Most authors set out to create their own identity.
We don’t plan on creating shadows of someone else’s work. We don’t expect to be known for variations on someone else’s theme. Writing is a deeply personal process, and we expect to be known for what we do, for what we create.
Miss Jane Austen, bless her soul, had different plans for me.
I discovered Pride and Prejudice as a teenager. At fourteen-and-a-half years old, I found the story taking me completely by surprise. Mr. Darcy the villain is a – love interest? Mr. Bingley and Jane actually do get together? Mr. Wickham and all his charms proved to be a cheating, lying bastard. The surprises were endless, and I loved each and every one. Every thing that happened to the dear Bennet sisters felt as vivid as if it happened to me.
As a young girl still discovering what romantic feelings meant, I thought of Austen’s work as an escape. It took me to England, and it let me meet people and experience stories I would otherwise never have.
Then real life came along.
Somewhere between rejecting my now-husband’s first suit and rediscovering who he truly was (and falling desperately in love with him), Pride and Prejudice became real.
Sure, we don’t live in Regency England; but we still have gossiping mothers, nosy neighbors, obstacles of our own creation, and a grave social disparity. We’re still human, and we’re still foolish enough to take a while to fall in love for keeps.
The moment I walked down the aisle, 200 years after my favorite book was published, Austen’s work solidified permanently from my wispy imagination to irrepressible reality.
Now, I love no other novel like I love Pride and Prejudice. Now, I am willing to give up my own identity for the honor of sharing a tiny bit of Miss Jane Austen’s. She, a lady author, transformed English literature. What an honor it is to share a by line with her!
I still have my dreams of creating my own universe, the way Miss Austen did. As far as I’m concerned, Mr. Darcy and Miss Elizabeth really did exist as historical characters. I want to get to create people that memorable too.
In the meantime, I enjoy reimagining the love story of the the most intriguing couple I’ve ever met in literature. Here’s hoping readers do as well.