Category Archives: Nicole Clarkston

Nowhere But North

Nowhere But North is a character driven book that uses flashbacks to enlighten the reader about the life events that shaped the characters personalities. It starts with what appears to be a forced marriage scenario, which is not only shocking but also innovative in the north and south variations genre, and it develops into a heart whelming love story of two newlyweds who are still learning about what married life is all about. The main story will alternate with chronological flashbacks that will transport the reader into the past to witness several marking events that contributed to the characters development, and allow him to better understand each character.

It is not easy to go back in time and remain truthful to characters who were created by another author, let alone show us how their personalities developed, and the fact that every single flashback was pure perfection in the North and South realm shows a deep character knowledge, and a writing skill that very few have. In fact, I believe only a couple of authors would be able to write such a perfect North and South Variation, which is in my opinion as good as Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South in terms of character development. Had I not known these flashbacks were written by Nicole Clarkston, I could have easily believed that Gaskell had written them herself considering they are perfectly in line with the characters she created.

I have always been fascinated by John Thornton’s life and this book was the first to give me the pleasure of reading about it. I had always been curious about his father and his childhood, about his journey from a teenager into adulthood, I always wanted to know how he made it, how he became a Mill Master after everything that happened to him, and thanks to this book I was finally transported into the past and made the wonderful journey of his life alongside with him. I witnessed him in his worst moments, I felt his struggles and insecurities and now I feel I understand this man even better and respect him all the more because of it. His life story is so interesting that it deserves a place in a North and South variation book and Nicole Clarkston did a wonderful job at making that happen.

Apart from the profound character knowledge Nicole Clarkston demonstrated with this book, venturing into flashbacks alternated with real time events showed a tremendous writing talent. Nicole Clarkston certainly knows how to write a beautiful story with interesting and complex characters while maintaining it clean, and captivating the reader at the same time. The transitions into and from the flashbacks are absolutely perfect, with the scene of a chapter being somehow connected to the scene in the next chapter, even it that scene is happening several years later. It takes true talent and courage to craft such a complex story the way Nicole Clarkston did and she deserves to be praised for such a magnificent work.

I loved the initial scenes between Margaret and John, when they were still afraid to let their emotions be known, but also decide to be honest with one another. I am clearly an angsty type of person and books with angst are usually my favourite, but it was nice to see that in this book no unnecessary angst was present. The characters already had too much to overcome in their life so it was nice to see that, at least amongst them, there were no unnecessary misunderstandings. Nicole Clarkston knew how to perfectly balance the emotions in this book, making sure they were realistic, but taking care not to make the story too dark, the result was an incredible book that made my heart ache at times and tears come to my eyes, but which also made me smile with the tenderness that was emanating from the pages. Margaret and John’s love was pure and stout and it was a joy to see how their companionship grew with each page that I turned and how passionate they both were about one another.

It is hard to say what I enjoyed the most about this book because I loved it all, the character insight and development, the writing style, the flashbacks, John Thornton, their relationship, the romance, the secondary characters and how it all came into place, John Thornton (I know I already mentioned him, but the character is so swoon worthing that I have to mention him twice), the balance, etc.

I am completely rendered to this story and I honestly consider this is the best North and South variation book I’ve ever read. I loved both No Such Thing as Luck and Northern Rain from this author, but I believe that with Nowhere But North Nicole Clarkston took the stakes into a completely different level. This book is a masterpiece that should not be missed by anyone who enjoys good literature and I highly recommend it to all readers.

P.S – I have to talk about the cover!!! Isn’t it beautiful? To me it looks absolutely perfect! It reflects exactly the story and environment we will find in the book. We can feel the tenderness between the characters in it and the entire setting transported me to the books scenes. The detail of the compass inside the O, and which we will see separating the chapters inside the book, is the cherry on top of the cake! It is my favourite cover from Janet Taylor so far, and I’ve loved them all 🙂

 

You can find Nowhere But North at:

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

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Filed under 5 stars, JAFF, Nicole Clarkston, North and South

Author of the Month – Nicole Clarkston

 

Good Afternoon everyone,

We are reaching the end of the month and that means it is time for my author of the month post. In 2018 I created this new feature, which started with Joana Starnes as author of the month in January, and was very happy to see that you welcomed the initiative.  Your incentive gave me the inducement to keep going, so today I’m bringing you the author of the month for February.

