A Tale of Two Darcys

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a modern woman in possession of Free Time, must be wishing to read more about Mr. Darcy.”

IrwingWilesRussianTeaToday we sit down to tea with Robin Helm, author of Accidentally Yours. This engaging writer has launched the first book of a trilogy of novels (Yours By Design), featuring Mr Darcy as the Lead.

Or should I rather say, Mr Darcys. For there are two versions of that gentleman in this series, and both are involved in a most amusing time-switch. A modern American is transported to Regency-era Derbyshire.  And my own Mr Darcy (albeit darker and more willful) appears in modern America to take his place. 

Both of them are in love with Elizabeth Bennet. 

An intriguing premise, is it not?

I must ask, how did you come up with the idea?

“I beg your pardon, Miss Austen, but I have always thought the change in Darcy was nearly too drastic and certainly very sudden,” Robin Helm tells me. “Most people don’t change their total outlook on life and behavior in a matter of months. As I thought about it, the question came to me: What if he wasn’t Fitzwilliam Darcy, but another man entirely? All three books are told from each Darcy’s points of view.”

A 200-year step back is no small undertaking for an author. What have you learned from writing this book?

“I wouldn’t want to go back in time to live, but I would enjoy visiting there. I’d miss modern conveniences too much. The research for these books has shown me just how different life was in 1795. I like air conditioning, central heat, hot and cold running water, cars, telephones, and all the other ‘toys’ of our time.”

Frankly, my dear, I struggle with noise and the frantic pace of your modern life. The excessive violence and sensuality on the television is…startling.AccidentallyYours-RobinHelm

“All of my books are PG or PG-13. I don’t write explicit sexual scenes, but some of the themes may be upsetting to children. That’s code for, ‘Bad things happen, and people die.’”

Ah. In other words, Accidentally Yours is entertaining.  And is it amusingly authentic as well? That is, how do you manage the male point of view?

“I joined some football discussion forums to get a feel for how men talk when women aren’t around. I don’t post; I only read. It’s been an eye-opener — and more than a little addicting.”

Before publication, Accidentally Yours was serialized on a popular on-line fiction forum, Beyond Austen. Was this a help?

“One of the great advantages of posting a work in progress with Beyond Austen is that reader feedback helps you to know what’s working and what isn’t. Because of things that readers said, I have adjusted the plot and actually changed several things which I had already written. The plot took a very important and different twist.”

And how did readers respond to your two Darcys?

“Diana Oaks said, ‘Reading this is a bit like eating something that mixes sweet and bitter — like French Vanilla Ice Cream with a bitter Dark Chocolate topping. I’m enjoying both, but the intermingling of the two does interesting things in the palette of my mind.’”

RobinHelm-2What pursuits occupy your free time?

“I’m interested in a wide variety of things -– reading, cake decorating, molding candies, playing music (piano, organ, keyboard, flute, choir, praise band), playing games on my phone, watching and learning about football, coaching speech performances, and going to movies. I seem to have a particular talent for gaining and losing weight, too. Right now, I’m losing again.”

And what are you currently reading? For an author is always reading.

The Mortal Instruments. Next up, Divergence.”

What was the book that most influenced your life — and why?

“The Bible. What I’ve studied in the Bible has affected my entire world view. It is a part of who I am, what I say, what I write — it changed me forever.”

Which are your favorite films?

“I love period films made from books. Obviously, all the Austen works qualify, and I have several versions of each. I also have North and South, The Inheritance, Wives and Daughters, Little Dorrit, Jane Eyre, Daniel Daronda, and many others. I have a huge collection of Disney movies, mainly because I love the music. The way that it changes through the years is interesting. For instance, the music in Snow White is quite different from that in Beauty and the Beast.

“I’m also a science fiction nerd. I love X Men, The Avengers, The Mortal Instruments, The Twilight Saga, I Am Four, Beastly, Transformers, The Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia, Star Wars, Star Trek, and anything else with computer graphics. My favorite television shows are “Big Bang Theory,” “Person of Interest,” and “The Mentalist.”

I take it you are fond of music.

“There is no musical genre which I hate or love in its entirety. I have very eclectic tastes -– from classical to hip-hop. “Rap” is not music. It’s (bad) poetry set to music, but nobody sings. I actually like rap mixed with singing, like the song “Hall of Fame.” Right now, “Imagine Dragons” tops my list.

Tell us about your Guardian novels.
Guardian-RobinHelm
In Guardian, the first volume of The Guardian Trilogy, a Christian fantasy fiction series, the powerful and imposing Xander/Darcy, Chief of Guardian Angels, has protected exceptional humans from demonic forces over the course of ten millennia without losing a single battle. In 1989, he receives an unusual assignment which forever changes his ordered existence and alters the course of human history. The story follows his loss of the battle for his own heart while guarding supernaturally gifted Elizabeth Bennet from the evil which surrounds her. He struggles to resist her as she grows from a precocious child into a beautiful, intelligent woman. The veil dividing the physical and spiritual planes is drawn aside to reveal warfare on an unprecedented scale as Elizabeth develops her gifts and her guardian discovers his emotions.

