Friday, April 19, 2013

A Return to Meryton: An interview with Maria Grace

1) Please tell us about All the Appearance of Goodness (or pray tell, if you would).

All the Appearance of Goodness is the third part of the Given Good Principles series. The first two parts set the backstory for the hero and heroine, this book is the story of their meeting. It works as a standalone, although many prefer reading the full series.

Here’s a brief story blurb:

What is a young woman to do? One handsome young man has all the goodness, while the other the appearance of it. How is she to separate the gentleman from the cad?

When Darcy joins his friend, Bingley on a trip to Meryton, the last thing on his mind is finding a wife. Meeting Elizabeth Bennet changes all that, but a rival for his affections appears from a most unlikely quarter. He must overcome his naturally reticent disposition if he is to have a chance of winning her favor.

Elizabeth’s thoughts turn to love and marriage after her sister Mary’s engagement. In a few short weeks, she goes from knowing no eligible young men, to being courted by two. Both are handsome gentleman, but one conceals secrets and the other conceals his regard. Will she determine which is which before she commits to the wrong one?

2) What got you interested in revisiting Pride and Prejudice?

It was one of those things that just happened. At the time, I was a college professor and in the course of some research I was doing, I happened across several Jane Austen Fan Fiction communities and got hooked. I ‘lurked’ a lot and never had any intentions of writing anything of my own. Reading the stories posted there was a welcome break from the intense academic reading I was doing at the time. Little did I know, my creative juices were getting a fresh kick start in the process.

3) Unlike many works that revisit Austen's characters and settings, this book doesn't explore Pride and Prejudice from a different POV or give us a sequel, it's more a retelling of the story with rather different takes on some of the characters and their interactions. Why did you choose this approach?

The Given Good Principles series is more of a ‘what if’ story than a retelling or a sequel. My academic background is in sociology, economics and psychology, so I find myself drawn to understanding why characters behave and react as they do. This naturally leads to wondering how a situation might be different if key components were different.

About this same time, I experienced a personal situation in which two influential individuals I was associated with did not behave in line with the beliefs they espoused. The end results were extremely painful for me. In the process of dealing with the fallout from the situation, I recalled the line from near the end of Pride and Prejudice where Darcy notes that he was given good principles as a child, but left to follow them in vanity and conceit.

I got to wondering how the people in my own life, and the character Darcy could have been taught to follow their ‘good principles’ effectively and what difference that might have made. Though real life doesn’t find solutions so easily, I was able to conceive of a believable way Darcy might have been different, through the introduction of Mr. Bradley, curate of the Kympton living mentioned as being part of the Pemberley estate. Mr. Bradley is a wise sage who all but refuses to give advice. Instead he prefers to challenge people, especially Darcy wrangle with difficult issue and come to conclusions that they do not always like. In truth, he is the sort of person I hope to be some day.

4) Historical writing, even in a already defined setting, requires knowledge of the period. Please tell us a bit about the research that goes into your writing process.

It is a good thing that graduate school left me with a love of research! Even more important, after two years researching a master’s thesis and four spend researching my doctoral dissertation, if there was one thing I knew how to do, it was research.

Using MS One Note (which is part of most MS Office packages and people don’t even know they have!) I have extensive electronic notebooks for my research collection. For printed matter, I have either scanned it in or typed the relevant passages in. On-line materials I have links to the original sites and relevant segments and pictures copied into my files. I have sections of everything from food, etiquette, language ad expressions, transportation, taxes, military, money, legal system, medicine, mourning…I could go on and one. Each entry is tagged with words I might use to search for the topic so I can find it when I need it.

Early on it felt like I spent and equal amount of time researching as I did writing. It has gotten a little better now, but I am reluctant to try to write in any other historical period now since I would have to start the whole process over again.

5) What do you find particularly interesting and appealing about the late Georgian period vs. other periods of English history?
The Georgian/Regency era is a period of major social upheaval. It is a transition period leading up to the industrial revolution which changed everything forever. People during this era were trying to make sense of a rapidly changing world and cope with a rewriting of the society as they knew it. Needless to say I find it fascinating.

6) Please tell us briefly about your other works.
The first two of the Given Good Principles series, Darcy’s Decision and The Future Mrs. Darcy, tell the story of the main characters coming to grips with their character flaws before they meet in the third book.

7) Where can readers find out more about you?

My website, Random Bits of Fascination is my online home ( I’d love readers to stop by and pay a virtual visit.

You can also catch up with me on Facebook (, Twitter (@WriteMariaGrace), English Historical Fiction Authors (, and Austen Authors (

8) Where can readers find your books?

My author’s page on Amazon lists all my books on that site:

The Future Mrs. Darcy and All the Appearance of Goodness are also available on Nook at Barnes and Noble. and carry my paperbacks.

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