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Monday, August 24, 2015

"Too Many Williams" — guest post & giveaway from Shannon Winslow, author of Miss Georgiana Darcy of Pemberley

For our first post of a brand new day, please welcome Shannon Winslow, author of Miss Georgiana Darcy of Pemberley. Last year, Shannon ran with the theme of Austen in August, and took a look at what Austen actually did in August; this time 'round, she's tackling the problem of all the Fitzs and Williams -- AND giving three of you a chance to win one of her books!
Click through to check it out & enter to win!
And make sure to check out the rest of Shannon's blog tour stops for more great posts and chances to win!

Is it possible to have too many Williams? I like the name – very much, in fact. Even so, there ought to be a limit as to number.

One thing I’ve learned as a novelist is that you shouldn’t confuse your readers with character names that are too similar. If you’ve already got a Terry in the story, don’t name somebody else Jerry. If you have a Ron, don’t add a Don or a Rod. It’s even worse if the names are foreign-sounding, unpronounceable, and all begin with the same letter of the alphabet. Have you read books like that? It’s a nightmare trying to keep the characters straight.

And yet, that’s what Jane Austen did in Pride and Prejudice, to a lesser extent. Her leading man she named Fitzwilliam Darcy, and then she added a Colonel Fitzwilliam to the mix, and a Sir William for good measure.
The two Fitzwilliams I understand; Darcy was christened with his mother’s maiden name, which, naturally, is also his cousin’s last name. Probably a common practice at the time (and something I actually carried forward to the next generation by naming D&E’s son “Bennet” in The Darcys of Pemberley). In truth, there really wasn’t any confusion in the original story. Fitzwilliam Darcy is “Mr. Darcy” to one and all, and Colonel Fitzwilliam is either “Fitzwilliam” or “Colonel.” Sir William Lucas is a minor character and always referred to as “Sir” William. That was clear enough.

I ran into trouble right away, however, when I began writing my first sequel (The Darcys of Pemberley). Although Elizabeth might continue calling her husband “Mr. Darcy” in formal situations (just as Mrs. Bennet did with Mr. Bennet in P&P), she wouldn’t in the comfort of their own home and family. She would probably have called him Fitzwilliam. But then what happens when Colonel Fitzwilliam shows up? Since he was a major player in the story as well, I had to come up with a solution, or there would be a lot of awkward conversations. Elizabeth says, “Fitzwilliam, do you agree with Fitzwilliam’s position on the subject?” Then one of the gentlemen called Fitzwilliam answers, but we’re not sure which one it is!

I decided that, to avoid confusion, Elizabeth would call her husband “Darcy,” whether that was entirely correct or not.

When I started this new novel – Miss Georgiana Darcy of Pemberley – the difficulty only got worse. It’s written in first person from Georgiana’s point of view, and she would be constantly referring to her brother in thought and dialogue. So what was she going to call him? I might get away with “Darcy” for Elizabeth, but not for Georgiana! Once again, she couldn’t refer to him as “Fitzwilliam” because the other Fitzwilliam would feature even more prominently in this book than in my first. And although I had sidestepped the issue in TDOP by having Georgiana use “Brother” on the few necessary occasions, I couldn’t go on like that through the length on an entire novel! No.

Consequently, Georgiana informs us early on that she typically calls her brother “William,” and all is well… for a time.

Late in the story, however, Sir William Lucas enters the action and shows up at the same place and time as the other two men. Now I have a new variation of the original dilemma. Instead of two Fitzwilliams, I have two Williams! It took some fancy footwork to maneuver through that scene without confusion and without endless repeats of the names William, Sir William, and Fitzwilliam. Here’s an excerpt, in Georgiana’s words:

Then I noticed a large party of horsemen approaching from the north, trailed at some distance by a carriage. It was quite an unusual sight, and all eyes turned from their work to watch the spectacle. I was wondering at the meaning of it, even growing a little fearful, when I began to suspect something familiar in the figure leading the group rapidly onward. As they drew nearer, I was certain.
“It is my brother,” I said to Charlotte, who was at my side. “Sir William, it is my brother,” I called out to him and to the others.
Then I took another look. “And Colonel Fitzwilliam,” I added. Although I suppose I should not have been so surprised that William would come in search of me, I was entirely mystified as to why a party the size of a small army would accompany him. And what on earth was Fitzwilliam doing among them?
These questions were set aside for the moment, for William was upon us. He drew his horse to an abrupt halt, quickly slipped from the saddle, coming to my side and taking me into his fervent embrace. “Are you well, Georgiana?” he asked a moment later, holding me at arm’s length and studying my person for any ill effects. “There has been trouble here. Have you come to any harm?”
“I am well,” I quickly assured him, “as are the others. Only a few bumps and bruises. It was a minor accident caused by a broken axle, and Sir William has been taking very good care of us.”
“Thank God,” he exclaimed as he took a moment to shake Sir William’s hand. “Elizabeth was so certain it had been something much more serious.”
“Elizabeth!” I repeated, reminded of my former alarm. “How is she? If she has been worrying about me, I believe I have spent the same hours fearing something ill had befallen her. In fact, I had the most compelling premonition.”
William laughed, more from relief than amusement, I expect. “What is it with the female mind?” he asked. “Always imagining the worst and perceiving mountains of trouble where there are only molehills…”  

As I said above, it was a tricky business getting through that scene without confusion or continual name repeats. In the end, I was saved by the fact that only one of the three men in question had a speaking part in the above exchange. I made sure of that!

