Hi Sara - Let me start by welcoming you to Books and Needlepoint and wishing you a belated Happy Birthday! Both of my daughters were born in September, so I am a little partial to that month.
Thank you! My mother and husband also have September birthdays. I think people must be snuggling too much in January!
1. I read a guest post that you had written at Romance Junkies Blog, and you stated that many of the courtroom scenes came from personal experiences - outside of being a writer/wife/mother - what do you do for you "day" job?
Well, as if being a writer/wife/mother of two isn't enough, I'm also a full-time attorney by day! The courtroom scene in which Elizabeth tells Darcy that she "won't be bullied into settlement when her client is in the right" was an actual event, and Elizabeth was making the same argument that I made. (For the record, I lost :) )
2. This is your first novel - so your first blog tour. Has anything happened on the tour that has taken you by surprise?
I am always surprised by how warm and welcoming the online community is to total strangers. A blog is intimidating—it's like giving a speech, only you can't visualize your audience naked to ease your nerves! But all of my hosts have been great, and I've been exposed to a whole new world - the blogosphere.
That's kind of funny, because even though this isn't my first author interview, I still get intimidated about trying to come up with original questions! Growing up as a reader - they were just so "untouchable!"
3. Where did you come up for the idea for this modern day Pride and Prejudice?
I had been trolling the fan fiction sites looking for an updated version of Pride and Prejudice, but nothing was quite satisfying my peculiar needs. So many of the modern stories felt forced because Regency concepts were being shoehorned into modern times, with the result being characters who seemed uncomfortable in their surroundings. Or even worse, the "proud" Darcy was just a grumpy/stuck up snob. I wanted to create a Pride and Prejudice that related to my world: with a conflict that I could understand, and a hero that I could admire. I'd always felt that yes, Darcy was stuck up, but he also was probably funny and kind. So I decided to take the focus off of his pride and to concentrate on his more attractive traits.
4. Do you have any authors/books that you feel played an important role in your decision to write a book - or influenced you as you were growing up? (I am sure Jane will be part of this list…)
As a child - and indeed as an adult - I loved Laura Ingalls Wilder's books. I also love J.R.R. Tolkien and George R.R. Martin. These writers introduced fascinating new worlds and characters that I grew to know and love, and that inspired me to try to create my own. I'm starting with baby steps by riding the tailcoats of Austen, where the characters are already known and loved, but it allowed me to try my hand in a safe environment. Next time I will be exploring outside of that sphere.
Laura Ingalls Wilder was big for me also, but I wasn't much of a Tolkien fan outside of The Hobbit. My daughter, on the other hand, loves The Lord of the Rings series. I must admit I hadn't heard of George R.R. Martin, but after looking him up am going to recommend him to my daughter also!
5. How important do you think the cover/title of a book is and did you have any say in that process?
I think it's pretty important. So many comments I've read have been about how cute the cover is, and it invokes Legally Blonde, another legal-based chick-lit work. I didn't really have any say in the cover; I was asked to provide some character descriptions but they did not end up on the cover.
It does invoke Legally Blonde! I knew it seemed familiar, but couldn't place why!
6. I know that your life is very busy with children, husband and job—but is there another book possibly in the works? Or an idea for one that you could share with us?
I did complete a second novel called No Strings Attached, which is another contemporary romance. The heroine is a cellist and the hero is a technology mogul (a la Steve Jobs). It was originally written as a Pride and Prejudice fan fiction but is truly a stand-alone work with original characters. It needs some revision but I hope to have it to my agent by the end of the year. I also have another legal-based romance in the works, and I always have ideas swimming around in my head! It's just a matter of getting the quiet time I need to think and work.
I will be watching for No Strings Attached as I am sure many of my readers will be also!
7. How long did it take you to write The Trials of the Honorable F. Darcy? Was it easier or harder than you anticipated?
The initial draft of Trials took only five months. Once I got started, my characters began to take more solid shape and the writing became much easier. It was much faster than I thought it would be. But then, the revisions took two years! My second novel took about a year to finish in its first draft, and I have not begun revisions in earnest yet. I think I was misled by Trials into thinking writing was easy; it's not, it's a constant struggle to write something fresh and invigorating.
8. Are there any books currently on your nightstand?
What To Expect: The Toddler Years and Dan Brown's latest (unopened).
9. You told your husband that he should read this book because it was your owner's manual. Can you tell us more about why this is?
The joke was that all of the steamy sex scenes would give him a road map to a very happy wife! But the truth is that it's an insight on the things I find funny or romantic. There's an awful lot of me in that book, much more than I ever realized when I set out to write it.
What a great way that would be to let your husband know all about you! I know there are times I think - I can't believe that after all these years he still doesn't know (fill-in-the-blank)!
10. If you had actually become a veterinarian as you had originally planned - how do you think your life might be different?
That's a question nobody has ever asked me! I don't think that I would be as happy as a veterinarian. The reason I chose to go to law school was because my Master's degree in animal science didn't feel like a good "fit." I was taking classes at a school that was geared toward agricultural animals rather than small animals, and that didn't really fit me either. I felt like I was forcing myself into a mold. But law school was a wonderful, eye-opening experience. I met so many people from different backgrounds and with different perspectives and goals. Being an attorney keeps me in constant contact with interesting people, many of whom could easily be characters in my next books.
(Yeah - I found an original question!) I had never thought about the differences there must be between agricultural animals and small animals - my oldest daughter has mentioned that she might want to be a vet - that will be something that I will keep in mind if this is what she pursues, as to what college to gear her towards! Being a lawyer just seems like it is the complete other end of the spectrum from vet - and it definitely sounds like it is a good fit for you!
11. Is there anything that you would like to tell my readers today?
I would just like to say that both writing and reading are meant to be enjoyable. I don't take my writing (or myself) too seriously and nobody else should, either. My book is a lighthearted homage to Jane Austen, and it shouldn't be taken as anything other than that. My greatest reward is knowing that somebody had a giggle while reading my book. Thank you so much for having me on Books and Needlepoint!
Sara - Thank you for taking the time to be on Books and Needlepoint!
Danielle at Sourcebooks is allowing me to give away one copy of Sara's book - The Trials of the Honorable F. Darcy. Please tell me what your favorite Jane Austen book is - or Jane Austen inspired book. If you have not read anything that would fall in either of these two categories - then you must sign up anyway so that you can get your feet wet!
Giveaway open only to U.S./Canada - Must leave email address for entry. One entry per person - one winner. Giveaway ends Oct 30.