Today I’d like to welcome B.RA.G. Medallion Honoree Maria Grace to talk with me about her book, Remember the Past. Though Maria Grace has been writing fiction since she was ten years old, those early efforts happily, reside in a file drawer and are unlikely to see the light of day again, for which many are grateful. After penning five file-drawer novels in high school, she took a break from writing to pursue college and earn her doctorate in Educational Psychology. After 16 years of university teaching, she returned to her first love, fiction writing.
She has one husband, two graduate degrees and two black belts, three sons, four undergraduate majors, five nieces, six new novels in various drafts, waiting for editing, will attend her seventh period ball in 2016, sewn eight Regency era costumes, shared her life with nine cats through the years and published her tenth book in 2015.
How did you discover indieBRAG?
I have been following its development from the beginning
Please tell me about your book, Remember the Past.
Remember the Past is a take on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice in which instead of a landowner, Mr. Bennet is a successful naval admiral, who retires and tries to enter London society. Unfortunately, things do not go exactly according to plan. The Bennet’s long-awaited first season in London proves a disaster, and the resulting scandal sends the Bennets fleeing to the wilds of Derbyshire.
Widower Fitzwilliam Darcy, the master of Pemberley, wants for nothing, most especially not a wife. From the moment the Bennets arrive in Derbyshire, Darcy’s neatly ordered life turns upside down. His sons beg to keep company with their new playmates, the young Bennet twins. His mother-in-law sets her cap for Admiral Bennet. Worst of all, Darcy cannot get his mind off a certain bewitching Miss Elizabeth Bennet, but she has sworn never to let another gentleman near her heart.
Darcy’s best efforts to befriend and assist the Bennet family go horribly awry, alienating first Miss Elizabeth, then her father, and finally endangering what both men hold most dear. Can the two men Elizabeth loves most set aside their pride to prevent catastrophe for their families and win the love they seek?
Will you give me an example of one of the Bennet’s mishap during their first season in London?
Jane and Elizabeth, first with their mother, then after her death, their step mother, followed their father all over the world, growing up in port cities and experiencing far more than the typical young lady, or even typical gentlemen of the era. Their beauty, connections, and fortunes make them very attractive as potential wives, but neither suffers foolish young men gladly. Rejected suitors spread malicious rumors, and the Bennet sisters are not shy to stand up for themselves.
Tell me a little about Elizabeth.
She is the bolder, more outspoken of the two sisters. She has also taken the brunt of the problems during their London Season, culminating with having to fight off a too aggressive suitor and leaving him with a scarred face. She has become a bit cynical and weary of the whole marriage mart, ready to give up the whole notion of marriage, as she is in the enviable position of not needing to marry.
What do you like most about the Regency era?
I love the wealth of primary resources available through digitized books that allow me to read about the era directly in the words of those living then.
Please tell me a little about the naval service of the era.
The navy offered greater potential for social mobility than most institutions in Regency era society. Generally only the sons of gentlemen or perhaps wealthy middle-class parents could enter the path to becoming an officer, but the way was not entirely closed to others. Once a lieutenant, a man could rise through his own merit to a high position, even above those with higher origins. Unlike army officers, naval officers did not purchase their commissions, they earned them.
Naval service was dangerous, though, with nearly 100,000 casualties between 1793 and 1815. Battle at sea accounted for less than 10% of naval casualties. Accidents and disease accounted for 80%.
Naval wages, even for Captains were notoriously low. Prize money was the only way to wealth and came in various forms. If an enemy ship was sunk, ‘Head and Gun’ money (calculated by the numbers of men or guns on the enemy vessel) was awarded. Until1808, a 3/8 share went to the captain and the remainder was divided on a diminishing scale, according to rank, among the other officers, commissioned and non-commissioned, and the ordinary members of the crew. After 1808, a slight change was made to the allocation of these shares.
If they captured an enemy ship, the Admiralty was often prepared to buy it from them and resulted in higher rewards. The best payouts came if the captured ship was carrying a valuable cargo. This kind of prize money was divided up so officers received more than the ordinary crewmen. It was possible for officers to earn substantial wealth in prize money.
How long did it take for you to write your story?
I took my time writing this one. I think it took about 10 months.
Did you keep to the personalities of Austen’s characters?
After a fashion. What I tried to do was to consider the character in light of the new circumstances. I tried to figure out how the different situations would change the characters and wrote them from that perspective. So I started with the original and tried to make realistic changes from there.
How did you come up with the title for your book?
The title is a quote from Pride and Prejudice, which inspired the story, that embodies the overall theme of the tale.
Who designed your book cover?
I designed this cover. The current one is the second version of this cover. The changes were inspired by the word of the cover designer I hired for another project. I learned so much from her! Since I had to add the B.R.A.G. Medallion to the cover, it was a good excuse to put what I learned into action.
We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview Maria Grace who is the author of, Remember the Past, our medallion honoree at indieBRAG. To be awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion TM, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as, Remember the Past, merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.