This month I would like to give a shout out to Nicole Clarkston!

Nicole Clarskton caught my attention back in 2015 because she was the only author I knew who wrote both P&P and N&S variations. Nowadays there are more authors who are venturing into N&S variations but Nicole Clarkston continues to be the one I consider a true expert in both genres. I must say that as a reader I’m very demanding when reading a North and South fan fiction book, and sometimes North and South variations disappoint me, either because they are unable to keep me interested in the story, or because the characters are too different from what Gaskell presented us with. I have often seen less experienced authors make Mr. Thornton too similar to Mr. Darcy and I know it may be hard to differentiate both heroes when writing a romance, but knowing both characters very well is essential to pull it off. Nicole Clarkston masters this art of differentiating.

Even though she writes both genres, her deep knowledge of the stories and the characters is visible in her books and I have never felt someone was out of character in her stories, it always feels I’m visiting old friends whom I know quite well. Her Mr. Thornton is indeed Mr. Thornton and Margaret Hale is not one bit like Elizabeth. I love that! I do love variations from both Pride and Prejudice and North and South, but I am expecting to find different characters (even if some traits may be similar) and that is what I find in Nicole Clarkston’s books. She shows a true understanding of each characters traits and past story, how they got where they are and what we expect from them in each new situation, this knowledge produces perfect books because she remains true to Austen and Gaskell’s characters and uses her creativity in her original new characters. This is a perfect as it gets in my opinion because it gives us the best of the two worlds: authenticity and creativity.

I cannot tell if I prefer her North and South or her Pride and Prejudice variations, in my opinion they are all equally good, and that is not something easy to achieve, particularly when one is writing the stories simultaneously as she usually does, so congrats Nicole!

Apart from being the only author who continues to consistently write both P&P and N&S variations, which by itself and considering the theme of my blog would be enough for me to give Nicole a shout, she writes stories with a perfect balance. In my perspective, she has the right quantity of everything, her books are perfectly balanced in terms of pacing and in terms of sweet romance vs. angst which always makes the reading experience very pleasant to me.

She has written variations, prequels, gone abroad to Spain and Portugal, created new characters, developed more than one love story in the same book… She keeps challenging herself and it is refreshing to see and read that, hence my shout out 🙂 Thank you for providing me with so many wonderful reading hours Nicole!

Below you can see the books that made me love Nicole Clarkston:

 

Rumours & Recklessness – A Pride & Prejudice Variation

My Review (coming soon)  Amazon.com

 

These Dreams – A Pride & Prejudice Variation

My Review Amazon.com

 

The Courtship of Edward Gardiner – A Pride & Prejudice Prequel

My Review Amazon.com

 

No Such Thing as Luck – A North & South Variation

My Review Amazon.com

 

Northern Rain – A North & South Variation

My Review Amazon.com

 

But these books aren’t enough for me so I keep asking Nicole when will she release her next work, what is she working on etc. I affraid that she may get a little tired of all my insistence, but when I told her about this post she was happy to share some news with me and my readers, so if you’re curious about what she has been doing after the release of These Dreams, you can hear it directly from her 🙂

