This series of mini-interviews features the authors who contributed to our Austen anthology A CERTAIN PERSUASION.
Let’s hear from Sam Evans, who wrote the story Cross and Cast, a modern-day take on Pride and Prejudice.
Blurb: Jonathan Darcy, ex-soap-star bad boy and runner-up in the latest celebrity dance contest, has reluctantly signed on to take part in another dance show, Dance with Jane Austen. His agent is sure it will be the making of him – but the ridiculous dance they’ve been asked to learn is titled ‘Mr Beveridge’s Maggot’, the theatre they’re rehearsing in is too cold, and most worryingly the show will bring Darcy back in contact with the man who rejected him so harshly months earlier, dancer Elvin Benoît.
Jonathan convinces himself that all he needs do is get through the rehearsals in one piece, avoid Benoît, and not split the breeches he has been given to wear.
It was going to be easy, right?
Q: How did you discover Jane Austen and her works? What was the initial appeal?
I was a bit of a late bloomer with Austen. At some schools studying her work is pretty standard but not at mine, we did Hobson’s Choice and The Lord of the Flies. It wasn’t until university that I first read her, however I should probably admit now like a lot of books I read at that time I just didn’t gel with it because it was forced on me. Fortunately the BBC came to the rescue and made their iconic Pride and Prejudice series which I can remember watching on a small TV in my rubbish digs and falling in love with Darcy and Elizabeth. The series, even now, is my go-to when I’m not feeling well – in fact I watched it a month ago!
I think Pride and Prejudice will always be my favourite. The writing and themes are still relevant today and that’s why I think her work is still read and revered today.
Q: Which Austen character do you like best? Which do you identify with most?
This is a hard one and has had me thinking about the answer all day. The one character who intrigues me the most is Darcy. He’s so proud and so hard-faced and yet he has this soft gooey middle that I think he hates with a passion. It’s a trait I love in a character and it’s fun to watch him subtly be broken down by Jane Austen.
I’m not sure I identify with any Austen character. Every character has something anyone can pick out and say ‘that’s me’.
Q: Why do you think the Regency is such an appealing period to write and read about?
Because it’s so different to our own now – from the social rules, the class system and the every day stuff like the clothing and hair. People married for status and to increase their own worth and I think authors like Austen flipped that. She brought love into it.
Author bio: I live just outside Manchester in an ex-coal mining town, semi-famous for its Rugby League. I’ve been writing for what seems like ever but only found the MM genre after discovering a paranormal shifter series. I have short stories published in anthologies for both Manifold Press and Dreamspinner Press. I’m currently working on a contemporary series set in Manchester and the world of Rugby League, as well as other short stories.