How can we contact you or find out more about your books?

“I have an author page on Amazon, and you can find me on Facebook, Twitter @rmhelm, Instagram @jrhelm, LinkedIn, Goodreads, Jane Started It, and BeyondAusten.com. I cannot seem to get away from myself.”

What can we expect from you in the future?

The second volume of The Yours by Design series, Sincerely Yours, is already completed, and I hope to publish it in the late spring. I am presently writing the third volume in the series, Forever Yours, and have targeted a fall publishing date.

“After that, I’m thinking of writing an allegory, mystery, or comedy. I always seem to write my books in series, because I just can’t tell the whole story in one book.”

Robin RedbreastWhat can readers who enjoy Accidentally Yours do to help make it successful?

“Write reviews and post them on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords. Also, tell other people you liked my books. Facebook is a great place to do that.”

And now, before you go, do share a snippet from your book that is meant to intrigue and tantalize us.

~ Prologue ~

His anger ruled him as he spurred his horse to go ever faster, disregarding the danger in the grove. Too late, he saw the massive tree, and then he was flying. Weightless, he floated as time slowed to a crawl. Low branches tore at the skin of his neck and face, lacerating him with exquisite pricks of pain, and he felt each one.

He had no time to think. He could not stop himself. There was nothing he could grab, nothing he could hold, nothing which could save him.

The impact was almost a relief. He had finally stopped. A thousand infinitesimal lights sparkled behind his eyes, and the brilliance hurt, but suddenly, there was nothing at all. He was in velvet darkness. There was no sound, no sensation. He felt no more pain.

Is this how it feels to be dead? he wondered.

Blessed oblivion.

~ And from the end of the book: ~

So many things have changed since I arrived, thought Will as the servant opened the front door to receive them. What if Jane Bennet is now meant to marry Richard instead of Charles? Will Elizabeth forgive my interference then? How will Charles react to the knowledge that I kept him from Jane all those months? How will he ever accept that he lost Jane because of me, especially if she marries my cousin? Dear Lord, I know You have a plan for each of us. Please guide me in the right path to accomplish Your will. 

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8 thoughts on “A Tale of Two Darcys

  1. Susan Kaye

    I hear you about air conditioning and such being important. My bugaboos about the past are the dreadful state of over-the-counter pain relief and hot showers. I get antsy just watching those PBS shows in which they put modern families in period garb and homes. I have to grit my teeth to get through the The 1900 House.

    Anyway, I have a question: what was the most difficult part of switching Darcy’s when you were writing? Was it the dialogue, inner thoughts, or the other characters’ and their responses to Darcy? I know switching gears just between characters in a book without a time leap can be difficult. How did you bridge the difference that time makes in the protagonist?

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    1. Robin Helm

      My two Darcys are very different men in my mind, so going from one to the other isn’t difficult. What was more difficult was switching writing styles and spellings in alternating chapters. When Gayle did a final read-through, she found many of those errors. Then I read it again and found some more.

      One thing that helped was having betas who were more familiar with Regency writing than I am. I’ve read it over and over, of course, but this was my first effort at writing Regency. Another thing that helped was having the men keep their names. Will is Will throughout the book. Same with Fitzwilliam. They insist on keeping their names, and that emphasizes the differences in their characters. It helps the reader remember which Darcy is being written about, too.

      Regency chapters are in Regency language, and though modern Darcy’s thoughts are in the modern vernacular, I decided to keep the Regency spellings. Same with the modern chapters. Fitzwilliam thinks in the Regency vernacular, but the spellings are modern. That keeps the chapters consistent, and it kept me from having a breakdown. 🙂

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  2. Pingback: A Tale of Two Darcys | Todd DeanTodd Dean

    1. Robin Helm

      It’s a challenge, but I enjoy it, Laura. My time is more flexible than it would be with one full-time job. Also, my church has found a Worship Leader, so that interim job will be gone. I’ll have a little more time and a great deal less responsibility and stress. My mind will be clearer.

      I’m more creative in the morning. Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, I don’t have to be anywhere until afternoon. Thursday and Friday I work from 7:15 until 3:15. Saturdays are usually free, but Sunday is all day at church (3 morning services), choir rehearsal, and evening service. It’s not bad.

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      1. Laura Hile

        When I first started writing, I was working part-time (very early morning delivering The Oregonian newspaper in a retirement community — my sons were young!). I can remember the glorious prospect of having an entire school day (Fridays) to write.

        I began teaching at our school a year or so after that, and the escalation to full time was rough. So lovely to think you have those three days. Go, Robin, go!

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    1. Robin Helm

      Thank you, Betty. I thought Laura (sitting beside Jane Austen taking notes) did a great job! Also, thanks for buying a book and leaving a review. 😉

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Why yes, we DO want a piece of your mind. ;-)

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