Amanda Quain interview

Georgiana Darcy gets the Pride & Prejudice retelling she deserves in this YA romance.

Accomplished by Amanda Quain. Wednesday Books. pp.320. $18.99

Konstantin Rega: When did you move to Virginia?

Amanda Quain: I moved to the DMV area a year after college and then to Arlington two years later. And I worked at One More Page Books in Falls Church and just really fell in love with the area. I met my husband whose family lives in the Virginia Beach area, at Cornell.

So what inspired your novel, Accomplished?

Obviously, I’m a huge Jane Austen fan. I always loved Pride and Prejudice. While working at the bookstore, my friend and I were writing a play about Darcy and his friend Bingley. And around the same time the Jonas Brothers got back together. I was struck by how the middle brother missed his siblings, and it made me think about sibling relationships and when you have a falling out or a reunion. So that’s the direct line to Georgiana Darcy, Mr. Darcy’s little sister.

So family is a big theme throughout?

I have a younger sister. So writing this book was also a great opportunity to look at a relationship through the eyes of a younger sibling. 

This book made me examine what family will do to each other. The extent that they will go to help you is often unmatched, even at the expense of hurting themselves. So I think my characters over the course of the book explore that dynamic.

What made you put this retelling in a YA context, style?

For me, YA has always been my favorite genre. I started reading them when I was a teenager and have never stopped reading them. I loved the pace and love being in the mind of a teenager. Everything is so big because it’s their first time experiencing this or that.

Clueless is one of my favorite movies of all time. It is the gold standard of taking Jane Austen into the modern times. It doesn’t shy away from the things that are discussed in Austen but sets them perfectly in the modern setting and shows how it hasn’t changed. That’s one of the best things about Austen, her ability to capture what society is. So taking the switch over wasn’t as hard as it could have been. Her themes are so modern; I just put in more fan-fiction.

And the best part of writing this book was the banter. I love writing dialogue, and I think that comes from my theater background and being a chatty person. I love falling into the rhythm of good banter. So find that in characters who are learning each other, discovering the intimacy of a shared language is such a delight.

What do you want readers to take away from reading this?

The first major theme is that it’s okay to make mistakes. The main character makes many mistakes, but she tries to work through them and make them better. In a broader sense, if I can give someone an escape where they can be happy for a little bit, that’s very valuable.

And are there any other retellings in store?

I am finishing book two next year. It’s not a sequel but it’s a Northanger Abbey retelling. It’s a little gothic, very romantic, but not too spooky because I’m a big scaredy cat. This one came to me while looking through Austen’s books, saying, Hey what am I interested in? I got very intrigued by the main characters, especially the main hero and his back story. So it’s got ghost hunting and family trauma.

As a bookseller by trade, I’ve launched other people’s books. Now I’ve launched mine. I’m very grateful for the community there who has helped me to do this.

Buy a copy at The Bookshop.

Konstantin Rega
A graduate of East Anglia’s renowned Creative Writing MA, Konstantin’s been published by the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Poetry Salzburg Review,, the Republic of Consciousness Prize (etc.). He contributes to Publisher Weekly and Treblezine.
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