Below she explains what she has been working on and shares some exclusive excerpts 🙂


~~~

I have always had a pattern of working on more than one book at a time, so I’m currently writing two. True to my pattern, one is a North & South, and the other is a Pride and Prejudice. The North & South book, still tentatively named Nowhere But North, began back in July of 2016, on the heels of the blog tour for Northern Rain. It started as a prequel/sequel, kicking off the very first scene with an uncomfortable marriage ceremony. The story moves forward but is enhanced by a series of flashbacks which contrast and flow with the main story line. This book got put on hold so I could finish These Dreams, and it is proving to be just as much of a monster as that story was. I hoped to have it finished by this month and ready for final edits, but I am afraid I have a couple more months ahead of me (sniff!) This scene is relatively early in the book, just as Margaret and John have begun to reconcile their feelings toward one another.

Exclusive Nowhere But North Excerpt

“Love, are you well?” John tugged at her hand as they moved to abandon the dining room. Hannah had already left them behind, and they had lingered for a few stolen moments in privacy before John returned to the mill for the afternoon.

Margaret hesitated, then turned back to him. The empty quality her eyes had taken on in the few seconds she had looked away fully terrified him. Grief was a fickle tormentor – raising its hideous aspect whenever it pleased, crushing any budding hopes of happiness beneath waves of guilt and remorse for aspiring to such. Well did he know the conflict which bound her within its grasp. Her entire future – their future – hung on what measure of courage and faith she possessed to face her sorrows. She had begun to confide in him, but it was not yet with the strong force of habit which could break through the darkest melancholy.

“Margaret?” he touched soft fingers to her cheek. “What is it?”

She lifted her shoulders and her mouth worked helplessly. “It is nothing of any consequence, John. You mustn’t be troubled… Dixon is to arrive this afternoon – I will be grateful to have her company. I shall be well.”

He narrowed his eyes. “Am I to understand, then, that you have not found my mother’s company very satisfying?”

She swallowed, and her gaze dropped to his waistcoat again.

“Margaret,” he touched her chin, and those clear eyes braved his once more. “I know how she can be. You frighten her, you know,” he murmured softly.

Astonishment swept over her face. “I, frighten her? How is that possible?”

“Because you are yourself – my strong Margaret,” he smiled, a little teasingly.

She shook her head, brushing off his words with a dismissive little laugh. “I feel that I am neither myself, nor strong of late, John.”

He pulled her close to press a loving kiss to her forehead. Had he perceived the unbearable frissons his breath sent through her hair and down her back, it is likely that he would not have returned to the mill at all that day. From him, at least, the gesture was one of innocent comfort. “You will grow strong again, Margaret,” he whispered. “It is your nature, and she knows it as well as I.”

She sniffed a little and turned her face into his shoulder. “I do not understand why that should trouble your mother. She could not respect me otherwise, could she?”

“No, but neither would she be threatened by you. She likes her own ways, and has been left untroubled by contradiction for too long. I never questioned her domestic arrangements, and in late years she has had every resource and influence her heart could desire. All of that has changed, for everything that was hers is now yours.”

“And I am undeserving! You need not say it, for I know that is how she feels. I never meant to displace her,” her mouth tugged ruefully, “either in her home or in your affections.”

“And you have not done so,” he insisted, tugging a little on her hips. “You have only brought to this home what has long been missing. It will take time for her to learn to trust in you as I do, Margaret.”

She drew a long breath and shone a grateful smile. “Perhaps I will sit with her this afternoon, instead of….” She halted.

“Instead of going to the kitchen to visit Bessie Higgins?” he guessed.

She blinked a few times, then her old boldness made a little gasp of reappearance. She lifted her chin. “I had intended to do so, yes. I regret if you are displeased.”

“Not in the least. I was about to offer to escort you, but of course if you desire to remain here with my mother….”

She studied him for a moment in puzzlement. “You would not feel it immodest of me, or a defiance of your authority, if I desire to pay social calls on one of the workers?”

“You would not be my Margaret if you did not defy me whenever the fancy strikes you!” he laughed. “I think I can withstand the shock – to be quite truthful, I have lately missed locking horns with you.”

“John!” she protested. “I beg you would not speak of me in such a vulgar way.”

“Vulgar! I suppose it was, but apt, nonetheless. What amusement would there be in a wife who did not keep me on my toes?”

