Monday, September 12, 2011

Author Highlight & Blog Post: Heather Lynn Rigaud of Fitzwilliam Darcy, Rock Star

This week I'll be posting a review of the newest Pride and Prejudice remake, Fitzwilliam Darcy, Rock Star.  As part of the review, I had the great opportunity to ask the author a few questions and am excited to have Heather Lynn Rigaud here to share her post with us!

One of the things that I really wanted to know had more to do with the writing process and what she expected out of her audience.  Let's face it.  People can either really love a great remake or feel pretty upset that their sacred original was manipulated.  I happen to love remakes and modernizations (obviously), so having the chance to hear from Heather about how she approached her own retelling with that in mind was really interesting to me.  I hope you enjoy her discussion as much as I have!

Thanks for having me here, Becky. I'm delighted to have a chance to write about my book, Fitzwilliam Darcy Rock Star. I was asked about my target audience and if I wanted my readers to connect my book back to the original Pride and Prejudice.

Fitzwilliam Darcy Rock Star was originally written for, and posted on, a Jane Austen Fan Fiction board called the Hyacinth Gardens. It's possible some of your readers remember it. That board was started specifically to be a place where writers could share their work in a safe and supportive atmosphere, where creativity and risk-taking was strongly encouraged. I think it's very telling that several published writers got their start in that incubator.

So, it was pretty clear that I wanted a good connection to Austen's work. I read and re-read Pride and Prejudice as I was planning, plotting and writing, to keep track of where each character was emotionally, as well as the conflicts going on outside their heads. I worked hard to find modern equivalents to the important plot points.

Famous proposal scene from P&P 2005
My goal was to find modern ways to describing the class difference between Darcy and Elizabeth. Much of P&P is all about class- Elizabeth's family is socially inferior to Darcy's and he goes on, at length, about this in his terrible first proposal at Hunsford. These days, it's very hard to find ways of illustrating class differences. But I felt that fame and celebrity was one of those ways.

I tried to make my work something of a variation on a theme. I tried to be creative, while keeping with Austen's themes of class difference, and societal boundaries. Darcy is famous, from a famous family; Elizabeth is talented like Darcy, but hasn't achieved fame, her family is successful, but not famous. Darcy recognizes that Elizabeth's band of 'up and comers' might use his band's fame to improve their situations, and he feels he needs to protect them from her and her friend and sister. Much like how Darcy felt he needed to protect Bingley from Jane in Pride and Prejudice.

So there are the similarities, but it's also very much my story. Readers looking for stiff, formal interactions are going to be disappointed. These are very modern people, living a very high drama lifestyle. While readers will easily be able to spot the Hunsford proposal or the visit to Pemberley, I tried to make these guideposts to be as organic to the story I was telling as possible.

A good example is Jane becoming ill at Netherfield and needing to stay there to recover. This scene is really highlights how much things have changed from the Regency, because being so sick that you're unable to get 3 miles to your home simply makes no sense at all to us. So, looking at the fact that the characters are all performers, I changed the situation to one in which Jane is concussed from a bottle that's thrown at her head while she's onstage. Storywise, it serves my purpose of giving Darcy and Elizabeth a reason to be talking to each other. Austen fans will recognize what it is. And people who haven't read Austen won't realize I'm basing it on something else and wonder what I'm writing about.

I find it's very telling that in my first two blog reviews, one review said "She kept to the original so well" and the other said, "This isn't Austen". I hope that means that I've managed to walk the line between an update of the work and a fantasy based on the work. (I had a similar feeling of success when I posted the Hunsford scene and half my readers were mad at Darcy and the other half was mad at Lizzy.)

Heather Lynn Rigaud
This is much more technical than most of the posts I've written on my blog tour, and I hope your readers don't find it very dull. While I did put a great deal of thought and planning into the story, I also tried to make it fun and exciting. I feel this is the framework that's behind the pretty stuff in the front.

Thank you for giving me a chance to talk about my thought process on writing this story. I'm looking forward to your reader's comments and getting a chance to see what they think.  

(Highlights included by One Literature Nut.)

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Thank you so much to Heather Lynn Rigaud for sharing a bit more about how she came up with her modernization of Pride and Prejudice.  I appreciated learning more about your writing process and will say I didn't find it dull at all!  Without giving away too much from my review, I will say that fans of the original will definitely sense the pacing and emotional tensions of the original, while enjoying this completely original story and characters.   Thanks again Heather!

Fitzwilliam Darcy Rock Star was published on September 1st, so check it out today.


  1. Becky! Thanks again for having me as a guest today. I was really impressed by your 9/11 content. It really brought me back to where I was during that time.

    Looking forward to seeing what your readers think about modern updates of classic works.

  2. Thanks Heather. I had to post something yesterday, as much as I didn't want to do so, you know? It snuck up on me.

    I so appreciate your interview! For big Austen book fans, I think many of us have wondered how authors approach that gap between the original and your new ideas. It can seem daunting in some ways, and yet I know you all have a huge fan base in many of us. Thanks for all you do, because it's so great to get to see the story reimagined in so many ways! :)

    I have a feeling people will have more to stop by and say with the review that I'm finishing up to get posted. Thanks again for your interview and great inside view!