Welcome to FanstRAvaganza #day3!  This post is in the Fanfic Trail. If you've missed the previous posts check Jo Ann, Mr John Thornton, Fedoralady. Today you'll find Fanfic for FanstRAvaganza also at Cat Winchester's Blog
What follows is my interview with Trudy Brasure, the author of A Heart for Milton, a sequel of North and South by Mrs Gaskell. There's a giveaway linked to this post. Leaving your comment + your e-mail address,  you'll get  a chance to win a paperback copy of the book. On March 18th, on the last day of the FanstRAvaganza,  the name of the winner will be announced. Enjoy our chat and  ... 

Good luck! This giveaway is open worldwide.

Interview with Trudy Brasure

First of all, Trudy, when did you decide to write your sequel? Was it after reading North and South or after watching the series? Also, your story starts as a ‘what-if’ and proposes some changes to Gaskell’s plot. Can you tell us a little about that?
I happened upon the miniseries quite by accident, and was utterly captivated by the whole story, but especially by Richard’s performance. I sought out Gaskell’s book very soon after, having never heard of her before. It’s now my secular bible! I couldn’t stop thinking about the adaptation those first few months, especially the agonizing goodbye scene
when Margaret leaves Milton. I began to imagine how these star-crossed lovers might have avoided the pain of separation for that last year. I was convinced that if Margaret had known that John still loved her, they could have come to some understanding. I was obsessed for weeks. Slowly, a scenario evolved in my mind that would change the outcome of that scene. It became clearer and clearer to me, so I decided to write it out. I had never written fiction before, but once I started, the ideas kept flowing.

Was Richard Armitage your muse for Mr. Thornton while writing? 
Absolutely, from the sound of his velvet voice to the way he crinkles his brow. 

What did you like in his interpretation of brooding John Thornton? 
The intensity he brought to the character. Every move of his muscles, every subtle eye movement, the tenor of his voice - absolutely everything he did revealed the intense emotions of this man. We could feel his heartache, his desperate longing, and his profound joy and relief when Margaret finally accepts him. And the brooding...talk about intense! It was just an amazing performance - every second of it. And this is exactly what was needed for the part because although Gaskell gives us glimpses into Thornton’s passion for Margaret in written prose, the viewer in the adaptation can only recognize it by Thornton’s body language and voice inflection. No one can watch this performance and not recognize how much this man aches to claim Margaret for his own. 

Your Mr. Thornton is very tender, romantic, thoughtful and generous like Gaskell’s hero. Did you add or change anything to his character in your book? 
Well, I think it would be natural to expect that once he has secured Margaret’s affections and becomes a husband, he will be quite a different man than the dark, brooding man we saw for most of the miniseries. He will be more relaxed, joyful, and gratefully content. His character will still be hard-working and strong, but his innate tendencies toward compassion and tenderness will be brought out with Margaret by his side. In my book, I give the newlyweds some time to discover each other - alone - on their honeymoon. I envisioned that during this time Margaret would help bring out a playfulness in John that we had never seen. I think the joy of their new intimacy would naturally bring this out. 

What about Margaret? You’ve made her a very passionate lover, totally mesmerized by her husband, almost addicted, brave and bold in loving him. Do you want to tell us about your decisions in regard to this change in her? 
Who wouldn’t be mesmerized if a man like Thornton/Richard was in love with you?! Actually, I think it’s in line with Margaret’s developing character. Gaskell writes that “Margaret was not a ready lover, but where she loved she loved passionately...” She’s most definitely not a ready lover - it takes her quite a while to come to terms with her feelings for John. But I believe that when she does finally come to that realization - that she loves him - she will be a strong and true lover, a fair match for John’s great passion. If we look back to how brave and bold she was in supporting and protecting her father and her brother, we can see how unwavering and unflinching her loyalty and devotion is for those she loves. John perceives this strength of her character in the book: “Yes! he knew how she would love. He had not loved her without gaining that instinctive knowledge of what capabilities were in her. Her soul would walk in glorious sunlight if any man was worthy, by his power of loving, to win back her love.” Margaret would love freely and wholly when she felt the security of being loved in return. And I think that John would also walk in this ‘glorious sunlight’ to be loved like that. 

