I’d like to welcome back award winning Karen Aminadra to Layered Pages! Karen is a multi-genre author who writes novels within many different genres; Historical Romance, Historical Crime, and modern Chick-Lit.
She can usually be found sat at the computer either writing a novel, writing down new ideas or on social media chatting!
Her love of reading, writing short stories, and her childhood imaginary world led quite naturally to writing novels. Encouraged to read by her bookworm father and grandmother and by winning a writing competition in just her first year of secondary school, she was spurred on, and she has been writing stories ever since. Her love of mystery and plot twists that she put into that first story continues today.
She has travelled to and lived in many countries, not just in her imagination, and has gained an insight into people’s characters that shines through in her work. Today, with her feet firmly back in the United Kingdom, she travels the world, the universe and in time through her imagination and her novels.
Hi, Karen! Thank you for chatting with me today! Tell me about your story, Wickham.
Hi Stephanie, it’s a great pleasure to be interviewed by you once again. Wickham is a great book. I know I’m the author and I know I’m supposed to think that, but I have been rereading it lately in order to get the timeline straight in my head to write the next book, and I really like it! It takes place during the Napoleonic Wars about one year after Lydia Bennet and George Wickham were married in Jane Austen’s pride and prejudice. As you can imagine, if you have read pride and prejudice, they are not the most ideally suited couple. George is a libertine and is always on the lookout for more money. Lydia is extremely selfish and childish. Therefore, their marriage is not likely to be very happy. My novel Wickham takes the couple through a new stage of their life. Lydia has a child and Wickham is sent off to France to fight—new situations and adventures await them both to get, literally stuck into.
What is the mood or tone your characters portray and how does this affect the story?
Lydia is extremely selfish and childish and that has quite a negative effect on those around her. In the opening lines of chapter one, I state that Wickham is bored. He is bored with his regiment is bored with the North of England and he is, most certainly, bored with his wife. A man like him is bound to be, isn’t he? He has wondering eye and I did not want to change that trait but wanted to see where it might lead him. As you read the book, you’ll see it get him into some hot water. Lydia, on the other hand, goes back to stay with her family in Hertfordshire, where her immature and self-centred behaviour leads to some very interesting situations. Of course, Mr Darcy and Mr Bingley are there in Hertfordshire, and the addition of these two… shall we say, stabilising characters, helps to continue the vein that Jane Austen started in revealing the true nature of Wickham’s character.
What are the emotional triggers of your characters and how do they act on them?
George Wickham and Lydia are both very emotional characters. For George, his emotional triggers are that he is very lusty, and is controlled by those urges. Lydia, however, is also controlled largely by her opinion of herself being the centre of everyone else’s universe. As you can imagine, if she doesn’t get her own way, she is likely to throw a tantrum or two. I found them very interesting to write about. I decided at the beginning I would not redeem Wickham but I wanted to see how his character played out and where it would eventually lead them both to. I do think, however, that Lydia does mature a little bit throughout the book, thankfully.
Describe England during this era.
England during the Napoleonic Wars is a place of great juxtaposition which I have tried to show in my novel. On the one hand Wickham is in France fighting a formidable enemy, and on the other, Lydia is back in England, and everything is all happy, and tea parties, and you wouldn’t think that there was an enemy not very far away bent on the invasion of the whole of Europe. I found this quite fascinating as I was writing it, because whilst Wickham was dealing with defences, soldiers, long marches, and living in tents, Lydia was living at her parents’ house in Hertfordshire in relative luxury. They have everything they need, and even have guests to stay with them. The two parts of the story are worlds apart. And that’s exactly how it was during those times, which does seem rather strange to us. They had no news reports or internet to tell them every five minutes throughout the day what was happening and so lived in ignorance. They had, of course, the newspaper reports, but they were often months out of date. You could read about some terrible battle happening somewhere in Continental Europe thinking how awful it was, but in actual fact it was long since finished and the soldiers have moved on to the next battle. Wars would last for years and were fought in an almost hand-to-hand fashion. Yes, there were cannons and cavalry etc. but we have no notion of what it was like. Wars today are all computerized and ground troops, although needed greatly, are not as vital as they were in the Regency period, where they were the main force. That kind of warfare is something that our generation can barely comprehend.
Do you feel that Wickham has any redeeming qualities?
Actually Wickham does have redeeming qualities, believe it or not. He does in truth have a conscience. We see it developing throughout the novel and it’s actually quite interesting to watch. He also develops a sense of loyalty and of duty. These are things that we don’t see very much in Jane Austen’s pride and prejudice. However, they naturally developed in my novel and I was quite happy to see where they went. Perhaps one day, if I were to hypothetically continue the novel, Wickham would be a redeemed fellow. Or maybe that’s too much to ask.
I’d have to say that Lydia’s view on life is quite extraordinary and exasperating. Tell me about the emotions you experienced while writing about her.
I literally wanted to slap Lydia more than once and this was a character I was writing myself! She drove me incessantly crazy. I knew I couldn’t change her without upsetting Jane Austen’s original character drastically and I didn’t want to do that. If she was to change it had to happen slowly and naturally. Lydia, thankfully, does begin to very slowly grow up in Wickham. There is a sudden shock at the end of the novel, which may or may not help to mature her in the next instalment that I’m writing now, but I’m not going to give away any clues!
I can imagine you had great fun writing this story. Did you face any challenges?
Yes, the French had to be perfect. Although I did study French at school and I did very well, I knew my French wasn’t good enough for the novel. Thankfully, I knew two people in Lyon, France who are experts in old French and how it is correctly spoken. They were a great help! Other than that, I thoroughly enjoyed the rest of the process. I really do like delving into history books and doing the research necessary for a historical novel. I haven’t, however, yet visited Scarborough Castle. I have planned to do that many times, and unfortunately it has never happened. I am hoping this summer to make it there finally, and take some photographs to put on my blog for my readers.
How much time did you spend working on this story and what was your process?
Wickham took me longer than usual to write. I think there were many factors involved in that. I was under a lot of pressure at the time, the characters themselves are not the most lovable, and I had to make sure that the history was correct. As it was written in two thousand fourteen, I cannot actually remember how long it took specifically, but I know it was most of the year.
To date, Wickham is the longest book that I have written, and having re-read it recently I’m really pleased with it. In the past, and at that time, I would sit down and I would not get up from my computer until I had written a minimum of one thousand words every day. I have to admit to being a bit of a perfectionist and if I don’t do my minimum word count every day, I get a little bit cross with myself. Back in 2012, my process was a lot different to what it is now. I take far more breaks than I used to, and probably drink far too much coffee as well! But, I am more productive now.
I make a notes document and I keep both documents open on the computer. I write down everything I need to know in the notes document, for example, eye colour, hair colour, height, the name of a particular weapon or gun, and details of a town or city. On a separate document, I will begin the novel. I’m quite a linear writer—I write from the beginning all the way to the end. It is very rare for me to add a chapter randomly somewhere in the book. My head just does not work that way. I usually know that somewhere along the line I will find that one particular passage that will be my prologue or my opening scene, and I always make space for it at the beginning. So, when I finally get to the end of the story and I type the end it really is the end of the whole story for me.
Where can readers buy your book?
Wickham is now available through all major stockists. Here is the Amazon link (that’s a universal link and it will take you to the Amazon store in your country)
What’s up next for you?
I’ve just put the finishing touches to the last in a three-part clean Regency romance series called The Emberton Brothers series. Now, though, my thoughts are turning towards book 4 in my pride and prejudice continues series. It takes place almost 6 months after the end of Wickham, so for those of my readers that are keen to know what happens next, this next book will tell that story. Many of my readers have messaged me in some form or another to ask me to tell Mary and Kitty’s story. That will be my focus for this next book.
For next year, I am planning to step back into women’s contemporary fiction and chick lit, as well as something new in the pipeline. I am thinking of delving into a genre I haven’t visited before as a writer but am a fan of as a reader 😉 I have a few books planned for next year as well. It’s an exciting time! I am extremely motivated right now!
More About Karen:
She is now the author of seven novels;
Charlotte – Pride & Prejudice Continues,
Rosings – Pride & Prejudice Continues book 2,
Relative Deceit – Death in the Family,
The Uncanny Life of Polly,
It’s a Man’s World – Lettie Jenkins Investigates,
Wickham – Pride & Prejudice Continues book 3,
The Spice Bride – The Emberton Brothers Series book 1.
The Suitable Bride – The Emberton Brothers Series book 2 – out Friday 15th July.
In 2012 she received a B.R.A.G Medallion for her debut novel Charlotte – Pride & Prejudice Continues.
In 2013 she was once again honoured with a B.R.A.G Medallion for Rosings – Pride & Prejudice Continues book 2.
In 2016 she received another prized B.R.A.G Medallion for Wickham -Pride & Prejudice Continues book 3.
AMAZON (universal link)
A message from indieBRAG:
We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to Karen Aminadra who is the author of, Wickham, our medallion honoree at indieBRAG. To be awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion ®, 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, Wickham, merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.