Romanticizing Darcy

So I read this article today about how Pride and Prejudice‘s Mr. Darcy is a less worthy hero than Bhaer from Little Women. I’ll admit here and now that I love Jane Austen and never could get into Louisa May Alcott, so I’m probably biased from the get go. But I also am not the type to enjoy “bad boy” stories, alpha male romantic interests, etc. And so I think this article misses the mark.

One of the fundamental assumptions of the article is that Mr. Darcy changes personality over the course of the novel—Lizzie changes him. I agree that in fiction I find the woman-makes-him-a-better-man thing annoying and problematic. But I’ve never read P&P that way. To me, Darcy doesn’t change. He’s always himself. He just has a really hard shell and a gooey center. Lizzie doesn’t change him, she cracks him open in a way only those close to him have ever been able to do.

Take it from Darcy’s side. Here is a man who (a) must fend off women on a regular basis, and (b) also has a young sister to worry about. He has many responsibilities and a lot on his mind. One can hardly blame him for knowing Mrs. Bennet for who and what she really is—a grasping mama. He’s surely dealt with his share of them before coming to Netherfield. He’s learned to be wary, and he’s put up necessary defences that make him standoffish and seemingly rude. But that’s a matter of self-preservation, really.

I’m probably making excuses because I so adore the book, but I still believe my argument is valid. On the flip side, I do prefer nice men to dominant alphas, which is why there are scads of books I don’t read. I don’t find the alpha male trope hot or romantic. Which is why you won’t find them in anything I write, either. And yes, I think it’s possible to write a nice guy character that is still interesting. (Well, they’re interesting to me, anyway. But maybe I’m alone in that.)

What do you think? Darcy: yea or nay? Is he just a Georgian-era bad boy? Who are your favorite romantic heroes?

The James vs. Clarence Thing

I’m pleased that my new Sherlock Holmes Professor Moriarty story is finding readers. (If you haven’t read it yet, you can get it here—free to read if you have Kindle Unlimited, and just 99 cents otherwise.) I even received my first review, and it was 5 stars! But I did notice the reviewer wrote that, really, she gives it 4.5 stars because she was confused by the James/Clarence thing. So I thought I’d answer that question in case others also had it.

In Conan Doyle’s story “The Final Problem,” Watson writes:

My hand has been forced, however, by the recent letters in which Colonel James Moriarty defends the memory of his brother…

Colonel James Moriarty is not the criminal. You can be forgiven for thinking as much since there seems to be an ongoing use of James/Jim/Jamie for the character of the evil Moriarty in books, films, and television programs. But, going by the original source material, this isn’t true. James is just the professor’s brother. So I gave my version of Professor Moriarty the name Clarence. Which happens to be my father’s name. And before you think that says something about how I view my dad, you should probably read the story first. In any case, I’m sure my dad will be hugely amused when he reads it. (He and Mom are on a cruise at the moment, so…)

Anyway, that’s my reasoning. Sorry for any confusion. Hope you still enjoy the story!

WIPjoy #30 & 5 More Answers

30. How do your characters celebrate Halloween (or other holiday) if they do?

Nerissa isn’t much for parties, though she doesn’t mind dressing up. She thinks it’s kind of fun, actually. But she’s too old to trick-or-treat. Her ideal Hallowe’en is hanging around a bonfire.

 

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11.Your first MC.

Uh . . . I don’t remember. Back when I wrote those Fanta-C magazines, I wrote about characters from movies and television. I’d give news on what Han Solo and Indiana Jones were up to (they were identical cousins, you know, because my mom would come home for lunch and we’d watch Patty Duke reruns).

My first original MC would have been the Hemlock sisters? My best friend and I made them up: a pair of sleuthing sisters who lived with their Aunt Miranda. Their parents had died under mysterious circumstances, so the running thread was to discover how and why their parents had died. In the meantime, they solved other mysteries in their small town.

12. Favorite trope.

I use metaphor a lot. Really, though, I’m not sure I have a favorite trope (if by “trope” you mean a common theme or structure seen in many books, television shows, and movies). I have a lot that I dislike, but few that I think: I love that! I guess maybe the repressed personality that is moved to express emotion? Because I identify with that.

13. Least favorite trope.

Oh, here it is! I don’t have a least favorite because I dislike them all equally. The chosen one/snowflake (yes, even though Cee is kind of one of these); the overwrought love triangle (again, even though Cee sort of has one); the perfect MC who still somehow thinks she’s ugly or stupid, even though guys are tripping all over themselves for her. I’m sure there are a ton more that I’m just not thinking about this minute because I try not to think about them ever.

