Cass Grafton Interview

Interview by Cassandra Bates using questions submitted by region members and through social media.

Cass Grafton is the author of several books that are Pride and Prejudice variations, including A Fair Prospect (3 volumes) and A Quest for Mr. Darcy. She also has co-written two books with her friend Ada Bright about a time-traveling Jane Austen. Cass and Ada have a new book coming out March 9, 2021 which combines Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion: Mr. Darcy’s Persuasion. Cass joined our region for a long-distance interview about reading, collaborating with other authors, and her writing process.

Have you seen the Bookworm Pill Meme?  The choices are 1) Amnesia Pill (read a book as if never read it) 2) Sacrifice Pill (revive dead fictional character) 3) Love Pill (fictional character falls in love with you) 4) Life Pill (bring fictional character to life) 5) Travel Pill (visit any fictional world) 6) Body Pill (change bodies with any fictional character).  Which two would you choose and for which books or characters? 

No, I haven’t seen it, but what fun!

So, instinctively, I went with number 2, reviving Sirius Black from the Harry Potter novels! Broke my heart when he died (hope that’s not a spoiler for anyone)! And, I realised I would love to read Pride & Prejudice for the ‘first’ time again, so I’m opting for number 1 also.

Any other 18th or 19th century women writers whom you love to reread?

I enjoy Elizabeth Gaskell – love, love, love North & South, Wives & Daughters and Cranford. Her Life of Charlotte Brontë is also fascinating. Enjoy the Brontës too, though I’ve only re-read the most popular novels.

I have read some of George Eliot’s novels, but I generally find her stories too depressing to re-read (which is funny, because you’d think with her capacity for a rising death count, Elizabeth Gaskell would be depressing too, but I love her stories! Must be all in the telling).

Switching between writing on your own and writing with a collaborator…does that cause any issues?

Not at all. Ada Bright and I both have our solo projects ongoing, but now and again we love to write together. It depends when the timing is right. Last year, we both found it tough to write contemporary, because we didn’t want to write about the present situation, so we decided to go back in time and write Mr Darcy’s Persuasion instead.

 I loved the Cornwall book…there seemed to be some Austen elements in the book?

Thank you! I’m so pleased you loved it!

Funnily enough, I didn’t think there were Austen elements (beyond some of the chapter quotes), but a couple of readers emailed me afterwards to say they saw parallels, and someone also told me they could ‘hear’ Colin Firth’s voice when Oliver was speaking.

That’s quite lovely, but in actual fact, I was imagining Richard Armitage for Oliver all the time I was writing (it was no hardship, honestly!) and there’s even a scene in there that is an homage to the BBC adaptation of North & South!

What was/is your research process for writing Regency?

Reading, mainly!

I discovered Jane Austen at school, read all her novels, partially finished works and then book after book about her life, and continue to buy and absorb them now (many years later).

With the time travel novels, there was a lot more practical research, as we were writing about a real person and the second in the series is set in Chawton in 1813. I had a behind the scenes tour of Jane’s house when it was closed, where I was told about the layout of the property and gardens back in early 1800, spoke with several people locally, including Jeremy Knight, whose family were the last of Jane’s descendants to live in Chawton (great) House, and was given maps of the village at that time.

I also read as many accounts as possible about Jane’s life in Chawton. It was fascinating!

We also have an excellent editor in Christina Boyd, who pointed out the number of words we were using which were mainly Victorian in origin and not in use in Regency England!

What if any was your inspiration for the relationship of Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy in A Quest for Mr. Darcy?

This is a tricky one, because I can remember where the inspiration for the story struck (whilst sunbathing on a beach in Portugal many years ago), but less so the trigger for the relationship between the leads.

Part of the stimulus was a line in the first Austen-inspired book I wrote, A Fair Prospect, where Elizabeth says something along the lines of, ‘when I return to Longbourn, I will probably find my father is planning to relocate us to Derbyshire’, and ever since I’d written those words, I wanted to set story there—setting is very important to me when I write.

I don’t know if anyone who has read Quest has noticed, but Elizabeth doesn’t appear in the story until Chapter Ten! I felt she would bear Darcy considerable resentment at first, but I did enjoy having her come to realise what a good man he is. Perhaps it’s only me, but I feel Elizabeth needs to suffer a bit, not just Darcy!

Can an extraordinary woman reform Mr. Wickham, perhaps an Elizabeth Bennet?

