Interview with author Jane Odiwe

photo I am thrilled to welcome author and artist Jane Odiwe as part of the Blog tour for her new book Project Darcy. Jane is also the author of Lydia Bennet’s story and Willoughby’s Return and has written two of my favorite Austen sequels to date – Searching For Captain Wentworth and Mr Darcy’s Secret. Jane has a fantastic vision and her words truly reflect her artist’s eye.

This new book is a fascinating look into Jane Austen’s life, her inspiration for that beloved book Pride and Prejudice, time travel, a lovely young heroine, and a wonderful cast of characters.

Welcome Jane…

Thank you, Shamitri-I’m honoured to be here!

MM- Tell us how you write – do you collect items of inspiration before you begin the early stages of writing, and do you have any rituals?

JO–   It varies from book to book, but it’s usually ideas that first prompt me to write, and then I find later on I’m inspired by paintings or interiors or even by textiles, clothing, or a piece of music that might be evocative of the time in which I’m writing. Fragrance and after shave – smells, odours, scents, of the outdoors, indoors, food, and of people all play their part in the inspiration. I enjoyed using Pinterest to make a mood board for Project Darcy for imagining both the present and the past.

I can’t think that I have any rituals apart from having a morning snack of a cup of coffee with a bag of twiglets, which is a kind of snack – I think I’m addicted to them!

MM-  What is your favorite genre of music and do you listen to composers from the Regency era to inspire you?

JO – I haven’t a favourite genre – I listen to a wide range of music from classical to pop and contemporary. I suppose it depends what mood I’m in when deciding to listen to music, but it tends to be classical music when I’m writing. I like Haydn, and enjoy the music that Jane Austen played – and I particularly love music from the opera and ballet. 

MM- Do you like to travel and which part of the world would you like to visit the most?

JO–   I do like to travel and have been lucky enough to visit many European countries and Africa. I have never been to Florence or New York – those are two places I would love to visit! I love travelling round England and visiting all the places that Jane Austen wrote about.

MM-  Do you often find that your characters speak to you as you begin outlining the book and do they take you on a different journey than the one you had originally planned for them?

JO –   Yes – I used to write very detailed plot outlines, but always found that the characters changed the storylines, and I think that’s been the case with every book I’ve written. Now, I have a rough idea of where I want to go, and how it should end, but even then I can be surprised. Project Darcy’s ending even surprised me!

MM – Do they leave an impression and can you please give us an example?

JO –   I’ve really enjoyed writing about my heroine Ellie in this book – she reminds me very much of my daughter who is also an illustrator, and she’s very strong, funny, independent and someone who is lovely to be around.

MM –  Best friends Ellie and Jess are similar to Jane and Elizabeth Bennet, along with Martha, Cara and Liberty, who all possess similarities to the other Bennet girls. How were you able to draw from those connections in Jane Austen’s past and retain each of the girls’ personalities with this modern twist?

JO –  I didn’t set out to modernise Pride and Prejudice because I’m not sure I could have done that satisfactorily, but I wanted the girls to be recognisable. Girls today don’t have the same problems as they did back then – women are not dependent on men to earn a living. But, Project Darcy was inspired by Jane’s novel, and I wanted to have characters that were similar in spirit. Jess and Ellie are best friends, as close as any sisters can be. I am very close to my sister, and have very dear friends, and so much was drawn from personal experience. Jane Austen and her sister Cassandra were clearly very close, and I’ve often wondered if Jane and Elizabeth were extensions of the Austen sisters. Cara and Liberty are just as silly as Kitty and Lydia, with the same superficial concerns about parties and dances, dresses and men. Martha is as socially awkward as Mary, but she has her own happy ending – at least, I hope it really does work out for her in the end!

MM -The Christmas card scene from the past is beautifully written, even in terms of aesthetics. I’m not there but I see what Ellie sees, How were you able to make it so ethereal?

JO –  Thank you – I enjoy writing descriptive scenes and winter is one of my favourite seasons. I collect lists of favourite words and enjoy thinking of different ways to use them. I’ve always had a thing about glass snowstorms – and imagined the scene a little like that.

MM  – How did you juxtapose Jane’s past with Ellie’s present so smoothly and draw her back from the intensity of those emotions, while allowing your readers to experience them as well?

