Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Guest Post: Sharon Lathan Reflects on Faith, Marital Unity and Writing

The Trouble with Mr. Darcy: Pride and Prejudice continues... (Pride & Prejudice Continues)Guest posting today is Austenesque writer Sharon Lathan, author of the Darcy Saga series of novels.  Her latest work, The Trouble with Mr. Darcy is the fifth title in this collection.

As a Christian, I wondered how her faith affects her writing and romantic story lines.  Here is Sharon's response to my topic request:

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Sharon Lathan
“The man said, ‘This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called 'woman,' for she was taken out of man.’ For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” Genesis 2: 23-24

In the beginning of my creative journey I was flying by the seat of my pants and wrote a short story recounting the wedding night of Mr. Darcy and his new bride Elizabeth. Primarily I wanted to explore the beauty of the first night as an intimate couple, highlighting the joy involved as well as the playful humor naturally occurring when two people cross that barrier for the first time. It was meant to be romantic and sensual but also lighthearted and fun.

I wasn't intentionally going for deep spiritual meaning or considering the scripture quoted above when I penned the initial five or so short stories. My conviction of commitment and happiness within the bonds of matrimony was the prime impetus for writing a sequel, that is true, and I knew my Christian beliefs served as a foundation for the marriage of Darcy and Lizzy. It was something I found lacking in the few continuations I had read in the online Jane Austen fan-fiction communities. If sequels were written they generally leaned toward the Darcys being unhappy, plagued with repeated trials, overwhelmed with misunderstandings, torn apart by secrets from the past, and similar plot lines. This isn't what I imagined for these wonderful literary lovers, nor is it what I typically desire for any couple who marry. I anticipate happily-ever-after!

Nevertheless, I did not overtly approach the story from a spiritual or religious perspective, and few would consider the Saga as Christian literature. The spiritual fundamentals were there and it was after some ten chapters - they were no longer "short stories" by that time - when I realized I saw no end in sight and felt it necessary to assign a title, that the above scripture from Genesis popped into my head. It was immediate and I simply knew it was what my title should be: Two Shall Become One.

Mr. & Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy: Two Shall Become OneThat simple but profound phrase, written by Moses as God described the creation of Adam and Eve, and later quoted and reiterated by Jesus to be recorded in the Gospels, encapsulated one vital aspect of my saga. Exploring the what, how, and when of becoming one flesh, delving into the practicality of being married and showing the fruits of God's promise, was originally what my story was all about.

I say "originally" not because I have changed my mind about the theme of my saga or strayed away from focusing on the positivity of marriage - not at all! Over time the story has grown to encompass history, the Regency world, a host of additional characters, a fair amount of drama and adventure, and much more. No longer is it simply about Fitwilliam and Elizabeth on their honeymoon! Yet as the tale has evolved and expanded, it provided greater opportunity for me to convey the truths founded by the Creator as possible within a marriage.

Truths such as - Commitment. Enduring passion and desire for each other. Respect and admiration. Tolerance for a spouse's annoying habits. Honesty. Sharing of one's deepest thoughts. Selfless giving. Happiness and delight in the companionship. Trust and protection. Familiarity, intimacy, peace. Working through the tough times to forge a stronger relationship and bond. Joy of parenthood. - Just to name a few.

For Darcy and Lizzy I wanted to show what I know is possible. Not only because God said it is so - and that is enough for me to believe it is possible - but because I live these truths with my husband of nearly twenty-five years. There was no reason for me to think the Darcys could not have the same. Perhaps even better since this is a storybook ideal! Why not? Should we not all strive for the ideal?

Moving beyond the central chord of matrimonial affinity that runs as a vein throughout all five novels, and the Christmas novella, is my heartfelt desire to write stories that are positive and uplifting. Sure there may be the occasional knuckle-biting trauma tossed in, but my saga is largely one that will leave the reader smiling, laughing, and with a warm sensation in their heart. We live in a world of sadness and tragedy that is nearly impossible to avoid. I like to think that my novels offer an escape but in a realistic way that will inspire and encourage.