Short answer? No! lol
Personally, I like to believe everyone has some redeeming qualities. I think, had he married Elizabeth (can’t bear to think about it), she would have curbed some of his weaker tendencies, but within marriage in that era, the man was very much in control, certainly when it came to finances. I can’t help but think, with Wickham’s propensity for losing or wasting any money he gains, even if he managed to persuade someone of Elizabeth’s qualities to marry him, they would never have a harmonious union.

You write with Ada Bright; how do you manage that process? Do you pass the manuscript back and forth? Or do you bounce ideas off each other and take turns writing? 

We both work on every single scene. We tend to brainstorm on video chat (we live thousands of miles apart—Switzerland and California) with a 9-hour time difference, so we chat my early morning, which is Ada’s late night—our most productive times, respectively.

We will decide what the next scene is, and one of us will start it, then send it to the other, who works on it and sends it back and so on. Because of the time difference, we can be working on the story almost 24/7 if we need to.

By the time we’ve finished a book, we have each worked on every aspect, and often we can’t remember who wrote what!

What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?

Jane Austen—with whom I wish I was friends—has helped me become a better writer. She’s an educator. I feel as if I’ve served my writing apprenticeship under her guidance.

I am also lucky to have so many writer friends, across several genres and countries!

The greatest thing I’ve gained is the companionship of fellow writers, because it’s a very lonely profession! It’s so lovely to be able to meet (in person or virtually) and talk about the process, the challenges and to get support when you’re having a ‘moment’ and convinced you can’t write at all!

What is your favorite love theme for ODC – enemies to lovers, forced marriage scenarios or low angst love story? What makes Darcy and Lizzy, one of the most popular couple?

I think I favour enemies to lovers. I always thought I wrote low angst stories, but when I was posting the opening chapters of Mr Darcy’s Persuasion, a few people were getting a bit stressed!

Jane Austen is a master at her craft, and although there are varying opinions over which of her novels shows this best, I’ve always felt she was exceptional in creating Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy. These two characters have charmed and enchanted readers and viewers for centuries, and Pride & Prejudice still regularly appears at the top of the ‘best books of all time’ polls, here in the 21st century.

On the surface, Elizabeth and Darcy appear so different, but they have similarities they have to discover—about each other and about themselves. They have faults, which makes them human and therefore relatable to readers. You feel for them, even as they are making mistakes, and you long for them to have their happy ending.

I believe Pride & Prejudice may be the most romantic of Jane’s books (though I would do a shout out for Persuasion on that score too), even though it’s not strictly a romance novel. The way Mr Darcy changes for—and because of—the woman he loves, and works to save her family from ruin, even when there is no particular hope for him, is enough to make me swoon every time!

How did the story of ‘Mr. Darcy’s Persuasion come to your mind as a full story? Inspiration?

I’ve always wanted to write a crossover between these two novels, because they are my favourites, and once again, location became an influence. I lived in Somerset for 7 wonderful years in the 1990s. It’s a place very dear to my heart, much as it is to Anne Elliot.

With a co-write, it’s also important for Ada to have been to where a book is being set, so she can picture it, and she was familiar with the county. We used Montacute House as our Kellynch Hall (which we visited together in 2019)—you may know it as the Palmers’ house in the 1995 Sense & Sensibility film.

Getting Mr Darcy and Elizabeth to Somerset (separately and unknown to each other) was the easy bit! Both Ada and I love to write an element of mystery into our stories, and I had the idea for this one—which I can’t speak about because of spoilers—after which, we brainstormed the plot and off the story went.

The most rewarding factor for both Ada and I as the novel took shape was the friendship between Anne and Elizabeth—one we never knew we needed, but it felt entirely right. Anne, of course, is only 24 in Mr Darcy’s Persuasion, as it takes place immediately after the Netherfield ball in November 1811, three years before the events of Persuasion.

Do you like to listen to music while you write? Or create playlists for books or characters?

Yes! I always have music on.

If I’m writing historical, I use soundtracks from the Austen adaptations, but when I was writing the Cornwall novel, I created playlists for Anna from current music.

With the time travel novels, it was a mix. The first book was set in the present day, so Rose had a playlist of her own, much like Anna’s, but in the second book, it was back to listening to classical to set the mood for 1813!

When might we expect A Polkerran Village Tale Book 2? Book 1 was excellent. 

Thank you so much! I am really touched to know that.

If it hadn’t been for a certain pandemic, it would have been coming out now! I have another three planned, and I’m hoping to leap into working on the second as soon as Mr Darcy’s Persuasion is released—time to create a new playlist!

What do you find to be the most difficult emotion to write?

