Now that the (around here, rather sodden) Halloween costumes have been put away and everyone is lying around dazed in a sugar-rush letdown, we thought we would extend the celebrations a bit. Amanda Grange has kindly agreed to answer some questions about her latest book, Mr. Darcy, Vampyre, a Jane Austen-horrid novel mashup that was written by someone who actually knows and likes Jane Austen’s novels. (Read our review of the book.) Also, find out how to enter to win a copy of the book!
What inspired you to write Mr. Darcy, Vampyre?
I always wanted to see a Pride and Prejudice episode of Buffy with Angel as Darcy and that was where the idea of Darcy as a vampire first came from. But it wasn’t until I started reading some of the horrid novels again, to put myself in the mood for Henry Tilney’s Diary, that I suddenly had the idea of writing a Gothic sequel to Pride and Prejudice and making Darcy a vampyre.
Which is your favorite horrid novel? (of all the Gothics, not necessarily the Northanger Novels)
I think it has to be Udolpho. There’s just something about it that encapsulates everything I think of with the horrid novels.
Which horrid novels inspired you while writing MDV?
The main inspirations were The Castle of Otranto, The Romance of the Forest and of course Udolpho, because it’s the Gothic that features most prominently in Austen’s work. Lizzy and Darcy follow Emily’s route through Europe, there are some conscious homages with the mercenaries at the castle etc, and there’s a black veil, but used in a very different way.
Why do you think the classic Gothic novels are so little-read today? I think people who like zombie movies and that sort of thing would get a big kick out of them.
I think it’s the pace that’s the main problem for a lot of modern readers. The plots are exciting and there’s a lot of atmosphere but they just don’t move as quickly as modern novels.
We know how Mr. Tilney compares to classic Gothic heroes such as Valancourt (very favorably, that is). How does Mr. Darcy compare as a Gothic hero, do you think?
Well, of course, Darcy compares favourably to everyone (except, in deference to present company, Mr Tilney). He’s always there when Elizabeth needs him, whereas Valancourt always seems to be somewhere else.
The dedication made me laugh very hard for a solid minute. It set the whole tone for the book for me. It seems to me that some of the readers who have reviewed the book on Amazon, etc. either didn’t see it or perhaps didn’t understand it. What was your intention with the dedication? (the dedicatee, in my opinion, would have LOVED the book)
Glad you liked it! I was laughing as I typed it. It was a wink to Austen fans, saying, this is the kind of novel Catherine would love, so prepare for banditti, castles, portents, mysteries, dreams, journeys, fortune tellers, ruins and a lot of sublime and majestic descriptions of the landscape! And I wanted to dedicate it to Catherine because I had fun picturing her sitting down to read it as well.
What vampire lore did you study to prepare to write MDV?
I brushed up on folk tales and read some of the nineteenth century vampire stories again, but I didn’t feel myself bound by it. Most of what we now think of as vampire lore has been created by writers and filmmakers over the centuries and so I added my own twists, as well as putting in all my own favourite vampyre conventions like garlic and mirrors.
How did writing MDV compare to writing one of the hero diaries?
It was a completely different experience. In the diaries, I stuck very closely to the originals. I did as Jane did by painting with a fine brush on a little piece of ivory. Writing Vampyre was like painting a mural with a large brush. Everything is larger than life. The novel encompasses half of Europe and, although the time scale is only six weeks, it deals with creatures who are hundreds, and in some cases thousands, of years old. The romance is also far less restrained than it is in the diaries, particularly at the end, where it’s in keeping with the overblown nature of Gothics. It gave me an excuse to let my inner fan girl loose and write things like, ‘Only kiss me and I will die happy,’ and ‘I cannot regret anything, because everything in my life has led to this perfect moment with you.’ I would never write anything like that if I was writing a straight sequel to P&P, but I loved writing it in Vampyre.
Who is your favorite fictional vampire (other than Mr. Darcy, naturally) and favorite vampire novel, movie, or television show?
That’s hard, because I like different fictional vampires in different ways. Dracula is a favourite because he’s a complex character as well as being a vampire, and Angel is another favourite for obvious reasons – by which I mean the brilliant writing, of course!
Please tell me that Mr. Darcy doesn’t sparkle.
Well, he sparkles when disco dancing 🙂 but luckily he doesn’t do that in MDV so you’re safe from any glitter.
What other heroes of classic literature—Jane’s and others—do you think would make good vampires?
Wickham and Willoughby would make very good vampyres, so would the Crawfords. Tom Bertram’s a possibility as well as Frederick Tilney. Amongst non-Austen heroes, Heathcliff has to be a strong contender, he’s definitely 19 going on 119.
Cage Match: Mr. Darcy (Vampyre Edition) vs. Edward “Broody McSparklepants” Cullen. Who wins and why?
No contest, Darcy. Why? Because cage fighting is part of a gentleman’s upbringing 😉
What was your Halloween costume this year?
I was a witch.
To enter to win one of two copies of Mr. Darcy, Vampyre, courtesy of Sourcebooks, leave a comment in this thread with a valid e-mail address (we will only use it for the contest) and let us know you would like to be entered by Wednesday, November 4, 2009, at 9 p.m. Eastern time. U.S. and Canada only for this contest, but Amanda has a contest at her blog (along with a fun quiz) open to anyone in the world. You can also comment below and not be entered in the contest; just let us know.