Jen: This week we welcome Farida Mestek to Romancing the Book. Farida, will you please share a short bio with us?
Farida: I live in the Ukraine, but I adore Regency England, where I spend a great deal of my time. I fell in love with it the moment I saw one of the film productions on TV when I was a child, and my love and fascination grew and solidified with every Jane Austen book that I read and reread time and time again. Having been writing all my life, I decided to write Regency-set stories myself. At present I have an ever growing queue of characters who wait most impatiently to have their stories told. My dream is to build a Regency village, the aim of which would be to provide Regency-lovers from around the world with a veritable Regency lifestyle experience
Jen: Tell us about A Secret Arrangement and where it’s available.
Farida: A Secret Arrangement is a sweet M/M Regency-set novella that tells a story of Henry Chadderton – a son of a wealthy tradesman, and Edward Montford – a younger son of an impoverished baronet, their mutual attraction and those obstacles that they have to overcome in order to pursue a forbidden and secret relationship.
Their story in a nutshell:
Henry Chadderton’s father earned his wealth in trade, but he looks to elevate his son to the gentry through marriage into a titled family. And so it is that Edward Montford, the second son of an impoverished baronet, accompanies his twin sister Emma to London in order to introduce her to her future husband.
Henry neither appreciates being ordered around nor has any intention of marrying anyone. Then he meets Emma—and Edward—and falls in love with the wrong sibling, setting off a chain of events that will cause arguments, bloodshed, jealousy, and scandal. But Henry will endure it all if it will eventually lead Edward to him.
Jen: At what age did you discover writing and when were you first published? Tell us your call story.
Farida: I always knew that I wanted to write. I was always writing something: poems, songs, essays, short stories. At sixteen I had an idea for what I knew had to be a novel, but I had little experience of writing something as big as a novel at the time (for a while there I was a confirmed poet) and I started writing fanfics to help me develop my writing skills. I wrote my first novel about five years ago, having written four or five drafts of it – I honestly lost count. It is unpublished but I still have a hope: all it needs is another fresh start and a slightly new angle. Then I wrote Margaret’s Rematch – an Austen-esque Regency-set novel. I didn’t find an agent or a traditional publisher for it, but I found Girlebooks [http://www.girlebooks.com] – they loved the book and published it as an e-book. But today I got word from them that they want to do a print version too. I am very excited about it! A Secret Arrangement is my second published e-book.
Jen: Are there any other writers, published or not, in your family?
Farida: Not writers exactly. My granny loved writing funny sketches, essays and school-related stories. She was a teacher of Russian language and World literature and always encouraged her pupils to express themselves with the help of the written word. She used to hold annual poetry contests, publish collection of poems and different almanacs. She was extremely creative and energetic and always believed in my dream of becoming a writer. Unfortunately, she died before I became a published one. I wanted her to write her memoirs – I think she had a fascinating life – but she never did. Her father was a journalist. So, I suppose, writing does run in the family to an extent.
Jen: How do you approach your writing? Do you plot or go with the flow?
Farida: I plot, plot, plot. I absolutely love plotting. I love finding means and ways by which to reach the book’s destination. I always write a detailed outline before I start working on the story.
Jen: What’s the most challenging aspect of writing? Easiest?
Farida: The most challenging aspect? – To finish the book and to be satisfied with the result. To make sure that it is the kind of book I wanted to write in the first place. Another challenging aspect for me is to come up with locations I want the story to take place at and find suitable names for villages, small towns, estates, etc.. Sometimes I have trouble naming characters, usually secondary, but it is not uncommon for my main characters to give me grief on that score too and change their first, second and last names several times during the writing process. Easiest? – Coming up with ideas and characters. Anything can trigger their appearance: a soap-opera I’m watching, a word I like, anything.
Jen: What’s the most rewarding aspect?
Farida: To learn that someone likes my books.
Jen: Do you feel as if the characters live with you as you write? Do they haunt your dreams?
Farida: Absolutely. They haunt my dreams. They stick with me during the day. They are always in my head: talking, laughing, arguing, plotting, living…
Jen: Is there a genre that you’d like to write? Is there a genre you’ll probably stay away from and why?
Farida: I’d like to write fantasy genre. I love magic. The first novel that I wrote but never got to publish was fantasy and I mean to get back to it some day; I have a soft spot for the story and the characters and I think they deserve another chance. There are a lot of genres I’ll probably stay away from simply because I’m not interested in them as a reader. I write the kind of stories that I would read. I write for myself and for those who might find them appealing too. At present my preferred genre is Regency but, it seems, of an unpopular kind, judging by the number of rejections I got. I write simple stories, sweet and romantic, slow-paced and old-fashioned, Jane Austen-like. Though I want to make it clear that I am not trying to imitate her and expose manners, follies, vices and virtues – she was a genius! – I am simply retelling a story of a certain set of characters.
Jen: Who has inspired you as an author?
Farida: Apart from my granny, Jane Austen and JK Rowling. I’m a huge fan of both and I totally admire them.
Jen: If Margaret’s Rematch was made into a movie, which actors would you choose to play the hero and heroine?
Farida: Oooh… I’ve thought about that a lot! I’m pretty sure that Tom Welling (“Smallville”) would be perfect James Westfield. And, of course, Kristen Kreuk (“Smallville”) would be an excellent Margaret. Actually, a lot of actors from “Smallville” would get parts in Margaret’s Rematch. I have it all figured out!
Jen: Do you do anything special to celebrate a sale, new contract, or release?
Farida: Not yet. They kind of always take me by surprise.
Jen: Who are some of your favorite authors and books? What are you reading now?
Farida: Well, Jane Austen and JK Rowling. I’m rereading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and Pride And Prejudice now. I also love Anne of Green Gables, Sherlock Holmes and Jeeves and Wooster stories. I read many other books too, a great deal more, in different genres, but these are the stories I always come back to. Stories that make me feel at home.
Jen: What’s next for you?
Farida: I’m revising my next M/M Regency-set novella for resubmission. After that I plan to write a short companion piece for Margaret’s Rematch and finally embark upon a Regency-set project that has been in the waiting these two years at least.
Jen: Where can you be found on the web?
Farida: You can always find me on my blog Regency Sketches: http://www.faridamestek.blogspot.com/
Jen: Is there anything you’d like to ask our readers?
Farida: Would you like to read Margaret’s Rematch? It’s a very sweet story:)
Here it is:
After the loss of her sister, Margaret Fairfax settles at Northbrook Hall – the country estate of her brother-in-law, Mr. Westfield, whose dislike of her is legendary. There she faces a major challenge of reconciling their many differences and proving to him that despite the rumours of schemes and scandals that followed her from London, she is worthy of his regard and affection. With time and many an exertion on her part and that of her new family, Margaret succeeds in altering Mr. Westfield’s opinion of her and attaching his heart, but she fears the worst when her deceitful friend arrives.
Jen: Readers, Farida is giving away an ebook copy of Margaret’s Rematch to one lucky commenter. To enter the contest you need to leave a question or comment for Farida. And to finish your entry, you must either leave your email address in your comment or send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org. The winner will be chosen around Sunday, October 24.