Anger! I don’t have much of a temper, so I find lighter characters easier to write. I love writing Colonel Fitzwilliam, about whom we know very little, but he’s easy to make into a fun person.

The only time I manage to write angry people comfortably is when Lady Catherine is being a pain in the neck!

Has writing for you become harder or easier during the pandemic?

At first, I couldn’t write at all. I struggled with all that was happening. That’s why I eventually asked Ada if she’d be happy to co-write a historical novel, where we could escape from the world for a while each day.

It helped enormously. Not only do we have tons of fun when we are co-writing, and laugh a lot during our chats, but it gave us both a focus.

Wow, thank you for some amazing questions! It’s so lovely to have such original ones to answer!

Fun, Interviews

Member Mondays: Elizabeth Bennet . . . Brink!

Photo Courtesy of Elizabeth Brink.

Welcome to another installment of Member Mondays! Every so often, we will share a profile of a region member, featuring answers from our questionnaire. If you would like to participate, please email Jane at! We want to hear about everyone!

This week our featured region member is Elizabeth Bennet . . . we mean, Elizabeth Brink!!!

Name: Elizabeth Bennet . . . I mean Brink
Location: Spokane, Washington

  • How did you become a Jane Austen fan? How long have you been one? I went to see a play of Pride and Prejudice in high school (age 16) and loved it! That sealed my fate.
  • Favorite Jane Austen novel: Persuasion, Pride and Prejudice
  • Favorite Jane Austen character: Anne Elliot
  • Favorite Jane Austen couple: Mr. Darcy and Georgiana Darcy, such a good older brother!
  • Which Jane Austen location would you most want to visit? The Lake district, even though Lizzy didn’t make it all the way there
  • Favorite JA Adaptation: 1995 Pride and Prejudice AND the 2009 Emma is SO GOOD!
  • Special Jane Austen items in your in collection? A picture of me on the Cobb in Lyme Regis pretending to be Louisa Musgrove, though not actually falling! (Editor’s note: a screenshot of the photo with caption and location is featured above!)
  • Any little Jane Austen rituals you associate with the books or movies, etc.? Not really, but what a great idea!
  • Favorite Jane Austen quote? “For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbors, and to laugh at them in our turn?”
    -Mr. Bennet, P&P
  • Best part about being a Jane Austen fan? The connection with my dad, he quotes Pride and Prejudice and then I jump in and finish the line.
Elizabeth and her father at the JASNA EWANID 2018 Jane Austen Birthday Tea at the Roosevelt Inn, Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.
  • If you could invite Jane Austen or some of her characters to a meal/tea, what would you serve? Who would you invite? What question would you want to ask Jane or a character? Tea and homemade gingerbread. NOT Mr. Collins! What enneagram number are you?
  • Biggest villain in a JA novel? Henry Crawford
  • Favorite JASNA EWANID events so far? The very first tea was so fun and the food was delicious! My napkin kept slithering off my lap like Harriet Vane’s in Gaudy Night.
  • Favorite place to read? Drink? Snack? The back deck in summer. Assam loose leaf tea. Any homemade bread.
  • Are there any other authors you recommend? Anthony Trollope, Angela Thirkell, D.E. Stevenson, Dorothy Whipple, Elizabeth Gouge, Elizabeth Fair, Miss Read
  • Hardback, paperback, or e-reader? Any and all. 🙂
  • How do you mark your place in a book? A literary heroine bookmark from the Carrot Top Paper Shop on Etsy.
  • How do you organize your books? By genre, though my English books are split on a different shelf.
  • Any other thoughts/comments on Jane Austen or JASNA EWANID? Loving all of it!

Thank you so much for participating, Elizabeth! We loved reading your answers!

If you wish you participate (and we hope you will!), please email us at Cheers!

Fun, Interviews, Uncategorized

Member Mondays: Diana S., Our Giveaway Winner!

As our region membership expands, we want to learn more about you, our members, so we have come up with a new thing: Member Mondays! We kind of kicked it off with our interview with author Pamela Aidan (read it HERE). Every Monday (or every couple of Mondays), we will be sharing answers from our “Member Mondays” questionnaire with a different member of our region. If you would like to participate, please email Jane at! We want to hear about everyone!

We are so happy to share answers from our 2019 Spring Giveaway winner Diana S. today! She is a newer member and her first event with us was our Spokane Northanger Abbey discussion meeting in February.

