The blog tour for ‘The Darcy Monologues’ drops by today. This book features short stories from fifteen fantastic authors: Susan Adriani * Sara Angelini * J. Marie Croft * Karen M Cox * Jan Hahn * Jenetta James * Lory Lilian * KaraLynne Mackrory * Beau North * Ruth Phillips Oakland * Natalie Richards * Sophia Rose * Joana Starnes * Melanie Stanford * Caitlin Williams. The collection has been brought together and edited by Christina Boyd. The stories can be Regency or modern but what each story has in common is that they are from Mr Darcy’s point of view.
It’s my turn on The Darcy Monologues Blog Tour today and I’m really looking forward to sharing with my readers a collection of swoon-worthy Austenesque short stories, each told from Fitzwilliam Darcy’s perspective. Natalie Richards, the author of ‘Pemberley by Stage,’ takes readers to the Wild West and shares with us a Darcy like none I’ve ever seen before.
Before I interview Natalie, Sophia Rose is here to tell us why she’s fangirling over Natalie’s story.
Natalie Richards Takes Readers on Another Amazing Adventure by Sophia Rose
Should I write an ode to our Natalie of Song and Stories? No, ode-writing is not in the cards for me. But, dancing up and down screaming and cheering and crushing on books and book characters is soooo my gig.
Her masquerading Darcy and Lizzy getting their second chance in SunKissed: Effusion of Summer’s Midsummer Madness started my love affair with Natalie’s writing that belied her rookie status as a published author. And then, she showed me she was not a one-hit wonder with her holiday modern take on Sense & Sensibilities’ Marianne and a truly heroic Brandon in Then Comes Winter’s A Man Whom I Can Really Love.
But right now…
It’s her latest writing effort that has me antsy and bouncing in the saddle. Did I ever mention how much I love America’s Wild West and stories that are set in that place and time? And to pair that with Pride & Prejudice’s Darcy and Elizabeth…Gah! Be still my heart, people! This Cali girl is ecstatic to get her paws on, Pemberley by Stage, a 1860’s California western romantic adventure for Darcy and Lizzy in The Darcy Monologues. Hints that matters in this tale are so much more than they seem and are just fueling the fire to encounter Natalie’s Darcy on the western trails. Come a Ti Yi Yippee Yippee Yay for Natalie!
Without further ado, I’d like to welcome Natalie Richards to my blog…
Natalie, I understand this is your third time participating as an author in an Austenesque anthology. Can you describe for me readers how you came to be inspired by Miss Austen, as both a woman and as a writer?
My first real introduction to Jane Austen was the Pride & Prejudice miniseries starring Colin Firth. I was a tomboy-leaning preteen who preferred Dad’s Robert Ludlum to Mom’s L.M. Montgomery, and was known to duck under a blanket if people started kissing in a movie. I did NOT want to watch this ‘sissy show’, but I had to stick around and help my mom fold laundry. Before I knew it, the laundry was done and I was still there, utterly engrossed. Before that, my stories were all dreadfully lurid murder mysteries (crayon illustrated, of course). After, I started to lean more and more towards romance, in both my reading and writing tastes. Today, my family despairs of my girliness. I do not think I would be quite the same person I am now if not for Jane Austen.
Your story, ‘Pemberley by Stage,’ and Jane Austen; what do you think makes them work together? What do they have to say to each other?
The fun of writing JAFF is taking Jane Austen’s original themes and tweaking them, turning them around, exploring the angles she did not. In Pemberley by Stage, I wanted to see what would happen if Mr. Darcy was the one in trouble without the resources to get out of it by himself, an echo of the way Elizabeth was helpless when Lydia vanished. There are other thematic echoes, some more obvious than others, but you will just have to read the story and see for yourself.
The modern-day woman appears as besotted as ever by Mr. Darcy. What were the attributes that you felt you needed to include in the Mr. Darcy character in your story?
Mr. Darcy begins Pride & Prejudice as a man sure of who he is and his place in the world. When Elizabeth challenges this view, his self-examination is honest and unflinching. I think that kind of strength of character is enormously appealing to women of any time. In Pemberley by Stage, the situation is a bit different, but I did my best to show his ability to question himself, and to adapt to new knowledge of himself and the people closest to him. His protectiveness of his friends and family is also something that strikes an enduring chord with readers, whether he is defending them from scandal and an imprudent marriage, or the dangers of the Wild West.
Can you give us a six-word memoir about yourself?
Writing and singing are my umbrellas.
Why do you believe Austen’s stories still speak to modern-day readers?
