CONFESSIONS OF A CARD CARRYING MEMBER OF THE DARCY FAN CLUB
By Talia Vance
I admit it. I’m hopelessly in love with Mr. Darcy. He exemplifies the perfect romantic hero to me: flawed, yes, but filled with great character, loyalty, and strength at his core. You have to peel away the layers to find the charmer underneath, but he is there. Oh yes. And all the more charming and beautiful because ultimately, this is who he is. He doesn’t need the slick, surface charm of a shallow flirt. He is so much more.
I didn’t set out to write a book inspired by Pride and Prejudice. I already had a story in my head, and it involved a teenage investigator, corporate spies and lots of thrills. This was not a nineteenth century romance. Still, I knew it was going to be a romance at its core, the story of a girl who sets out to find out what happened to her mother and ends up finding something completely unexpected.
As I was plotting the novel, I considered what kind of boy it would take for my main character, Berry Fields, to fall in love. Berry’s mother died when she was eight, and she has spent the last three years tailing cheating husbands and boyfriends for her father’s private investigation business. She knows bulls*** when she sees it and she is not afraid to call it. She also has some serious trust and abandonment issues. I needed someone up to the task of not only standing up to her, but breaking down her defenses.
So I started thinking about what this boy would like. He would be strong, a little arrogant, and definitely able to meet her barb for barb. In some ways, he would be Berry’s mirror image: fiercely loyal to the people he loved, but quick to judge others. He would see all of Berry’s faults, and he would grow to love her in spite of them.
Enter Tanner Halston, handsome, cool, arrogant, and judgmental. But also smart, strong and protective of his friends and family. His social skills are not the best, but he is trustworthy, someone you would want in your corner when your back is against the wall. He sees right through Berry, to the things she isn’t ready to face, and he calls her on her own bulls***. And I loved him for it. Berry, not so much. But then, one of the first things she overhears him say is that she’s nothing amazing.
As Tanner started to come to life on the page, I realized who he reminded me of: Mr. Darcy. I suppose it was inevitable that a teenage Mr. Darcy would find his way into one of my manuscripts. He left an indelible imprint on my teenage psyche.
I still remember the first time a high school English teacher pressed a copy of Pride and Prejudice into my fifteen year old hands. How I curled my upper lip and bemoaned the fact that I was going to have to spend the weekend reading another boring work of great literature that had absolutely no rational relation to my life.
At first, the old-fashioned language turned me off. I sighed and rolled my eyes and forced myself to keep reading only because I knew I had to. Then something magical happened. I devoured that book. I laughed. I cried. I swooned. And then I read it again.
Since then, it’s been one of the few books I have gone back to reread. Every few years, I go back to let Darcy make me hate him and then make me fall in love with him all over again. To imagine that I am as strong as Elizabeth, as quick with a set down or flirtatious line when I need it. As ready to fight for what I believe in, and eventually, to admit when I am wrong.
Pride and Prejudice is so much more than a story of manners, or even a light romance that exemplifies it’s time. It’s a romance for all time, with characters and themes that can connect to a jaded fifteen year old girl over two hundred years later. That still connect to a *slightly* older version of the same girl a few decades later.
My story is not a strict retelling, nor would I want it to be. It’s more of an homage. I like to think of it as not an imitation (because really, why?) but as my own story, complete with spies and twists, but with a wink and a nod toward the characters and scenes that I loved the most.
I am not an English teacher, and I certainly won’t attempt to analyze all of the themes and meanings within what is perhaps Ms. Austen’s most revered story, but for me the heart of the story is exemplified in the emotions it invoked in this reader. I still remember smiling, laughing and crying as Elizabeth and Darcy made their way from mutual dislike to tentative admiration to a change of heart that required them both to overcome their prejudices, swallow their pride, and acknowledge a love based on mutual respect.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Talia Vance is a practicing litigation attorney living in Northern California with her real life love interest, two-point-five kids, and a needy Saint Bernard named Huckleberry. Talia blogs about writing on Wednesdays with the YA Muses. Her debut novel, Silver, will be published by Flux on September 8, 2012. Her second novel Spies and Prejudice will be published by Egmont USA in June 2013. You can visit Talia at taliavance.com.
Make sure to check out Talia's cover reveal/giveaway post for Austen in August!!