Interview with D. W. Wilkin
I have hit my middle years, which I think gives me some perspective as an inhabitant of earth, as well as a writer. I see through these eyes the person I was twenty and thirty years ago and know now that that person then needed to go further in their journey to be complete. I see a lot of young people who need better guidance and advice then society has provided. And I read my writing from my earlier days and, groan…
I live in Southern California and have travelled all over the world. One of my grandfathers was English so have been to England more than once. I feel that I am well read, with a personal library of over 6000 books. (But then I haven't read every book in my library yet.)
You write historic novels predominantly, quite often set in the Regency Era. What is it about that particular time period that inspires you?
Writers of Regencies make the period much more charming than it was. We hardly ever write about the dingy side of London. We spend our time in drawing rooms and at Balls, talking of the Ton, which was the 10,000 most important people of the Empire.
When watching Lord Laurence Olivier portray Fitzwilliam Darcy in Pride and Prejudice, at first, I did not like the period, but it grew on me until I began to be a historical reenactor of the time. Even teaching the dances of the time, and attending balls now where we all dress as members of the Ton and dance the night away.
Can you tell us a bit about your latest book, Beggars Can't Be Choosier?
Beggars Can't Be Choosier is the story of an English Earl, Brian Forbes Pangentier, who is Cleaned Out, has no money. His father not planning very well, and all the estates are rented to pay his debts. Katherine Chandler inherits a fortune when her father dies, a man who made it in the India Trade. She is not of society, and is snubbed by it. She decides that marrying a lord is her way to respectability. And she can afford to do so.
Katherine and Brian begin to make a home and life for themselves, but once children arrive and the title is secured, part of their agreement is that they will separate and even divorce. Allowing both to look for love in their lives. That money could often buy a title throughout the ages is a concept often used. Divorce and separations also did take place in the Regency. (Though divorce had to be handled with extra care.) I don’t want to give the ending away, but seeing as this is a Regency Romance, you would be correct in expecting love to make its way into the tale at some point.
You've also written a sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice using some of the secondary characters. Was it intimidating or tricky to continue that particular story?
It was a little tricky. It had always struck me as a wonder why not more was said about the war that raged across Europe at this time. Austen had brothers who went off to serve in the Navy and became admirals as well. It took me some time to see that Jane had developed the book over the course of many years so leaving exact dates and the occurrences that were happening in the world out of her tales was easier for her.
With a man titled as Colonel and his father an Earl, it became clear in my mind that Colonel Fitzwilliam as we met him through Jane Austen’s writing must have been a man who led a regiment. His commission bought and paid for by his father. Adding to his tale, for it intrigued me (I also historically reenacted as a member of a Victorian Era regiment) was something I wanted to do. I also wanted to tell the tale of Kitty too.
The War however lasts a great deal longer than one season, and a young lady did not stay available for many seasons before being On The Shelf (too old to marry.) Using the device of letters from those home in London and England, to Colonel Fitzwilliam, away on the Peninsula fighting for England and Wellington, I thought would be a good device.
How do you research your books? What are the challenges in deciding which historic tidbits to include and what to leave out?
I have a degree in history from UCLA, so I used to start with my books on the Era. And then the internet became ever more powerful. I have a chronology of events of the Regency years at: http://www.regencyassemblypress.com/Regency_Timeline.html
But I also go to Wikipedia and then index articles there quite often for what I need. My historicals use the reality of history as a background to the tale. I have one story in first draft that is about the Peninsula War where the events make the characters secondary, so they are completely accurate and the fictitious additions are to make the tale into a story that is compelling to read.
Can you tell us about your writing process? Where do your ideas originate? Do you have a certain writing routine?
I start with an idea, that I then flesh out in a note, now on my iPad. I then take the note, which has become a plot outline with beginning, middle and end and start actually putting two to four sentences of scenes for each chapter of the tale. I use a program that emulates an index card. That imports into my writing program and I can see, as I start writing each chapter, my plan for it in the upper right of the screen. I try to write up to 20 pages a day as I go at my first draft.
I think most ideas come from dreaming and sleep. I used to keep a journal by my bed and have hundreds of ideas I transposed to the computer. The best ones can be fleshed out into full novels. And as I mentioned age giving perspective both as a member of the race, and a writer, I can craft better conflict, action, dialogue now. My routine is to get on the computer in the am and check for correspondence, add to the blog, clean up things, and then start the days writing. Break for lunch, and then back to it until it is late afternoon and my mind has fogged over.
What is the greatest problem you've faced as a writer?
Getting the word out, and selling. My writing has reached a level that it has a style, and I find (like the toothpaste commercial) 4 out of 5 readers like my style when they read it. But they have to discover me and then stick with me to the last page. (In Regencies we have authors who wait till the last page for the first kiss. That is where I have generally fallen, though Beggars Can't Be Choosier is not quite one of those.)
Who has inspired you as an author?
As a writer you must read Stephen King’s On Writing. That is totally inspirational. For what I write, Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, Georgette Heyer, Sharon Kay Penman and even Robert Jordan. And then really a great many others. Not all the writers I read are great, nor all are inspirational, but some who are either one or the other have given me examples of how to tell a better tale.
What’s next for you?
I have been developing a trilogy concept for Xchyler Publishing based on my characters, Wilkins Micawber III and Daniel Copperfield, and the adventures they would have in the Royal Dirigible Corps, fighting for the Empire in Southern Africa. I hope to have a green light and that we will see these Steampunky characters again soon.
Beggars Can't Be Choosier:
When a fortune purchases a title, love shall never flourish, for a heart that is bought, can never be won.
The Earl of Aftlake has struggled since coming into his inheritance. Terrible decisions by his father has left him with an income of only 100 pounds a year. For a Peer, living on such a sum is near impossible. Into his life comes the charming and beautiful Katherine Chandler. She has a fortune her father made in the India trade.
Together, a title and a fortune can be a thing that can achieve great things for all of England. Together the two can start a family and restore the Aftlake fortunes. Together they form an alliance.
But a partnership of this nature is not one of love. And terms of the partnership will allow both to one day seek a love that they both deserve for all that they do. But will Brian Forbes Pangentier find the loves he desires or the love he deserves?
And Katherine, now Countess Aftlake, will she learn to appreciate the difference between happiness and wealth? Can love and the admiration of the TON combine or are the two mutually exclusive?
Mr. Wilkin, the author, is a student of the English Regency. He has written several books and we can expect more to come this year and in the future. A student of history, Mr. Wilkin graduates with a bachelors from UCLA. In later years he continued his studied after college and applied himself as a re-enactor of history. A member of several societies that pursue the study of history through reenacting, Mr. Wilkin is a well known figure in his circles covering history from the middle ages to the present.
Along the way, Mr. Wilkin became a teacher of dance from former times. Several of those dances from the periods of history that are covered and mentioned in his novels are spelled out at the Regency Assembly Press website.
After his first novel, The End of the World, a short interview was published with Mr. Wilkin. Mr. Wilkin writes in several disciplines, but maintains that writing Regencies is his favorite. Not only does he find drafting his own quite rewarding, but the sequels to the work of Jane Austen equally gratifying.
You can find out more about the author and his books at these websites:
Also, you can find Beggars Can't Be Choosier on Amazon:
And on Smashwords: