Edmund Bertram was not the reason I did Mansfield Park. I'd never quite liked him--although I didn't care much and that was a good thing. I actually took Mansfield because its characters annoyed me the least. I preferred some of Austen's other novels as overall stories, but each of them had at least one major character that irritated me to pieces. Writing about those characters would be a problem, so I bypassed those books. Only two of them were options, but I would also have skipped the other three if they had been on the table. Edmund was the one character I didn't completely like in Mansfield Park, but he didn't drive me crazy.
The tricky thing was that he was a primary male character, so I couldn't minimize him. I planned for him to be an obligatory reference at first and early on I wrote more of a trite romance between Ed and Fanny (Faye) than currently appears in Bellevere because I felt he wasn't good for much else. But he sprang up large because he has a quite real, unexpected entertainment factor. In fact, his faults are what I began to enjoy about him. He doesn't have to be perfect or anywhere close to that in order to be a good character. He just has to be real--something that applies to Bellevere House as a whole. Its characters aren't whitewashed role models or even entirely rational, but from being a skeptic who had always had Austen in my face (not that I hated her, but my friends and family were way bigger fans) I've grown into loving her work. Bellevere is now my personal favorite of my books for plot and storyline. Not for characters, because that's Victoria: A Tale of Spain. But for narrative and that of course means I've put it above any of my own creative plots. To paraphrase John Dryden "I hope that in wrecking Jane Austen I have created an above-average self-published novel."
When I was evaluating my books, I began to reconsider Bellevere and Ed. Though he's unattractive at times, his absolute foolishness keeps him from being a boring character. He might even be funny as he drifts around trying to up his market value by being rude to the woman he actually likes and flirting with someone else. After all, what I've always tried to avoid was writing a boring book, not a bad one. And, thanks to Austen's vivid story arcs, this one will be worth reading no matter what I do with it. My first blurbs for the book, which feel almost cute since they were so long ago, said Ed was the one Faye would never admit she was in love with. I've discovered it's the opposite. Faye is the one Ed will never admit he's in love with. But since he is actually quite fond of her, it makes sense that he now spends most of the last chapter apologizing to her.😊
And there will be more updates.
Young Adult Fiction Writer
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