Search for that man who will love you unconditionally! Believe that marriage can be passionate and healthy as the years pass! Learn how to treat others with respect and kindness! Experience the blessings of old-fashioned ideals! Appreciate the glory of propriety and modesty!

Do we not need more of that in our world? I think so and if my story, even in the tiniest way, can serve as a ministry to that cause then I am content.

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About the Author 

Sharon Lathan is the author of the bestselling novels Mr. and Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy: Two Shall Become One, Loving Mr. Darcy: Journeys Beyond Pemberley, My Dearest Mr. Darcy and In The Arms of Mr. Darcy. Sharon also wrote a novella as part of an anthology with Amanda Grange and Carolyn Eberhart, A Darcy Christmas. In addition to her writing, she works as a Registered Nurse in a Neonatal ICU. She resides with her family in Hanford, California in the sunny San Joaquin Valley. For more information, please visit Come to Austen Authors – where Sharon and twenty other authors of Austen fiction blog together.

The Trouble with Mr. Darcy: Pride and Prejudice continues... (Pride & Prejudice Continues)

The Trouble With Mr. Darcy by Sharon Lathan
Sourcebooks Landmark   ISBN 1402237545

Even charmed lives will encounter troubles along the way....

After a time of happiness and strife, Darcy and Elizabeth gather with family and friends in Hertfordshire to celebrate the wedding of Kitty Bennet. Georgiana Darcy returns from a lengthy tour of the Continent with happy secrets to share, accompanied by the newlywed Colonel Fitzwilliam and Lady Simone, who may have secrets of their own. The stage is set for joy until the party is upset by the arrival of the long absent Mr. and Mrs. Wickham.

Wickham's jealousy and resentment of Darcy has grown steadily throughout the years and Darcy rightly suspects that Wickham is up to no good. Darcy enlists the aid of Colonel Fitzwilliam to keep an eye on Wickham's activity, but neither anticipate the extreme measures taken to exact his revenge. Nor do they fathom the layers of deception and persons involved in the scheme.

George Wickham returns to Hertfordshire bent on creating trouble, and Elizabeth and her son are thrown into danger. Knowing that Wickham has nothing left to lose, Darcy and Fitzwilliam rush to the rescue in a race against time.  This lushly romantic story takes a turn for the swashbuckling when Mr. Darcy has to confront the villainous Wickham and his own demons at the same time... devoted as he is, what battles within will Mr. Darcy have to face?

Thanks to Sharon for stopping by The Calico Critic!


  1. Thanks for having me here, Laura! It is an honor to be on Calico Critic and to talk about my beliefs. I rarely get the chance so this has been a treat. I am traveling today with my sister so may not be able to check in as often as I would like. But I will do my best and will definitely answer any questions later on tonight. Thanks again, Laura!

  2. Sharon, I aboslutely loved everything you said! What is better than a Darcy and Elizabeth story? A HEA with a positive portrayal of mariage and how it should be, and can be! I hope many readers do find your novels to be encouraging and are able to see that this type of mariage is out there! Thanks so much!

  3. Thanks, Sharon! I have a first question for you: Have you ever felt pressure to entertain certain plot lines or details? It seems from your essay that you've had a decent amount of freedom.

  4. Thank you Jakki. Obviously I agree with HEA but it is nice to know others feel the same way. Lets spread the word and start a revolution! LOL!

    Laura, I have never felt "pressured" in a real way but I will say that when writing Austen there are certain expectations. Tackling Wickham for instance, which I do in The Trouble With Mr. Darcy, was something I knew was expected to occur. How I did it was up to me, but folks pick up a P&P related novel with these ideas anticipated. Fans have expressed many desires for certain characters that have encouraged me. Such as the continual interest in Dr. George Darcy from legions of George-lovers that has instilled the bravery needed to branch out in that way. Thanks for the question!

  5. Sharon - I was "inspired" to write my own P&P sequel (as yet unpublished) when I read a different sequel that angered me (by its graphic nature and disrespect of JA's characters and style). If I'd read yours first, I might never have felt the need to try and "set the story straight" myself. Kind of glad I didn't though, since I've enjoyed writing so much! Thanks for standing on high principles and best wishes for continued success. Shannon



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