written a novel linked to Pride & Prejudice, when there are so many potential critics. Ego mania or naivety perhaps? The latter runs close to the truth.

A while ago, Chawton House Library (home to Jane’s brother, Edward) ran a short story competition, which was too close to deadline to enter by the time I noticed. But the competition prompted an idea, which took hold and simply tumbled onto the page. I wrote just for me.

It seemed to me that Mary and Kitty Bennet had been denied their story for 200 years. What was their fate after their sisters married? I took no heed of word counts and simply wrote. After a while, I began to think I might have a novella. Writer friends insisted my story was a novel.

Those same friends suggested I should submit the finished novel to agents. How I resisted! The fact that the story required me to re-visit characters from one of the greatest writers in history felt worrying, no matter how many new characters my story contained. I wasn’t sure how I felt about it, so how would others react?

Two things persuaded me to follow my friends’ advice. The first, was hearing the original characters speech in my head so clearly that my pen struggled to keep up with their dialogue. The words felt both true and faithful to Austen’s original characters. When I had checked all my facts and finished thorough edits, Perception was ready to be read and critiqued by a small group, including the afore-mentioned published writers. Unanimous excitement and assurance that the novel was faithful to the original, allowed me to take the next step.

I’m delighted to say the excitement continued and Perception began the many processes needed to bring a novel to publication with Orion books. I hope you have as much enjoyment reading as I had writing the novel you see on my book page.

Terri Fleming