Do you really think such strong personalities will have a smooth, peaceful married life? Circumstances will always bring their own difficulties, but I do believe that Margaret and John would generally have a very harmonious marriage. I’ve considered the characters of the book deeply and I have several reasons for believing in my vision. First, I think it’s important to remember that we only see Margaret and John arguing in the first half of the book. After he declares his love for her, there are no more arguments between them. None. In their early encounters, Margaret’s idealism clashes with John’s strict adherence to logic and business principles. One of the great themes of the book, however, is how much Margaret and John learn from each other as events unfold. Among other things, Margaret learns that there are no easy answers to the problems of the real world and John learns to blend compassion with his business principles. By the end of the book I think they have a very similar philosophy. 

At the very least, they have come to understand and respect each other’s viewpoints. Does the fact that our two lovers have strong wills necessarily mean that they will be forever clashing? I don’t believe so. There’s a fine line between being strong-willed and self-willed. Our two lovers have great resolve and determination in doing what they feel must be done, but I don’t believe they act to pursue their own gain without regard to others.In my perception, a tempestuous relationship in which there is much arguing is often due to immaturity and petty selfishness by one or both parties.Both Margaret and John have demonstrated a tremendous ability to be self-sacrificing and wise. If these two disagree occasionally, it would be about something substantial. There doesn’t seem to be any reason to assume that these two would be argumentative other than their brief confrontations in the earlier part of the book, which was largely due to a misunderstanding of each other. John has lived with a strong-willed, opinionated woman all his life - his mother! They disagree often, but quietly. Margaret spends most of her time in London and in Milton doing what is necessary for the good of others. She is not boisterous or demanding, but very often compliant and selfless. After the months of suffering these two endured before they finally were brought together, I believe they would carefully cherish the precious bond of their new relationship, especially throughout their first year together. John would not be foolish enough to crush Margaret’s freedom or dismiss her opinions. In fact, he listens to her and expects her to speak her mind. And Margaret would not willingly seek to tell her husband what to do in mattersin which she is not fully knowledgeable. I think their bond would be strong and grow even stronger because they deeply respect and love each other. Gaskell goes to great lengths to show us how Margaret and John endure hardship individually with fortitude and perseverance. I always imagined that, once united, they would be a force to be reckoned with in facing adversity together. 

You especially focus on the romance between John and Margaret. There are lots of very romantic and even steamy scenes. Did you want to fill in the gap Mrs. Gaskell’s Victorian prudery had left? 
Well, since Mrs. Gaskell leaves us just as our lovers finally come to an understanding, she had very little opportunity to show us much of their physical relationship! (Although we get a very good hint: John demands payment for his pressed flower in the form of some ‘delicious silence.’) We see John happy for what, a page or two? It’s so achingly brief! That’s what so delicious about writing a sequel - I can give the reader pages and pages of John’s happiness and describe my vision of how it would be for Margaret and John to walk in that glorious sunlight! It was not my main intention to write a steamy novel, but to show the bliss of new love between these two characters. It would be difficult to express the deep unity and passion between Margaret and John without revealing a little of what their wedded life might be like. There’s little doubt that things would be rather steamy in this marriage. I love Mrs. Gaskell’s statement about her rushed ending: “I’m not sure if, when the barrier gives way between 2 such characters as Mr. Thornton and Margaret it would not all go smash in a moment - and I don’t feel quite certain that I dislike the end as it now stands.” Once these two realized their love for each other, things were bound to get passionate! I think Mrs. Gaskell was glad to be able to step away from the story at this point as there was little more she could convey that would be appropriate for a magazine entitled “Household Words!” 

