Elizabeth Bennet, the newest corps de ballet dancer at Ballet Theater of New York, dreams of rising through the prestigious company’s ranks to become a prima ballerina. When she’s cast in superstar choreographer William Darcy’s newest work, she believes she’s one step closer to realizing her dream–until she meets him.
William Darcy, the former dance legend and ballet bad boy, is a jaded perfectionist who dancers both fear and admire. Although touted as the next big thing in the ballet world, he secretly battles a bad case of artist’s block–until he meets Elizabeth Bennet.
Tempers ignite between Elizabeth and Darcy, but he’s irresistibly drawn to the stubborn and beautiful corps de ballet dancer. Could she be the muse he needs to reignite his passion for ballet?
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From the beginning, I knew that the title of my story would be The Muse. Many years ago, this story lived in my head about an artist – a choreographer – and the muse who inspired him. Somehow, this story became intertwined with some of the themes and plotlines from Pride and Prejudice, and The Muse was born. Just as Lizzy and Darcy's relationship was shaped by conflict, I also thought the relationship of artist and muse was a problematic one.
Think about the Greek myth of Pygmalion - the artist who fell in love with his perfect sculpture and eventually married her. The artist-muse relationship assumes that the artist (who is usually male) is a genius and the muse (usually female) is just his object, his vessel, a cold slab of stone waiting to be chiseled and molded. She, the muse, the art object, has no say in the creative process.
But this is a misconception because most art is collaborative. Choreographers inspire dancers and dancers inspire choreographers. I wanted to portray this reality in The Muse.
In my story, William Darcy is a rising choreographer in the American dance world. A former superstar dancer whose career was cut short by a knee injury, he suffers from a bad case of artist's block. Thankfully, he finds his muse in Elizabeth Bennet, who, as a member of the corps de ballet, ranks very low in the ballet company's hierarchy. In the beginning of the story, we see this stereotypical artist-muse dynamic unfold: Darcy flagrantly uses Elizabeth for his own selfish purposes. She is his object; he sees her as an empty vessel without a personality or feelings or artistic desires of her own. She hates him for it and pushes back at him constantly, which, ironically, continues to challenge and inspire him.
When preparing this book for publication, a friend suggested that I change the title to Mr. Darcy's Muse. I was adamant that it remain The Muse, because this isn’t just a story about Mr. Darcy’s muse. Yes, in the first half of the book, Elizabeth is eponymous muse. But eventually, the roles reverse. In the second half of the book, Darcy begins to inspire Elizabeth’s dancing in unexpected ways. In a way, Darcy becomes Elizabeth's muse.
To me the artist-muse relationship should be a symbiotic one - both artists evolve and grow by collaborating with each other. This is exactly what happens in The Muse between Elizabeth and Darcy. Their romantic relationship parallels their artistic relationship, going from one marked by conflict, selfishness, and strife, to one of equality, collaboration, and inspiration. To me, that’s what a creative relationship is all about.
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Jessica Evans cut her writer’s teeth in various fan fiction forums starting at fifteen. Although she discovered Jane Austen’s novels as a college sophomore, she didn’t begin writing Austenesque until several years later. The Muse: A Pride and Prejudice Variation is her debut novel.
Jessica teaches sixth grade English in New York City. In her spare time, she reads a lot of Young Adult literature, and cooks and eats as healthily as possible. She lives in Brooklyn, NY.
You can catch up with Jessica on Facebook, Goodreads and on her blog.
Meryton Press have very kindly offered an international giveaway of one paperback and one ebook version (Kindle or Nook) of 'The Muse' to commenters on this post. Please specify if you'd like to enter the draw for only one format, otherwise I'll include your name in the draw for both, paperback first. Just leave a comment for Jessica including a way for me to contact you if you're a winner (twitter handle, email address etc. If you want to avoid spam please leave your email address with an (at) instead of an @). Last day for entries is Monday 15 December 2014.
As this is part of a blog tour that means there are other stops that you can visit with guest posts, excerpts, reviews and chances to win a copy of 'The Muse'. Here are the stops:
1/12: Excerpt at My Kids Led Me Back to Pride and Prejudice
2/12: Review at Songs & Stories
3/12: Guest Post & Giveaway at More Agreeably Engaged
4/12: Review at Wings of Paper
5/12: Excerpt & Giveaway at Laughing with Lizzie
6/12: Guest Post & Giveaway at Babblings of a Bookworm
7/12: Guest Post & Giveaway at My Love for Jane Austen
8/12: Excerpt & Giveaway at Stories From the Past
9/12: Review at So Little Time...
10/12: Review at BestSellers & BestStellars
11/12: Author Interview at Wings of Paper
12/12: Review at Diary of an Eccentric
13/12: Review at Fairy Jane Tales
14/12: Excerpt at The Calico Critic
15/12: Review at Warmisunqu's Austen