C. Allyn Pierson and Mr. Darcy's Little Sister
What made you decide to write Mr. Darcy's Little Sister?
I decided to write the book over a rather short period of time in the autumn of 2006. I am a great fan of Jane Austen, and especially of Pride and Prejudice, and I read a series of novels that covered the story from Mr. Darcy's point of view. Although I enjoyed the first novel, as the subsequent books progressed I found that I disagreed with the author's development of some of the characters and storylines—in fact, I found myself saying "No, that isn't the way it happened—this is what happened!" The essentials of the story were there in my head, and so I sat down and started writing. Since that time I have avoided reading any sequels; I do not want their plots to influence my story. My only reference was the original Pride and Prejudice, although I admit that I always picture Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle as Darcy and Elizabeth.
2. Have you written any other books or stories?
Yes, MDLS began as a self-published book called And This Our Life: Chronicles of the Darcy Family, which did well enough to excite the interest of an agent, Nicholas Croce at The Croce Agency. I signed with him and he sold ATOL to Sourcebooks, who wanted a rewrite of the book from Georgiana Darcy's point of view. I did so, they renamed it Mr. Darcy's Little Sister, and it was released in September, 2010.
3. Why did you use a pen name?
I always loved writing fiction and have wanted to write a novel for many years. My pen name is a tribute to that—I decided when I was ten or eleven years old that when I was a famous author I would use "C. Allyn Pierson" as my pen name. Carey Allyn Pierson is my maiden name and I liked the gender neutral sound of using the initial and middle name—I did not want the readers to have expectations from the writing based on the gender of the author, only from the writing itself.
4. What was the most difficult part of writing the book?
Without a doubt it was getting started—it took me until I was almost fifty years old to start! I have always found that sitting down and putting the first words on the paper is the hardest part. Once there is something to work with the revision is easier, even if there are a lot of changes to be made. Thank heavens for computers!
5. How do you have time to write a novel with the demands of work, family, and medical missions?
The most important reason I was able to write this book is that I do not watch television, which leaves many hours every week to do other things. My older son left for college not long before I started writing and he is very independent and so did not need a lot of parenting after leaving home. My younger son has autism and is in school, so on my days off during the school year I can find some time to write. While in the midst of writing I do fewer of my other relaxation activities—reading, crocheting, etc. I also pretty much ignore the housework (as my house will attest!) when I am busy. My husband is, fortunately, very tolerant of a messy house, which is one of the many reasons the book was dedicated to him!
6. How much time did you spend on the historical aspects of this book?
I do not know, exactly, but probably far more than on the actual writing of the book!. I often start my research with Wikipedia to get a brief overview and then use historical sites and books to fill out and confirm and check. I try to be very cautious about historical material until it has been checked and rechecked. For example, I was going to have Georgiana Darcy play Beethoven's "Für Elise" on the piano. It was one minor mention in the story, but would set the tone of what she was feeling and is a very familiar piece to virtually anyone who has learned to play the piano. The piece was composed in 1812 and was on a list of the composer's works under that date, so it should have been available to Georgiana, however further searching revealed that it was not actually published until after Beethoven's death in 1827 (it was found among his papers after his death). Obviously, Georgiana could not have been playing it in 1814!
7. Are there any other literary influences in your work?
Indeed there are! The title of the original book came from a quote from Shakespeare's As You Like It, Act III, scene 1, and the entire quote is used in chapter nine. There are, of course, quotations at the beginning of each chapter, all of which would have been available in England in 1813. For the aficionado of historical literature there are also references to The Scarlet Pimpernel (published 1905, but taking place during the French Revolution—around 1792) by Baroness Orczy, and Jane Eyre (published in 1847 during the Victorian era, but from which I drew the name of Darcy's dog), by Charlotte Brontë. I will let the reader figure those out!