She frowned, but it was more playful than chagrined. With a little hitch of her chin and a flash of her old hauteur, she surveyed him through lowered lids. “I ought to have expected you, of all people, to thrill in such a challenge. You have ever carried your way against those who wish to come against you.”

“Not always. I suspect you will have the better of me yet, but I plan to enjoy the battle. And, since we are speaking of differing opinions, there is one contrary old fellow who has been asking after you for days. What would you say to a brief tour of the mill before I walk you to the kitchen?”

Her eyes lit expressively, and it was the only answer he required. He leaned down to kiss her once more – a soft brush, a secret pledge of later delights. “I will wait for you to make yourself ready,” he whispered against her lips.

As she turned away, her steps once more sparkling with energy, he gazed after her with the admiration of one who has found his greatest treasure. She disappeared, and he tapped his finger pensively against the leg of his trousers. It was an opportune moment to visit with his mother, to salve her fears that he was lost to her, and to explain to her in detail that cryptic conversation with Henry Lennox.

He found her not in her sitting room as he had expected, but in a small little alcove of the stairwell, the window of which looked out to the mill beyond. “Mother?” he greeted her softly, when she did not seem to hear his approach.

She did not turn immediately, but when she did, he detected a redness about her eyes. Her thinned lips quivered, and her arms were crossed defensively. “How long have you known about Margaret’s brother?” she demanded in a fragile voice.

“She told me yesterday,” he confessed, tugging his fingers through his unruly hair in that way he had when he was troubled. “You may well have guessed that it was he who was walking out with Margaret at the station after Mrs Hale’s death.”

She turned her face back to the window, verifying his words with only a slight lift of her chin. “And what are these heinous charges she spoke of?”

“The Navy considers him a mutineer. Margaret tells me that his captain, a man named Reid, had gone mad – had antagonised and persecuted his men to the point of exhaustion and the limits of physical impossibility. The mutiny itself was instigated by the senseless death of a crew mate falling from the yard arm when he feared punishment by the captain. Frederick Hale is said to have restrained the men from hanging Reid there next. The captain and his officers were instead set on a boat, which was found some days later. They all survived, but the mutineers took the ship to South America, where most of them scattered in fear of their lives. Some of the poor devils were caught and hung regardless, and mad Captain Reid given his old command back.” He sighed in sympathetic exasperation. “I cannot condone the mutiny, but there seems little justice in the matter.”

Hannah had tilted her head back over her shoulder as he spoke, the infamy of it all registering as shock over her stark features. She did not answer when he had finished – instead, her eyes drifted slowly to the floor. Margaret had borne more than she, in her unawareness, had accounted for, and the harshness of her own assumptions chastened her most uncomfortably.

“Mr Lennox spoke of a cousin,” she at last ventured in a subdued voice.

“Yes. Margaret grew up with her in London. She married Lennox’s brother, a captain in the Army, just before the Hales moved to Milton. She has gone with her husband to Greece. They have a child by now, I understand, and are expected to return to London sometime later this year. When they do, Mrs Hale’s sister – a Mrs Shaw – will likely return as well. The last word Margaret had placed her in Paris.”

She rounded fully on him at last, the full weight of these tidings sinking in to her astonished thoughts. Margaret’s revealed family, the previously unknown opportunities she had forsworn, and the sudden devotion she had glimpsed in the young woman’s eyes for John – it all began to make sense to her. “She loves you,” she whispered.

The Pride and Prejudice book is still under pretty tight wraps. I’m not even publicly sharing the title yet because it would be too much of a spoiler. I will say that this plot idea had been jingling around in my head for almost 2  years, but I had other books lined up first and I wouldn’t let myself touch it. I had intended to be truly mean to my muse and make myself finish the North & South book first, but the Muse threw a crying temper tantrum over that edict. After the heavy, angsty These Dreams and the dark, personally challenging scenes I was coming back to when I picked up Nowhere But North again, it was a breath of fresh air to play with something that was just for fun. All I will share so far is that the book is unrepentantly lighthearted and irreverent, and will be chock full of page time for ODC. I’m hoping to have it finished by late spring, possibly even scheduling a simultaneous release with NBN.

 

Exclusive Excerpt

Colonel Fitzwilliam was, indeed, at his flat. He was in the habit of rising early from his long days in the army, and even when off duty, he could scarcely remain abed after seven of the clock. He was already up and enjoying a cup of coffee—no tea for him in the mornings—when his batman informed him that he had a visitor.

