The Bennet Wardrobe Stories, by Don Jacobson, offer readers of Pride and Prejudice Variations a different sort of experience: combining speculative fiction and romance in a blend which highlights secondary characters and their “lives” in the universe created by Jane Austen as moderated by the Bennet Wardrobe.
Readers frequently ask about the basics behind the series (currently at five books with three more major novels projected..anticipated completion is 2019). Herewith are the author’s replies.
Why the Wardrobe as a device to create a story arc in the Pride & Prejudice Universe?
Through my years of reading Jane Austen’s fiction, I found myself gravitating toward the side characters—particularly those in the greatest novel…Mary the moralizing sister…Kitty who coughed and wilted in the glare of her younger sister’s boisterousness…Lydia who was, frankly, just this side of being a slut…Thomas who could have done so much more as a father.
Austenesque writers have sought to carry on the Pride and Prejudice story by offering the younger sisters their own storylines. Epilogues usually place Mr. Bennet in the bowels of the Pemberley Library. Mrs. Bennet is rarely mentioned—and is often dispatched with a bout of apoplexy.
However, I felt that there could be different outcomes with each of these characters enjoying fulfilling lives once they had overcome the inner demons holding them back. Could they have done that by staying on the Regency timeline? Perhaps.
However, something tickled my brain—perhaps it was my adolescent fascination with science fiction mixing with my much more adult appreciation of the Canon—that placed the Wardrobe up in front of me. Now my protagonists could be immersed in different timeframes beyond the Regency to learn that which they needed to learn in order to realize their potentials.
I adhere to the idea posited by the great speculative fiction writer Robert A. Heinlein: that through the act of writing fiction, the reality in which that fiction exists is created. Thus, the writings of Arthur Conan Doyle created a universe in which Sherlock Holmes, John Watson and James Moriarty are as real as you are. So, too, therefore, is the universe created by Jane Austen.
What is the Wardrobe and how does it work?
The Bennet Wardrobe was created by the master cabinetmaker Grinling Gibbons in the early 1690s for the first Bennet to own Longbourn Estate in Meryton, Mr. Christopher Bennet.
Gibbons, a friend of Isaac Newton’s and a follow student of the universe, had divined a way to create a mystical transport device/system (similar to C.S. Lewis’ Wardrobe, J.K. Rowling’s Flue Network or Dr. Who’s TARDIS). He took those ideas and incorporated them into the Bennet Wardrobe. The Wardrobe is capable of transporting the user to any time in the future where the Wardrobe itself is present. Then the user can return to the exact same moment in the present.
However, the portal in time is only open to those who are of the direct blood lineage of Christopher Bennet.
So, the Bennet user can go to any time and place in the future they wish?
No. The Wardrobe is driven by an intelligence/understanding that employs what the users need…not what they want…as the determinant for the where/when for the solution of the request.
What controls the Wardrobe?
Gibbons discerned a series of “Rules of the Wardrobe” that appeared to be inviolable.
Chief amongst these, after the bloodline requirement, were that travel could only be accomplished to the future. No travel to the past prior to that instant was possible.
The second critical rule was that all trips needed to be round trips. Thus, while a user could travel to the future, the user’s next use of the Wardrobe would result in a return to the where/when from which the user departed.
As with any rule, important exceptions were discovered.
The Bennet Wardrobe books are best read in the following order:
The Keeper: Mary Bennet’s Extraordinary Journey
Henry Fitzwilliam’s War
The Exile: Kitty Bennet and the Belle Époque
Lizzy Bennet Meets the Countess
The Exile: The Countess Visits Longbourn
Amazon Author's Page
Find an excerpt on the May Excerpts Page .
Murder, Mayhem & Mystery - Sunday Chat with Carol Hedges
Today I am delighted to welcome author Carol Hedges to the blog ~
I began by asking her:
For your current series of crime novels, you chose Victorian England as the setting. What drew you to that period, particularly?
I LOVE the Victorians! Especially the 1860s ~ a period that hasn't been mined by modern writers, unlike the 1880s. It was the time of Wilkie Collins, Dickens and Mrs Gaskell. Trains, drains and the beginning of 'women's right'. What's not to love? I studied the Victorian period at University, and I lived in London for years ...so much of the architecture is still there to view, and I mine it extensively in the books.
Also, the historicity can be researched, as so many contemporary documents exist. I don't know how people who write fiction in a 14th century or earlier setting cope! Where do they go to check on things? How do they know they are being authentic? I do COPIOUS amounts of research, though I probably discard 93% of it. I'd be very nervous of striking out without the knowledge that I was writing 'correctly'.
Thanks for popping by to chat. Before you go though, tell us about your new release ...
