Thursday, 31 May 2012

Interview with historical novelist Karen Aminadra

My guest today is Karen Aminadra (pronounced Amin-ah-dra) who is the author of Charlotte: Pride and Prejudice continues. She also teaches English language. Karen was born in London and grew up in Hertfordshire, 'the land of Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice’.
Most of us are familiar with Pride and Prejudice and will recall the character Charlotte Lucas who wed Lizzie Bennet’s rejected suitor Mr Collins.  Karen’s novel follows Charlotte’s story and gives us the chance to be reunited with the characters we came to know and love in Jane Austen’s classic novel.

 Charlotte did not love Mr Collins when she married him but had at least secured her future. However, she soon begins to feel trapped and discontent. The easiest thing to do would be to do as she is told. But Charlotte must decide to remain as she is or to begin a chain of events that will change not only her life but also the lives of those around her forever.

Hello Karen, thank you so much for agreeing to appear on my blog. I really enjoyed Charlotte; Pride and Prejudice Continues but rather than hear my opinions I’d like you to tell us all about it. For instance, what inspired you to begin?

I began to write Charlotte ~ Pride & Prejudice Continues after a conversation about her.  I had always wondered about her, and what her life would have been like after she married Mr Collins.
I think it would be far too easy to be cold-hearted towards Charlotte and say, “well she made her bed, let her lie in it.”  I was never happy with that.

 What was it like to take characters that someone else (and one of our greatest authors too) had originally created and bend them to fit your story?
I wished to stay as true to Jane’s work as possible.  I did not want to change Charlotte’s personality at all.  She is witty, intelligent, and strong and I wanted that to come out in the book, but I also wanted her to grow.
She learns a lot about herself, that she can manipulate her husband a little and that she is not as strong as she first thought.  She battles with emotions, due to her loneliness and that leads her to places she should not be.

 What changes have you implemented as Charlotte matures from a girl to a woman?
I also never believed a word of it, when she said she was not romantic, and that she would be fine without affection in her marriage.  There is not a human being alive who can live without affection.  Charlotte had said that to Lizzy before her marriage, when she was surrounded by friends who cared for her and a large family who must have shown their affection some way or another.
I thought that upon arriving in Kent that she must have felt lonely.  She encouraged Mr Collins to be out in the garden, in the parish, at Rosings or in his book room.  How lonely! 
I also wondered about her need for conversation.  Mr Collins was never shown to be the kind of person you could talk to for hours or bare your soul to, and Lady Catherine would likely bite your head off and scold you for some trifling matter, so who did Charlotte have to talk to?

Charlotte is not perhaps everyone’s idea of a heroine, what was it about her that made you choose her?
Charlotte might not be most people’s idea of a heroine but I was always drawn to her and I always remembered Jane Austen’s own words to her sister Cassandra that every girl should marry for love if possible.  I wanted love for Charlotte too.
And what about Mr Collins?  Who could be married to him and not try to change him in some way?  The least a wife would do is point out his errors or flaws, delicately. 

 Yes, I wanted to ask you about Mr Collins. He is a bit of a toad to begin with, isn’t he? How did you manage to understand how his mind worked?
Jane wrote a wonderful character in him.  He is a real parody of the people she had obviously encountered but I wanted to ask, why was he like that? We all change over the years, and due to things that happen in our lives, could the same happen in the Collins household?

 I can see it must have been quite a challenge. Which of the characters did you enjoy writing the most?
Once I had introduced new characters in the shape of Hunsford Villagers, they took on their own personalities and they were quite entertaining to write.  I personally love Mr Abbot.  I think he is a blend of Charlotte’s own father Sir William Lucas and King George III “what, what!” and possibly one of my husband’s many characters!  I found that those characters also wanted to help Charlotte, so together we hatched a plan!

Well I for one loved Charlotte: Pride and Prejudice continues and I’m busily recommending it to all my friends. I wish you every luck with it. Can you tell us a little about your next project just so we have something else to look forward to?

The new one is begins in 1911 and goes into 1912... and is a historical crime/ mystery.
Driven by jealousy, greed and desire, nothing will stop Gregory Rogers from taking that which he believes is his. He'll do anything to gain money, Bancroft Hall and the power that comes with the title of Baronet. Including murder.
....Until his eyes fall upon the beautiful Jane. Can she rescue him from himself? Will she be the one thing that he cannot ruin in order to have?

Sounds excellent. I will wait with baited breath. thanks once again, Karen, for sparing time for us today and I hope you will be back to talk more about your next one very soon.

Charlotte: Pride and Prejudice Continues is available on Amazon Kindle and will be available soon in paperback.

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