This summer when I visited England I met a very interesting and sweet lady who had written a book and was about to self publish a JAFF novel for the first time, her name is Andreea Catana, and by now she has not only released her first novel, Meant to Be, but also rejoiced in its success.
We shared our excitement for visiting Pemberley for the first time on that trip, we walked together on Pemberley grounds, had long conversations in our hotel room at night, and I can say it was a true joy to get to know her better.
At the time we worked on an interview that we wanted to publish when the novel was released, and today I’m sharing it with you. I hope you’ll like to know Andreea a little better, and that her sweetness will captivate you to read Meant to Be which is already on my To Be Read list, on the very top of it 😉
Hello Andreea, first of all let me let you how glad I am to meet you here in England! The scenery could not have been more perfect. As we walk on Pemberley’s grounds, can you tell me what is it about Pride and Prejudice that captivates you the most?
My first recollection of reading “Pride and Prejudice” is at age 10 when my mom gave it to me because she thought I might like it. At that time, I had little information on what literary value “Pride and Prejudice” had or even for that matter, who Jane Austen was. As a result, I was determined to read the book only and if only the story appealed to me or whether it was similar to “Oliver Twist”, which, at that time, was the best novel I had read. Needless to say, it was nothing like Dicken’s novel, and I absolutely loved it.
I was impressed with Elizabeth Bennet; she was so unafraid to speak her mind that she seemed like the type of young woman I might want to become someday, or, at least, to have as a friend. I had never seen a literary character like that who was that smart and always knew what to say, even when upset by someone or something.
And then there was… Mr. Darcy as well, whom first I disliked, then I loved. I could not believe that a gentleman like him could be so mean to my dear Elizabeth, who I felt was a friend of mine. You must take into consideration that I was 10 years old. But when Elizabeth forgave him, I forgave him.
When I re-read “Pride and Prejudice” time later, I secretly got a crush on Mr. Darcy, and it felt like a betrayal to Elizabeth Bennet. I might add in a jest that Mr. Darcy has been one of my most long-standing literary crushes and it’s very unlikely that he will be banished soon.
All in all, the more I read the book (and I read it quite often), the greater I find it. I like “Pride and Prejudice” because it is everything they say and write about and more. Because it is about finding the right home to settle down, choosing the correct path in life, being true to yourself, valuing friendship and family… and above all, that Mr. Darcy always finds Elizabeth Bennet.
I can see we share the same love for Pride and Prejudice and have similar reasons to love it, so I must ask, are you as excited as I am to be on Pemberley grounds? Is it as you imagined?
Absolutely! It is my first time in the UK so I am looking forward to what each day may bring. But when you imagine something and it turns out to be even more inspiring and wonderful than you thought possible you know you are having the time of your life.
Being at Pemberley is like being invited into Mr. Darcy’s very own home. I confess I even expect him to be home. Imagine what a treat that would be!
All in all, everything here at Pemberley is impressive! I love the gardens of Lyme Park and I cannot imagine a more beautiful place for Elizabeth and Darcy to take a stroll.
I know what you mean, for me this trip is being memorable and Lyme Park is definitely my highlight. What have you enjoyed the most until now?
The visit at Chawton House, Jane Austen’s home. It’s a rather small house, but so full of all sort of wonderful memorabilia. You can actually see the table where Jane Austen wrote her letters and parts of her novels. It’s moving to see that in a small world like Jane Austen’s some of the most amazing literary characters were brought to life into the world. It is magic actually!
I got inspired and quite emotional walking into that small hall of the Chawton Cottage, seeing the rooms, the personal objects. Everything is so alive that you would not think it’s been 200 years since Jane Austen is gone. It is strange but I do feel that by living her quiet life she managed to create for herself a great life and we should only be that lucky: to be authors of something that is immortal.
We’ve been talking about Jane Austen’s work and how it touched us, but how did you discover Jane Austen Fan Fiction?
I discovered it via Lory Lilian, who is one of my trusted and dearest friends. She confided in me while she was writing “Rainy Days” not so long ago ☺; she was so enthusiastic about the process of creating this new story that she made me read various drafts of it. And I was glad for she showed me how alive the passion for “Pride and Prejudice” was all over the world.
Of course, there are different authors and novels inspired by “Pride and Prejudice”, and each has its own value and fans ☺, and I do celebrate that. I am more than sure that there is place enough for everyone under the JAFF sun and there can never be too many books about ODC.
And what led you to follow Lory’s footsteps and write JAFF?
I like stories and I like writing. When Lory Lilian first told me about her “Rainy Days” and after I started reading the stuff the other authors were publishing on different Jane Austen and Pride and Prejudice online forums, I got a little bit afraid – somehow I saw this act of writing Pride and Prejudice inspired books as a place of privilege.
I confess at that time, I was not courageous enough to dip my pen into the ink and write until I became convinced that I have my own version of the story to tell, or write about. It is even clearer to me that the magic of Elizabeth and Darcy is still there, the possibilities of them finding each other are endless, and I summarize it with the certainty that the end must only be one: Love is always the Answer.
Meant to Be is your first version of what Pride and Prejudice could have been had something different happened, what can readers expect from it?
To be entertained by it. I have tried to be as much inspired by Jane Austen’s work as it is allowed, keeping the same tone and the same events (almost) as in the book. I believe “Meant to Be” is a funny book with some unexpected twists and events. I do also believe that the characters of P&P are there – of course, as seen by me – but all in all, they are recognizable as such. It has been a work of many months, and I can only wish it to bring many pleasant moments of reading. It would be my greatest satisfaction.
I need to ask, has this trip inspired you to write more novels?
For sure it has inspired me to think the stories in a different manner. Writing, at least for me, has never been based on a formula that is unchangeable and this trip has confirmed me as much. The story of “Pride and Prejudice” is one, but there are many ways to tell it. I am convinced that two people cannot write exactly the same way even with the same “pen”. So you need to see your own “truth”, to hold it in your hands.
What this trip has managed to do for me is to give a direct touch of the world in which our beloved characters have “lived”. To get intimate with them if you want. History is – thank God – very much alive in the UK and I was so glad to see so many people interested in preserving such a dignified legacy, whether it is about British or Jane Austen’s legacy.
Also, there is the love you can feel in different places related to Jane Austen or “Pride and Prejudice”; it is as if each heart that was once pledged to Mr. Darcy by means of reading can be felt. Pride and Prejudice and Mr. Darcy have brought a lot of affection to plenty of places and it is recognizable from the very first step you take on such grounds.
What if Mr. Bingley rented Netherfield nine months later than in the original?
What if Elizabeth Bennet met Mr. Darcy first at Rosings while she is staying with her friend Charlotte Collins and he is visiting his aunt, Lady Catherine? What if Elizabeth is as attracted by Darcy’s fine eyes as much as he is by hers?
When their mutual attraction is tainted by pride, prejudice, misunderstandings, and false accusation, how will they reconcile their feelings when they meet again in Hertfordshire?
Follow this Regency Pride and Prejudice variation that takes you into a different—yet much the same—journey through the beloved story of Elizabeth and her Mr. Darcy.
You can find Meant to be at:
Andreea would like to offer one ebook copy of Meant to Be to one of my readers. The giveaway is international and will end on the 17th of November.
All you have to do to participate in the giveaway is comment on this post. Every comment earns an entry in the drawing.
Good Luck everyone!