 I’ve always closed ‘North and South’ thinking that I envied Margaret for winning a man like John Thornton, but was not envious at all to think that she had to live with Mrs. Thornton! You were more optimistic than I. 
Mrs. Thornton is an intimidating figure, isn’t she? She never smiles and always wears that somber black dress! I admire Mrs. Thornton, although she does have her faults. She idolizes her son. I can sympathize with her strong attachment to John. Who wouldn’t be fiercely proud of a son like that? She and he faced those dark, desperate years after her husbands’ suicide together and fought their way to success. She’s an amazing woman. The cause of Mrs. Thornton’s animosity toward Margaret is clear. She is first annoyed to discover that Margaret looks down on her son. Mrs. Thornton cannot respect anyone who doesn’t see how wonderful her son is. She is galled to no end when Margaret rejects him! I think once she truly perceived that Margaret admired and adored her son, her animosity would drop away. I don’t believe she would continue to hold a grudge or let jealousy fester when she witnessed how happy her son is with Margaret as his wife. Mrs. Thornton admires Margaret’s courage and spirit, and I think they would learn to get on well with each other over time.

Did you work on any historical research to write ‘A Heart for Milton’? 
Yes. You’ll never know how many details a historical writer looks up, but I think a good writer will make everything flow so naturally, you’ll never imagine the work involved. I researched Victorian social customs, clothing, Christmas celebrations, the postal system, the available bathroom fixtures, and the types of dances and arrangements held at a ball of that era. I discovered that Queen Victoria’s favorite home was on the Isle of Wright, and that the post in London was delivered not once, but several times a day. Of course the most obvious research I did was for my epilogue. I’ve long studied the American Civil War and it was very interesting to understand the effect that catastrophic event had on the cotton industry in England. 

You ended your stories presenting the new Thornton generations. Are you preparing a sequel to your sequel? 
Oh heavens, no! I brought these characters into the story to show that this incredible love match left a far-reaching legacy. I wanted to leave the reader with the impression that a life of great love and devotion can change the world - or at least a corner of the world! That’s the essence of my epilogue - that love, in its higher sense, can be a force for good that lifts the lives of many.


Trudy Brasure is a hopeless romantic and a history enthusiast with a penchant for the Victorian Era. She enjoys steeping her imagination into the past to create stories that entrance the heart as well as capture the essence of the age. She writes most often in the morning, before her three children awake and homeschooling begins.  The author began her own personal romance story with a whirlwind courtship. Her married life started in a picturesque colonial town on the coast of Massachusetts. She now resides in California, where she and her family endeavor to enjoy the beauty of nature whenever possible.
                                                Visit her website at www.aheartformilton.com

The Fanfic trail continues tomorrow on Mr John Thornton's Blog and Jo Ann's Blog


The Queen said...

What a wonderful interview! I admire you fanfic writers so much! Thanks for sharing with us.

Trudy said...

What fun to be interviewed by you, Maria! Thank you for this opportunity. And thanks, Queen, for your comment. I admire all the other fine talents exhibited by the league of RA fans.

Gratiana Lovelace said...

Hi MG and Trudy,
I ADORE "A Heart for Milton"! I have read it many times on Wattpad-andI have links to my favorite chapters--1, 11 and 15 come to mind. Ha! But all the chapters are wonderful--full of intimate details and romanticism for a bygone era.

And the relationship Trudy developed between John and Margaret is delightfully passionate and beautifully heartfelt. They are truly lovers for the ages.
Cheers! Grati ;->

Krista said...

I loved that author Trudy Brasure, said, I wanted to leave the reader with the impression that a life of great love and devotion can change the world. I believe this to be true. I love her reasons for writing this book. You won me for this one! Can't wait to read it!!

Servetus said...

(I own the book already.)

Trudy is really a hopeless romantic :) I don't share her view at all about the potential for Margaret and Mr. Thornton's marriage, BUT I loved this book. I reread chapter 11 all the time on bad days at work. It is maybe the only Victorian-themed romance I have ever read with an explicit intimate scene that actually reflects the current consensus among historians about what sex between loving marital partners in the middle reaches of Victorian class society might have been like.