Murder & Mayhem is the 4th in the series of 'Stride & Cully, Victorian Detectives' novels. Set in London in 1863, it focuses on a Bow Street officer, Inspector Lachlan Greig, and deals with the awful crime of 'baby-farming' where poor or unexpectedly rich young women turned their offspring over to other women to 'mind' on the tacit understanding that the poor babe would never be seen again.
The crime wasn't made illegal until much later. The LAW blamed the woman every time, and exonerated the man who'd raped her, or deserted her. Dreadful. I shed many a tear as I wrote, as I have two tiny grandchildren and it broke my heart to think of babies being drugged and starved.
Though it isn't all doom and gloom! There are some utterly mad anarchists, and two lovely 18 year old friends, Daisy and Letitia. The book came out at the end of September and has, to date, ten 5 Star Reviews on Amazon. Not bad for a series that nearly got consigned to the cyber-bin when my then agent told me the first book, Diamonds & Dust was ''unpublishable''!
Thanks so much Carol and best of luck with the new release.
On her BLOG
Buy Murder & Mayhem
From Robin Hood to Napoleon - author David Cook Casts some Light
Today I am delighted to welcome author David Cook to talk about his new release~
I asked him~
What first ignited your interest in history?
My father got me interested in history, not just Napoleonic. He would bore my brother to tears, but I was always interested. Apart from the repetition and even now says ‘did you know that…’ and I answer ‘Yes, Dad. I think you mentioned this once before.’’
History at school was the only subject I liked too. I’m still interested all those years later and sometimes wonder why I didn’t become a history teacher at school. I might have made a good one.
And how did that turn into a need/desire to write?
I read a journal written by a redcoat serving in the almost virtually unknown expedition to Egypt, 1801, where the army under Sir Ralph Abercromby, were sent to expel the French in case they threatened British interests in India. See - they had been stranded there after Nelson had annihilated their fleet at the Battle of the Nile. Napoleon had left and the remaining French were sort of abandoned. They weren’t much of a threat. They wanted to go home, but still put up a brave resistance to Abercromby’s army.
It was this expedition that intrigued me so I wrote The Desert Lion between 2006-2008. Only now have I got it professionally edited and will soon try to get it published down the traditional route, not self-published.
You write about different periods, The English Civil Wars, the Napoleonic Era and about Robin Hood. If you had to pick a favourite era/period of history, which would it be and why?
That’s a tricky one. Really, because they all fascinate. This week I’ve written, edited or read about all three. I love the legend of Robin Hood. It’s very English. I love this country and then you have this brutal conflict between King Charles I and parliament. I love the politics, the battles of the Napoleonic Wars, the sacrifices, the honour and age of musketry.
Can you tell us a little about your writing process - do you have a story first and then research around it, or does the history come first?
I write an outline, research for a long time. Gather notes and start writing. I then just let the words flow. That’s all I do. Different authors have their own ways. Sometimes I just need quiet, sometimes I need music or background noise.
Can you tell us about your latest release?
I wrote/finished Death is a Duty in April and fortune's good wheel allowed me to spend 9 days in June, Belgium, during the bicentenary anniversary of the Waterloo campaign.
I was sat on the battlefield, high up where Napoleon's grande battery tried to shatter Wellington’s ridge, enjoying lunch with my good friend Adam, on the 18th - the day of the battle- and I overheard some Scotsmen (in full military redcoat campaign gear) talk and I thought I hadn't taken that into consideration with Highlander Adam Bannerman, the story's protagonist. So I made some corrections on the spot. I also had a chance to revisit the parts of the battle which I had written but not seen in the flesh. I was pleased to see I'd been miraculously good with positioning troops in my head in relation to the positions of the actual battle, who could see what, distances, that sort of thing.
With that in mind I then went back to the other four stories and re-edited them on my return to the UK. I made corrections, re-jigged parts, expanded dialogues, and with the series now enhanced, I'm very pleased with the end result.
So Fire and Steel is an anthology of the first 5 books of The Soldier Chronicles historical series. The stories; all novella's, are snap-shots of life from a different soldier’s perspective in the period of long war 1793-1815. Fiction, but very much based on actual historical events.
Finally, what's next?
I’m still writing Book 6 in The Soldier Chronicles series. It’s called Tempest and it's about the last invasion of Great Britain. 1797, a French force managed to slip through the wooden walls of the Royal Navy and land in Pembrokeshire, Wales. There they wanted to unite the workers, spread liberty and revolutionary zeal and burn the city of Bristol to the ground. Can they be stopped in time? Tempest will be out, Spring, 2016.
Thanks David, for such interesting answers and good luck with the new release.
Find David on his Amazon author page HERE