I have only been writing Jane Austen fan fiction (JAFF) for about 18 months, but there are those who have been writing stories for years and who were content to post their work on fan fiction sites. However, with all the changes in the publishing world, many people have chosen to self-publish.
One of those writers is Lory Lilian, who published two novels in late 2009, Remembrance of the Past and Rainy Days, with Meryton Press, but there is a major difference between Lory and me. Lory is Romanian. I found this fascinating, especially since reading an early 19th Century novel is not the easiest thing to do for people who have English as their first language, and so I asked if I could interview her, and she agreed.
When I read your work, I thought you were British because of how you spelled words such as color/colour. I was very surprised to learn that you were Romanian. Where did you learn to speak/write English so well?
Mary, first I want to thank you for the opportunity to answer these questions on your blog and to thank your visitors for their patience in reading them. I studied English in school and I used it from time to time in my job. But my English improved significantly the moment I discovered JAFF, and I started reading all the fanfiction stories I could find (that happened at the beginning of 2004).
When did you first read an Austen novel and was it a challenge? What novel did you read?
I first read Pride and Prejudice (in Romanian) when I was 13 and I fell in love with it instantly. Since that moment I have re-read it at least 50 times, both in Romanian and in English; of course, the passion for P&P lead me to the other Jane Austen novels. But P&P remained the absolute favorite!
What was your first piece of Jane Austen fan fiction and where did you publish it?
The first story I wrote was Rainy Days, a PG version. I published it as a work in progress on Derbyshire's Writers Guild, and I still remember my excitement and my happiness at each and every comment I received. Then some of the readers and some of my friends insisted I should write an “enhanced” version of RD, and this was how the NC-17 version came out. This time I published it at Hyacinth Gardens and at Austen Interlude, which gave me the opportunity of gaining more readers and more lovely comments.
Did you find it difficult to write in Regency English?
Everything related to Pride and Prejudice and to Darcy and Elizabeth is my hobby and my passion, so writing about them is not difficult for me but a real pleasure. Of course, my writing is nowhere near Pride and Prejudice, and to be honest, I do not know if it can be called “Regency English writing.” All I can hope is that my “Regency writing” is not difficult for my readers to read; I also hope that my readers can find in my books at least a little bit of the pleasure I put there when I wrote them.
What made you decide to self-publish your novels and to sell them on Amazon? Does your living in Romania make any difference to the process of self-publishing?
I decided to self publish mostly because during the last two years I got many emails from former readers, asking me if I am writing something new and if I intended to put my old stories in printed forms. To be honest, in the beginning, I hesitated, because my stories had been online for more than 2 years and I could not believe somebody would be interested enough to actually buy them. In time, talking about this, I became more and more tempted and curious to see my stories in real book form, even if it would be only for myself.
Living in Romania did make the self publishing more difficult, because this is a completely new concept here. However, I was very fortunate to get lots of priceless help from many wonderful people from the JAFF world. Ellen Pickels helped me with the final editing and with the cover design for both my books (and I daresay she did a wonderful job), and the ladies who coordinate Meryton Press offered me advice and support in publishing.
How have your novels been received?
I daresay both my novels have been received very well. I must admit that I am surprised, flattered, and grateful to see so many people interested in my books.
Any thoughts or advice to those who wish to self-publish.
Advice? Hmmm… I would gladly answer any question someone asks me, anytime, but I do not think I am well enough ‘specialized’ in this process to dare give advice. Thoughtss? I think someone must have lot of courage to bring a “work of the heart” to the public’s attention, and they will need a lot of patience and openness to wait for the people’s reactions and opinions, and to understand and accept them.
Thank you, Lilian, for joining me on my blog. You are my first interview--another milestone! Below are summaries of Lilian's books, and you can purchase them from Amazon by clicking on the links in the sidebar. If you have any questions for Lilian, please post them in the comments section, and she will be happy to answer them.
Rainy Days is a sweet, romantic love story, with little angst, which tried to answer some questions, like: What if Darcy and Elizabeth had the chance to actually talk and listen to each other earlier than in the original story? What if Elizabeth’s eyes had been opened earlier to the impropriety of Wickham’s behavior and she had searched behind his pleasant appearance? What if Darcy knew Elizabeth’s real opinion of him before the disastrous marriage proposal? What if Mr. Bennet had the chance to exchange a few words with Darcy?
So I put Darcy and Elizabeth together in forced circumstances, two days before the Netherfield Ball, and forced them to talk. Of course, not all things are said in the open during that short encounter and not all the problems are solved, but the relations between all the characters will start to change and the Netherfield Ball will be an entirely different story after that meeting.
I tried to introduce and to develop a few characters with real impact in the story: Lady and Lord Matlock – two strong personalities with different opinions and different reactions, engaged in real battles of will during the story, and there is a small character named Rebecca Gardiner, a little girl of 4 and a half years, who was very much loved by the readers and by myself. All the big events from the original story are present in Rainy Days too, but the circumstances are different. And, of course, there is a happy end for all the good characters and even a few plot lines remained open, as I planned on writing a sequel to Rainy Days.
Remembrance of the Past is an entirely different story; it started in London, just before Elizabeth and the Gardiners’ departure for the Lakes, while Elizabeth is still overwhelmed by Darcy’s disastrous proposal at Hunsford and by her own unfair, hasty reaction to it. The fates bring her face to face with Darcy, his sister and the Colonel one day, and from that moment her turmoil, her fight to understand her heart, her feelings and her desires become stronger and stronger. And a new character, a stunning beauty, very rich, very smart heiress, a close friend of Darcy, is only increasing Elizabeth’s struggle. So there is pretty much angst in the story.
Half of the readers loved Lady Cassandra from the beginning, while the other half hated her; it was a character that brought me great satisfaction while writing it, and the readers’ responses to it proved to me that she had captured everybody’s attention in one way or another. She is a strong character with lots of impact over the other characters who also has a hidden, emotional story coming from the past.
However, despite some people’s opinion, the story is in no way focused on Cassandra; the main characters of Remembrance are, of course, Darcy and Elizabeth, and I daresay the story development shows that clearly. Even more so, Cassandra is very useful for the story line to show Elizabeth’s growth from a young girl full of uncertainties to a young woman, happily married, trusting her own strengths as well as her husband’s love and devotion and the strength of their bond.