Interesting interview, and of course I wish Trudy all the best with her writing!

Trudy said...

Thanks, Grati, for such beautifully worded praise. I'm glad you have favorite chapters. (I know exactly the ones!)

Trudy said...

Thanks, Krista! I hope you enjoy the story.

As a reminder for all, if you'd like a chance to win a copy of the book, please leave your email address.

Trudy said...

Ha! Thanks, Servatus. I can't convince them all, but at least I can entertain you!
I think we're all getting a bit curious about chapter 11....
Thanks for your comment about the intimate scenes. I didn't want to do modern, over the top scenes - that's for sure!

Melanie said...

I'm currently reading Trudy's "In Consequence" on wattpad and really enjoying it.

Often, when I imagine the future of Margaret and Mrs. Thornton, I see Mrs. Thornton going to live with Fanny, especially if she becomes pregnant.

Servatus' comment intrigues me. I haven't done much research on the Victorian period, so I'm curious as to how sexual expectations would differ.

Gratiana Lovelace said...

Hi Trudy,
I'm also reading your "In Consequence" on Wattpad and breathlessly anticipating Ch. 11.
Cheers! Grati ;->

bccmee said...

What a lovely interview. It's interesting to get inside the mind of a published writer. Congratulations on your success!

Mystica said...

Thank you for the interview. Also for making the giveaway open to all. Much appreciated.


Trudy said...

Thanks, Melanie, I'm glad you (and Grati !) are enjoying my new story as well.
I don't know if I'd send Hannah to Fanny's, I think she's suffered enough trauma in one lifetime! :)
I think Servetus may be referring to the ghastly ignorance of female sexuality and reproductive system in that age. Also, it was firmly espoused in more polite society that women did not (or should not!) have sexual desire.

Kelda said...

My favourite book (and my favourite mini series)...yes even above Pride and Prejudice .I would so so.... so love to read a sequel to it .Thank you so much for also making it worldwide .We little people in Canada so often get left out :)


BeckyC said...

How exciting to find a N&S whatif/sequel. I love this story and the idea of being able to revisit it again and again. Thank you for the giveaway!

Seccionista said...

Oh how lovely a N&S sequel. Thanks for the giveaway :-)

ana.teixeira1972 at gmail.com

Sophia Rose said...

I am so glad a sequel has been written. I always felt that I wanted more when I finished the book. Very enjoyable interview learning how the book came about and what the characters will be like.


mulubinba said...

Thank you Trudy and Maria. I must find the book!

Great interview!!

lucylou said...

Wonderful enlightening interview that was very timely as just finished reading this book last week Trudy and loved it immensely as it answered so many questions about what would have happened after the original North and South ending. Great questions by Maria as well.

khandy said...

Wonderful interview. Trudy'd love and respect for Mrs Gaskells characters is very noticable in her own wonderful writing.

Thanks for show casing a terrific writer and inspiration to other writers.

Anonymous said...

Great interview! I've re-read recently North & South and it'd be a delight to read a sequel. Maria, thanks for the opportunity open worldwide. I'm sure that as RA's fan, I'll like "A heart for Milton"

Trudy said...

Thank you, bbccmee, mulubinba, lucylou and all! Maria asked some great questions. I'm glad you enjoyed the interview. Khandy, thanks for the kind words. Coming from a fellow writer, they mean a lot to me.

gailw15 said...

I adored the N&S series but have never read the book. Your interview has motivated me to read it and also your sequel, which sounds wonderful! Thanks!

gailw15 said...

Oh, I forgot to leave my email for the contest. It is

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful interview!I have always thought there is so much to the N&S story, there's such potential. I lokk forward to reading the book ;)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this lovely interview.

I particularly appreciated Trudy's long and insightful answers since they reveal how much time she spent on getting to know the characters inside and out.

