Jeanna has written 6 books, 5 of which are Jane Austen inspired romances, and 1 original Regency romance. She is currently taking a short break from writing so she can get caught up on all the books that are on her to-be-read list. She doesn’t think that this is even possible. TBR lists are never ending. However, she is also confident that this hiatus will not last long. She enjoys going out to lunch with her friends, mommy-daughter dates, running and playing volleyball.
Welcome back to my blog, Jeanna. On the back cover of this novel, it says: If Mr. Darcy had met Elizabeth Bennet in his beloved Derbyshire, would he have recognized her as the love of his life instead of dismissing her as someone “not handsome enough to tempt” him? That is a very interesting concept. Please tell us about your new book.
One of the things that always made me curious about Austen’s Elizabeth Bennet was that she was so confident and self-assured. I found myself asking what makes a woman strong? I then thought of Rosa Parks, Helen Keller, Oprah etc. and decided that these women had to overcome huge obstacles and stand strong in the face of opposition. I decided that Elizabeth Bennet must have had to overcome major life trials to be the wonderful heroine that we love. To Refine Like Silver is an alternative path where Darcy meets his newest neighbor, Elizabeth’s Aunt and Uncle Gardiner, in Derbyshire before that dreadful Meryton Assembly where he says those awful words. He is immediately drawn to Elizabeth’s strength and confidence, a confidence she earned by enduring trials. Georgiana is suffering significantly with depression and Darcy turns to Elizabeth for help with Georgiana. From this point on, Darcy and Georgiana slowly begin to turn toward God for their strength, instead of themselves. In so doing, they evolve, and learn a valuable lesson; our trials do not define us, rather they refine us.
You love to write alternative paths for Pride and Prejudice. What intrigues you most about writing these stories?
I enjoy the beauty of seeing two imperfect people, who are perfectly matched for each other, self-correct their weaknesses and eventually become worthy of the love and respect from the other. I suppose I’m a sucker for reformation. Darcy and Elizabeth have to be the most famous literary characters written about in the last 202 years. I have read so many books and seen them fall in love so many times that I fear there can be no greater ending to a story than their eventual Happily Ever After. I also love that in order for these two characters to deserve each other, and for anyone to find a Darcy or an Elizabeth, one has to be a Darcy or an Elizabeth. My Darcy is out there and in order to find him and recognize him as my soul mate, I need to behave like an Elizabeth. We all have a heroine lurking inside us and we just have to polish our flaws and remove our impurities until we shine. I suppose writing about Darcy and Elizabeth gives me hope that my Mr. Darcy is out there looking for my fine eyes and impertinence (or whatever unique qualities I have!) that set me apart from every other 38-year-old, single mother of three.
You have now finished 6 books in this genre but this one is your favorite. Why?
Great question! For so many reasons! For one, it was really fun to use a biblical scripture as a plot foundation. I use Malachi 3:3, God “shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver”, and the blacksmith metaphor that it implies to carry my plot. The idea is that our trials can be blessings from God and often we do not see how He is refining us into better people. The main reason I love this book the most is because I used to suffer horrendously with major depression. I lived in that dark abyss for ten years. But those years were not wasted. I never saw it at the time, but I was in the refiner’s fire and was being buffed and polished into the shining woman I am today. This, in a way, is my story. I felt like because I survived those ten years, I had an obligation to help those who struggle with depression. I felt obligated to help share what I learned.
You suffered a great deal with major depression but have been depression free for over 5 years now… ever since you began writing. This is so interesting. Please tell us why you think your depression has gone away.
There are so many ingredients to the magic recipe. Before I proceed, I do have to say that my recipe may not be what works for you. I recently took up long distance running. I had an epiphany while running and pondering my current problems. It was, “Keep putting one foot in front of the other and keep heading in the right direction and you will get home.” Some of the things that worked for me was forgiving those who wronged me, learning to be grateful for the tiniest blessings, scripture reading, building close personal relationships with family and friends, getting out of unhealthy environments, exercising, finding fulfilling employment, the right cocktail of medication (and not giving up when it wasn’t quite right), and lastly, finding a way to do something hard and then rejoicing in my personal success. That last one was my writing. There are studies done that prove that using creativity is a great depression diverter. My writing has most definitely been my Xanax. I literally have not had one single day of depression since I started writing. Writing romance novels about true love and companionship only uplifts oneself. It makes you believe in the goodness the world has around you. You begin to see kindness and tenderness at every turn. That is a great way to fight off depression.
What a wonderful answer to depression! Where can my readers find you online?
My website, blog, and information about my books are located at www.HeyLadyPublications.com
Thank you so much Linda for hosting me and interviewing me about To Refine Like Silver. It really is my favorite book and have had such a great response from the readers so far. It impresses me that even the agnostics have enjoyed the messages. I think that is because forgiveness and gratitude and not religious topics, they are what make good people into better people. I hope you all get a chance to read it, or at least pass it on to someone who might be struggling with depression. Thanks again, happy reading! Good luck on the giveaway!
Thanks, Jeanna, for this wonderful interview about you and your book.