I have no choice with a P&P sequel; I need to make the best of the cast of character names I inherit from Jane Austen. And you would think I’d have learned my lesson in the process. But I actually set myself a bigger challenge in The Persuasion of Miss Jane Austen, where I wrote two stories running parallel – what was happening in Jane’s own life set alongside what she described in Persuasion as a reflection of it. I had two of everything: two heroines (Anne and Jane), two captains (Wentworth and Devereaux), and two admirals (Croft and Crowe). The admirals were the hardest to keep straight because of the similarity of names. Argggh! And no one to blame this time but myself.

I swear I’ve finally learned, though. No more similar names and no additional Williams allowed! I hope you decide to read about the three we already have, however, and how Georgiana’s life gets tangled up with them, for better or for worse, in Miss Georgiana Darcy of Pemberley.

As part of Shannon's book tour & AIA, Shannon has offered up a giveaway of winner's choice of one of her books, for three different people! Prizes are:
  • US ONLY: One (1) signed paperback of The Darcys of Pemberley OR Miss Georgiana Darcy of Pemberley
  • INTERNATIONAL: Two (2) ebooks (1 per winner) of The Darcys of Pemberley OR Miss Georgiana Darcy of Pemberley
Suggested reading order is The Darcy's of Pemberley first, and them Miss Georgiana Darcy, though which book you choose is completely up to you!
Fill out the Rafflecopter to enter.
Ends September 5th at 11:59pm EST.
Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Darcys of Pemberley
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A sequel true to Jane Austen’s beloved masterpiece, Pride and Prejudice.

Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy have been married for almost a year, and their heated arguments are a thing of the past. All that passion is now directed into more satisfying pursuits. But how long can the honeymoon last? The couple’s idyllic life together at Pemberley is jeopardized by secrets they begin keeping from each other, the troubles of their closest friends, and the threat of a villain in their midst.

Layers of seemingly innocent deception are building between Darcy and Elizabeth, threatening their relationship. He is conducting some covert business dealings that he’s unwilling to share with his wife, and she likewise begins keeping things from him against her own better judgment. The couple also becomes embroiled in the tribulations of Mr. Darcy’s younger sister, Georgiana, and his friend and cousin, Colonel Fitzwilliam.

Fitzwilliam falls victim to their aunt, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, as the object of her latest scheme to make a noble match for her daughter. Georgiana runs the gamut of emotions as she comes of age and learns the pain of unrequited love. Meanwhile, the menacing shadow of Mr. Darcy’s life-long nemesis, Mr. Wickham, looms ever larger.

The Darcys of Pemberley is the tale of two romances: the continuation of Darcy and Elizabeth’s story, and the courtship of Miss Georgiana. For those who didn’t want Pride and Prejudice to end, this novel gives the opportunity to learn what happens after the wedding, to revisit old friends and foes, and to share the next chapter of their lives. (less)

Miss Georgiana Darcy of Pemberley
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What’s Georgiana Darcy’s story? Jane Austen tells us so little in Pride and Prejudice that we’re left to wonder. How did the early loss of her parents shape Miss Darcy’s character? And what about her near-disastrous affair with Mr. Wickham? Is that the true source of her shyness? She adores her brother and his new wife Elizabeth, but will their guiding influence be enough to steer Georgiana clear of new trouble as she comes of age and falls in love again?

Companion to Ms Winslow's most popular previous novel, The Darcys of Pemberley, which focused mostly on Darcy and Elizabeth in their early married life with Georgiana in a secondary role. providing the courtship story we Jane Austen fans wouldn’t be satisfied without. In this companion piece, Georgiana’s story line takes precedence, providing the courtship story we Jane Austen fans wouldn’t be satisfied without, revealing what she’s thinking and what she’s up to all those times she’s off camera in the first book.

For Jane Austen fans who are used to reading variations, this is another twist on that idea – a variation on Shannon Winslow's own book.

Shannon Winslow specializes in writing fiction for the fans of Jane Austen. Her popular debut novel, The Darcys of Pemberley, immediately established her place in the genre, being particularly praised for authentic Austenesque style and faithfulness to the original characters. Since that bright beginning, the author has followed with two more Pride and Prejudice sequels (Return to Longbourn and Miss Georgiana Darcy of Pemberley), a stand-alone Austen-style story (For Myself Alone), and a novel starring Jane Austen herself (The Persuasion of Miss Jane Austen). With no shortage of inspiration, Winslow promises more romance and happy endings to come.

Her two sons now grown, Shannon Winslow lives with her husband in the log home they built in the countryside south of Seattle, where she writes and paints in her studio facing Mt. Rainier.

