School of the Ages

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indie author guest post -- Valerie Laws dares mock Mr. Darcy!

Posted by Matt Posner on August 17, 2012 at 1:45 PM

Matt says:  It's my pleasure to welcome here Valerie Laws, an indie author of two novels, one about rotting bodies, and the other about Elizabeth Bennet's little sister Lydia. Yes, the Lydia Bennet who's a prattling, blathering fool, the Lydia Bennet who runs off at sixteen. I'm a fan of Pride and Prejudice since college days, and I can't wait to find out how Lydia justifies her actions.

For reasons that will become evident as you read, Valerie Laws is now appointed to the unpaid position of Official Skull-Collector of School of the Ages.


Here's Valerie:

 

In my novels, I’ve used expertise from other areas of my writing life which have led me to strange places. I am a Writer in Residence at a Pathology Museum with access to human specimens. I’ve observed human body dissection classes. I’ve been shown how to ‘read’ slices of human brain and the abnormalities inside them.

 

I love to perform my work and hear people laugh and cry, because to balance this darkness in my crime fiction, stage and radio plays, and poetry I love to write comedy. I’ve written eleven books in various genres, 10 of them in paperback, 2 in ebook format. One of these is my first indie ebook, my new YA crossover novel LYDIA BENNET’S BLOG - THE REAL STORY OF PRIDE & PREJUDICE (http://amzn.to/LBBUS , only $1.55, also on amazon.co.uk). I like to create strong young female characters who are eccentric and independent-minded too. This book is Jane Austen’s most famous novel but told in the voice of the youngest Bennet sister, Lydia, a teenager who in the book seems to behave badly and is always disapproved of by the ‘respectable’ characters like Lizzie Bennet. To me, Lydia Bennet is a very modern teenager although she lives in the early 1800s! Imagine if you had to wear bonnets and gloves and be polite all the time. You aren’t allowed to get a job, or a decent education. You have to get married or you are scorned by everyone. You can’t marry the person you love if he’s not rich. A very powerless life, but she is rebellious, clever, fashion conscious, likes to flirt and have a good time, all things she’s not allowed in her own time and position in society. I’ve changed the whole book to make her the main character, who plots and plans to make sure she gets some fun, some power over her life, and gets her man, the ‘bad boy’ James Dean type character Wickham who she sets her heart on. I’ve done a lot of research into the period, and I’ve read Jane Austen’s novels many many times so I know the books and the language too. My first degree was in English Language and Literature and I’ve worked with young people as a teacher and creative writing tutor. I’ve made my version a comedy as the other characters don’t realise what Lydia is doing behind the scenes, organising the lives of her relatives to improve her family fortunes and achieve freedom for herself. Lydia uses modern teenage slang but I’ve invented nineteenth century meanings for the modern words. I’ve written teenage characters in several of my works. I admire their determination and struggle to find independence but also their playfulness and creativity with language! Lydia is misunderstood and belittled but never gives in until she wins what she wants, even if it looks like she’s messed up in the eyes of her older sisters who have very different outlooks and agendas. Young adult readers 15+ will enjoy imagining her life in an old English country house with servants but having to plot to choose her own future, boyfriend and social life.

 

Here’s how she introduces herself, explaining about her use of words like ‘net’, ‘blog’ and so on in 1814: ‘A Helpful Note for any Youth- or Coolness- Challenged Readers.

 

Well, me and my buddies on the Net are wayyy too cool to read or write those boring ladylike journals! That’s ‘buddies’ from ‘rosebuds’, we being young, sweet, innocent maidens (irony alert!). So we started to write our goss and news in our own style, in our ‘buddies’ logs’ or ‘blogs’ for short, and pass them around our Network, or ‘the Net’. Geddit? Well it’s not rocketry science! But my publishers asked me to explain this, now it’s going to be a book. They also say I need a glossary. Excuse me? Like I need advice on hair conditioning from them! Anyway, I’ve written this the way me and my friends talk, so in case some of you readers out there don’t understand some of our like, lingo, I’ve explained some of the words as I go. Not all of them. FGS, it is 1814!

We begin when stuff started happening, way back in 1811, when I was fifteen but fabulous. Enjoy!’

 

I had a literary agent who loved the book but when he tried the usual publishers, they didn’t like that Lydia mocks Darcy, the rich arrogant alpha male hero of ‘P&P’. Some thought people wouldn’t want to read anything in a teenager’s voice. I disagreed so I went indie with it. It’s a book young readers would identify with, though it’s quite erotic in parts, such as when she elopes with the man she marries at sixteen in the original book. I published it myself on kindle and also on smashwords so you can get it for all ebook readers. It’s had some great reviews so far on amazon.co.uk, and I’m hoping for the same on amazon.com. I’ve learned a lot about formatting a book for the different ebooks and I’m learning the hard way about marketing the book and letting people know it exists!

 

I also collect skulls. To do this, you find dead birds or animals washed up on the beach (I live by the sea) or even as roadkill. You cut or pull off the head and take it home. People give you strange looks! Then you leave it in your garden to rot and then you boil the skull in bleach. My first crime novel is THE ROTTING SPOT (http://amzn.to/RotSpotUS , $1.55, also on amazon.co.uk) and it has a skull collecting theme using my expertise from my hobby! It features a young homeopath detective, dark family secrets and murder. I’ve just finished another crime novel and will be writing more comedy adventures for Lydia Bennet too.

 

You can visit my website on www.valerielaws.co.uk where you’ll see I’m also famous for spray-painting poetry on live sheep according to Quantum Theory, as I also have a degree in Mathematics. You can follow me on Twitter as @ValerieLaws. Also find me on facebook.

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