We are very fortunate to have Amanda Grange author of this month’s reading selection Mr. Darcy, Vampyre here to answer some questions posed by our members.
1. What first drew you to write Jane Austen fiction?
I’ve always loved Jane Austen but I never thought about writing anything related to her books until one day, when reading Pride and Prejudice again, I found myself wondering about all the scenes we don’t see, like Mr Darcy going down to London and making Wickham marry Lydia. I started writing the missing scenes for my own amusement and I was very quickly hooked. Before I knew it, I’d written the whole of Pride and Prejudice from the hero’s point of view, and I loved it so much I did the same for all the other Austen novels.
2. What prompted you to imagine Mr. Darcy as a vampire?
I first thought of Mr Darcy as a vampyre many years ago when watching Buffy the vampire slayer. There was one episode when Buffy and Willow were watching TV and I suddenly thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if they were watching Pride and Prejudice?’ And then, equally suddenly, I realised that the characters would swap over very easily: Buffy as Lizzy, Willow as Jane, Oz as Mr Bingley, Xander as Mr Collins, Buffy’s mum as Mrs Bennet, Giles as Mr Bennet – and Angel as Mr Darcy. The idea of Mr Darcy as a vampyre stuck from that moment. I thought of a lot of different ways of writing the book before I finally decided what I wanted to do with the idea. Which leads me to your next question . . .
3. In Mr. Darcy, Vampyre you have a character named Count Polidori. Is there any correlation to John William Polidori who wrote The Vampyre?
Yes, count Polidori is indeed connected to John William Polidori. After a lot of thought, I decided that I would write Mr Darcy, Vampyre in the style of the Regency Gothic novels that Jane Austen herself loved to read. This is why there is a lot of travelling in the book and why there is a deus ex machina ending. I decided I would use the book to set Lizzy and Darcy in their historical perspective and so the politics of the day form the backdrop to the book as Lizzy and Darcy travel through a ravaged Europe, which is enjoying a brief period of peace during the Napoleonic wars. The literature of the day is echoed in a number of ways: in the style of the book, in the naming of Count Polidori and also in oblique references to other literature of the time, eg the opening sentence, “Elizabeth Bennet’s wedding morning was one of soft mists and mellow sunshine”, is an echo of Keat’s Ode to Autumn, “Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness.”
I also used the novel to trace the history of Gothic literature in England, with nods to some of the most famous works: The Vampyre (by the naming of Polidori), Dracula (by making Polidori a Count), Rebecca (the costume ball) and the novels of Victoria Holt (whose books used all the standard Gothic imagery such as underground passages).
4. Other than Darcy, which vampire do you find most intriguing–Dracula, Lestat, Edward, or some other vampire–and why?
For me, the most intriguing vampire is Dracula. I love the theme of deathless love that permeates the book, it adds depth to the whole novel.
5. What book are you currently reading?
I’m currently reading Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton. I read very widely in a range of genres. I like variety.
6. Do you have any quirky writing habits?
I don’t really have any quirky writing habits; in fact, I don’t really have any writing habits. Sometimes I like to write longhand in a notebook, sometimes I type directly onto the computer, sometimes I write 2 or 3 thousand words a day, sometimes I don’t write anything, or I just write a few hundred words. It all varies with my mood.
7. What drives you to keep writing Austen fiction?
I never intend to keep writing Austen fiction but I love her world and her characters and new ideas keep occurring to me. I always tell myself, ‘I’m not going to write anything else connected to Austen,’ but then I have an idea and I can’t resist it, and away I go.
And now I’ll tell you something you don’t know about Mr Darcy, Vampyre, in fact, something only I know. One of the Parisian vampyres, Katrine, is in love with Darcy and she has been in love with him for centuries, but he has never been able to return her love and that is a great tragedy for her. That is why, in Chapter 3, she says, ‘I would forgive Darcy anything.”
Amanda Grange lives in England and has written several novels. For more information please visit her website.
*Photo: US Cover of Mr. Darcy, Vampyre.