This series of mini-interviews features the authors who contributed to our Austen anthology A CERTAIN PERSUASION.
Today’s interviewee is Andrea Demetrius, who wrote the story Outside the Parlour, which takes a intriguingly different perspective on Darcy than Austen’s.
Blurb: Darcy is a single man of eight-and-twenty and in possession of a good fortune. Talk of marriage and prospects crowd in on him – as do reports in the broadsheets of convictions for ‘unnatural’ crimes. He knows his fate. A decision must be made soon.
Q: How did you discover Jane Austen and her works? What was the initial appeal? Has she surprised you since then?
My childhood neighbour lent me Pride and Prejudice when I was about 12 years old. I still have the book, I never gave it back—I suppose, if she asks for it, I could return it… But I’m counting on several countries separating us now, and on the fact that she’s become a mathematician… I am still sputtering over that choice. I think it’s my well-served punishment for such an incredible betrayal!
And, sure, it’s possible that it had such a strong, lasting impact because of the mode of its acquisition. Somehow it still stands out amongst my other books, despite that, since then, I have purchased other copies of the book.
It’s surprising because with every subsequent read, all through the years since that confusing first time, the message—or, better said, my focus on the story and its characters—changes, and with each new reading, I take different things with me.
Q: Which Austen character do you like best? Which do you identify with most?
I can’t honestly say that I have one single character that I like best—my coming into synch with them changes, depending on my mood and the reason for going back to read them. Neither can I say that I identify with any character that I have ever read. I see them more as if they are teaching me, showing me things, about society, or myself. But, yes, at times, it does happens that one or another seems to exist solely to justify my feelings or behaviour, and then it’s such a joy to encounter them—whether to take comfort in, or vindication from, depends upon the occasion.
Q: Why do you think the Regency is such an appealing period to write and read about?
Oh. I grew up in an environment much like that—which is such an irony, considering the political climate of where I was born, but it’s true nonetheless. It only begins to feel somewhat incongruous now, like it should have done then, when I try to introduce my eleven-year-old niece to Austen with the idea that the society’s rules and behaviours will talk to her the same as they did to me. I think things have changed, though. The structure of our society had finally changed, and her generation will only read that period as any other historical period, entertaining and full of discoveries, but harder to place within our present lives.
Author bio: Andrea Demetrius lives on the island of eternal spring, or so the brochures say. She cannot confirm that statement since she is often unable to put down her books to step outside and check.