by Melanie Coles
‘It is a truth universally acknowledged that every story has its beginnings in another story…’
It’s not exactly Jane Austen’s infamous first line from Pride and Prejudice, but quite often stories come about because of a premise, an idea or a thought an author has while reading another story.
It happened for me during one of my many re-reads of Austen’s best-loved work. As I lost myself in the romance of Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy, I found myself asking how the story would have played out if their genders were reversed. Would Darcy still hold the same appeal as a woman? What would a male version of Elizabeth be like? And could the story still work?
The questions wouldn’t go away, so I set about trying to answer them the only way I knew how. The result is my first novel, Evan and Darcy.
Adapting an existing novel has some advantages for a writer—the main characters already exist and the basic story arc is in place—but you still want to put your own spin on it. I decided to transport the setting to modern-day Australia and draw on my love of rural romance to create a truly unique adaptation. After all, who can resist a rugged, small-town hero?
In Evan and Darcy, Elizabeth Bennet has morphed from a gentleman’s daughter in Regency England into a modern Aussie wheat farmer from outback Victoria. Evan’s a proud country boy, dreaming of a life outside the one he has but too committed to his family (even if they do drive him a little nuts!) to pursue it.
Enter Darcy Fitzwilliam—the beautiful lawyer born and raised into upper-class English society. She’s in town to support her friend’s new business venture, but the last place she wants to be is stuck in the Aussie outback with the uncultured locals.
Though the story that follows may be familiar, the route they take to get there—from outback socials to society fundraisers to majestic vineyards—delivers something a little different and, I hope, truly special.
Jane Austen gets a little dusty in this outback retelling of a beloved story about a man who learns that first impressions can be wrong when you’re looking for Ms Right.