Hello Everyone! I’m happy to share with you an exclusive interview with Elizabeth Stevens, author of ‘Netherfield Prep’ – modern reimagining of Pride & Prejudice.
Here is Goodreads book link and link to my review-
Read here more about Elizabeth Stevens and her work.
About Elizabeth Stevens-
I am a writer from Adelaide, Australia. I’m a perpetual student who is quite desperate to do her PhD on Irish faerie characterization. I’m currently studying my second Master of Arts degree, this one in Publishing and Editing. My first was in Writing. I work as a Policy Administrator during the day and try not to stay up all night reading and writing. I live with my husband, dog, cat, four guinea pigs and four chickens. I think I love gardening, but really I like planting and picking – the bits in between I’m terrible at which leads to not very many pick-able things. I love all things coffee, unicorns and blue, have an unhealthy relationship with fandom t-shirts/jumpers and am developing a love affair with crushed velvet.
Q & A:
Q. When and why did you begin writing?
I don’t actually remember when I started writing. My mum worked at my school and I remember I used to use her computer to ‘write’ stories to print and take home to my grandma. I would have been about five and I couldn’t actually type, my ‘stories’ would be nothing more than random strings of letters, but I’d go home and read them out to her anyway. As I got older, I started writing more little stories and drawing pictures to go with them. I was twelve when I sent my first picture book manuscript to a publisher (needless to say, it was rejected, but they were lovely about it). I was fifteen when I decided writing was what I wanted to do with my life and I’ve spent the time since learning everything I can and practicing, bringing my dreams closer to reality.
The why is a lot more difficult to answer. These days, I just have a story in my head that I need to put down on paper; scenes will just play over and over in my mind until I write them and see where they go next. Writing is comforting, it’s safe, it’s a great way to escape when I’m stressed. Even when a certain story isn’t really working, I still find comfort in writing. And, it’s something that I’ll always strive to better myself at, but that is one challenge I enjoy.
Q. How did you come up with the idea for your book?
I’ve been a Pride and Prejudice fan for longer than I remember, and I always think that bringing classics to a new generation is a worthy pursuit. I was studying different writing genres last year (2016) and one of our genres was romance. Well, romance novel ideas abounded in my overfilled brain, I dreamed them constantly. Then, suddenly, one scene stood out – the one where Lily and Austin meet in the library. And, at the time, I didn’t know it was the beginning of Netherfield Prep, but it wasn’t long before the rest of the premise and the story filled out and I’d found the P&P adaptation I’d been wanting to write.
Q. What books have most influenced your life?
Again, a difficult question, there are a lot and I’m sure there are many that I didn’t even realize influenced my life. Isobelle Carmody’s Obernewtyn was one of my first favorite novels (along with the whole Chronicles), and it was that series that gave me my intense love for fantasy, which is my usual genre. I think this is probably why I live in a bit of a cloud most of the time – I’m the sort of airy fairy, thinking anything is possible type and I’ve always lived in a bit of a ‘the impossible is real’ realm where I’m convinced all the things that go bump in the night can and will, and I think that’s super exciting!
Q. So, what have you written? (Books, novellas, short stories, poems, blogs, awards or anything of interest.)
Unlikely anything of interest haha.
In terms of published works, aside from Netherfield Prep, I have two works out. In 2012, my writers’ group self-published an anthology of work called Tales from the Sleeping Dragon, which I edited and have a story in. In 2015, my debut YA Paranormal Romance novel, unvamped, was published by Caliburn Press. I have another YA Romance novel coming out on August 4th 2017, No More Maybes, again with Sleeping Dragon Press, we just have to go through final edits and formatting.
I have a poorly maintained blog/website, which I am constantly trying to be better with, but I haven’t quite got into believing I have anything interesting to say on a regular basis that people would want to read! Lol, but I keep intending to get onto it.
Q. What is your favorite book(s) and why?
Asking an avid reader/writer that is always a tough one! Pride and Prejudice, obviously lol. But, favorite is a tricky definition. I read Emily Rodda’s Deltora Quest series about once a year, so I’d have to say that to begin with; I love the adventure and the characters, plus they’re each a quick and easy read so been great as a break during study. I love Dracula, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Camilla, The Picture of Dorian Gray, Frankenstein – Gothic, I find, is a great mixture of horror and suspense and I love the stories. Obernewtyn, obviously, is still a huge favorite, although I’ve been putting off reading the final one until I can read them all again uninterrupted. Kate Forsyth weaves absolute magic into all her works; fantasy, intrigue, amazingly detailed plots and characters! Julie Kagawa is one of my favorites, especially after my Irish faerie thesis/obsession in 2016. Anything by Rick Riordan, I buy immediately; I love everything mythological and he is amazing at creating stories that incorporate these myths flawlessly – you don’t even realize you’re learning!– and I have a huge book-crush on Percy Jackson!
Q. What was your favorite chapter (or part) of writing this book and why?
I think, for me, the best part of writing this book was getting to know Mr Darcy better. So, I really enjoyed Austin’s chapters – exploring his relationships with the people around him and getting more of his side of the story. I remember making my husband watch P&P with me and he blurts out “he was totally in love with her from the beginning!” I had, somewhat embarrassingly, actually never noticed before, so I wanted to look more into how he dealt with the fact that he liked this girl who quite obviously hated him.
