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