My guest today is an author whose short stories delighted in A Pride of Poppies and whose first novel, Submerge, was released on the first of November.
She is here today in celebration of the recent release of A Certain Persuasion – an anthology of Jane Austen themed stories from Manifold Press.
Jane Austen’s grasp of the English language is justly celebrated. Is there any part that you can quote for us that you particularly relish?
There’s a wonderful sentence in Sense & Sensibility that I always think sums up a lot very concisely: “Elinor agreed to it all, for she did not think he deserved the compliment of rational opposition.” I also love Edward Ferrars’ assertion that “Shyness is only the effect of a sense of inferiority in some way or other. If I could persuade myself that my manners were perfectly easy and graceful, I should not be shy.” I can relate! And, of course, there is that wonderful speech of Darcy’s in Pride & Prejudice.“In vain have I struggled. It will not do. […] You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.”
What inspired your story in the A Certain Persuasion anthology? May we have an excerpt?
This sort of question always makes me wish I hadn’t written two stories! But only for a moment. So if you don’t mind, I’ll take each one separately.
Margaret actually evolved from my first idea when I saw the brief – I like to stay more or less canon-compliant (if you squint a bit) so I wanted to take a look at the Dashwood sister who didn’t get much page-time in Sense & Sensibility, which is my favourite of Austen’s novels. I wrote my other story while I was trying to iron out the details of this one, and then suddenly it came to me that Colonel Brandon was the answer to all my prayers. And he turned out to be useful in the story, as well!
Extract from Margaret:
“Have you raised the idea of a companion with your ward yet, Colonel?”
He sat back a little in his seat, looking almost embarrassed. “No. I mean to do so within the next few days, but I haven’t yet worked out how best to broach the subject. I confess, I am rather afraid that if I wound her pride, she won’t come at all.”
Margaret did not pry into the reasons behind his expression, which spoke of real grief and fear; instead, she set about trying to relieve his anxiety. “Well, I think I know a way you can suggest it without causing any offence. As it happens, I might soon be in need of companionship myself; perhaps you would be so kind as to ask a young lady of your acquaintance if she might oblige, as a very great favour?”
“Well, that could hardly cause offence,” the Colonel conceded, “but how could I then explain the substitution of another girl in your place?”
“Well, unless you think me unsuitable, I don’t believe you would have to make any such substitution. I have not consulted with my mother yet, but I would be happy to act as companion to your ward if she agrees.”
Father Doesn’t Dance started life as a companion piece to Pride & Prejudice, which would run alongside the events of the original novel, with a few differences! That quickly spiralled far beyond the word count for the anthology – and I’m hoping I can develop it separately at some point. For A Certain Persuasion, though, I decided to take the story back in time, to the death of Darcy’s father, and I think it turned out much better that way.
Extract from Father Doesn’t Dance:
As the weeks went by, Lavinia could only watch as her father became more frail and his expression became more worried. She could hardly blame him for his preoccupation; she imagined that losing one’s health so quickly was quite difficult enough without having to contend with the knowledge of an entail that would leave one’s family, if not destitute, considerably less comfortable than one would wish. Lavinia hated to see her father so disconsolate, and so she began to rack her brain for some brilliant scheme that might make him happy. When at last the idea occurred, it was such a preposterous notion that she discarded it immediately, but the thought would not leave her. At last, she knocked on the door of her father’s study, where she was increasingly likely to find both parents closeted together.
“I’ve been thinking,” she told them once the door was closed behind her, “about the entail.”
“You needn’t worry yourself about that, Lavinia. There’s nothing to be done,” her mother began in a soothing tone, but Lavinia turned her head to address her father.
“Has Mr Lowick found the heir yet?”
“No. No, he hasn’t.” Perhaps he noticed the glint in her eye, because he raised an eyebrow as he continued. “If I had a son, it would be quite a different matter. Nothing could be simpler. But with so few men left in my family … well, it’s a little harder to trace the line of succession.”
Lavinia took a deep breath. “What if you did have a son?”
What are you working on at present?
As ever, I have my fingers in several pies – my first novel, Submerge, was released on the same day as A Certain Persuasion and I’m already working on a potential sequel to that, as well asFather Didn’t Dance, the continuation of Father Doesn’t Dance. At the time of writing, however, it is November, which for me means NaNoWriMo, so I’ve put both of those on hold and started something completely different – a novel set in Cambridge in the ’50s, following a fictitious scientist through a short period of his life. So far, I’ve written about a sixth of the story I had in mind, and around half of my intended word count, so we’ll see how that goes when the time comes to edit!
Eleanor Musgrove was born in a seaside town on the South Coast of England, where she developed a love of writing when she was very young. Other ambitions – and homes – have come and gone, but she has always wanted to be an author. After lots of practice, both through writing fan fiction and through participating in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) most years, SUBMERGE is her first novel. She’s pretty excited about it!
When she’s not writing or reading, Eleanor enjoys going to the theatre, walks in the woods, and getting far too emotionally invested in films and TV shows. She graduated from the University of Kent in 2014 with a BSc in Multimedia Technology and Design, and hopes to one day put it to good use.
If you’d like to keep up with Eleanor’s writing journey, or let her know what you think of her book, she keeps a blog at eamusgrove.wordpress.com.
A Certain Persuasion
from Manifold Press
Thirteen stories from eleven authors, exploring the world of Jane Austen and celebrating her influence on ours.
Being cousins-by-marriage doesn’t deter William Elliot from pursuing Richard Musgrove in Lyme; nor does it prevent Elinor Dashwood falling in love with Ada Ferrars. Surprises are in store for Emma Woodhouse while visiting Harriet Smith; for William Price mentoring a seaman on board the Thrush; and for Adam Otelian befriending his children’s governess, Miss Hay. Margaret Dashwood seeks an alternative to the happy marriages chosen by her sisters; and Susan Price ponders just such a possibility with Mrs Lynd. One Fitzwilliam Darcy is plagued by constant reports of convictions for ‘unnatural’ crimes; while another must work out how to secure the Pemberley inheritance for her family.
Meanwhile, a modern-day Darcy meets the enigmatic Lint on the edge of Pemberley Cliff; while another struggles to live up to wearing Colin Firth’s breeches on a celebrity dance show. Cooper is confronted by his lost love at a book club meeting in Melbourne while reading Persuasion; and Ashley finds more than he’d bargained for at the Jane Austen museum in Bath.
A Pemberley-sized anthology featuring authors: Julie Bozza, Andrea Demetrius, Sam Evans, Lou Faulkner, Adam Fitzroy, Narrelle M Harris, Sandra Lindsey, Fae Mcloughlin, Atlin Merrick, JL Merrow and Eleanor Musgrove.