|Available at Audible and Amazon|
Ms. Clarkston agreed to answer a few of my questions and let us learn more about her . I think you will agree that she shared some informative and entertaining thoughts. She is also giving away two of her just released audio books, Rumours & Restlessness! The paperback and eBook were already available for purchase and now the audio book is available. You know I am excited about that as I dearly love a good audio book! :) Be sure and check back tomorrow as there is a mystery post to go along with this one. Comments left at both posts will increase your chances of winning! You are going to love tomorrow's post too!
Yes, I am getting ahead of myself so back to the present and today's interview! Please join me in welcoming Nicole Clarkston to More Agreeably Engaged!
How and when did your interest in Jane Austen take root?
I was a bookworm from age five, but I managed to survive until my early thirties without ever once picking up a Jane Austen book. I kept seeing Pride and Prejudice everywhere, so I finally decided I ought to read it at some point. My expectations were not very high, but I got a library copy of both Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice and took them on a camping trip. I spent most of that camping trip buried in those books- I’m afraid I was rather unsociable. I read them each twice in four days and I was hooked!
That sounds like an interesting camping trip even if you were not so sociable! I would bet it was great atmosphere for reading. What drove you to start writing your own books? Did you write other things before writing JAFF?
I stumbled upon some great JAFF selections in my library. I never knew this kind of thing existed! I quickly found myself scanning the shelves for more. They were such clever continuations of the story I already loved, and I couldn’t get enough. Soon after that, I discovered Kindle and read everything I could get my hands on.
I have always wanted to write. Even as a child I remember watching my favorite cartoon- at the time, it was Walt Disney’s Robin Hood- and then fantasizing about how I would have changed the story, or imagining the scenes they left out. In Jr high, I constantly had either a stack of books or my own writing journal at my side. I was always too bashful to let anyone read it but my very closest friend.
One summer, twenty years later, my husband went out of town for a week. While he was away, I committed to stripping and finishing my wood floors (because he told me I couldn’t do it). I rented a commercial floor sander, bought a bunch of varathane and set to work. It was a dusty, smelly project, and I did most of the work in the middle of the night with my kids sleeping in the yard in a tent to protect them from the fumes. To keep me company, I set up my laptop with a queue full of Netflix movies I had been meaning to get to. The very first was North and South. I was instantly in love with the story and had to get my hands on the original book, as well as the very meager selection of variations I was able to find.
My old desire to write my own versions had been growing again, and late one night when I couldn’t sleep, I slipped out to my computer and No Such Thing as Luck was born. I couldn’t get enough of it! About a month later, the same thing occurred and I started Rumours and Recklessness. In my mind, those are the “sister stories,” because I worked on them mostly concurrently for about a year.
I loved hearing about stripping and finishing your floors! Awesome! I bet the kids loved sleeping in the tent too! Sounds like you had good company while working too. I love North and South, as you know. On to the next question...how do you approach religion in your stories?
Both Pride and Prejudice and North and South have distinct cultural influences by religion. Jane Austen was a rector’s daughter, and Elizabeth Gaskell the wife of a Unitarian minister. It is only natural that their faith should flow through their work and be a topic of discussion by their characters. At the same time, both handle religion with subtlety, particularly Austen. Gaskell’s characters wrestle with their notions of religion and morality more openly, but never too bluntly. What I particularly love is how honor and sacrifice are portrayed through the characters of Darcy and Thornton. Both learn, in humility, to lay aside their own desires and seek the good of the woman they love at a time when it seems she will never belong to them. This is the very best kind of love, and it stems right out of the authoress’ experiences in their faith.
I love your thoughts on the last question, especially the last three sentences. Moving on, what is your writing routine?
I tend to squeeze in writing whenever I get a spare moment. I work in a portable file, so I can literally use any of my devices whenever I feel like it. This has, at times, included my waterproof cellphone in my shower! My favorite time to write is early in the morning before my kids are awake. I homeschool them, so our mornings are probably more leisurely than most, but my days are fairly packed. I treasure those hours when I can curl up by the fire alone in my own head with my story.
I begin my stories with a loose outline, as well as several key scenes very vividly played out in my imagination. As I get to know the story a little better, that outline tightens up. I am getting better and better as I go about plotting my course before I blunder ahead, but sometimes the most amazing things happen when I simply sit down and let the characters start talking. They often surprise me.
It is fascinating to read how often the characters lead an author and/or talk for themselves. I hope they are talking a lot for your next book. Tell us something about it that you love most. (if you can without giving anything away)
After No Such Thing as Luck, I wanted to return to this same couple in a more traditional setting. The first was a fantastical, whirlwind romance that was a true joy for me to write. While I tried to keep it believable, I wanted to see how a much more minor change to their story would play out. Also, this story will be completely clean. I loved writing the romantic scenes, and I think they are an invaluable part of real life and marriage, but there are a sizeable number of readers longing for a real relational story without any bedroom scenes.
Sounds wonderful and I cannot wait! I did enjoy your romantic scenes in No Such Thing as Luck. You wrote them in a touching and passionate way without them being explicit. I liked that very much. Have any real people in your life influenced your stories?
I was a very spoiled daughter and am a rather pampered wife. I do not mean that in the material sense. My father is a quiet, strong, loving man. He has always portrayed to me a very clear sense of what it is to be a man of integrity. He works harder than anyone I know. He speaks gently, but firmly, and he does not compromise his values.
When I met my husband, he first impressed me with his intense desire to live according to what he believed was right. He earned my respect long before I fell in love with him, and his devotion to me and to our family is truly inspiring.
In a way, my portrayal of both Darcy and Thornton are an homage to the two men who have most shaped my life. People speak disparagingly of romantic tales because men such as these could never truly exist, and women are making themselves miserable fantasizing over something that is impossible to find. I beg to differ. Real men are out there, and they are a remarkable species. Find one if you can, and hold on to him.
Excellent advice! What a nice tribute you pay to the two men in your life. Is there anything special about yourself or your writing that you would be willing to share with us?
I’m a farm girl at heart, and a bit of a mechanic on the side. I live in a t-shirt and jeans, and I love my critters- both two and four legged. Most of my friends are stunned when they find out I’ve been writing classic fan fiction, which is a large part of why I keep it quiet. I love it though! I have a lot to learn and I am so grateful to each and every reviewer who offers encouragement or critique.
Nicole Clarkston is the pen name of a very bashful writer who will not allow any of her family or friends to read what she writes. She grew up in Idaho on horseback, and if she could have figured out how to read a book at the same time, she would have. She initially pursued a degree in foreign languages and education, and then lost patience with it, switched her major, and changed schools. She now resides in Oregon with her husband of 14 years, 3 homeschooled kids, and a very worthless degree in Poultry Science (don't ask).
Nicole discovered Jane Austen rather by guilt in her early thirties- how does any book worm really live that long without a little P&P? She has never looked back. A year or so later, during a major house renovation project (undertaken when her husband unsuspectingly left town for a few days) she discovered Elizabeth Gaskell and fell completely in love. Nicole's first two published books are her pitiful homage to two authors who have so deeply inspired her.
|Available at Audible and Amazon|
Now to this marvelous giveaway...Ms. Clarkston is giving away two audio books of Rumours & Recklessness. To be entered, you must 'have your share in the conversation'... so leave a comment below. Be sure and include your contact info so I may reach you if you are randomly selected. The giveaway will end at 11:59 PM on the 7th of March, 2016. Good luck to all of you AND don't forget to stop back by tomorrow for the mystery post and more chances to win!!!