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Interview with Jane Odiwe, Author of Willoughby’s Return

Jane Odiwe, author of Lydia Bennet’s Story (click link for my review) and most recently Willoughby’s Return (review forthcoming), took time out of her busy schedule answer a few interview questions.

Please welcome Jane Odiwe.

Most authors dealing with classic characters fell in love with them early on, but wanted something more.  Is this how you felt about Willoughby, and what is it you sought to do that Jane Austen had not?
  
Rather than falling in love with Willoughby, I suppose it was really that ideal of romantic love that I fell in love with early on, and the relationship that Willoughby first shares with Marianne Dashwood. Jane Austen painted him initially as the epitome of the dashing hero and that is very attractive!

I wanted to discover if Marianne had truly recovered from the heartbreak that he caused and wondered how she might react if he re-entered her life. I also felt we needed to know more about Marianne’s relationship with Colonel Brandon who is her husband, a subject Jane Austen hardly touched upon.

Willoughby is often considered the villain of Sense and Sensibility, is this what attracted you to writing about his character or was it something more?  

He is a villain, but I think his character is more complicated than that. I think a little part of me wanted to believe that he was not all bad and even Jane Austen made him remorseful in Sense and Sensibility. What was more important to me was examining the way Marianne perceived him – we see him through her eyes – and I wanted to take her feelings on a journey.

Many readers are eager to know which character or characters authors most identify with, so in your latest novel, which of the characters do you identify with and why?  

I’d like to say Marianne or Margaret Dashwood, both romantic and passionate heroines who think with their hearts not their heads. Like Marianne, I can wax lyrical on a falling leaf from the sky and a picturesque scene, but that’s where the comparison ends. I think these days I probably identify more with Mrs Jennings, the interfering busybody friend of Colonel Brandon – I have a habit of asking totally outrageous and embarrassing questions of my children’s friends much to their great mortification!

Why choose Jane Austen novels versus other classic authors’ novels?  

I just love them – I’m actually obsessed, as my family will tell you. Jane’s writing is the best and her books work on so many levels. I’m still discovering new wonders in every one, which is just as well, as there are only six.

Who is your favorite Jane Austen hero and why?  

Captain Frederick Wentworth. The story of Persuasion has a special significance for me and that’s why he’s my favourite. It is the most wonderful love story – whenever I go to Bath my husband and I like to stroll along the Gravel walk and follow in the footsteps of Anne and Captain Wentworth. I also think Colonel Brandon would be gorgeous and I have to include Mr. Darcy in this trio of equally splendid heroes.

Do you have any obsessions that you would like to share?  

I just asked my youngest son what he thought for an answer to this question and he immediately answered – your computer! I’m afraid it’s true, but it’s really my writing that is the obsession. I also Google anything and everything on Jane Austen every day – I told you I was obsessed!

Which books have you been reading lately, and are there any you would like to recommend?  

I’ve been reading Jane Austen’s Letters and Persuasion, Emile Zola’s The Ladies’ Paradise, Samuel Richardson’s The History of Sir Charles Grandison, Sarah Waters’ Dancing with Mr Darcy, and Sue Wilkes’ Regency Cheshire. I’d recommend them all.

Finally, following Willoughby’s Return, do you have any other projects in the works? Do they deal with other classic literature or do you see yourself flourishing in the Jane Austen market?   

Sourcebooks will be publishing my next book, Mr. Darcy’s Secret, in the Spring 2011, so that’s exciting to be having a third book published by them. I have started two other books which are both Austen related. I have other non-Jane books I want to write, but I’m really happy living in Austenland at the moment. I’d be really interested to hear what kind of books your readers would like to see – more Jane Austen inspired fiction or maybe another classic author. What do you all think?

Stay tuned for my review of Willoughby’s Return on Nov. 5.  In the meantime, Sourcebooks has sponsored a giveaway for U.S./Canada residents.  You can win 1 copy of Willoughby’s Return.  To Enter:

1.  Leave a comment on which classic author you think Jane should take on next or if you think she should continue with Jane Austen.

2.  For a second entry, leave a comment on my review tomorrow.

3.  Blog, tweet, or otherwise spread the good word about this giveaway (@SavvyVerseWit) for a third entry.

4.  If you follow, I’ll give you an extra 5 entries.  If you are a new follower, you will get 3 extra entries.  Be sure to leave a comment and let me know.

Deadline is Nov. 11, 2009, at 11:59PM EST.