Saturday, May 04, 2019

BLOG TOUR: Unexpected Friend & Relations by Jayne Bamber ~ Q&A + Excerpt & Giveaway

Today I have Jayne Bamber on the blog with a Q&A and an excerpt from her new book Unexpected Friends & Relations. So without further ado here we go.

How did you come up with the fan favorite character of Lady Rebecca? 

Lady Rebecca is pretty similar in nature to myself – short, spicy, loyal to her friends but will cut you if you get on her bad side. After Lizzy’s rupture with Jane in Book 1, I knew Lizzy needed a friend, and I decided to have it be someone in Darcy’s family, so Lady Rebecca started off as a strategic creation, someone who could meet Lizzy in London and then reappear again at Rosings. She was intended to be a smaller character, but since I was posting weekly on AHA, I was able to work off of all the positive feedback about her, and give her a larger role in the story.

How long on average does it take you to write a book? 

Book 1 and Book 2 were very different experiences for me. I wrote the first book over the course of six months, and Book 2 was written in 52 days. 

As of this moment do you have any plans to write any more books in this series?

Yes! I will finish up the series with a third book, which will come out this fall.

Out of both of your books what was the hardest scene you've had to write so far?

Definitely the potato scene in Book 1! There were so many people in that scene, everyone was talking all at once, and the whole time I was writing that scene I was just thinking ‘oh God this is so preposterous!’

What is your favorite scene that you have written, in either book?
The potato scene is still one of my favorites, but I think my all-time favorites are the theatrical scenes in Book 2. That idea is one of the first ones I had, when wanting to write my own JAFF. I really loved that part of Mansfield Park, and I had been wanting to do something like that in an adaptation of my own, but I didn’t initially plan on working it in to Book 2, but I think it fits so well into the Rosings storyline, with Henry Crawford and Mr. Rushworth both being there, and all the play-related scenes were so much fun to write.

The excerpt below shows how the idea of the Rosings theatrical is conceived. Find out how it plays out in Unexpected Friends and Relations, available on Amazon/Kindle!

Despite Mr. Crawford’s being so affably disposed toward everybody, and eager to address the whole party with equal amiability, Mr. Rushworth was often inexplicably displeased with him, and determined to contradict him, though in such an awkward and agitated manner that he was often scarcely intelligible at all.

Seeming really determined to show Mr. Rushworth the full capacity of his sociability, as they were all idling in the Rosings drawing room watching the rain resume once more, Mr. Crawford addressed him thus, “Rushworth, my good man, we are all in want of some indoor occupation, to be sure, and it puts me in mind of a little scheme we once had when we were at Mansfield Park – we never got our theatrical, and I am sure I have never recovered from the loss.”

“Theatrical,” Kate cried, her interest instantly captured, and she applied to Mrs. Crawford for some explanation.

Mrs. Crawford gave a diffident laugh – she was ever prone to affably dismissing the whims of her high-spirited husband. “Good Heavens, that again! I hardly think a rendition of Lovers’ Vows would please anybody!”

“Perhaps not,” Mr. Crawford agreed. “Indeed, it was very wrong of us to choose such a shocking script. Sir Thomas Bertram was well within his rights to be dismayed by such a scheme. However, I am not convinced that some manner of theatrical would not suit us very well indeed. I am certain Mr. Rushworth here was really most eager to give his two-and-forty speeches, were you not, sir?”

His hands behind his back, Mr. Rushworth gave a little bow and nod of his head by way of agreement, and he stepped a little nearer the group, willing at last to hear Mr. Crawford out.

“You see, Fanny,” Mr. Crawford declared. “Poor Mr. Rushworth has not made two-and-forty speeches in the whole course of his stay here in Kent, I am quite sure of it. He must have his moment – so must we all!”

“Only there are so very many of us,” she observed. “If we were to perform a little theatrical here, we must make certain that it be such a one as to provide everybody their share in it.”

A great many suggestions were put forth, and all equally refuted by one or another amongst them. Mrs. Crawford, and indeed most of the married ladies, began to declare that they should not wish to play-act, or if they must, they should only want a small part, a very small part indeed.

“And of course we cannot all be acting,” Mr. Crawford said. “To whom, then, should we perform? We are all of us wanting an audience sometimes, I think.”

Kate and Robert, being master and mistress of the house, agreed that they could not dislike the idea – they thought it a perfectly suitable occupation, should the weather persist in disobliging them from any other pursuit. Kate even ventured that she might be of assistance by way of creating some manner of scenery for them. “I am sure I could create a very suitable backdrop – I have my paint things here, and you know any old tapestry might be made up as a sort of backdrop, so long as the right sort of play is selected – perhaps one in a more natural setting? I am certain I could paint a very grand landscape in very little time – as long as it might take you to rehearse, I am sure.”