2019 Spring Giveaway winner Diana S., pictured at our recent Spring Tea in Pullman, Washington, with her prize!

Name: Diana S.
Location: Spokane, Washington

  • How did you become a Jane Austen fan? How long have you been one? Decided to give P&P another chance, fell in love. Twenty years ago. (Hated it in high school)
  • Favorite Jane Austen novel: Persuasion
  • Favorite Jane Austen character: Henry Tilney
  • Favorite Jane Austen couple: Admiral & Mrs. Croft
  • Which Jane Austen location would you most want to visit? Chawton Cottage. I’ve been to Bath, but years before I was a Janeite, so I’d like to go back and see it anew.
  • Favorite JA Adaptation: 1995 Persuasion, starring Amanda Root & Ciaran Hinds
  • Special Jane Austen items in your in collection? 1st editions of her juvenalia 1922, 1933, 1951. 1885 Northanger Abbey & Persuasion. 1890 Life of Jane Austen by Goldwin Smith. 1898 Letters of Jane Austen.
  • Favorite Jane Austen quote? There are too many brilliant quips to be able to choose just one.
  • Best part about being a Jane Austen fan? The sense of peace & fulfillment upon finishing one of her books. The feeling that all is well with the world.
  • Biggest villain in a JA novel? John Thorpe.
  • Favorite JASNA EWANID events so far? Northanger Abbey discussion and the annual tea. I loved them both!
  • Favorite place to read? Outside, on a sunny day with a slight breeze, in the garden, with a glass of wine. (Editor’s note: that describes today’s weather perfectly! Happy reading, Diana!)
  • Are there any other authors you recommend? Elizabeth Gaskell, Charlotte Bronte . . . the usual suspects. 🙂
  • Hardback, paperback, or e-reader? Hardback, preferably antique.
  • How do you mark your place in a book? A ribbon.
  • How do you organize your books? I guess by genres—music, art, gardening, but antique books are separate from modern.

Thank you for sharing, Diana! We hope you enjoy your giveaway prize!! If you would like to participate in Member Mondays, send us an email at!

Fun, Interviews, Uncategorized

An Interview with Pamela Aidan-Part II

Last week we shared Part I of our interview with Pamela Aidan, author of the “Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman” series. She will be speaking on “Creating The Regency World” at our upcoming tea on 28 April. Tickets are on sale through today, 22 April, so buy yours while you can on our Event Page.

We gathered questions from people on our social media channels and added them to a list of our own. Our questions are in italics and Pamela’s responses are in bold for easy reading. Thank you, Pamela!

-How much research do you do before you write compared to during the writing? What kind of outline do you do? 

Most of the research is done before so that I am immersed in the time and place. During the writing, the research pertains to fact checking or to getting more information on an idea that pops in unexpectedly.

-Were any of the characters you created based on people in your life?

    I used names from my family at various times, but the only character was one that was mentioned in passing, a Belgian boxer named Eugene Bleret who was modeled after a great-uncle.

-How do you make sure you stay true to the characters created by Jane Austen? 

Decades of reading and re-reading Pride & Prejudice and keeping the novel open on my desk as I wrote. I felt I knew Darcy inside out.

-From Michele: How did you learn so much about how a servant like a valet would function in the Regency world? (For example, in particular, Mr. Fletcher, Darcy’s valet, who Michele loves.)

    Lots of Masterpiece Theater viewing, probably. But Mr Fletcher is outside of the common way when it comes to valets. I reasoned that a person in that position would know most of the intimate details of his master’s life and thoughts just to be able to serve him well. Then, you have the kind of person Darcy is—what kind of valet would he require? Fletcher was a lot of fun to write and he almost ran away with the show!

-From Jane: Do you have any “rituals” when you are preparing to write? Such as, do you use paper/notebooks and pencils/pens? Computer? Do you write in a certain place? At a certain time of day?

I start on the computer and while writing the Trilogy worked first in a cold basement, then a warm little office at home, usually in the early morning.

Favorite tea or beverage to drink while writing? Snacks?

 Tea, of course! Earl Grey with milk and sugar.

-Do you have any unique or quirky writing habits?

    I love listening to Enya while writing.

-Have you made any “literary pilgrimages” to see Jane Austen sites? Or other authors?

Unfortunately, no.

If you could ask Jane Austen one question, what would it be?

I’d want to talk over Mansfield Park.

-What is one of your favorite experiences as a writer?

I’ve gotten many letters over the years thanking me for the Trilogy. Several testified that they read the books during a particularly difficult time in their lives and that the books helped them get through them. To be of assistance in that way is highly gratifying.

-The Spokane Public Library contributed a few questions:

      What are your best resources for research and getting into the mindset of the time/place?

