Elizabeth Bennet—stubborn, quick to judge but slow to revise her opinions, and entirely prejudiced against the man who had just proposed marriage at Hunsford—awakens to learn she has been in an accident. Bedridden in an unfamiliar house, she learns eleven years have passed since the last moment she can remember.
She finds herself a married woman, the mother of four, and pregnant yet again. Her children are strangers, and most mystifying of all, Fitzwilliam Darcy is her husband! How could she have married a man she loathes?
Confined to the house by her injury, Mr. Darcy’s company is inescapable. But is just being side by side enough to overcome their differences? What happens when Darcy, improved in manners and happily married to Mrs. Elizabeth Darcy, is faced with an obstinate, bewildered Miss Elizabeth Bennet?
Interview with Side by Side, Apart author Ann Galvia:
Side by Side, Apart centers around the marriage of two of Jane Austen’s most beloved and iconic characters, Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy. What can you tell us about the story?
Elizabeth Bennet wakes up confused and in pain. As her head starts to clear, she realizes she’s married to Fitzwilliam Darcy–funny, didn’t she say no?–and is pregnant by him. She learns that she’s been in an accident. Over eleven years have passed since the last thing she can remember. She’s an invalid, far from home in a strange house, her husband is a mystery and her children are strangers. She understands pretty quickly that she can’t get out of this life. She just has to figure it out. The story follows only Elizabeth, the reader sees only what she sees. But the reader also has more background knowledge than she has, so you are invited to combine what she learns with what you know to create the full picture of her life.
What inspired you to write it?
There were two things at work. One is that I have always enjoyed “amnesia” stories, especially the idea of the hard-earned happily ever after suddenly being gone because one of the characters just isn’t that version of themselves anymore.
The other is my mother. She worked at a school in the office–she was the attendance clerk and covered the front desk when the receptionist was not on duty. She knew everyone. She knew every student, every teacher, every staff member. And she would come home talking about these people. The AIG kid who has a concussion and just doesn’t know what to do with herself because she’s not allowed to read. The wife who is emotionally and mentally exhausted because she has to care for her ill husband. About a year after she passed, the stories my mom used to tell me about work started running together and became Side by Side, Apart. Elizabeth became that kid who, all of sudden, is cut off from the things that used to define her. Darcy became the spouse who gives and gives, knowing full well he’s not going to get anything back and it slowly wears him down.
What do you think readers will love most about it? What do you love about it?
I hope readers will enjoy delving into a familiar dynamic from a completely different angle. Me, personally, I love Darcy and Elizabeth’s kids. Their role in the narrative is to illuminate various aspects of Darcy’s personality to Elizabeth, but they are also unique individuals, with their own voices and their own concerns. I feel like Julia Wickham, especially, is a character with the potential for a lot of stories of her own. She’s only nine in Side by Side, Apart, but I bet she would grow up to be a romantic heroine.
Why Jane Austen?
Why not? I have always been a fanfic writer, from when I was eight years old and imagining Star Trek: The Next Generation plots to the present day. I think media is transformative. You bring yourself with you when you read a book or watch a movie. Your experiences and your biases affect how you perceive that work. The text is the same, but we all get something a little different out of it. I think it’s only natural that people walk away from media wanting to tell a story using those characters framed in their own point of view. I wrote Side by Side, Apart with the same feelings that I have when I’ve written a lot of fanfic. But JAFF just happens to be a fandom where people can approach you and say, ‘Hey. You ought to publish that.’
When/how did you begin writing, and is it your full-time job?
The earliest thing I can remember writing was when I was about four. I didn’t have any grasp on letters at that age and would draw pictures and scribble lines beneath them to indicate the story. My writing got significantly better after going to kindergarten and being introduced to things like phonics and punctuation. I never stopped. When I was a kid, I used to give my teachers handmade books made out of construction paper. By the time I was a teenager, I was posting stories online.
It’s not my full-time job and I am torn about if I would like it to be. On the one hand, I love to write and I won’t ever stop, so it would be nice if it was. But on the other hand, most of my best writing has been a result of being frustrated at work. I might need another job just to for the sake of my creativity!
What are your goals for Side by Side, Apart and future literary endeavors?
I honestly don’t know what a reasonable goal for a book to have is! I don’t want to ask too much of it, but I also don’t want to set the bar too low. I think the smart thing to do is probably let Side by Side, Apart be what it is and then judge subsequent endeavors by how they compare to this one’s performance. I’m an educator. You have to find the baseline before you can set goals for growth. This is my first novel. This is my baseline.
I would like to write children’s books someday. I am working on something for 4th-6th graders about a boy who is either a paranormal investigator or a very creative when it comes to making excuses and no one is sure which.
If you had to choose, which fairy tale character (doesn’t have to be a princess or Disney), would you be and why?
Upon one of my friends seeing Frozen, she immediately informed me that I had to see it because I am Elsa. Since this is the same person that told me to read Pride and Prejudice, I’m going to defer to her judgement.
What’s the best advice you’ve received?
My father told me, “You’ll never get so lost that you can’t find your way home.” He was talking specifically about driving, but I dunno. I feel like it’s good advice for anything if you take it metaphorically.
What are you working on next?
Hard to say! I tend to be writing four things at once until one story stands up and shouts “FINISH ME FIRST!” And then I say, “You got it, bossy story!” Occasionally, the bossy story gets embarrassed about its outburst and retreats for a while, but not usually. I have done a lot of agricultural research that I hope gets used sooner rather than later.
Click HERE to enter for a chance to win one of FOUR ebook copies of Side by Side, Apart.
Ann started writing sometime before she knew how letters functioned. Her first books were drawings of circus poodles heavily annotated with scribbles meant to tell a story. Upon learning how letters were combined to represent words, she started doing that instead. This has proven to be much more successful.
Sometime after that, she decided she wanted to study Anthropology and sometime after that, she decided she liked cats more than dogs. And sometime after that, she decided to become an educator and teach a new generation of kids how to combine letters to represent words, and use those words to express ideas.
And sometime after that, she realized all she really wanted to do was write, which probably should have been evident from the beginning.
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