Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Interview with Jane Odiwe, author of Lydia Bennet's Story (with giveaway)

Yesterday I reviewed Lydia Bennet's Story by Jane Odiwe, which fills in some gaps in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice and gives readers a glimpse of how things fared between Lydia Bennet and George Wickham. It was an enjoyable read and put the spotlight on a different Bennet sister for a change. (You can read my review here.)

I appreciate that Jane Odiwe was willing to take time out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions, and I want to give a big THANK YOU to Danielle Jackson at Sourcebooks for arranging the interview.

What inspired you to tell Lydia's story?

Wanting to tell Lydia's story crept up on me very slowly. Like many people I dreamed of writing a novel, but although I had written short pieces over the years, I had not attempted a full-length work. I knew I didn't want to write about Elizabeth and Darcy, I didn't have any interest in them at the time, because I felt that Jane Austen had told their story.

Lydia appealed to me because I saw a challenge in developing a secondary character who is recognised as an anti-heroine. I wanted to take her on a journey, helping her to evolve into someone I hoped my readers would understand better and come to love. Jane Austen wrote Emma with this sort of idea in mind, and I like to think she would approve of my reasons for writing the book. I also wanted to have a go at writing a comic novel, and I thought with Lydia there would be plenty of opportunity for laughs.

I have family in Brighton and have visited the town many times. It was during a trip that I started to wonder how Lydia and George Wickham get together in Brighton. Jane Austen doesn't give us any details of how their relationship starts or how their elopement takes place, and as I walked along the seafront admiring the wonderful Regency architecture, I decided I would like to find out. I could imagine the balls at the Castle Assemblies and the promenades along the Steyne, against the backdrop of fashion, scandal and frivolous living at the Marine Pavilion, home to the Prince Regent.

How did you prepare yourself to get inside Lydia's head and write in her voice?

I've read Pride and Prejudice hundreds of times, which was the ultimate inspiration, and I also loved Julia Sawalha's interpretation of Lydia in the BBC adaptation. The first draft was written as Lydia's diary, starting at the beginning of Pride and Prejudice. I must admit I really enjoyed writing in her voice, being able to say all the outrageous things that you would never dare to say ordinarily.

I did want to show that for all her bravado, underneath she is very vulnerable. Lydia is always painted as a "bad girl" with a despicable character, but I am interested in what makes someone act as they do. Being the youngest, quite spoiled by her mother and ignored by her father, is bound to affect her behaviour. She craves constant attention (and love) as a result and rushes into situations without thinking. I enjoyed showing the difference between the person she shows to the world against the one inside her head. I liked the idea of "seeing" her very different view and responses to events in the plot.

Why did you decide to add to the many Pride and Prejudice sequels?

Pride and Prejudice was the first Austen novel I ever read--I loved it. I started thinking about a novel based on Lydia as far back as 2002. They were not many sequels around in those days and to be honest, I didn't know if I could write a book, let alone a Jane Austen sequel. I started to write it but was not brave enough to do anything with Lydia for a long time.

Who is your favorite Pride and Prejudice character? Who is your favorite Austen heroine?

Impossible question! Of course, I have grown very fond of my naughty Lydia; she really is learning how to be a much nicer person. I am secretly in love with Mr. Bennet, despite his bad parenting. He makes me laugh, and a man who does that is excellent in my opinion. Although having admitted that, I don't think he'd be my choice for a husband. My favourite heroines (I'm sorry, I can't pick one) are Marianne Dashwood, Anne Elliot and Elizabeth Bennet.

How long did it take you to write Lydia Bennet's Story? Do you have a writing routine?

Lydia Bennet's Story was written over four years. There were many, many drafts and re-writes for publishers who said they would take it on and didn't. I think if you've never written a novel length book before, there is only one way to learn--writing, writing and more writing, then editing, re-reading and more editing. I had very good advice from writer friends, and I just kept going.

I try to write every day and usually keep to fairly normal 9-5 working hours, but sometimes if I wake in the middle of the night with an idea or with the solution to a problematic bit in the plot, I just have to get out of bed and get on with it--largely because I know from experience that if I go back to sleep I will have forgotten my ideas by the morning. I am getting a bit faster; my latest book took a year to write.

My long-suffering husband and children admit that they are very jealous of my computer.

Are you working on another book? I'm curious if there will be a sequel to Lydia Bennet's Story. I really want to find out what happened to her after the book ended!

I have recently finished a Sense and Sensibility sequel, Mrs. Brandon's Invitation, which Sourcebooks is publishing next autumn. Marianne and Margaret are the main characters/heroines of this book, although most of the other characters from S&S are to be found in abundance. I loved writing Lucy Steele/Ferrars and Mrs. Jennings' characters. This is a book I've long wanted to write.

A sequel for Lydia is not in the cards at the moment. Although I have been tempted to carry on her story, I have held back. She certainly grows up a lot in my book, but I have a feeling she might not do the sensible thing for her happiness, and I am a little afraid to find out what she is going to do next. With Lydia, I always think I'm going to tell her story when I sit down to my computer, but you might know, she always has her own way and takes over. Being so mischievous, unpredictable and with so much spirit, she is sometimes difficult to govern. I think I prefer to leave her where she is for the moment, looking forward to her future. Still, you never know...

I am writing another Pride and Prejudice sequel, which is really a challenge to myself, but it is early days, so I do not want to give too much away. I am enjoying it enormously! After that I have a synopsis written for a Persuasion novel, and there is a character from history who won't go away. I've promised myself to write her story.

Why do you think Jane Austen is so popular more than a century after she wrote her novels?

There are so many reasons! Most importantly, her characters are timeless. We all know and recognise the people that she wrote about with such skill. Her plots are wonderful; twisting, turning, leaving us in suspense until the last minute, her stories told with humour and wit. Jane's voice is very strong, speaking through her characters to tell us what she thinks about men, society, and women's position, but sweetening her outrage with a bit of romance. I think we all enjoy glimpsing back into the past, becoming absorbed in and inhabiting Jane Austen's worlds, which were created with genius.

Thanks so much, Jane, for providing such entertaining answers to my questions! I wish you much success, and I will definitely check out your novels in the future!

Read more about Lydia Bennet's Story on Jane Odiwe's Austen Effusions site by clicking here.

Read Lydia's online diary by clicking here.


Danielle at Sourcebooks is offering a copy of Lydia Bennet's Story to one lucky reader! (Thanks Danielle!)

**You must have a U.S. or Canada address to enter this giveaway!**

Here's how to win:

1. Leave a comment on this post and answer one of these questions:

Who is your favorite Austen heroine? What is your favorite Austen novel? If you haven't read Austen yet, why?

2. Blog about the giveaway and let me know about it, and I'll give you a second entry.

**Make sure you've left an email address or blog URL so I can notify you if you win!**

**Deadline is Friday, Oct. 31**


Serena said...

I don't need to be entered into the contest, but I really loved the interview. It's funny that she has no plans to carry on with Lydia and that she is preparing to write other Jane Austen sequels!

Amber said...

Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice is my favorite Jane Austen heroine. However, I am very intrigued to read the rest of Lydia's story, since she was quite a complex character herself.

Anonymous said...

I love Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice the best.

Anonymous said...

Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice. I know it's so not-original of an answer. But she's just an amazing female character of that era. =)
I would love to read Lydia's story, please enter me in the giveaway. Thanks. =)

Carmen T

Jeannie said...

"Who is your favorite Austen heroine? What is your favorite Austen novel?"

Pride and Prejudice is really my favorite Austen novel, with Sense And Sensibility a close second. I just love both so much! And my favorite Austen heroine? Oooh, that's a toss up between Elizabeth and older sister, Jane. I guess it's because I can see bits of myself in both of them. I don't think I have much in common with Lydia, but I like her nonetheless.

I made a blog post about your giveaway:


Thank you Anna and Ms. Odiwe!

Jeannie said...

Oops. Can I go ahead and link that?

My Blog- Lydia Bennet's Story Giveaway

Asylumgirl said...

Gosh, I haven't read any Austen novels yet, but I need to. Count me in.


Susan Helene Gottfried said...

No need to enter me, babe. I'm just dropping in to let you know I've got this posted over at Win a Book.

And I have yet to read any Austen. Me, with two degrees in English. I'm oddly proud of this fact!

Margay Leah Justice said...

It is a toss up between Elizabeth Bennett and Emma (and consequently Pride and Prejudice and Emma) - I love them both! But if I had to choose, Elizabeth would probably win.

Gwendolyn B. said...

It's been a long time since I read the Jane Austen novels, but I distinctly remember being drawn to Emma and preferring that novel to the others. I think it's time for me to get back into the groove - I'd like to reread her novels and also read some of the current work relating to Jane Austen such as this novel. Thanks for the chance to win a copy, and thanks for such an interesting post!
geebee.reads AT gmail DOT com

Theresa N. said...

That's easy Pride and Prejudice and Elizabeth. :)
Theresa N

Shana said...

I have this book already and can't wait to read it. I'm so excited to see Lydia in a different light than the one portrayed in P&P.

I am always amazed by the dedication of writers. Jane, thanks for sharing your story with us. Anna, great questions as always.


Anna said...

Serena: I just loved the part where Jane says Lydia takes over her computer! I'm looking forward to her other Austen sequels.

Amber: I agree that Lydia is complex. I didn't think so at first, but at least in Lydia Bennet's Story there's more to her than the naive flirt. I love Elizabeth, too!

Wordlily: I enjoyed both of those books, too!

Carmen: Elizabeth may not be an original answer, but it's an honest one. Elizabeth is my favorite as well!

Jeannie: I'm glad you have nothing in common with Lydia! ;) Thanks for blogging about the giveaway!

Deidre: You should at least read Pride & Prejudice! And if you do, please let me know what you think!

Susan: Thanks for mentioning the giveaway on Win a Book. It's interesting that you've never read Austen. Then again, I have an English degree, and I'm happy with the fact that I've never read Dostoyevsky (did I even spell that right? LOL) or Tolstoy. I'm okay with not being well versed in the classics.

Margay: I haven't read Emma yet, but it's sitting on my shelf taunting me. Please come back and leave your email address! I can't access your profile!

Gwendolyn: I hear you on wanting to reread Austen, but with all the new books out there, I wonder if I'll ever find the time!

Therese: I agree wholeheartedly!

Shana: I think you'll enjoy this book. I can't wait for your review!

Dina said...

I also love Elizabeth Bennet from P&P. P&P is also my fav, Emma is 2nd.



Margay Leah Justice said...

Margay1122 (at) gmail (dot) com

darbyscloset said...

My fav is Elizabeth from P&P.
Thank you for the interview, I enjoyed the different view!
darbyscloset at yahoo dot com

Anna said...

Dina: You're one of several people to mention Emma! I guess I need to read that book and fast!

Margay: Thanks a bunch!

Darby: You're in good company! ;) Glad you enjoyed the interview!

Rebekah E. said...

I love Elizabeth Bennet, she has to be my favorite character so far. Pride and prejudice is also my favorite book of Jane Austent that I have read so far.

Anonymous said...

First I appologize for not having read these books yet. Though I have seen the film version of Pride and Prejudice and fell in love with the story line. I am a history buff and love this type of reading as well. I just haven't had the change to read these yet so I can't really pick a heroine. I would love to win though and I thank you for the chance.

Rainey Daye said...

Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice most definately...though Emma is a fun one too.
I've read many of Austen's books, as well as several of these sorts of modern companion or sequel-type books of Austen stories...all fun and enjoyable. Would love to win this book!!


Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice.

windycindy said...