    The best preparation for getting into the mindset was decades of enjoyment of Austen and Georgette Heyer novels. Heavily used resources were:

1.Our Tempestuous Day: a History of Regency England by Carolly Erickson

2.An Elegant Madness: High Society in Regency England by Venetia Murray

3.The Friendly Jane Austen by Natalie Tyler

4.Ruling Britannia : A Political History of Britain, 1688 – 1955 by Glyn Williams & John Ramsden   

5.English History in the Making by William L. Sachs

6.Prince of Pleasure:  The Prince of Wales and the Making of the Regency by Saul David.

7.Life in the English Country House: A Social and Architectural History by Mark Girouard

8.A practical View of Christianity by William Wilberforce   

9.Miniatures & Morals: The Christian Novels of Jane Austen by Peter J. Leithart

-Why did you choose to write in this voice? (Mr. Darcy, obviously) 😀 (Paraphrasing this one from SPL) Why does he do the things he does?

    My initial impetus was a desire to understand why and how Darcy changed. I don’t think Austen ever went into Darcy’s interior life beyond the considered statements he makes at Netherfield during Jane’s illness and his short analysis of his growing years during the walk to Oakham Mount.  He is absent for at least half of the book, during the time when his sea-change in beliefs about himself and his situation via Elizabeth would have occurred

-If someone can only buy 1 book on the time period, which book would you recommend?

    An Elegant Madness: High Society in Regency England. Venetia Muray. Viking, 1998. (Ed. Note: Oh, yes, I adore this one!!! -Jane)

-How much research do you do before you write compared to during the writing? What kind of outline do you do? 

Most of the research is done before so that I am immersed in the time and place. During the writing, the research pertains to fact checking or to getting more information on an idea that pops in unexpectedly.

And the question everyone wants to know the answer to! -From Charles: Do you have plans to pen a post Pride & Prejudice as you contemplated for an interview at the end of the third installment of your Darcy Trilogy?

I always hope. Now that I’ve retired, there’s more possibility for it to happen. I have some ideas but not enough to get started yet.

We hope you enjoyed this interview! Thank you, Pamela!!

[Read Part I]


An Interview With Pamela Aidan-Part I

There are only about 10 tickets remaining for our upcoming Jane Austen Spring Tea on 28 April, featuring author Pamela Aidan speaking on “Creating The Regency World,” so please purchase yours today if you want to make sure you are in attendance! You can do so HERE. We are delighted Pamela agreed to do an interview with us and happy to share Part I with you today! Part II will be up next Monday, 22 April, the last day to purchase tickets (provided they don’t sell out before).

We gathered questions from people on our social media channels and added them to a list of our own. Our questions are in italics and Pamela’s responses are in bold for easy reading. Thank you, Pamela!

-What’s your favorite Jane Austen novel? Who are our favorite characters? Favorite character you love to hate? Favorite location in JA’s novels?

Pride & Prejudice/ Darcy and Elizabeth/ Wickham / Pemberley

Which characters would you invite for dinner?

    Darcy – We’d talk over whether I got anything right in the Trilogy and then what his life with Elizabeth was like.

-If you could have a meal with Jane Austen, which one would it be? What would you have?

    After all the Austen movies I’ve seen, it looks like Regency era breakfasts are fantastic! Slices of those delicious looking hams and beef roasts and sweet rolls.

How did you become a Jane Austen fan? 

    Decided to read the “classics” in 10th grade. There was a series that published twenty or more of them and the first one was Austen. I’d loved Georgette Heyer and was astonished to discover where her novels came from.

-Do you have a favorite out of the novels you have written?

    The second and third are both contenders. The second because it is all my own ideas and the third because of some wonderful scenes that where so much fun to flesh out.

From TallFleur on Instagram: How do you balance what is lore of the times (modern beliefs of the Regency era) vs. what actually occurred? Where do you draw the line in appeasing readers who may mistakenly or rightfully call out one or the other in a review?

    As far as I remember, all the events in the Trilogy and Master Darcy were either ones that actually occurred or were plausible given the cultural currents during the time period. The possible exception might be the amount of “cant” or slang I employed in the speech of some characters.

How did your years as a librarian influence your writing? 

    The influence of years of librarianship was more in the publishing of my novels than the writing of them. Knowing the difficulty and time involved in bringing a book to publication, I looked for an alternative. It so happened that print-on-demand had burst on the scene several years before and here, also, my years of librarianship helped my husband and I to research and produce a product that stood well in comparison to those published by the big publishing houses.

Check back next Monday, 22 April, for the second half of the interview, including Pamela’s answer to whether she plans to write more novels!

[Read Part II]