JO –   It’s always quite difficult going from the past to the present and vice versa, but I hope I got the transition right most of the time. I thought about it in the way you’d experience a strong memory – however much you get drawn into another time and place, when you’re back in the present those emotions you once had fade as real life kicks in. Using different tenses was a device I used to help make the emotions intense – when Ellie goes back in time, we see her feelings, experience her emotions in the first person. In the present, we are standing back a little watching the story unfold from the third person.

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MM – Donald was a wonderful and humorous addition to the story, he surprised me on some levels and reminded me a little of Mr Collins. Was this your intent and how difficult is it to make a character pompous yet funny?

JO  – Yes – Donald was my version of Mr Collins – I wanted to make those scenes funny, but it’s a hard call when you follow the genius that is Jane Austen. I can only hope that I succeeded on some level. 

MM  – Was there any research material that you really wanted to include in the book and couldn’t, if so, tell us why?

JO   –  I had a few extra scenes with Jane’s brother Henry and her cousin, Eliza de Feuillide. I enjoyed writing them enormously, but in the end, I wasn’t sure if they added anything of significance to the story. I lopped and cropped them out – but, I daresay, they’ll turn up in another novel!

JO  –  I’d just like to say thank you very much for hosting me on your blog and for asking such interesting questions!

Jane, you’ve been lovely. Thank you for taking the time to chat with me, I wish you every success with this book and the next, I look forward to chatting with you about your next project.

To find out more about Jane Odiwe, you can find her here:

Jane Odiwe – Austen Effusions: http://www.austeneffusions.com
Jane Austen Sequels: http://www.janeaustensequels.blogspot.co.uk
Austen Authors: http://austenauthors.net
Twitter: https://twitter.com/JaneOdiwe
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JaneOdiwe
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/janeodiwe/

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17 thoughts on “Interview with author Jane Odiwe

  1. Thank you for the lovely interview – I enjoyed your thoughtful questions so much – it’s been a pleasure!

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  2. i enjoyed learning about what makes Jane tick. I feel i got to know her more as a person as well and now have a craving for this thing called twiglet!
    beautifully written interview , informative and interesting – Thank you !

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    • Ah! the twiglet would appeal to me too, In fact, I meant to ask Jane what it was. I will now google this snack for I too have a craving for it. Thank you so much for your kind words.

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  3. What a nice interview! I really enjoyed reading it. I had the feeling I was with you and Mrs Odiwe, like we were having a coffee together. I will definitively look for the book!
    Thanks for sharing this magical moment with us.
    Florence

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    • Thank you so much Flo, You were so kind and helpful, not to mention supportive, I have not forgotten how you inspired me. I really did want that feeling of having my readers right there with me, a group of us sitting, having a discussion. Wouldn’t that be lovely to do with every author we love?

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  4. I used to write very detailed plot outlines, but always found that the characters changed the storylines,

    Heh-heh! Sounds like your characters are very strong-willed.

    You’ve just made me very curious about the deleted scenes with Henry and Eliza.

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  5. A wonderful insightful interview. You chose your questions well and gave us an in depth look into the writer – you should stand tall and proud my darling, for you have done well and I am sure that Jane is also delighted. xxx

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    • Hello my lovely, I really did think about what I would want to ask Jane. I mean, I wanted to know her characters well, I wanted to know how she wrote, what her inspirations were. It took me a while, but I wanted an insightful interview. So glad you liked it. Jane was absolutely lovely and kind.
      Thank you for always being there. You’ve always encouraged me to do this, to write more, to ask more. Love you for being so special.
      xxx

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  6. Brilliant interview, MM! This worked out really well, I’m so glad. Loved your questions which added a lot of insight into the interview and, of course, Jane Odiwe. Yet another book to add to my list, thank you very much. Keep it coming, my friend!

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    • Thank you for being such a wonderful friend Monica, and for all your support. You answered all my questions and gave me lots of things to think about before I planned my interview. I wanted the questions to be insightful, revealing and fun. I wanted to know about the characters, if they had a life of their own, what their journey was. I’m so happy you liked it. Jane did too and it really was what I wanted.
      Sending you many hugs my dear friend.

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  7. Thank you for the interview! It’s nice to learn more about the process of writing a novel and what inspired it. Jane Odiwe’s book is on my reading list!

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