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Interview with Marsha Altman

August 5, 2009

Recently author Marsha Altman agreed to answer a few questions for my blog. Marsha has just released her novel, The Plight of the Darcy Brothers, a sequel to The Darcys and the Bingleys, which is a sequel to Pride and Prejudice. And it is a series; book 3 (Mr. Darcy’s Great Escape) is due out in February 2010. Please help me in welcoming Marsha to Stephanie’s Written Word!

Remember, there is still time to enter my giveaway of a signed copy of The Plight of the Darcy Brothers! Check here for more details!

What is your writing process? 

I usually have the storylines invented in my head before I sit down to write – where they come from, I have no idea – but the specifics may not be laid out except for certain scenes. I always write in chronological order, so sometimes racing the plot to get to the scene I really, really want to write is the only way the story gets written. One entire book in the series was bout 80% me propelling the characters to one scene in the woods. 

What are some of your inspirations?

I watch a lot of television and movies and I read a lot. I know that’s not a very creative answer, but I’m always surprised to see how something I’ve been into makes its way into the story, however improbably. I usually don’t notice it until six months later, when I sit down to read the story, and I’m like, “What is ____ doing in there? Oh right, I had just seen that movie, that’s what it is. Well, thank goodness it works.”

 How long it takes to write a book?

1-2 months. It depends if I’m fully devoting myself to the book or doing it while doing normal life things, like leaving my apartment or going to work or taking a class or something like that. Some books have taken 3, mostly because they were slowed down by some non-literary thing going on in my life. I can’t think of any off the top of my head that took 4, though I’m probably wrong there. Revision takes much, much longer, mostly because I hate revision.

If the book deals with an unfamiliar topic/culture and I have to do a ton of research before writing it, add an additional 2-3 weeks to that counter. 

What does your office/writing space looks like (with pictures if you like to share)? 

I decided, as my desk isn’t that interesting, to include one of my many, many bookcases. I have a tiny apartment in New York, so the place is pretty much bookcases, and most of those books are history books.

 Marsha's bookshelves

What motivated you to become a writer in the first place?

I dedicated my first book to the cheetah kid, who got me writing in the first place. I don’t remember his name, but in 3rd grade library class there was some kid who wrote a one page “book” about a cheetah, and the librarian spent most of the class praising this kid. I thought to myself, “I can beat that kid” and spent the next year writing a 24-page story about an alien who came to earth named Joey. I’ve been writing ever since. I don’t think there’s ever been a period in my life since then where I wasn’t actively or occasionally working on some writing project.

Writing to me is a bit like breathing. I don’t notice when I’m doing it, but I notice when I stop. 

About the Author

Marsha Altman is a historian specializing in Rabbinic literature in late antiquity, and an author. She is also an expert on Jane Austen sequels, having read nearly every single one that’s been written, whether published or unpublished. She has worked in the publishing industry with a literary agency and is writing a series continuing the story of the Darcys and the Bingleys. She lives in New York.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. August 5, 2009 10:55 am

    What a fun interview. I wish I had that type of imagination to write novels. Revision is no fun that is for sure.

  2. August 5, 2009 11:33 am

    Great interview! I’ve been wanting to read The Darcys and the Bingleys for a while now, and with a sequel out I’m even more excited!

    I love hearing the nitty gritty, mundane stuff writers do. It’s easy to think of the process as this mystical thing, accessible to only a few mortals, so hearing authors describe how they work is very encouraging to me lol.

  3. August 5, 2009 12:25 pm

    What a terrific interview! I can’t believe that she’s able to write a whole book in just a few months! I love the photo of the bookcase. I interview authors, too, for my blog, and may ask for similar photos from them in the future. (Right now I have an in-depth interview with author Linda Weaver Clarke on my blog.)

  4. justicejenniferreads permalink
    August 5, 2009 1:23 pm

    I’m actually really new to Austen – I’m planning to read Pride and Prejudice ASAP. Ive seen the movies, but I just never got around to reading the book *horrible me!*
    I didn’t know there were so many sequels to the book. Sounds like more reading – can’t wait.

    I love what she said about writing being like breathing. Beautiful quote – love it!

  5. August 5, 2009 7:10 pm

    Wonderful interview! It’s great to learn that other historians write fiction (I’m in grad school for history myself), and to see that photo of her bookshelf. It gives me hope!

  6. August 6, 2009 7:17 pm

    I love the photo of the bookcase. That looks like all of my bookcases. Great interview.

  7. kellyd permalink
    October 3, 2009 1:32 pm

    My mom edits her books!! my mom’s name is in the acknwledgments! my name is kelly scott and the plight of the darcy brothers is dedicated to me and my sisters madison and hannah!

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