Mr. Willoughby, who had already insisted that he would act in Shakespeare or nothing at all, quickly brought forth the winning idea – A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

“It is just the thing for us, I am sure,” he declared, standing up to strike a commanding, dramatic pose. “Do you not all quite long for summer – or at least the return of sunshine? There is a sufficient amount of parts – just enough that anyone who wishes to act might do so, with enough people excluded to make up a sufficient audience, containing parts both romantic in nature and otherwise, and in exactly the sort of natural setting Mrs. Fitzwilliam might be able to create a backdrop for. The costumes might be easily arranged, for any old garments might be made up new in a trice, and it is such a familiar play to us all, I am sure – for I know I am not the only lover of Shakespeare amongst us – that the lines might be learned in so reasonable an amount of time as we might make a performance within a fortnight.”

To such sensible arguments as these, there could be no acceptable rebuttal, and it was decided. They were just upon the point of dividing the parts amongst themselves – a copy of the book had been retrieved from the library, a list of principal roles quickly written out, and a system devised by which each part might be assigned randomly so as to forestall any arguments – when Lady Catherine and Sir Gerald returned to the assembled party.

Sir Gerald was delighted with the scheme; Lady Catherine was dismayed. The young people were all in uproar – all the same arguments made over again, and betwixt all these, and Sir Gerald’s own considerable influence over his wife, Lady Catherine was brought around to the idea, gently reminded that she was no longer mistress of the house herself, and made to acknowledge that so long as this scheme extended no further than the confines of those already present, she should be perfectly satisfied. That Harriet should participate was another concern. Lady Catherine would not wish her to do anything so indecorous, was willing only to allow Harriet to be relegated to a member of the audience. Harriet’s disappointment was nearly complete, when all her friends and relations took up her cause so eagerly that she was not obliged to argue with her parents directly.

Sir Gerald was the first to be brought around to the idea. “I am sure it will be an innocent diversion for her, provided she not take on any romantic part.” To a small role Harriet was relegated – to one of the fairies, whose only part might be to follow Queen Titania around, and share no lines with any gentlemen. She would have faerie wings and flowers in her hair – Harriet was satisfied with this concession. She was marked down as Mustardseed, for Mr. Willoughby had most ardently taken up Mr. Crawford’s cause, and might now be seen as the very author of the whole plan; he began to oversee the assignment of every other part, and transcribed every detail of it into a small notebook he produced from his coat pocket.

There were some roles more desirable than others, a great demand to play the principal characters, particularly those of a romantic nature, and several minutes of cheerful, noisy chaos ensued before Mr. Crawford and Mr. Willoughby could call them all to order – Lady Catherine observed that she felt as though she were at the theatre already.

Paper and pen were produced, names thrown into a hat, and selected at random as each character was called out. The results were considered, and after a few amicable adjustments made, and several trades refused, Mr. Willoughby transcribed the final casting in a very elegant hand:

HelenaL. Bennet
HermiaG. Darcy
DemetriusH. Audley
LysanderJ. Willoughby
OberonF. Wentworth
TitaniaC. Sutton
PuckH. Crawford
Duke TheseusH. Tilney
Bottom, the AssJ. Rushworth

Harriet felt no little sympathy for poor Mr. Rushworth, who was much dismayed at playing the Ass, and could not convince any of the other gentlemen to exchange characters with him. Sam, Mr. Middleton, and Mr. Fitzwilliam agreed to assist him in the play within the play, as their wives likewise agreed to join Harriet in playing the fairies.

It was resolved that Mr. Willoughby and Mr. Crawford would ride to Rochester on the morrow, braving every possibility of rain, and procure sufficient copies of the play as to allow them to properly rehearse, and their performance should be made a fortnight hence. Kate declared she would begin the painting of an enchanted forest backdrop at once, and Sam volunteered the services of his wife, who had stayed home at Cranbrook, to engage in a thorough searching of their attics as to locate some old gowns and pantaloons that might be converted into proper costumes, if the same might be embarked upon at Rosings, an endeavor that was instantly to be undertaken with no little amusement, and consumed the remainder of their day.

Thanks for joining me on the next stop of my blog tour! I will be giving away 7 copies of the e-book free on May 20th – click here to enter. See the full schedule for the blog tour below, and click here to follow me on Facebook for updates on the final installment of the Friends & Relations Series, coming soon!


  1. Wonder if they will actually get round to performing the play this time

  2. I liked that scene and its reference to Mansfield Park. It Wil be interesting to see if they actually get to perform the play. Looking forward to reading this book. Thank you for the generous give away.