This book was begun several years ago, as part of a group project. My sister started the project and I knew most of the other members personally, some for years. So I agreed to join. There was much defensiveness last year because I portrayed some of the characters in my book as immoral, something that wasn’t done in any of the other VJA books I’ve read so far. Even my mother, who was editing it, spent literally 75% of the editing time, on a deadline, going over and over and over and over and over and over and over a few chapters early on which showed parties, a scene between Myrtle and Horace, and some slangy 30s dialogue. I had to really push her to move on and I could not see why all the concern was necessary. All of this material was light and unimportant because the characters were the same without it—cavalier, often selfish, and immoral.
But that IS the interest in Mansfield Park. I didn’t take Mansfield Park because I related to these characters. It was because MP is a story that’s rarely told right. Rarely told truthfully. Every movie, every retelling seems to get something wrong. And since finding the story that’s really in the story is what I do, I felt the task was mine since I had to join the collection. This was the story that I found inside Mansfield Park. It's a book about virtue, that’s true. Everyone praises virtuous Fanny Price or has obvious motives for bashing her. But it’s also a book about vice and most of the people interested in the book do want to discuss that side of behavior. I looked into the mirror of the story and this is what I saw. It’s not a personal reflection on me or my writing. In fact, this is my only story ever to show such characters. I don’t usually take on books with that as their hidden “true story.”
I didn’t feel the book ultimately had a lot to say in the vintage era. That’s why I switched it this year. MP was contemporary in Austen’s time and unlike some of the others it really, really needs that setting. And since telling the true story is what I do, I want Bellevere to do the best possible job of that while it’s still being marketed.
And there will be more updates.
I live surrounded by cultivated fields that rapidly give way to wild flowers, wild plants, and wild life. I get most of my ideas while drifting innocuously around my house and some of those ideas get into print.