“So early! Perhaps a friend ran aground at the gambling tables last night, eh? Well, show him in, Jenkins, show him in.”

“Colonel, it is Lady Catherine de Bourgh who wishes to speak with you.”

Fitzwilliam nearly spit his coffee. He managed to salvage his dignity in that regard, but could not avoid spilling a few drops as he set it on the saucer. “My aunt! What in blazes could she want? Nevermind, Jenkins, of course, you could not formulate the answer to that. That would imply reason on my aunt’s part, and I suffer under no illusions that she has submitted to such an authority. Well, show her in, and I shall make myself presentable.”

He stood, inspecting his coat to be certain that no crumbs besmirched it. Lady Catherine descended upon the apartment like a thunderstorm, cracking and pouring down the force of her displeasure. What he had done to merit this personal call at his humble abode, he could not say, but like enough, it had something to do with Darcy.

He was right.

“Fitzwilliam, where are you keeping him?” she demanded at once.

“Him… forgive me, Aunt, but I have not the pleasure of understanding you. Good morning to you as well, by the by. There is no one here, save Jenkins and myself. And my housekeeper, of course, but….”

“Fitzwilliam Darcy! He has come here, has he not?”

“Darcy? I beg your pardon, Aunt, but I last saw Darcy a fortnight ago. I have only just gone on a short leave, do you see, but I intended to call upon him this morning.”

She stalked nearer. “Do not play coy with me, Richard Fitzwilliam. What has he arranged? I must know all his plans.”

“I would certainly reveal what I knew, Aunt, but Darcy is not here, nor have I had word from him. Perhaps he is paying a call on some friend or other.”

“You and I both know that Darcy never pays social calls at such an hour, and apart from yourself, there is only that tradesman whom he might have gone to for an informal visitation.”

“Bingley? He is not in Town at present. Have you truly not seen Darcy since last night?”

She drew herself up. “Of course I have, and that is the subject of my desired conversation with him.” Lady Catherine seemed to pause. “You will swear that he did not come here… perhaps this morning?”

“Unless I was still abed, Aunt, which is unlikely. May I ask, why the urgency? If I am not mistaken, you are his guest at present, and he will only naturally return to the house when his errands are complete. Has something happened?”

She pursed her lips. “Indeed, something has happened. He has ruined my daughter. Compromised her, beyond hope of recovery, and practically before my very eyes!”

“No! I cannot believe this, Aunt. Darcy would never… and Anne! I find it difficult to credit, Aunt.”

“She was in his bed this morning,” asserted the lady. “I would have him found at once so that the settlement can be drawn up and the wedding might be arranged. As you cannot testify to his whereabouts,” here, she smiled faintly, “I shall speak with him once he has returned to the house. I shall depend upon your support to ensure he behaves the gentleman toward his cousin hereafter. I shall call next upon the earl to discuss the matter with him. Good day, Fitzwilliam.”

Colonel Fitzwilliam stood aghast as his aunt departed in a sweep of black and an irregular tapping of her cane—a means of expression, rather than a necessity for mobility.

Darcy and Anne! If his aunt had not sworn to it, he could never have believed it. Darcy could have any woman he wanted, as a wife or even a mistress, but Anne? Apart from a sickly, unappealing person, there was the matter of her mother. No man in his senses would touch her, least of all Darcy! The man must have been desperate… or intoxicated. After seven and twenty years of celibacy—as far as he knew—perhaps it was a little of both. Besides, any man would be driven to drink with their Aunt Catherine as a guest.

Fitzwilliam shook his head and sighed. Well, Darcy could step into the hornet’s nest if he wished. He wanted no part of it for himself.


 

 

What did you think about Nicole’s news and excerpts? After reading these I’m really eager to get her new novels on my hands. I confess I’m more excited about Nowhere But North but that is only because I’ve known about the plot for quite some time and I find it fascinating! Also, there aren’t as many North and South books out there, so I’m craving for a new one 🙂

Until Nowhere but North comes out, I would like to offer to one of my readers the opportunity to read one of the best North and South variations I have ever read: No Such Thing as Luck.

I’m offering an ebook copy to an international reader and all you have to do to participate is to leave a comment on his post. If you share this post on any social media you’ll get another entry to the giveaway, but please let me know in the comments that you have done so.

The giveaway is open until the 9th of March and the winners will be announced shortly after.

Good Luck everyone!

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Filed under Author of the month, JAFF, Nicole Clarkston, North and South, Pride and Prejudice

