But I’m not going to let it pass. I demand satisfaction.
It was bad enough when the zombies turned up halfway through writing the book, disrupting my plans to introduce aliens to the world of Jane Austen. But I saw them off – eventually. Managed to persuade a publisher, Proxima, that I wasn’t just jumping on some bandwagon. Sequel, you see. Not just a mash-up. “Pride and Prejudice” left intact, now becoming the first in a series.
But the Friday before last, this happens. Big announcement. PD James – that’s Baroness PD James to you – has decided to take the franchise down a different route. Crime, you see. Not aliens. Not even zombies. Crime.
Well, I ask you.
There’s only one thing for it. I have to challenge her to a duel. I float the idea on Twitter and I have to say that several of my chums there are up for a cage fight. But I decide against this, as there are sadly some namby-pambies among us who would baulk at the sight of a nonagenarian engaging in the noble sport of Mixed Martial Arts.
Instead, I issue the challenge shown in the picture, and put it in a package along with a copy of my book (oh yes, it’s called “Mrs Darcy versus the Aliens” – I probably should have mentioned that by now) and the traditional single glove. (Yes, I know it should be a gauntlet, but that’s all I could find in the charity shop down the road. Just be thankful it wasn’t an oven glove.) The package goes out to her via her agent on the very same day as the original news appears.
I realise I may be taking a risk with this, because as Ian Rankin (who has somehow got dragged into this) points out, she will use guile (note, in passing, that Mr Rankin has created a hashtag especially for me – go on, try and tell me you’re not impressed). But it will surely be worth it, because the publicity value will be incalculable – indeed, almost as good as bagging a guest spot on Scott Pack’s blog.
However, I have to report that I have heard nothing back. Zilch. Nada. Not a dickey bird. Can it be because she is scared? Surely the slayer of Mark Thompson can’t be afraid of a mere first-time novelist such as myself? No. There can be only one conclusion to draw from this. She has decided to ignore me.
So here I am, on Scott’s blog, asking for your support. If you want to see this duel go ahead (and I can’t for the life of me imagine why you wouldn’t), please spread the word. Let us all shame her into action. Or alternatively, here’s a better plan. Go out and buy my book, in VAST numbers, so that when hers comes out in November, mine is already at the top of the fiction charts so I can simply turn to her and say, “Well, Baroness, welcome to my bandwagon!” I think that would work rather well.
Oh, the book. Yes, it’s called “Mrs Darcy versus the Aliens”. It’s a sequel to “Pride and Prejudice” with aliens. It’s also got loads of tentacles, ghostly prostitutes, Lord Byron and a pigeon called Colin. You can read all about it on its dedicated website and there are links to Amazon at the bottom of every page. (You can also buy it in WHSmith and Waterstone’s as well as the Jane Austen Online Giftshop). Here's a trailer and here's a thing called Wickhampedia, which I think you might like.
Many thanks indeed to Scott for having me. And to you all in advance for helping me defeat the Battling Baroness.