Today my guest is Kelly Miller, multi-award-winning Regency romance author.
Eve: Kelly, welcome to my blog. Jane Austen is one of my favourite authors. Her books have been my faithful companions for almost a quarter of a century. I have to confess that the idea of reading variations of her books made me wary, and after I read a “Sense and Sensibility” variation my friend had gifted to me, I was even more reluctant to give this genre a try. But your books completely overturned my ideas of Jane Austen romance variations! Your stories are as elegant and refined as the author’s original works, but at the same time, they offer some edge and twists modern reader needs in order to fully enjoy a book.
Please share what inspired you to start writing Regency romance based on Jane Austen’s books and characters?
Kelly: Thank you so much for having me today, Eve! It is strange that I ever came to read a “Pride & Prejudice” variation at all because I never used to read romances! My reading preferences tended towards more gritty fare like mysteries, suspense, and horror. I welcomed a romance in the plot as long as there was something more “interesting” going on. In fact, in my younger days as a tomboy, I thought romances were for sissies! Times change, though, and I must have been bored or something, because I started reading Austenesque stories and to my surprise, they fascinated me. The idea to write my own came after I realized that one or more aspects of each story I read seemed “off” to me. So, I thought if I wanted to have a story to suit my preferences, I would have to write it myself!
Eve: I’ve read on social media platforms that you travelled to England in 2019. I spent two years living in Dorset, in South West England, and I also travelled extensively around the country. I also visited Haworth, a small town where the Brontë sisters wrote their books. It was such a memorable experience. Can you share your most vivid impressions of that trip?
Kelly: I loved England, and definitely want to return! The 3 places were stayed are all memorable. Bath is the perfect walking city, and since it is a place where Jane Austen actually lived for a time, I got to walk in her footsteps all over the city! There is a Jane Austen Centre and many of the streets are immortalized in her novel “Persuasion.” Derbyshire was perhaps the most important area to me at the time because my next book, “Accusing Mr. Darcy”, featured several places in the Peak District of that county. With the help of an efficient guide, we visited Bakewell, Poole’s Cavern, St. John the Baptist Church at Tideswell, and Chatsworth House. But we spent the most time in London and took the underground subway, the Tube, all over the city. The Tower of London, featured in my book “Mr. Darcy’s Perfect Match,” was a memorable attraction, as was the British Museum. Perhaps the most fun was seeing “Austentatious,” a Jane Austen-themed improvised comedy show, in Covent Garden.
Eve: Your memories of the trip made me miss England. I also visited Bath, but only briefly, and since that day trip I’ve always wanted to return to that amazing place.
Who is your favourite Jane Austen character apart from the most notable ones like Elizabeth Bennett and Mr Darcy? I absolutely adore Mr Bennett despite modern readers accusing him of being too harsh on his wife and daughters. I believe that he is exactly what one can expect from a gentleman of his position in life. He isn’t happy in his marriage, but since divorce isn’t an option, he has settled for a comfortable if not really eventful life.
Kelly: If you mean “Pride & Prejudice” characters, I have had fun in my stories expanding the roles of Georgiana and Mr. Bingley, but if you include all of Austen’s novels, Anne Elliot and Captain Fredrick Wentworth made the deepest impression upon me. I felt there was a lot of room for expanding on the characters, which is why I wrote “Captive Hearts,” my variation of “Persuasion.”
Eve: You have written wonderful variations of “Pride and Prejudice”. “Mr Darcy’s Perfect Match”, “Accusing Mr Darcy”, “A Consuming Love”, “Death Takes a Holiday at Pemberley”. And your last book is a variation of “Persuasion” – “Captive Hearts”. Which Jane Austen’s story inspires your next book? Or will it be something completely different?
Kelly: “Pride and Prejudice” is still my overwhelming favorite. I am editing a P&P variation, “A Dutiful Son” in which Mr. Darcy’s father is still alive. (In P&P, the elder Mr. Darcy died 5 years before the story begins.) I have another P&P variation WIP, “The Darcy Secret,” in which a dark family secret threatens Darcy & Elizabeth’s happiness.
Eve: All your projects sound fascinating! And I can’t wait to read “Captive Hearts”. It’s next on my reading list. Although “Persuasion” is my second Austen’s favourite after “Pride and Prejudice”, it always seemed to me that the author could have told readers more about Anne Elliot and Captain Fredrick Wentworth.
Kelly, I know that you have more than one pet. Please tell us more about your pets.
Kelly: Yes, I do love my pets! I have a 12-year-old Shetland Sheepdog named Lacey, a 9-year-old English Cocker Spaniel, and a 10-year-old Jersey Wooly rabbit named Coco. I also have an aquarium with an albino bristlenose plecostomus, a Kuhli Loach, and several Glofish. My two dogs are well-travelled and have gone with us on many road trips. We are fortunate to have many dog-friendly destinations in California.
Eve: Speaking about travelling and new experiences. If you had the opportunity to live anywhere in the world for a year while writing a book that took place in that same setting, where would you choose?
Kelly: Well, my pets restrict my ability to do something like that. But if I could magically bring them along, I’d love to go to England again. There are so many more places I could see there, and I’d like to visit some of those nearby islands like Isle of Man. I’d also love to explore nearby places like Scotland, Ireland, and France.
Eve: Thank you so much for joining me today and sharing your thoughts on books, writing, and other exciting things. I certainly look forward to reading more of your books, and I wish you all the success in putting new ideas on paper!
Kelly: You’re most welcome! I enjoyed answering your questions, and I appreciate your support! I also look forward to reading more of your work in the future!