These Dreams – Guest Post & Giveaway

 

These Dreams is a very special book to me for a million different reasons, some of them you’ll understand when reading this last post of the blog tour, and it is to me a great honor and joy to be closing the tour of such an incredible book from a kind, talented and genuinely good person as Nicole Clarkston.

On this last post you’ll read about the Portuguese connection in These Dreams, and I would love to read your opinion about it. Did you like the Portuguese scenes, or was it too hard to bear? Did you start hating the Portuguese characters when you saw what they were doing to Darcy? Or did Amália got to your hearts immediately ? What about her love story, what do you make of that?

I know I’m filling you with questions, but I would really love to hear everybody’s opinion about the Portuguese connection and characters, especially after you read this post. I hope you enjoy it!!!

 

 

 

Nicole: Part of the inspiration for These Dreams came about a year and a half ago, during a chat with Rita about Colonel Fitzwilliam. She said she always wished she could see him fall in love with a Portuguese girl, but no one (that she knew of) had played with that idea. As I was not familiar with Portuguese history, she began telling me of the complicated relationship between the English and the Portuguese during this time.

 

Rita: Portugal was Britain’s oldest ally in Europe and in the beginning of the 19th century, Britain was finding new opportunities for trade with Portugal’s colony in Brazil and the Royal Navy used Lisbon’s port in its operations against France. This was obviously a great problem for Napoleon, as he wanted to deny the use of the Portuguese fleet to the British, so on July 19, 1807 he ordered Portugal to declare war on Britain, close its ports to British ships, detain British subjects on a provisional basis, and sequester their goods. Prince John of Braganza, regent for his insane mother Queen Maria I, declined to join the emperor’s Continental System against British trade, and that was the starting point of the Peninsula War— a military conflict for control of the Iberian Peninsula between Napoleon’s empire and the allied powers of Spain, Britain and Portugal that took place between 1807 and 1814.

Portugal was able to defeat the French with the assistance of the British troops. In fact, the Portuguese army was reorganised and refitted under the command of Gen. William Carr Beresford, who had been appointed commander-in-chief of the Portuguese forces by the exiled Portuguese royal family. Beresford fought as part of a combined Anglo-Portuguese army under Wellesley.

However, the connections between Portugal and Britain do not end there. The burden of war destroyed the social and economic fabric of Portugal and ushered in an era of social turbulence, political instability, and economic stagnation that was in part created by the political and economic agreements Portugal made with Britain. The war with the French was over, but a new war over political and economical power was starting in Portugal, and the former ally was now Portugal’s greatest enemy.

 

Nicole: Our villain was an important character, and his development was integral to the plot. Some of what Rita told me about Portugal’s history and economy gave me some ideas and places to start digging for motives. I wanted to create a man with real and perhaps even admirable ambitions. He wanted to help his country and he wanted to set right what he perceived as an injustice, but his conscience was so twisted that to him, the ends justified the means. (Just to balance him out, there was a British character with even less conscience.) What Vasconcelos wanted was “good,” and he would stop at nothing to achieve it.

 

Rita: The aftermath of The Peninsula War signified Portugal’s traumatic entry into the modern age and the rise of several nationalist movements that wanted to defend the country against the British military intervention in our politics, and fight the economical impositions that were beneficial to Britain but detrimental to the Portuguese economy. When Nicole started talking about a Portuguese villain I thought that this scenario would be perfect for the rise of man such as Vasconcelos whose patriotism would go too far due to everything he was witnessing in his country. I can even relate to him as I am very patriotic myself and the British imposition was truly devastating to Portugal. Who would not want to defend his own country from a foreign power?

The nationalists started to have a voice during the Peninsula Wars and were involved in the liberal wars that started in 1820, which opposed the absolutists to the liberals. I like to think that Vasconcelos was a crucial player in these wars and that his fervent nationalism placed him in an important position amongst the absolutists who supported D. Miguel.

 

Nicole: After Rita gave me some interesting points in the history, a plot was starting to develop in my mind. I had already decided that Darcy and Elizabeth would face a heartbreaking separation, and Portugal seemed like a great place to send him. The next challenge would be to craft more believable Portuguese characters. I started with Colonel Fitzwilliam’s love interest, and even her name was carefully chosen.

 

