To say that Colin Firth’s performance as Mr. Darcy in A&E’s 1995 Pride and Prejudice motivated me to write this book would be accurate. If you were to ask me if I, during some snags in the writing, would call up an image of Colin Firth from the film on my computer screen, I would have to say:
And not just the wet shirt scene.
But. I also frequently called up images of Longbourn as represented in the production, along with Pemberley. Of course, I read and re-read Pride and Prejudice, a novel I first fell for when I was a sophomore in high school.
And… I geeked out over discovering what life really must’ve been like during Jane Austen’s time, and that spurred me on.
But what inspired the story was something altogether different, and that involved working in London after I graduated from University of Wisconsin-Madison in English Literature. I worked in London for six months, then traveled and volunteered in Europe for six more months. I learned that the reality of England and Europe often exceeded, but sometimes, didn’t live up to the world I had read about and imagined for so many years.
In the early 1990s, when my husband and I traveled to Calistoga, California, we visited an historic resort where I took a mineral bath in an outdoor stone tub that dated from the Victorian era. The outdoor bath looked gorgeous and historic in the California sun, but the yellow-ish water reeked of sulphur, and, perhaps it was the water, but the idea for the book hit me—like a waft of rotten eggs:
Girl travels back to Jane Austen’s England, and it stinks.
Still, it wasn’t until 1995 that I began to write the beginnings of the book. Three moves, two children, and ten years later, I finally took the book from idea to The End, and then proceeded to revise it three times.
Penguin, headquartered in London, also publishes very attractive, very affordable versions of Jane Austen’s novels.
Who knew I’d have the honor sharing a publisher with Jane Austen?!