This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
Victoria Connelly has written nine novels, including the very successful Jane Austen trilogy. She has also written a non-fiction book and several short story collections. Her new book Happy Birthday, Mr Darcy is out in October. Victoria has picked Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice as the book that has has the biggest impact on her writing, and her life in general.
There are many books that have had a profound effect on me from Enid Blyton's Five Go to Smuggler’s Top which I read when very young and which first encouraged me to write my own stories, to Jilly Cooper's Riders which, after studying Shakespeare and nineteenth-century literature for three years, firmly brought me back to contemporary women's fiction and made me realise that was what I wanted to write.
But the novel that really changed things for me was Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. I first read it when I was seventeen, having already fallen in love with the 1940’s film adaptation starring Laurence Olivier and Greer Garson. Mr Darcy was a hero to end all heroes and I was in love. And Elizabeth Bennet was the loveliest, wittiest heroine a reader could ever hope to find.
At university, I read more of Austen’s books but it wasn’t until much later that I rediscovered the novels and began reading her letters as well as biographies, and then I visited the places she had lived and written about.It was during a visit to Chawton in Hampshire where the author had lived and written her books that I came up with the idea of a trilogy about Jane Austen addicts – each book set in an Austen location. I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited about an idea in my life and I was chatting to a fellow ‘Janeite’ about it and she encouraged me to send the opening chapters of the first novel (A Weekend with Mr Darcy) to her US editor and, before I’d even had a chance to finish the first book, I had an offer for the trilogy from America. A deal from the UK followed and now we have Russia and Europe on board too.
I have so much to thank Jane Austen for. Her books are filled with such joy and so many memorable characters that they can take innumerable readings and always give something new to a reader. I have made so many friends though her books too and have taken part in the Jane Austen Festival in Bath where I have danced, laughed and promendaded around the Georgian streets. There really is no author quite like Jane Austen!