So glad you made it back to Duck Chat.
Today please welcome Sara Angelini to the pond!
Sara newest release is The Trials of the Honorable F. Darcy, a spin on Austen’s beloved characters in the modern world and in a legal setting. This is intriguing to me because of my chosen profession as a court reporter. With Sara’s experience as an attorney, scenes and situations would read true to form and make the reading of the book quite interesting.
Having opted out of veterinary school, Sara then chose to go to law in San Francisco, where she currently lives with her husband and their two children. Be sure to leave that meaningful comment or question for Sara today. Sourcebooks has graciously offered two copies of her book for today’s giveaway. Now let’s chat!
DUCK CHAT: Sara, let’s talk first about your new book, The Trials of the Honorable F. Darcy. First, what was it that sparked for you to write about Austen’s Darcy and Elizabeth in a contemporary legal setting?
SARA ANGELINI: Like many Pride and Prejudice fans, I couldn’t get enough of Darcy and Elizabeth’s relationship and wanted to write a different angle on their story. Because I’m far too lazy to do the research needed to write a Regency story, I decided to update it to a modern setting. That of course made many of Jane Austen’s plot points irrelevant. For instance, in today’s world family connections are not nearly as important as they were in Austen’s time. If you don’t like your in-laws, you move across the country and stay in touch via the internet and phone. Therefore, Darcy’s main objection to Elizabeth’s family — and the crucial conflict of the story — became moot. That left me searching for a real, present-day conflict that would explain why Darcy would be reserved and hesitant about their relationship. As an attorney, the conflict of interest of a romance between an attorney and a judge immediately came to mind. It’s a real problem that can have serious enough consequences to give Darcy pause about getting mixed up with Elizabeth, and his surrender to the temptation despite his misgivings underscores the strength of his feelings. Like Austen’s Darcy, Judge Darcy is risking it all to have Elizabeth.
DC: If you could retire any question and never, ever have it asked again, what would it be? Feel free to answer it.
SA: “Do I have any clean underwear?”
“No, you don’t.”
DC: I’ve heard writers often say their stories take them in surprising directions, or dialogue flows from some unknown place. Is it the same with you? Do your characters surprise you sometimes?
SA: The character that surprised me the most was Lou Hurst. Lou came to me in a moment of inspiration when I wanted Elizabeth to have a confidant other than Jane. I tried a lot of different angles and toyed with the idea of having her be friends with Louisa Hurst (Mr. Bingley’s married sister). But Mrs. Hurst was not a likable character, and I didn’t want to change her into something she wasn’t. Instead I gave her a sex change and a FAB-U-LOUS personality, and Lou Hurst was born. I admit he’s one of my favorite characters, and would never have come about if I hadn’t decided to think outside the box.
DC: Do you ever argue with your characters while you’re writing? Who usually wins?
SA: It doesn’t happen too often because once the character has been defined enough to have his own voice, he often tells me what to write. I give my characters the basic framework and let them do the talking. I guess that means they usually win!
SA: To be perfectly honest, The Trials of the Honorable F. Darcy began as an exercise in voyeurism. I wanted to see the steamier side of Darcy and Elizabeth. It was never intended to be a full-length novel. But as I got to know my characters a little more, the underlying story, rather than the sex, became the driving force. Their initial dislike followed by explosive attraction, fueled by doing what they know is taboo, generated a tension in the story that straight sex could never convey. The story made the sex important, and therefore much more satisfying to read and write than a series of exploits. I’m actually very grateful that my characters refused to be the sex puppets I originally envisioned and instead became living, breathing characters with flaws and humor. I love my characters very, very much; much more than I would have if they had been written as I originally envisioned them.
DC: What is sure to distract you from sitting down and working/writing?
SA: Being a mom. Trials was written before I had my first child, when I could sit in front of the computer until the wee hours of the morning. Now I have two children under two years old and I’m lucky if I finish a thought, let alone have the luxury of sitting in a quiet room for hours creating art.
DC: How do you feel your male or female characters have evolved over your career? Do you think you write them differently now than you did when you started?
SA: Definitely. Lou Hurst started out as a stereotypical flaming gay guy, but I feel he has evolved into a real character who just happens to be gay. Elizabeth started off as a know-it-all and Darcy started out as a smart-ass. Neither of them was very likable. I was trying too hard to make them fit perfectly into some mold, and I wasn’t even sure what that mold was. Since then, I’ve learned that in order for my characters to be likable, I have to like them myself. That means they have flaws, humor, and can recognize when they are being idiots and change their behavior, regardless of their gender.
DC: Will there be any succeeding books with the Honorable F. Darcy and his Lizzy?
SA: No. I’m happy with where they wound up, and I want to move on to other characters.
DC: Is there a genre you haven’t tackled but would like to try?
SA: Fantasy. I love Tolkien and George R.R. Martin. Both created detailed, realistic worlds upon which character-driven stories rested. I’d also like to try a full-length paranormal romance centered on ghosts instead of vampires or werewolves.
DC: What advice would you give to your younger self?
SA: Get over yourself; you ain’t all that.
DC: If you were a book, what would your blurb be?
SA: Sara Angelini thought her secret was safe. She had earned her hard-as-nails reputation for no-holds-barred negotiations in the courtroom. But when word leaked out that Sara had a “little hobby,” tongues began to wag. Who was the inspiration for the sexy Judge? Was there more to the story than met the eye? And more importantly, who would show up in her next book?
DC: What would be your “voice’s” tagline?
SA: Mostly funny, with a chance of pain.
DC: If you had never become an author, what do you think you would be doing right now?
SA: Either sleeping or preparing for tomorrow’s deposition…which I’ll be doing right after I finish this interview!
DC: What’s on the horizon for Sara Angelini?
SA: I’ve got another contemporary romance called No Strings Attached about a romance between cellist and a technology mogul. I hope to have the final version to my agent by the end of this year. Other than that, there are always a few half-baked ideas simmering on the back burner. Can’t wait until preschool starts!
– dark or milk chocolate? – Peanut butter.
– smooth or chunky peanut butter? – Smooth
– heels or flats? – Heels
– coffee or tea? – Coffee
– summer or winter? – Winter
– mountains or beach? – Forest
– mustard or mayonnaise? – Mayo
– flowers or candy? – Flowers – but not roses
– pockets or purse? – Purse
– Pepsi or Coke? – Coke
– ebook or print? – Print
And just because:
1. What is your favorite word? – Uranus. It never fails to make me giggle. Or to make my husband grind his teeth.
2. What is your least favorite word? – No!, usually said by my 20 month old
3. What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally? – Music
4. What turns you off creatively, spiritually or emotionally? – Incompetence
5. What sound or noise do you love? – My daughter’s laugh
6. What sound or noise do you hate? – Alarm clocks
7. What is your favorite curse word? – Bloody hell and/or Jesus Fucking Christ
8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? – Runway model
9. What profession would you not like to do? – President of the United States
10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? – “Ha ha ha, ‘Middle initial “U”’…I loved that line!”
DC: Thank you, Sara, for being with us today!