Saturday, 21 July 2012

Lacing Honor and Integrity - Interview with June Williams + Giveaway

Today I am happy to welcome to Ex Libris debut author June Williams, who is celebrating the release of her first book, Honor & Integrity: A collection of Pride & Prejudice-inspired short stories, written with Aimée Avery and Enid Wilson. Some of you may know Aimée from her novel A Little Bit Psychic, and Enid is a regular friend of Ex Libris. Today I was curious to learn more about June since this is her first time in indie publishing. So join me while I interview June, and you could also win a copy of her first book!

Stella: Hi June, welcome to Ex Libris!

June: Thank you, Stella, for hosting me today. This is so strange, to be on this side of the interview; I'm used to reading interviews with real published authors. Oh, wait – now I am one! My name is on a real book cover. Freaky.

Stella: Lol, it sure must be quite bewildering. Congratulations! Would you please tell us a bit about yourself and your co-authors?

June: We met on an online Jane Austen community, united by our love for JA's novels and characters. We kept commenting on each other's fanfiction stories and became friends. Enid lives in Sydney, Australia, where she works in marketing. Aimée is in Santa Barbara, about five hours south of me in California; she's a professional graphics artist, which explains the beautiful book cover design. I'm in Silicon Valley doing freelance writing, including technical manuals and websites.

Stella: With all of you living around the world how do you "get together"? Do you use Skype and Instant Messaging to communicate with each other?

June: No, we use email. We could use IM at some point; Enid is 17 hours in our future (can’t resist this line as we have created a time travel story in the collection), but Aimée and I are often awake then because we're both insomniacs. Aimée's husband is finishing a tour of duty in Afghanistan; her Uniformed Integrity story is dedicated to him and is set on a military base. She'll sleep better after he gets home safely.

Stella: There are so many Jane Austeninspired works out there. What makes your stories different?

June: We didn't try to rewrite Jane's stories, but instead created "what-if" scenarios – what if Darcy’s mother was still alive, what if Darcy was an Air Force officer, what if Wickham was a psychopath. We wrote about minor characters – Lizzy's younger sisters, Colonel Fitzwilliam – and went wild with a time-travel story that the three of us wrote together. Actually, we wrote that story serially as a tag-along; Aimée started it without telling us a word about her plot, Enid did the second part by sending Jane Austen’s couple to some strange places without preparing me for it – that's where it takes a little steampunk twist, and then I wrapped things up, my way. Very challenging!

Stella: Oh that sure sounds interesting, and like loads of fun. But don't you have different writing styles?

June: Oh, yes. That wasn't the biggest challenge, though. Enid and Aimée are veterans, but this was my introduction to self-publishing. It is very different from posting on fanfiction forums, where writers can take months – even years – to finish a story. On forums, reviewers usually are positive and encouraging. But in indie publishing, there's a lot of new stuff to learn – formatting the book for Amazon, Lulu, and Createspace, and doing our own "book tours" through guest blog posts.

Stella: Just like here today.

June: And we deeply appreciate your having us today!

Stella: My pleasure, I like spreading the word about interesting new books to check out. And the more books that authors write, the more books I have to read. *whispers* Serious bookaholic here.

June: We share your addiction.

Stella: Now tell me about the cover design. What's this gold lace for – is it related to one of the stories?

June: That's from my Regency story about the three younger Bennet sisters. You know that writers often torture our characters. In this story, Kitty goes through the wringer.

Kitty’s school was in Queen's Square, Bloomsbury. She decided to go to a particular store that all the schoolgirls liked, and quickly return to school.

"I want rose-pink ribbon. My sister says this is a good color for girls my age. She is Mrs. Darcy of Pemberley, and they have a house in Grosvenor Square." Kitty thought she would get more attention by mentioning the Darcy name. She was correct: the clerk suddenly became very accommodating and helpful, eager to show her more.

"This gold lace is from Belgium – very elegant, perfect for a ball gown for this Season. For you, this lace is only 20 shillings."

Twenty shillings was a week's pay for a curate!

"I shall ask my aunt to get it for me when I next visit her," Kitty said loftily, pretending that 20 shillings was nothing to her. She looked longingly at the lace before getting distracted by other items in the store. While the clerk assembled a selection of ribbons, Kitty touched bolts of fine silks, velvets, and brocades; but it was the one card of gold lace that kept drawing her attention.

The clerk cut her piece of ribbon and wrapped her package. Kitty went to take one last glance at the gold lace. She took her package and returned to her school safe and unmolested.

A few days later, Kitty was in Newgate Prison, charged with grand larceny – a hanging offense.

Stella: Kitty Bennet in prison – that's a quite shocking and completely new idea! Where did you get that?

June: Jane Austen's aunt was charged with grand larceny for stealing a piece of lace worth 20 shillings. Jane's mother offered to send Jane to stay with her aunt in prison while she waited for her trial to come up, but her uncle stayed with her instead at the prison-keeper's home. The trial was in the newspaper.

Stella: Wow, I never heard of that even though I'm quite the Jane-ite myself.

June: I know. Authors are encouraged to "write what we know" and a dramatic incident like that could have been in one of Jane Austen's novels, but maybe it was so embarrassing the family wanted it forgotten. In my story, this event happens before Kitty is able to be presented at Court, which was a big deal in the Regency era. A girl couldn't be presented unless she was of good character.

Stella: You're not going to tell us what happens, are you?

June: Of course not, but you can read more on Amazon – just click on the "Look inside" button. I can tell you that Lizzy and Darcy race down from Pemberley to help, and the news of Kitty's arrest spreads.

Stella: You're such a tease! That was mean *pouts* 

June: You bet! I guarantee there will be happy endings eventually, and Kitty does not get sent to Australia. All the stories in this collection have happy endings, mandatory for romance readers. When readers start caring about the characters, we cheer for the good ones and want them to be happy.

Stella: Thanks June for stopping by and telling us about these unique and very fresh P&P what f stories of yours! :-) 

June: Thank you, Stella!

June's debut book, "Honor & Integrity: A collection of Pride & Prejudice-inspired short stories," is now available in Amazon, Lulu and Smashwords.

Find Enid, Aimée, and June online at Facebook.

What if Mr. Darcy’s mother was still alive? What if the Bennet sisters had suitors who were unacceptable? What if Elizabeth didn't realize Darcy's identity? And what if three authors of Jane Austen-inspired stories put their heads together and challenged each other with creating stories which contain the words ‘honor’ or ‘integrity’?

This collection of nine short stories contains sweet, romantic and intriguing stories across Regency, fantasy and modern genres.

You can find steampunk, deception, manipulation, theft, murder, love, marriage, coffee and many more themes in this volume.

Buy at Amazon - Smashwords


Aimée, Enid, and June have offered an ebook of Honor & Integrity for one lucky commenter: 

All you need to do is leave a comment regarding the interview or answering June's question: tell us something about you and lace. 

Giveaway is open worldwide and ends on 30 July 2012!

Good luck!

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