This week we’ve been celebrating the 10th anniversary of A Heart for Milton which was one of the first North and South Fan fiction books to be published. Trudy Brasure has posted some information about this on her blog More Than Thornton on Monday, I’ve published my review of A Heart for Milton last Wednesday, and today we are closing the celebration week with an interview!
I hope you all had fun with us along the week, and that your love for North & South keeps growing 😊
Thank you so much for visiting Trudy, as always, it was a true pleasure to welcome you at From Pemberley to Milton 🙂
First of all, I would like to welcome you to From Pemberley to Milton once more Trudy, it’s been 5 years since our last interview, and I think the 10th anniversary of A Heart for Milton calls for a new one!
This is certainly a milestone, and I would like to start our interview with that. Looking back, do you think much has changed in the North and South Fan fiction world?
You know, there really hasn’t been much change. After ten years, there are still very few published N&S fan fiction novels and only a handful of authors. Where are the Thornton vampire and zombie stories?! I mean, Thornton is just perfect for a vampire variation! LOL.
Although the published N&S fan fiction realm is somewhat lacking, I believe the unpublished N&S fan fiction world is more active.
You are perfectly right, why don’t we have a vampire Thornton? Which was the most farfetched fan fiction story you’ve read so far?
That would probably be the one I read that had a modern setting in which one of the side characters was a murderer! I suppose that’s getting close to a vampire story?
That is certainly different from your own stories, looking back, would you do anything differently in your writing career?
I wish I had kept my writing habit going. I’ve long fallen out of the routine of writing after publishing my second N&S novel. Perhaps I should have treated my writing talent more as a career instead of just a hobby.
I may be partial by saying this, but I do wish you regain the writing habit 😊 Is there any particular plotline you’ve never tried penning down, but would love to see written?
Not so much a plot line, but I think it would be fun to see fan fictions of this story in different eras and cultures. Maybe one set in India, or during the Italian Renaissance! I happen to know there may be one coming that is set in America during the Civil War.
I’m glad to know a new book may come out soon, especially because many books have been published after A Heart For Milton, but lately I haven’t noticed many new novels coming up. Do you believe people are loosing interest in Mr. Thornton?
I don’t believe people are losing interest in Thornton. At least from my perspective as a N&S blogger and a participant in N&S social media circles, I find people who are desperate to read all the N&S fan fiction they can find. The closing down of the Internet forum C19 has eliminated access to some really good fan fiction stories that aren’t found anywhere else. I have tried to encourage some of these authors to publish their N&S stories to make them more available. I know there is a stigma for some authors in publishing fan fiction.
What do you think that could be done to encourage more writers to publish their stories?
Well, for beginners, I’d love to invite P&P writers that also adore John Thornton to give it a whirl. I’m not sure why fan fiction writers on Internet sites don’t try publishing. I would encourage readers to suggest it to them. Maybe these writers feel intimidated by the publishing process? Maybe a mentor group could be set up to help N&S fan fiction writers self-publish.
It’s curious that you mention P&P authors because as you know I love both P&P and N&S, and I believe there are less N&S variations because it is not as easy to change something in the story as it is in P&P, so the variation possibilities are more limited. Why do you believe there are less N&S stories then P&P?
You know, I hadn’t really thought about whether the story itself limits the possible variations in comparison to P&P. Is it that the plot is very connected to certain events happening? I can think of two reasons why it may be more difficult to come up with variations for N&S: there aren’t quite as many auxiliary characters to play with (neither John nor Margaret have many siblings or friends), and both John and Margaret are really tied down with their position in life. Neither of them are free to wander around in social circles and meet up in various social circumstances. They have restricted daily roles to play (Margaret must keep her family going, John must tend to the factory) that don’t allow much room for variation. Also, maybe the dirtier and harsh details of N&S make it less attractive or more intimidating for fan fiction writers. The setting of N&S includes poverty and social and economic class conflict – it isn’t all pleasantness and refinement.
Of course, P&P has unequaled standing as a classic favorite. N&S is still not as widely known. If it weren’t for the BBC’s mini-series, I’m sure we wouldn’t even be having this conversation.
And this brings me to a practical point. The market for N&S stories is much smaller. If authors are looking to make decent income from their writing, then an Austen variation will likely fetch a good amount more than a N&S variation.
In our last interview 5 years ago you mentioned a work in progress, was that replaced by Falling for Mr. Thornton? Or should we still expect a new novel soon?
Falling for Mr Thornton was a project I started to help keep the Thornton fires burning! I wanted to add something new to the lineup of what was out there. And since I wasn’t moving forward very fast on my own works, I thought an anthology of short stories might be something we could all pull together within a short time. And we did it!
I still have two N&S variations that I’m working on. And I do intend to finish them, although I cannot promise when! I’m hoping to get some cozy writing time this winter, here in Vermont.
Falling for Mr. Thornton was an incredible work and I cannot express how grateful I am that you decided to bring all those authors together for an anthology. What can you tell us about that project? How was it like to work with other people who love North & South as much as you do?
I started reaching out to authors I knew might be willing to come up with a N&S short story. Those authors who had already published N&S and P&P fan fiction were top on my list, but I also wanted to entice a few authors who love N&S but had only ever published P&P stories to give writing a N&S story a try. I really was trying to expand the market! Nicole Clarkston was invaluable in helping me coordinate and put together the whole project. We almost had a few more P&P authors join us, but they were too busy with current projects to jump in and join us.
It was great to see what we all came up with; I was amazed at all the different storylines. I enjoyed working with everyone. It’s truly a pleasure to get to know more authors who love N&S. It’s a great fandom to be part of.
Do you believe it is possible to repeat that experience?
I’d definitely be up for it! I’m sure there are authors out there who might like to try to write a N&S storyline.
You mentioned 2 works in progress, can you tell us something about them? Or are they still a secret?
You never want to give away too much, so let’s see… The first is my imagination of what might happen if Margaret met John before she ever moved to Milton. The second begins with Mr Bell coming to tell Margaret her father has died. It’s another variation of events from this crucial point of the story.
I love those ideas and I am looking forward to see them published 🙂 Thank you so much Trudy, it was such a pleasure to celebrate this 10th year anniversary of A Heart For Milton’s publication with you this week. I can’t believe it’s been that long! I hope we can continue to spread out the word, and show people how incredible and romantic these stories can be 😊
Let me also say that I’m really grateful for the special bond between the P&P community and the N&S community. It’s like a sisterhood. N&S is the little, less-known sibling.
I appreciate the way the Austen fans welcome Gaskell fans into their wider, more established circles. It’s a lovely ‘family’ to be a part of.
To celebrate this anniversary, Trudy Brasure along with other North and South Fan Fiction writers got together and put up a bundle prize for one lucky reader. Each one of them has donated at least one book, so the winner will receive many different North and South fan fiction copies. Check out Trudy’s Blog More Than Thornton to learn more about this giveaway.
Good luck everyone!