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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Pride & Prejudice in Spies & Prejudice | guest post from Talia Vance

You guys have already heard my thoughts on Talia Vance's quirky modern take on P&P, Spies and Prejudice, when I vlogged about it earlier in Austen in August.
You've also had a chance to win 1 of 2 copies for yourself (and I even read an excerpt of it for you!).
But now, Talia has dropped by to tell you a bit about what influenced the story, and how she went about adapting the iconic cast of Pride & Prejudice into her own characters for S&P!

I didn’t set out to write a book involving Pride and Prejudice. The story in my head was the story of a teen who worked for her father’s private investigation firm, something I’d done for my own father one summer before law school. Nothing exciting happened that summer, but my imagination started to run wild at the prospect that it could have. This “what if?” scenario led me to the character of Berry Fields, a feisty, independent and wounded character who sets out to discover how her mother really died eight years earlier. I knew that Berry was tough, smart, and quick to judge others. The challenge was in finding a love interest who could stand toe to toe with her, a boy who could break down the walls to her heart. As I imagined what this boy would be like, I kept circling back to Mr. Darcy. He was exactly what I needed, a modern day Mr. Darcy who could match Berry barb for barb, with a touch of arrogance that masked a kind heart.

From there, I started to play with other archetypes, using Pride and Prejudice as a kind of jumping off point, and Spies and Prejudice was born. This book is not a straight retelling by any stretch, it’s more of an homage. But I hope that fans of Pride and Prejudice will see echoes of the story in Berry and Tanner’s relationship, and some of the other characters as well.

Not every character in Pride and Prejudice gets a corresponding character in Spies and Prejudice, but I wanted to include elements of my favorite characters into the story, while giving them my own spin as well.

Berry Fields (Elizabeth Bennet)
Like Elizabeth Bennet, Berry is smart, able to trade barbs with anyone, and has a tendency to judge people quickly. Having lost her mother, Berry is a bit more vulnerable than Elizabeth, and perhaps a bit more jaded and aggressive. But like Elizabeth, Berry doesn’t want to compromise.
Tanner Halston (Fitzwilliam Darcy)
Tanner is aloof and occasionally rude, and like Darcy, doesn’t make a good first impression. But he is also loyal and trustworthy, willing to go to great lengths to help his friends. Tanner is a bit more socially awkward than Darcy, and has more secrets.
Mary Chris Moss (Jane Bennet)
Mary Chris is as sweet and lovely as Jane. And, like her, Mare is an optimist who likes everyone. But, she can also hack past the most sophisticated firewall, and reverse engineer almost any electronic device.
Ryan Halston (Charles Bingley)
Like Mr. Bingley, Ryan falls for the beautiful Mary Chris (Jane) almost immediately upon meeting her. He’s attracted to her beauty, but he also finds he has a lot in common with her. Despite his feelings for Mary Chris, Ryan is swayed by the opinion of others and doesn’t fight to stay with her, although he eventually comes back around. Ryan is probably the most like his Pride and Prejudice counterpart.
Jason Yakamoto (Charlotte Lucas)
Jason is Berry’s friend and confidante, the person who will call Berry out when he think she’s wrong. Like Charlotte, Jason has fewer choices when it comes to men and he’s willing to compromise where Berry is not. Aside from the fact that he’s male, he differs from Charlotte in the way he seeks attention with unabashed enthusiasm.
Collin Waterson (William Collins)
Just like his Pride and Prejudice counterpart, Collin courts Berry in a crass manner. He’s not interested in Berry because he cares about her as a person, but constantly hits hints that he wants to have a purely physical relationship. Collin’s faults come from sexual confusion and overcompensation, which I hope makes him a more sympathetic than Mr. Collins, and I think that Jason is actually a far better match for him.
Drew Maddingly (George Wickham)
Drew is every bit the charmer that Mr. Wickham was, using humor and charisma to win Berry’s trust right away, but proving to have secrets he’d rather stay buried. Like Wickham, I think that Drew is a bit of a scoundrel, but not evil or intentionally cruel.
Mr. Fields (Mr. Bennet)
Berry’s father is similar to Mr. Bennet in the sense that as much as he loves his daughter, he tends to give her a lot of independence, perhaps indulging her to a fault. He allows her to work in his investigation business from a young age, and while he recognizes that she is missing out on a lot of childhood and teen experiences, he doesn’t intervene.

Missing from the equation are some key players in Pride and Prejudice, including Mrs. Bennet, Lydia Bennet, Caroline Bingley, and Lady Catherine. I was aware of the limitations of my contemporary mystery- I couldn’t tell Berry’s story and Lizzie’s too. I picked the characters and story points that I thought worked in my story. For diehard Austen fans, it might not be enough, but I’ve heard from some who enjoy finding the nuggets of Lizzie’s story inside, like little treasures buried for those who are in on the joke.

Thanks for stopping by, Talia! For all of you who are eager to win this one, I've just added an extra entry in the giveaway for commenting on this guest post.
You're welcome.


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  1. I'm reading this book now. It's very funny and enjoyable.

  2. I'm reading this book now. It's very funny and enjoyable.

  3. Now I want to read it even more. Does it date me when this vaguely reminds me of Nancy Drew working on cases for her dad? LOL

    1. Hahaha, I just mentioned this in a vlog today, and compared it to Nancy Drew! ;)

  4. It's always so interesting to read about how authors come up with their ideas. Thanks so much for sharing this!


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