I'm pleased to have Lynne Scott visiting my blog today to talk about her book, Mr. Hurst's Ambition
Violet Bedford: You’ve written several screenplays and novels that are all contemporary. What made you decide to write a Pride and Prejudice spin off ?
Lynne Scott: It certainly wasn’t planned, that’s for sure. Most of the contemporary stories I write take place in a “world” that I know well and understand. That’s not true of England in the 1800’s, obviously.
Then I read Eric Metaxes’ excellent biography on William Wilberforce, who worked tirelessly for abolition, going against the class standing of his family and being political when politics was unfashionable. Not long after that, I read “Coming Apart,” which is a nonfiction work that, among other things, discusses the need for meaningful work, and particularly among men.
During a conversation with friends regarding the limitations women of the Austen era faced, it made me wonder if men may also have constraints. Once I felt like I had a topic to explore in a story, I was ready to write.
Violet Bedford: So once you decided to write a Pride and Prejudice variation, why did you choose Mr. Hurst, of all people?
Lynne Scott: Two years ago when I first became aware of Austen fan fiction (I know, I’m late to the party), a friend and I discussed who was the most unlikely to have their own story. I chose Mr. Hurst. With the idea that I had in mind, he was the perfect candidate.
Violet Bedford: Do you see Mr. Hurst as a romantic hero?
Lynne Scott: HAHAHAHA…oh, you’re serious? Um, no, I don’t think he’s a romantic hero in the way a reader may think of in a typical romance novel. In no way is he a Mr. Darcy.
However, since Mr. Hurst dared to make some changes and challenge convention, I’d call him a hero. Austen said the Hursts were newly married. I thought maybe some of the changes Mr. Hurst tried to make may carry over into appreciating his wife as they started their life together. Hopefully his wife found him romantic.
Violet Bedford: What is it about Pride and Prejudice that makes it so appealing?
Lynne Scott: Jane Austen was wonderfully witty and her writing jaunty and fresh. It’s just a pleasure to read. It’s such a relatable story. Who hasn’t experienced a time when they were wrong or were wronged by a false first impression? When I first met the man I eventually married, I did not like him at all. It was my own pride that got in the way.
Nearly all the characters in Pride and Prejudice are entertaining in their own right. I think that’s why people endlessly try to give them their own stories or vary the one Austen wrote.
Violet Bedford: What do you think Jane Austen actually thought of Mr. Hurst?
Lynne Scott: Perhaps he was simply a foil for Elizabeth’s sober and careful sensibility. Since he was married to the sister of Caroline Bingley, he was one more of that party that was antagonistic and reflected a lifestyle for which Elizabeth held with disdain.
Violet Bedford: In the film adaptations, Mr. Hurst is generally portrayed as either drinking or napping, and not in a dignified way. Is that fair? Is that how he was portrayed in the book?
Lynne Scott: One may argue that if Caroline Bingley was your sister-in-law, drinking and napping may be a person’s only defense. One of the fun aspects of writing a Pride and Prejudice inspired novella was reading it with a pen in hand, to dissect what Austen wrote about him and also Louisa and Caroline. Yes, the film adaptations are true to the book, though he never had a speaking line in quotes, just something he muttered about soup. Somehow I imagine Austen laughing when she wrote that.
Violet Bedford: What are you working on now?
Lynne Scott: I’m back to contemporary fiction right now. In fact, it is the very first story I wrote almost ten years ago but it was written in script form.
Violet Bedford: Anything else you’d like to share with my reader(s)?
Lynne Scott: Writing in a different time period and in a different voice was really enjoyable. I learned a lot from the additional steps it took. If a person is considering giving it a try, I strongly urge them to be daring!