After reading Searching for Captain Wentworth, her Persuasion based just released novel I had some questions for Jane Odiwe. She gladly accepted to answer and even granted you readers of My Jane Austen Book Club a signed paperback copy of the book. Leave your comment + your e-mail address, where we can contact you in order to be entered in the giveaway contest. It's open internationally and ends on 21st September.
Hello Jane and welcome back to My Jane Austen Book Club. I’ve just finished reading your new Searching For Captain Wentworth and I’ve got some questions for you. First of all, congratulations on another delightful Austen-inspired novel. I loved reading it. Then, to my first question: are you still searching for your Captain Wentworth?
No, I’m very lucky - I met my Captain Wentworth when I was 17 - there were a few obstacles in our way at first, but we overcame them and have been happily married for many years!
If you had to choose between Captain Wentworth and Mr Darcy?
Captain Wentworth every time! What’s not to love? He’s a man in uniform, a self-made man and writes an amazing love letter! Mr Darcy can be a bit of a stuffed shirt, though I love the way he realises his mistakes.
You hint at the fact that Persuasion was inspired to real experiences in Jane Austen’s life. Where does that idea come from?
Well, I actually went back in time and spoke to her! : ) I love weaving fact and fiction together - there’s so little written about Jane’s life that a novelist can really use her imagination!
After writing sequels for Sense & Sensibility and Pride & Prejudice, you aimed at something different for Persuasion. How different is your new book from your previos ones?
It’s very different. This one involves time travel and has a modern heroine going back into the past. There are certainly characters that you will recognise from Jane Austen, but I drew on my imagination for my heroine Sophie and hero Josh.
Which was the scene you most liked to write in Searching for Captain Wentworth ? Which was/were instead the one/s which gave you hard time?
Ooh, there were so many I loved writing - but perhaps the one I enjoyed most was when Sophie first travels back in time. I always love writing ball scenes too! Most troublesome were the scenes where I had to check that nothing had been left in the past when it was supposed to be in the present and vice versa. I can’t tell you how many edits this book went through!
I’ve recently been to Bath and Lyme Regis and it was a magic experience. You really feel Jane Austen alive in those places. You seem to know them very well as they are the settings of Persuasion but also of your Searching for Captain Wentworth. Can you tell us about your experience there?
I’m very lucky to live in Bath a lot of the time - it’s been a favourite place of mine ever since I read Persuasion. Some of the ghostly encounters Sophie experiences have happened to me - if there is a ghost in my flat it’s a very friendly one! I can see Jane Austen’s house and garden from my window so I really had to write this book!
I’ve been going to Lyme since I was a little girl with my family - I even have film of me that my father took of us walking down the High Street. Bath and Lyme are two of my favourite places in the whole world!
Without giving away major spoilers, can you briefly describe the two gorgeous heroes in your book? Are they inspired by anyone real?
Josh is a perfect hero- tall, with dark curly hair, the kind of man everyone wants to know. He’s sensitive and kind and loves reading Jane Austen! Josh is inspired by my husband - he loves Jane Austen’s books and is a true gentleman. I remember when we met at college the first thing that impressed me (apart from the fact that he was very handsome) was the way he always stood up for me and opened doors. He’s my soulmate and I love him more than words can say! My other hero, Charles Austen is based on what I’d read about him. I have a little reproduction miniature of him and have always thought he’d make a wonderful hero with his wavy hair and aquiline nose. I’ve always thought Persuasion was a tribute to Jane’s sailor brothers - she clearly admired them and I hope that comes across in my book.
What about the heroine, instead? Which Austen heroine does she resemble most? ( I can’t find her very Anne-like)
No, she wasn’t meant to be Anne-like. I’d like to think she’s a bit of a mixture of all of Jane’s heroines - all of the good parts and some elements of human frailty.
My next question is about the Jane Austen portrait you mention in your book. You sound really interested in it. How does that come about?
The portrait in my book was inspired by the Rice Portrait. I’ve been lucky enough to see this portrait for myself and hear all about its history from the owner, Mrs Henry Rice whose husband was an Austen descendant. I love this painting and I really wanted to include it in my novel.
If you could time travel like Sophia and live for once in Jane Austen’s time, what would you like to do?
I’d love to go to a ball - I’ve always loved dancing!
What is next for Jane Odiwe?
I’m working on another time travel book inspired by Pride and Prejudice! Hopefully, it will be out next year.