Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Romancing with Kathryn Nelson

I am happy to have Kathryn Nelson stopping by. I got a chance to interview her. I hope you enjoy it.

I want to thank you for allowing me to interview you.

I assure you, the pleasure is mine. The writing of Pemberley Manor was the funniest thing I’ve ever done, and I love to revisit it.

What is something that readers don’t know about you that they would be surprised to learn?

Pretty much everything, I’d guess – there’s really nothing in my background that would lead anyone to think I would write a sequel to Pride and Prejudice. I’ve spent the best years of my life working with my family in an electrical contracting business.

What is the craziest thing you have ever done?

I’m sure some people I know would vote for marrying my husband, Abdulla, and moving to Kuwait, but they’d be wrong. The only thing I’ve done that raises the hair on my neck when I think about it was a job on a building rehab. My brother was replacing the sewer line on an early 1900’s building. The pipe ran through a vaulted brick tunnel about 15 feet underground, but we couldn’t figure out where the street connection was. I crawled through the tunnel on my hands and knees with a rope tied around me to measure the distance to the end so we would know where to dig. The top of the tunnel brushed my shoulders, the bottom was wet and wormy, and I pushed a flashlight ahead of me to see what might be coming, although I didn’t really want to know. Totally creepy and probably stupid, but we did get the measurement.

What is your favorite movie?

“My Life as a Dog” – in Swedish with English subtitles. At least most days. But “As Good as it Gets” comes in a close second. If you’d asked what video I’ve watched the most, it would have to be the 1995 BBC/A&E production of Pride and Prejudice. For a while, that was a total obsession.

What do you think makes historical romances so appealing?

Not having to live that way has a big appeal for me. I think we tend to romanticize the past, but really, would anyone want to wear those layers of clothes? As a woman, it’s lovely to imagine being cared for by a dashing and hopefully wealthy man, but the reality was much uglier. As much as we scorn her, Mrs. Bennet was the true realist in Jane Austen’s novel – it was terribly urgent to marry off the daughters, and there was nothing romantic about the reality of spinsterhood.

You are deserted on an island. Your dream man comes to rescue you, who is it and why?

Cheesy as it might sound, it would have to be my husband, Abdulla. After thirty-odd years of ups and downs, I know he would come if he could, and there’s no one I’d rather spend a night on a raft with.

But if he brought Colin Firth or Richard Gere along as first mate, I wouldn’t object...

How did you react when you first saw your books on the shelves at a bookstore?

Although the first edition of Pemberley Manor came out in 2006, I still haven’t seen a book at a bookstore – only on Amazon and other web sellers. I can only imagine. My mentor, Diana Birchall, sent a picture out to all of her friends of herself on the floor next to the shelf where her first book sat. I assume I’m going to feel as good as she looked.

Can you please share with readers what they can expect from Pemberley Manor?

I think it depends on the reader – on what they bring to the story. It has been reviewed as both the worst and the best sequel to Pride and Prejudice. For me, the question of why so many authors have chosen to do these sequels remains a fascination. It is certainly a tribute to Jane Austen that we can’t seem to leave her characters alone.

I started writing this story to spend more time with Elizabeth and Darcy and to experiment with Jane Austen’s amazing style of prose. I quickly became obsessed with the question of Darcy’s past, and what impact it would have on his happiness in the future. In that sense, Pemberley Manor takes a modern, analytical, approach, creating a messy family history that could explain his prickly exterior while remaining true to his honest and decent nature. Elizabeth must mature quickly to help her husband face the past he would rather forget.

And then who could resist bringing Caroline Bingley around and allowing Elizabeth to sport with her a bit? Would Jane’s kindness ever really have an impact on Caroline’s snarky arrogance? I hope readers will just have fun wandering through the story.

What can fans expect from you next?

Pemberley Manor was unintentional as a novel – I simply couldn’t stop once I’d started. My intention, and the novel that is nearly finished, is a more contemporary story of family ties set in 20th Century Minnesota. The story my good friends want me to write is the adventures of a Minnesota girl in Kuwait, and my family brushes with alcoholism, bipolar disorder, Down syndrome and jubilation. But I’m still living that story.

But at the end of the day, I sometimes think about the red leather journal that Darcy’s father left for him, and I wonder what it says…So, who knows?


Kathryn L Nelson said...

Hi, Cheryl,

Thanks for inviting me into your space today. Your creative questions really made me think.

Anonymous said...








naida said...

great post! i'm reading this book now and really enjoying it :)
As Good as it Gets is one of my favs too.

kathryn said...

See you Monday on the Bookworm, Naida.