Rita: I suggested a couple of names that could have been used on the 19th century and amongst them were my mother’s name, Amélia, and a very similar name which was the name of the most known portuguese Fado singer and national icon, Amália Rodrigues. Nicole wasn’t too fond of Amélia, but she loved Amália and from the moment she chose that name I created a vivid image of the character in my mind that was precisely the one I saw described in These Dreams.

Below you can see both Amália Rodrigues and Maria Amália Vasconcelos, or the representation of the character that Nicole chose…which reminds me we didn’t even talk to you about how she chose the lady that would portray Amália! I guess we will have to leave that to another time, but I also had a tremendous fun looking at paintings and telling Nicole which ladies could have been Portuguese and which were clearly British… She ended up choosing this beautiful lady and I think she is the perfect Amália!! There is a fierceness in her eyes that I find enchanting! And she is a bit similar to Amália Rodrigues too, isn’t she?

Speaking of Amália Rodrigues, as I mentioned before, she is a national icon due to the influence she had in our musical culture. She dramatically changed Fado by bringing lyrics from famous portuguese poets into the musical genre, creating her own emotional lyrics and working along with talented musicians, such as Alain Oulman, who modernised the national musical genre. Me and Nicole would like to share with you one of her musics, it’s not her best for sure, but it is called Fado Amália, and speaks of who she was and what she was doing in this world. I hope you like it 🙂

 

Nicole: We agreed that Amália should be strong, ladylike, a dutiful daughter, and enough of a spitfire when provoked to fight for what was right. What she lacks in Elizabeth Bennet’s delightful sense of humour, she makes up for in sheer backbone. She reminded me quite a bit of Margaret Hale; a lady in circumstances not of her choosing, who sacrifices for honour and justice. Amália endures quite a bit of her own grief during the story, so her character needed to reflect enough depth that she could believably stand, yet tremble because she is, after all, human.

 

Rita: To me Amélia is a much sweeter name and I’m glad that Nicole didn’t chose it because Amália is much stronger and fits perfectly in the character. She is my favourite original character in JAFF literature, and the perfect match for our good Colonel.

 

Nicole: Thank you, Rita, that means a great deal to me! Amália’s brother was our means of introducing her to Colonel Fitzwilliam. He was a soldier in the Anglo-Portuguese army alongside “Major Fitzwilliam,” in 1809-1810 we decided, and their history in battle had made them trust one another. I wanted to paint a noble Portuguese soldier, a character whose role is like Georgiana in the original; not central, but pivotal. His name was special to me as well, because I wanted a very traditional sounding name which could be shortened to a more intimate one.

Col. Fitzwilliam

 

Rita: The curious thing is that we found the perfect name! Rodrigo was a common name at the time, and it was shortened to Ruy, which is the name of my husband, even if nowadays it is spelled Rui, so this could not have been more perfect!

 

Nicole: I loved this name! It’s both dignified and playful.

After we had the characters fixed, the next challenge was manners and language. There were a few mannerisms I had to ask about (i.e. would the Portuguese greet one another with a kiss as some cultures do?) but the larger challenge was the language. I have a fair bit of experience with Latin and French, so several of the Portuguese words appeared to be cognates, but the usage was another matter. I wanted authentic, natural sounding speech, and that is something you just can’t get from Google Translate. There are a few key Portuguese phrases smattered about the book, and some of them are very special.

 

Rita: I was in a dreamlike state when I started seeing Nicole venture into the Portuguese language. I could not believe I was reading sentences such as “tive saudades tuas” and “Eu Amo-te Richard Fitzwilliam.”

Tive saudades tuas is not possible to translate because there isn’t an exact equivalent to the word saudade (saudades is plural). The word reflects the feeling one has when they miss someone or something, it doesn’t just mean we missed someone, it translates a feeling and it is very powerful in the Portuguese language.

Amo-te (I love you) is also very special because unlike English, Portuguese people do not use this word lightly. Amo-te is only used toward people and when the feeling is really strong. It would never be used in sentences such as, “I love this bonnet,” for example. In a sentence such as that, a Portuguese person would use the word “like” and not “love,” which makes the word really special.

These are just two examples, but Nicole used many more Portuguese expressions and words throughout the book, many of them were written by Nicole herself, and I can tell you she was really good at research. Google only mislead her a couple of times. 🙂

 