Hello! What an interesting author. I enjoy reading about the person behind a book! Historical books are one of my favorite to read. "Pride and Prejudice" is my favorite book of Jane Austen's. Please enter my name in your delightful book drawing. Many thanks.....Cindi

Amy said...

So many - for today I'll say - Marriane sense and sensibelity!

tanabata said...

Good interview. I liked what she said about Emma being an anti-heroine who you grow to love, and treating Lydia in the same way.

I love all Austen's books but I suppose Pride and Prejudice, and Persuasion are my favourites, and I just love Lizzie Bennet.

I've mentioned the giveaway here.

tanabata2000 at gmail dot com

(P.S. I realise about the shipping restrictions but I can give a Canadian address this time if necessary)

Anna said...

rebekah: Thanks so much for sharing! Seems Elizabeth is the queen of this popularity contest! ;)

baba: Don't apologize for not having read Austen!! To be honest, I've only read 3 of them. I hope you get a chance to read at least one!

Julie: They are fun, aren't they?

Sandy: I agree with you for sure!

Windycindy: I love getting to know the authors, too. It really gives the book more meaning, at least for me.

Amy: I don't remember much about Marianne. Isn't that sad?? I haven't read S&S in years. Time for a re-read!

Tanabata: I can't wait to get a chance to read Persuasion! Thanks for mentioning the giveaway!

Jane Odiwe said...

Hello everybody,

I just wanted to say thank you to Anna for her review and the chance to tell you about my writing journey with that naughty Lydia.

Thank you all for your lovely comments,

Best wishes,

Jane Odiwe

Anna said...

Jane: Thanks so much for stopping by my blog. And thank YOU for this wonderful opportunity! The interview was a lot of fun!

Holly (2 Kids and Tired) said...

My favorite Austen heroines are Anne Elliott and Elizabeth Bennet. My least favorite is Fanny from Mansfield Park. I can't pick a favorite book. It's impossible.

I blogged your giveaway here. http://2kidsandtiredbooks.blogspot.com/2008/10/giveaways_22.html

Wendi said...

Oh - I LOVE Jane Austen sequels :) We just read Mr. Darcy's Daughters for one of my book clubs - what fun!

My favorite Austen book is Pride and Prejudice - I think I've read it 8-10 times over the years. I like the interactions between Elizabeth and Darcy, and how the book ends!

:) Wendi
wbarker (at) hotmail.com

Wendi said...

I added a link to your giveaway under my giveaway sidebar here:


:) Wendi

Unknown said...

Hard questions! I think my favorite characters are tied - either Elizabeth Bennett or Emma and I really like Mr. Knightly too! I love them dearly! My favorite book would probably be Pride and Prejudice, but I love Emma too!
frog123 (at) cyipcom (dot) net

Anna said...

Holly: I agree about Fanny. Thanks for blogging the giveaway!

Wendi: Wow! You certainly do love P&P! Mr. Darcy's Daughters is on my list of books to read at some point. Thanks for mentioning the giveaway!

Jenna: P&P and Emma clearly are the favorites here! Thanks for sharing!

Linda said...

Like so many others, I would name Elizabeth as a favorite, with Emma running a close second. This giveaway sounds wonderful. Hope I win.

Tamara B. said...

Pride and Prejudice was a wondeful book and I liked Elizabeth th best.

Tammy said...

No contest -- Pride & Prejudice for the book and Elizabeth Bennet for the heroine. A close second is Emma Woodhouse -- I love how she's always in everyone's business.

I've posted about the contest here.

missporkchop AT yahoo DOT com

Anna said...

Linda: Thanks for entering! You're in good company with your choices of Elizabeth and Emma!

Tamara: I'm with ya!

Tammy: I can't wait to read Emma! Thanks for blogging about the giveaway!

Wendi said...

Oh - the Jane Austen follow-up books are so much fun!

:) Wendi

Your interview has been added to

About the Author - An Author Interview Index

Anna said...

Wendi: Thanks! I've found a lot of great Austen-esque books lately!