Learn more at Shannon’s website/blog (www.shannonwinslow.com). Follow her on Twitter (as JaneAustenSays..) and on Facebook.

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  1. actually I've never like the name Fitzwilliam, it's a shame Darcy doesn't have a middle name, that would solve the name problem would it? I don't suppose people have nicknames like Willy or Will in those days?

    I think I recall there is three Charles in the Persuasion book and it wasn't so bad since one of the Charles is hardly mentioned and the other is the son of one of the Charles but he was call Little Charles.

    I suppose it's a good thing titles are used in those days or else even more confusion with all the Mr's and Mrs' and such.

    great post on names. have a lovely day.

    1. Shannon Winslow says:

      I'd forgotten that, but you're right, Lissa - 3 Charles in Persuasion: Charles Musgroves, "Little Charles" Musgrove, and Charles Hayter. In the movie, I think they change it to "Henry" Heyter to save confusion, which is exactly my point!

      Don't get me started on titles, though. They only add another layer of confusion, as far as I'm concerned. The family name may be Prescott, but the father is know as Webster (because he's the Duke of Webster). While he lives, his eldest son may be known by a lesser title that his family has also inherited (let's say "Hastings" for the Earl of Hastings"). And the younger son is just plain Mr. Prescott, esq. When the father dies, the whole thing gets reshuffled. Crazy!

  2. That is hilarious! I never gave it much thought, but as a writer, I can see how it would vex you to no end. Not like you can change their names, either. Look forward to reading your book fully of Fitzs, Williams, and no confusion. ;)

  3. What a great post! I haven't thought much about that habit of using those family names so much in real life and how it translates to confusion for an author! I am looking forward to reading the book!

  4. Great post. I look forward to more Georgianna. I have noticed in several variations there is a little place where D&E go through dialog on what she is suppose to call him in private. I never thought about it before but I see now how deliberate that addition was by the author. As a reader only, I get to sit back and enjoy the final story. I don't realize most of the extra care it takes to get the details right. Thank you for the giveaway!

  5. Shannon Winslow says:

    Another related problem in a P&P sequels/variations, which I could have mentioned, is the issue of first names for characters when Jane Austen hasn't given one. For instance, neither Mr. or Mrs. Bennet are given first names in the original. Readers, however, may have picked up a first name from either a film adaptation or a JAFF work and be thoroughly convinced in their own minds that it's per canon. Then, woe unto you if you write a book using a different name for that character.

    This happened to me in "The Darcys of Pemberley" (and thus follows into this new book, "Miss Georgiana Darcy of Pemberley"). Unbeknownst to me, other JAFF authors had decided Col. Fitzwilliam's given name was Richard, but I called him John. One reader took me to task over it (and undoubtedly there were others thinking the same thing), berating me in a review for getting Fitzwilliam's name "wrong," when in fact we are never told what it is in P&P.

    That's one hazard of reading and viewing so many adaptations; the lines between what we know about P&P and what we think we know begin to blur!

    1. It's a good thing you haven't tried writing about George Foreman and his sons! (For any who don't know, Foreman is reputed to have named his many sons George.) I'm so glad you made the point about first names, Shannon, because sometimes I do research online to see what someone's first name is in one of Austen's stories only to find out when I look in the book, no name was given - even though some fan site states a particular name as fact. Your post here about not confusing readers with character's names is really good, thanks for your insight.

    2. Shannon Winslow says:

      Not everything you read on the internet is true, that's for sure. My pet peeve is sites giving "Jane Austen quotes", but many times they show lines that are in one of the movies and not in the book at all - most frequently, "You have bewitched me body and soul." Sorry, folks. Romantic, but Jane Austen didn't write it.

    3. ^ That one drives me out of my mind. It's fine for a mug, or whatever, but when I see it attributed to Austen, I have to just clench my teeth and move on... Ha!

  6. What a fun post. Having the same, or very similar names, can be confusing for the reader. A nightmare for a writer I would think.

  7. Shannon Winslow says:

    I just realized today that there is yet ANOTHER William in P&P! Can you believe it? Mr. Collins's first name is also William! What was Jane thinking?

    1. Haha! I wonder how many Williams she had in her own life?

  8. It always so tricky when there are similar names... I appreciate when an author pity's the reader and doesn't try to confuse us with so many similar names. There was a JAFF series I tried reading a while back and I could only get through book three because they was so many spin off names such as Jane, Charles, Elizabeth, and William. It was too hard to keep straight who was who and it didn't help that cousins married each other...

  9. I don't find it confusing as I'm a long-time reader of Austenesque stories. For a person new to P&P or who have only seen the film adaptations, it may be tricky for them to differentiate which William you are referring to.

  10. I will be starting this book this coming weekend. I absolutely loved The Persuasion of Miss Austen and The Darcys of Pemberley!. They were phenomenally written. I know I will love this one.

  11. I will be starting this book this coming weekend. I absolutely loved The Persuasion of Miss Austen and The Darcys of Pemberley!. They were phenomenally written. I know I will love this one.


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