Nicole: Wahoo! Props to the programmers!

Another detail I wanted to get just right was the pattern of speech which would be natural for a Portuguese speaker who is not absolutely fluent in English. I made the assumption that, being a lady, Amália would have had a little bit less practice than her father who does business with the English all the time, or her brother who sat in army camps with English soldiers. Naturally we wanted her to be fluent, but we intentionally built charming little patterns into her speaking which give her away as a non-native speaker. I chugged right ahead by using the patterns I would have assumed for a French speaker, and Rita had to correct me in nearly every instance.

 

Rita: The masculine/feminine use of words was the most frequent mistake as it is one of the biggest differences between English and Portuguese, and things like Meu flôr, became minha flôr, but also the use of the word yes when making a question. A portuguese would most likely use “no” to end the question instead of the “yes”. And in the end we actually ended up using a mistake I sometimes make when I speak English as a way to “imperfect” Amália’s speech. It is something I know that is incorrect, and I never make the mistake when I’m writing  but when I’m speaking really fast my Portuguese brain makes me say things like “I did heard you” instead of “I did hear you”, that is also because of the differences between the languages, which I find really interesting.

Working on the Portuguese with Nicole was one of the things I loved the most during our collaboration, she is a very curious person who is always willing to learn but also share a lot of knowledge. We had lots of fun discussing linguistics and cultural references 🙂

 

Nicole: That was my favourite part, too! I was thrilled that Rita was willing to take the time to offer constructive feedback and to help me get the details right. We both wanted to honour Portuguese language and culture in this small way. We ended up knowing much more about each other and it was a joy to share both the differences and the similarities of life in modern Portugal and rural Oregon.

I suppose, in the end, those are some of the things Richard and Amália learn to negotiate as well, when they decide that those barriers between continents and people really don’t matter that much.

Thank you, Rita, for your friendship and for the heart you have invested into bringing this book to life.

 

Rita: I’m the one who should thank you for the friendship and the opportunity to work on such a beautiful project with you Nicole! 

I think it is befitting that we close this blog tour with the final moment of the writing process, the memorable moment when Nicole Clarkston wrote Fim (tTe End).

Nicole: That was the most satisfying word I have ever written! This book was a long journey, and it challenged me in new ways. I am delighted to know that it has touched so many already. For me, it enriched so many relationships, from my collaboration with Rita on the plot, with Janet on the stunning cover and many of the emotional elements, with Debbie and Don and Joy and Joana on the read-through process, and with all the lovely bloggers who opened up their pages. I have been blessed with new friends as well, and to everyone I express my most heartfelt gratitude for your support.

 

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An abandoned bride

    A missing man

        And a dream that refuses to die…

Pride and patriotism lend fervor to greed and cruelty, and Fitzwilliam Darcy

is caught at the centre of a decades-old international feud. Taken far

from England, presumed dead by his family, and lost to all he holds dear,

only one name remains as his beacon in the darkness: Elizabeth.

Georgiana Darcy is now the reluctant, heartbroken heiress to Pemberley,

and Colonel Fitwilliam her bewildered guardian. Vulnerable and unprepared,

Georgiana desperately longs for a friend, while Fitzwilliam seeks to protect her

from his own family. As the conspiracy around Darcy’s death widens and

questions mount, Colonel Fitzwilliam must confront his own past.

An impossible dream, long ago sacrificed for duty, may become his only hope.

Newly married Lydia Wickham returns to Longbourn- alone and under

mysterious circumstances. Elizabeth Bennet watches one sister suffer and

another find joy, while she lives her own days in empty regrets over what might

have been. Believing Darcy lost forever, she closes her heart against both pain

and happiness, but finds no escape from her dreams of him.

.

If you can’t resist and want to purchase the book immediately, you can find at:

Amazon.com

Barnes & Noble

 

 

Nicole Clarkston is offering a giveaway of 10 eBook copies of These Dreams to readers commenting the posts throughout the blog tour. This is the final stop, so don’t miss this last chance to participate in this international offer.

To enter the giveaway comment the post and click here.

 Good Luck everyone!

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Filed under Amalia, giveaway, Guest Post, JAFF, Nicole Clarkston, Pride and Prejudice