14. Least favorite OC.

Of mine? That I made up? That’s just mean, asking me to pick on one of my literary children. I love them all, though probably not equally. I think Akkad—the MC of my thesis—might be one of my least favorite characters. If I ever go rewrite my thesis, I’ll flesh him out a bit more and make him less whiny.

15. Worst writing habit.

Procrastination, often in the form of doing just this kind of thing: blogging, tweeting, faffing about online instead of writing.

WIPjoy #27 & Cover Reveal

27. Side character – Your secret vice?

Rosalind: Makeup. I mean, I’m naturally beautiful, but not this beautiful.
Gwendolyn: That’s not really a secret…
Rosalind: Hers is Liam. Not that I blame her.
Gwendolyn:

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The cover for Fairy Tales and Folklore Reimagined has been revealed! My story “A Good Washing and One Nice Dress” is included. Look for preorders to be up on 10/31 and the book to be released 11/10. (Between the Lines Publishing)

WIPjoy #26

26. Protagonist – How do you like to celebrate your birthday?

Nerissa: My birthday is at the end of January, so usually I’m in school. Still, there have been plenty of years when my parents took me out of school for the week so we could go someplace warm. Sometimes it depended on where Dad was shooting [his current film]. Sometimes we couldn’t because Dad was shooting.

Vacations are nice, but I think ideally I’d just spend the day hanging out with Bea. I don’t need a party or anything. I just want to relax.

WIPjoy #25

25. Antagonists – What’s something that keeps you up at night?

Ophelia: I worry sometimes that I won’t be recognized on the street. That the paparazzi won’t want pictures of me. There’s nothing worse than realizing you’re no longer worth anything to them.

Eoin: Ophelia.

Interviewer: Oh! In a, you know . . . hubba-hubba way?

Eoin: What? No. She snores. I see now why Bryce slept in a different room.

I should set a book in Southend-on-Sea . . .

WIPjoy #23

23. Protagonist – Last dream you had?

Nerissa: Well, I describe it pretty clearly in the book, I think. You know, the whole bit with my dead dad coming for a visit? I’ve probably dreamed since then, but if so, I don’t remember. The dad thing took up a lot of headspace.

Hullo again to Southend-on-Sea! Thanks for visiting!

WIPjoy #22

22. Antagonist – Favorite snack food?

Ophelia: Oh! Are we being interviewed? Well, I don’t really snack, you know. My figure and all.
Eoin: I like pickled onion crisps. While watching a match on the telly.
Ophelia: And Welsh red ale. He loves that, too.
Eoin: You don’t approve?
Ophelia: I never said I didn’t.
Eoin: It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.
Ophelia: Let’s not do this in front of the interviewer.

Ophelia Dey gives a strained smile. Eoin—once her brother-in-law, now her husband—looks away, clearly wishing to be elsewhere. Ophelia is used to this scrutiny, but Eoin clearly is not. He lived in his brother’s shadow for so long that the spotlight blinds him. You could almost feel sorry for him. But not quite. There’s something about him—about them both—that feels skew-whiff, and it’s more than grief or a sudden change in circumstances. There is something wrong with these two people, but as an interviewer, I can’t find the right question to draw out the poison.

Miss Magnolia

The other night at dinner my kids began to ask me questions that started with, “Back in your day…” As in: “Back in your day did they have cars?” Since I felt like saying, “WTF, you guys, how old do you think I am?” was probably poor parenting, I answered in the voice of an old Southern woman who I’ve since named Miss Magnolia.

This delighted the kids. They asked me what I thought when I first saw a pizza. Miss Magnolia answered, “Why, I saw it and thought: someone’s murdered the cake. I mean, it was so flat! And why did it have cheese on it?” They asked what I thought when I first saw a pineapple. “I thought it was a spider! I smashed it, and it made such a mess. And then someone told me I was supposed to eat it!”

Miss Magnolia spoke at length about Hubert. Well, Hubert VI, that is. And his pet turkey. And the corns on his feet. You see, Miss Magnolia is from Hubertville, Alabama. (Not to be confused with Hubbertville.) The first Hubert founded the town, and now no one will speak to Hubert VII because he named his son Edmund.

She also talked about Pop’s, which is where she and her friends used to go for candy and sodas. It was the soda shop. She mentioned that she doesn’t eat dumplings or ravioli because she doesn’t trust food if she doesn’t know what might be inside it. In short, she’s quite the character. The kids have been asking for her, though my youngest son says it is a little weird to hear me talk in such a different voice.

Maybe some day I’ll sketch out a full picture of Miss Magnolia and her little town. It’s been a fun experiment.