Q&A with Teri Wilson
Today we have a Q&A with Teri Wilson, author of Unleashing Mr. Darcy from Harlequin HQN. Teri also writes for Love Inspired. Her new release is a fun contemporary retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Read on to find out more about the book, Teri and her upcoming releases!
How long has this book been in your mind, and what finally prompted you to sit down and write it?
I got the idea for Unleashing Mr. Darcy at a dog show. When my dogs were younger, I showed them quite often. At dog shows there’s quite a bit of downtime. I love Austen and was rereading Pride and Prejudice at a show, and I just sort of started imagining what it would be like if Mr. Darcy was the judge. I probably thought about the book for a good year before I started writing it. Honestly, I thought it would be such a niche book that I wondered if anyone would be interested in it. But it got to the point where I was imagining scenes and conversations with the characters in my mind so often that I just had to get it down.
Why do you think readers will never get tired of seeing fresh spins on Austen’s work in the media? What is it about the six works of Jane Austen that makes them so timeless and endearing?
I think the sequels and retellings of Austen’s work have been so popular because readers have such a fierce love for her characters. It’s really amazing that her characters are just as relevant now as they were 200 years ago, and I believe that’s a real testament to the magic of her writing. Her books remind us of a beautiful, elegant time, yet still speak to the modern reader.
Are you a lot like Elizabeth? Do you think most of your readers are Elizabeths? What makes her so relatable as a character?
I love Elizabeth. She is a very modern heroine, which is why so many readers can relate to her. She’s smart, outspoken, independent and confident. She’s devoted to her family. In a day when women relied on their husbands for financial security, she holds out for love rather than marrying a man for his money. She refuses to be intimidated by the likes of Mr. Darcy or to pretend to be someone she’s not when she’s around him. That’s why he falls in love with her. That’s why we as readers do, too.
Why set the book in the world of dog shows? How does this add a fresh, appealing hook to this Austen retelling?
As I said, the idea just sort of came to my while I was at a show. I think the setting lends itself to a retelling of Pride and Prejudice because, like the posh social world of Regency England, the dog show scene has no shortage of drama and opportunity for satire. And adorable dogs, of course! I hope this will breathe new life into a favorite story.
Can you give an overview of your process as a writer, from brainstorming to revising? Any self-motivation tricks or tips? What is the hardest stage of the process for you?
My brainstorming process always starts out with the characters. My writing is mostly character driven, so I typically begin by figuring out who I want to write about. Then, it’s all about the setting. I find a lot of inspiration by traveling to new places. And I really enjoy sharing my love for beautiful new locations through my writing. I like to write the book from beginning to end, but I do a lot of tweaking along the way. At the end, there are always things to revise and little details to be added here and there. But since I try to perfect the chapters one at a time as I go, there really aren’t too many revisions at the end.
My biggest motivational trick is to move around. If I’m having trouble focusing or feeling stuck, I literally pick up and move. I have a variety of favorite places that I like to write—a cupcake bakery, coffee shops, a little French bistro. Sometimes a change of scenery and getting out in the world, rather than writing at home, is all it takes to kick things into gear.
I would say the most difficult part of the process for me is the beginning. And it’s not so much difficult as time consuming. There are just so many things to figure out at the very beginning—what makes the characters the way they are, the plot, etc. No matter how much brainstorming and planning I do in advance, things don’t really come together until I start actually writing. Once I’m getting the story down on paper, the details sort themselves out. I always spend a lot of time revising and rewriting the first few chapters.
Your next book is also a retelling of a classic. What, do you think, is the biggest hook or draw to be found in fresh retellings of reader favorites? The biggest challenge?
I think the main reason we’re all drawn toward retellings of classics is that they give us a chance to revisit characters that we’ve fallen in love with. Retellings span settings, time periods and plot twists, but the one thing they all have in common is the characters. It’s the characters we’ve come to love so well, and we want to read about them again and again. The biggest challenge, of course, is somehow making their stories fresh and new while still remaining true to the spirit of the original work. It’s tricky!
Can you give us a quick sneak preview of your next book?
The follow-up to Unleashing Mr. Darcy is Unmasking Juliet, which will be released in June 2014. It’s a fun retelling of Shakespeare’s legendary tale of star-crossed lovers, only with a happier ending. And chocolate. Lots and lots of chocolate.
About the Book
Not true for Manhattanite Elizabeth Scott. Instead of planning a walk down the aisle, she’s crossing the pond with the only companion she needs—her darling dog, Bliss. Caring for a pack of show dogs in England seems the perfect distraction from the scandal that ruined her teaching career, and her reputation, in New York. What she doesn’t count on is an unstoppable attraction to billionaire dog breeder Donovan Darcy. The London tycoon’s a little bit arrogant, a whole lot sexy…and the chemistry between them is disarming. When passion is finally unleashed, might Elizabeth hope to take home more than a blue ribbon?