Q&A: Fifty Shades of Mr Darcy author, Tessa Clayton

Many Janeites have heard of the upcoming Fifty Shades of Mr Darcy, a parody of Fifty Shades of Grey with Pride and Prejudice rolled in. I’m expecting steamy erotica with our favourite Pride and Prejudice couplings, and more than just brooding looks from Fitzwilliam.

Whether you’re a fan of Mills and Boon type books, have read the Christian Grey books, or remain primarily Pride and Prejudice fan, you’ll most likely find something that will get your tongues wagging from this novel. But is it going to get us hot under the cravats and bonnets? In this Q&A with the author, The Bennet Sisters takes a closer look at what we might be in for.The storyline in this novel still revolves around Elizabeth and Darcy, however while Elizabeth has been brought up as a “proper lady”, when Mr Elliot Bingley comes to court her sister (and she meets Mr Fitzwilliam Darcy), “It only takes one chance meeting with this tall, dark stranger for Lizzy to be lured into Darcy’s secret world of lascivious practices and lusty urges,” the blurb reads.

However, this Darcy has “made no protestations of love” and this may be Lizzy’s undoing as she “learns that a riding crop isn’t just used for going riding on her pony,” and “a whole new world is revealed to her, shaded black and leather-clad.”

This is definitely not your standard Jane Austen spin off. And I daresay some of the purist Austen readers here are going to be turned off of the idea, but just as 50 Shades of Grey has swept up some of the more ‘unexpected’ of erotica readers… maybe this will do the same for Regency fans?

As a long-time Austen fan, and a heavy reader of sequels/prequels/spin-offs and every other version, I’ve stumbled across a considerable amount of Austen erotica in my time. Some good… some unutterably dreadful. What I’m hoping from this version is some good writing, characters that do not deviate too far from those we all fell in love with, and a bit of blushing (some awkward reading on the train journeys ahead coming up…).

Written under the pen-name William Codpiece Thwackery, the author behind this piece is Tessa Clayton. She answered a Q&A for The Bennet Sisters, and there is a review in the making with the Australian distributor of this book sending through a copy for some analysis at this blog.

Where did the idea to do this parody come from and why the E. L. James/Jane Austen coupling?

It was actually the publisher’s idea, not mine. When they first asked me to get involved I assumed they’d want a pure parody of 50 Shades, which would have been fun in itself. But when I found out it was going to be a mash-up of Pride and Prejudice as well, it made it much more interesting – and more of a challenge.

Why did you choose Pride and Prejudice for this project, and are you a fan?

I’m a huge Austen fan. Persuasion is my all-time favourite but P&P is more accessible. I think most women know the plot like the back of their hand – whether they’ve read the book or just seen one of the many film versions. It’s hard not to feel affection for Elizabeth Bennet. She rocks!

How did you stay true to both books at once?

I followed the basic plot of Pride and Prejudice, and of course the setting and language is mostly 19th century. But there are also plenty of elements of 50 Shades thrown in – the scene in the hardware shop is now set in a haberdasher’s, for example, and Charlie Tango features, except it’s a hot-air balloon rather than a plane. And of course, my Mr Darcy – like Christian Grey – is a raging perv with plenty of ‘issues’.

Where did you deviate from Pride and Prejudice?

Obviously, in Pride and Prejudice, much of the Elizabeth/Mr Darcy romance takes place at a distance – there are lots of longing looks cast across the pianoforte. My  Elizabeth and Mr Darcy had to get up close and personal pretty early on, although diehard P&P fans shouldn’t worry – the sex scenes aren’t pornographic.

How long did it take to write? Were there any scenes you had planned but didn’t end up using?

I wrote it in six weeks; I set myself the challenge of writing 2000 words a day. I was lucky in that I already had a plot to follow. I genuinely enjoyed writing it more than anything else I’ve ever done. I grew up reading Viz and watching Carry On films, so it all flowed pretty easily.

Do you think Shades of Grey fans will like it? What about Pride and Prejudice fans?

I wrote it with great affection for both books, and I hope that comes through. I’m delighted for E L James; I love it when authors write something just to please themselves and they happen to have a surprise hit. Good for her! And I hope Austen fans won’t be offended; Darcy still broods, Elizabeth is still spirited, and they both keep their dignity. If not their undergarments.

As there is probably no one out there who can resist a steamy Mr Darcy scene, which was the most exciting part to write?

Part of Mr Darcy’s appeal is his buttoned-up formality; I think we all like to imagine that once he’s got Elizabeth in the marital boudoir, he turns into a raging beast. My Mr Darcy certainly does, but he has other issues. He tends to get rather overexcited, rather too soon. It’s something Elizabeth has to help him overcome.
Will we be expecting any other Austen-based parodies in the future?

There’s certainly potential. Northanger Abbey, maybe? We’ll have to see…    

So, Janeites… what do we think? Is this going to be a good read and something memorable that will take the Jane Austen scene by storm? Are you going to be reading it, or is this too far from your taste?

Published by Hardie Grant in Australia, and available from all good bookshops, the book will be available in Australia from mid-September 2012 (RRP: $16.95). You can keep up to date via the Facebook and Twitter (@50ShadesofDarcy) of the book!


Filed under Q&A

4 responses to “Q&A: Fifty Shades of Mr Darcy author, Tessa Clayton

  1. Huong

    Sounds excellent! My customers are really loving Fifty Shades of Grey (there are 33 reservations on the book!) I think I’ll definitely purchase a few copies for my library and see how they go.

  2. Very interesting to read what the author has to say; thank you!

  3. Pingback: Pride and Prejudice book reviews in Frankie magazine | The Bennet Sisters

  4. Pingback: Pride and Prejudice Book Review | Age of Reason or Romanticism? `

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