The characters. It does not matter what time or place, Austen’s characters are incredibly real. I think that is part of why there is so much JAFF; it is so easy to picture them in different situations because when you look at the world around you, you can see that silly, boy-crazy girl, the coworker who is always kissing up to the boss, a friend who always gives you the best advice even as she drives you nuts because she is so dang practical. It does not matter that two hundred years have passed, because people have not changed much, and Jane Austen had a rare talent for understanding them.
What can readers look forward to reading from you in the future and how can readers stay in touch with you?
I have a full-length JAFF novel I have been re-writing and cleaning up for publication, hopefully in the next year. You can read the first draft of it on the Darcy & Lizzy Forum, but there will be some fairly major alterations in the finished story. After that, I have plans for another novel. Not Jane Austen inspired, but definitely romance, and, who knows, maybe there will be another short story or two along the way.
Readers can connect with me at the following places:
Thank you, Natalie, for spending some time with my readers. It’s been great getting to know you, along with the other authors who participated in this anthology.
Natalie has brought an excerpt from her story to share with my readers. I think you’ll love it as much as I do!
Pemberley by Stage by Natalie Richards
The stagecoach rocked hypnotically as it jostled down the road. Leather straps swayed back and forth, hanging from the ceiling like pendulums. The creak of leather and wood made a sort of soothing music, lulling a body into a state of catatonia, at least until a wheel hit a rock or rut. It had been a long, difficult journey, one I was ready to have come to an end. Thankfully, we were on the last leg between San Jose and San Francisco.
“You will love San Francisco, Darcy. It is the most exciting place, full of opportunity, fascinating people. I am certain we shall do well there.” Bingley had not stopped repeating variations of this theme ever since we left St. Louis nearly a month previously.
His enthusiasm made me smile. “If I did not believe you the first time you said it, I would not have come.” In truth, these words belied a confidence I did not feel. Leaving my familiar, orderly life in Boston for the unknown of the West was not a decision I had made lightly. I glanced at my sister, who somehow managed to fall asleep despite the rough road. Was I mad to be taking a young girl to such a wild place? She is completely innocent of the world’s dangers. Bingley’s sister I worried about less; Louisa always landed on her feet. Why, she spent most of the trip thus far flirting with Mr. Hurst, a railway investor with the Central Pacific Railroad. Caroline, the other Bingley sister, flatly refused to leave and remained in Boston with her aunt.
Despite my misgivings, there was something about the wide open spaces of the West that called to me. Seeing the alien landscape rush past filled me with a sense of excitement and wonder.
The stage picked up speed as the driver cracked a whip—and a gunshot split the air.
Georgiana jolted awake. “What was that?”
“A gunshot. It seems we have run into trouble.” I wrapped one arm around her and gripped one of the pendulous leather straps with the other. I looked across the aisle and met Bingley’s eyes. My friend was white as a ghost, Louisa clinging to him in terror. The other passengers, a widow traveling with her elderly father-in-law and young son, ducked down low.
More gunshots followed. It sounded as though several men were shooting at us, and the man riding shotgun with the driver fired back. I heard indistinct shouts, followed by a cry and a thump as the body of the conductor hit the side of the stage on its way to the ground. Louisa screamed and Georgie flinched against me.
Bingley stuck his head out the window then pulled back quickly as a bullet whistled past his head.
“What do you see?”
Bingley’s voice was uncharacteristically grim. “Bandits. At least two on this side. I doubt we can outrun them.” He looked at me with a question in his eyes.
I held Georgiana in a close embrace for a brief instant, as if she was still a child small enough to sit on my lap, before trading places with her on the bench. Her whole body shook, but thank God, she was not screaming or in hysterics.
We could fight but at what risk? As businessmen from Boston, our skill in a gunfight had been untested. “If we cannot outrun them, we will give them what they want. Save the bullets in case they threaten the ladies.” I made sure to meet Bingley and Hurst’s eyes to verify we were in agreement.
Louisa was babbling hysterically. “We are going to die! We will be robbed and ravished and left to the wolves and Indians! I want to go home. Charles, we need to turn around and go home!”
“Miss Bingley, be silent! You are not helping.” Mr. Hurst commanded. “You have my word I will keep you safe.” This, surprisingly, brought an effective end to her cries.
I lifted a corner of the curtain and peered out. “Three on this side.” They were close, close enough I could see the lead man’s green eyes above his blue-and-white-checkered bandana.
A rifle shot rang out from the other side of the stage, and the vehicle careened sideways.
“Damn,” Bingley swore, “I think they got the driver.”
The stage left the road as the horses ran wild, spurred on by gunshots.
In an instant, the violence of a collision lifted one side of the stagecoach into the air, slamming the passengers into one another, before crashing down onto its side. The last thing I heard before everything faded into darkness was the screaming of horses.
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