Q. What was the hardest part of writing this book? Was there anything that you deleted or altered?
I actually can’t remember anything really being all that hard about it. I wrote the whole thing in a month and I binged on every adaptation I could get my hands on – and I’m still looking for more. I guess one part I’d consider changing might be trying to add in a few more references to other adaptations; I wanted Netherfield Prep to be an adaptation that paid homage to all previous adaptations, and I sometimes wonder if I could have done that better.
Q. Is there a message in your novel that you hope readers will grasp?
If I had to find one, it would be to remember that perfection can be found even in the most imperfect places, you just have to look for it. But, mainly, I just wanted more people and a younger generation to love Pride and Prejudice as much as I do; Austen was a master wordsmith and I think her stories are timeless, even if the delivery can be a little hard work sometimes.
Q. Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with good or bad ones?
A lot of writers say not to. But, shamelessly, I do J Dealing with bad reviews can be tough and I often feel like readers forget we’re people too sometimes, but everyone is entitled to their own opinion. It comes down to maintaining your unshakable faith in your own work, as arrogant as that sounds; I believe it’s good, so other people not liking it/aspects of it is just a part of life. I do get a little down when I first read something negative, but after a while, I just shake it off and keep working. Good reviews are usually read with audible squealing, some running around in excitement and sometimes I’ll share them on my social media accounts. A good review will always put a huge smile on my face and helps renew my faith in myself.
Q. Are you planning to adapt any of your stories to the screen? If your novel made into movie which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character?
I would love to! I’m entering it in the 2018 Book Pipeline Competition, so finger’s crossed. My dream would be to have Netherfield Prep adapted to a mini-series like the BBC one starring Jennifer Erhle and Colin Firth, but a movie would be just as good. As for actors, that’s a hard one. There aren’t many identical British twins big in acting that I can think would be suitable. Luke and Harry Treadaway have the look and the height, but are probably a little too old for it. Studiously ignoring the fact she’s not being British, I love Anna Kendrick and think she’d probably bring Lily’s sass to screen quite well. But, honestly, I‘d really love to have up and comers cast; new actors for a new author I think would have a lovely symmetry. Whoever it would be, I’d love to be involved in the casting process!
Q. What are your future project(s)? What’s it about? (*if relevant)
I have two more books in Lily and Austin’s story to finish – book 2 will be mainly set between chapters 60 and 61 of Netherfield Prep and end with Jax and Anne’s wedding; book 3 will lead up to Lily and Austin’s wedding with Celia’s last ditch attempt to ‘save’ Austin with the help of Fleur. Poor Hunter goes through a bit of strife, but ever character who deserves it will get their happily ever after. In the Austen Reimagined series, I’m also working on an Emma and Northanger Abbey adaptation.
My next editing job is the first two books in a series which I wrote while studying for my Irish faerie thesis, Gryffynhall and Elfhaven. The series follows a half-fae girl as she uncovers her true identity as the vessel for the Irish goddess Danu’s powers, finds love and friendship, and fights against the seventh invasion of Ireland – or, the as yet untold last story in the Lebor Gabala Erenn, or the book of Irish creation myths (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lebor_Gab%C3%A1la_%C3%89renn). I’m hoping to have the first at least ready for publication by the end of the year.
My main work in progress is a YA paranormal romance called The Guard. Its running tagline is: “A werewolf, a faerie, a small human boy, an angel and a vampire walk into a seedy bar…” It is about a girl who has to navigate the apocalypse while keeping her little brother’s supernatural guard under some semblance of control as they try to save the world. It is the first in a planned trilogy.
I also have a fantasy piece I finished in about 2010, Vampyre Necormancer, that needs a hefty amount of editing, but I seem to be distracted by its sequel series at the moment. There are sequels and various other works in progress at the moment. At last count, I’m currently working on about 30 novels; sequels to Netherfield Prep, No More Maybes, unvamped, and Vampyre Necromancer included.
Q. What is your favorite motivational phrase?
I have two:
“Life’s uncertain; eat dessert first.”
“Never let the truth get in the way of a good story.”
Q. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Thank you! 🙂 That’s really about it. I don’t really write to be read, but it’s always wonderful when people actually want to read my work and enjoy it.
Q. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Just keep going; keep reading, keep writing, keep learning, keep sharing. It might take you a lifetime, but if you keep going, you will make it.
Q. Favorite foods / Colors/ Music/ TV show/ Film
Foods: stir fry (I love noodles), cheesecake, anything blue! And caffeinated!
Colour: TARDIS blue
Music: I’m quite into Fallout Boy atm, and I always love Eurovision. Otherwise, I more have favourite songs than artists or genres. My all-time favourite songs are Black Sabbath’s Paranoid, The Beatles’ Paperback Writer, and Linkin Park’s Numb.
TV Show: Um…Gosh. Okay, in absolutely no order at all; Supernatural, Doctor Who, Flash, Supergirl, Reign, Gilmore Girls, Red Dwarf, Black Adder, Black Books, IT Crowd, Criminal Minds, Scorpion…and the list goes on haha.
Film (some of them…): Pitch Perfect, Shrek 2, Deadpool, The DUFF, Trolls, The Fifth Element, Life As We Know It, Minions, Leap Year.
Q. How can readers discover more about you and you work?
Facebook | Twitter: @writeriz
*** I would like to thank Elizabeth Stevens for agreeing to this interview and taking time out of your busy schedule to answer these questions. ***
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Happy Reading! 🙂