"A Heart in Milton" is at the top of my favourite North & South fanfic list and one I enjoyed because of the author's special attention to detail and effort to keep true to the characters while, at the same time, making them her own.

Her new N & S adventure- In Consequence- is fast becoming another favourite and one I'm eager to see updated soon!

Once again, thanks for letting us have a peek at the creative process and the person behind the works which have provided us with several hours of entertainment.

oloore said...

So far I have never read any North and South variations or sequels, though I'm really impressed with the original book and 2004 adaptaion (it opened for me wonderful Richard Armitage!:)). But after reading your interview I think I need to remedy such omission. Thank you for the interview and for generous giveaway, open worldwide. The book sounds very interesting and I've already fell in love with its cover. So beautiful!
oloore at gmail dot com

Anonymous said...

Since I'm not a member of Blogger but LJ I can't PM you my e-mail.

So, here it is: lillianchild@yahoo.co.uk

Trudy said...

Gail, I hope you read North and South - it's so wonderful to get into Thornton's head! sigh

Trudy said...

Thank you, Iwanttobeapinup. There is so much depth to Gaskell's book, and there are so many issues she covers - it has great potential for many fanfic writers.

Trudy said...

Thanks, lillianschild. Maria asks great questions! I am thoroughly in love with N&S and its characters. I'm glad you think it shows.
I'm working on that next chapter of 'In Consequence!' - gathering up a storehouse of adjectives, verbs and phrases to bring it to life.

Trudy said...

Thanks, oloore! I'm glad you're willing to try a story based on a favorite novel.
I'm glad the giveaway is open to all, it's much more fun that way!
I can't tell you how much I adore my cover! It was designed by the very talented HeathRA from C19. She is an avid fan of Richard's.

Anonymous said...

HeathRA is a very talented graphic artist. I love her wallpapers and have a soft spot for her Guy of Gisborne fanvids.

Angela M Castro said...

Wow, what an amazing interview!
I'm incredible puzzle about this sequel, it sounds so interesting to read and quite enjoyable too!
I discovered North and South last fall while browsing movies on Netflix and since then I have seen it about 12 times -the whole 4 parts, not only the train scene :P- and of course I am completely in love with RA's talent and let's face it, looks.
This is my first Fanstravaganza and I have been reading copiously all the blogs during this three days and it has been a great experience,I'm going to seriously indulge myself with this newly adquire pleasure during this week but specially I want to do it in a more permanent way with this book!.

I hope I can win it, Thanks for this post and you will see me around your blog quite often!


Trudy said...

Welcome to the RA community, Angela. We're glad you found N&S!

UK Expat said...

Wonderful interview, Maria Grazia, a lovely square in the quilt that is F3!

Trudy, I'm also excited that you've chosen to self publish and that I have a Kindle copy of your book for when I don't necessarily have access to the internet! As soon as In Consequence is finished, I'll be happy to buy that as well!

I have a question for you - do you know if Kleindog will ever choose to publish any of her books or make them available for download? I also love her stories and would be happy to purchase them if they were made available.

I haven't made many comments outside of blogs before, but I wanted you to know I really enjoy your writing and am thankful you are doing it!

Trudy said...

Thanks for positing a comment, UK Expat! I'm pleased so many people are enjoying my stories.
When I started 'In Consequence,' I wasn't in the publishing mindset yet. I think the story includes too many elements unique to the BBC's adaptation to be marketable. (Maybe I'll have to write a third!)
I have mentioned publishing to Kleindog. She's terribly busy right now, but I will encourage her to keep thinking of it. She's a great storyteller!
Thanks for your enthusiastic support of N&S fic writers!

Summer said...

Your interview is as lovely as Trudy's book. "A Heart for Milton" was the first North & South Fan Fiction I read and has become my favourite sequel. It's so well written very true to the Victorian Gaskell writing style, a beautiful page turner story.
Got my Amazon e-book as soon as it was available and is among my favourite books now.
At the moment I'm reading on WattPad Trudy's "In Consequence" and loving it too. Can't help but leaving a comment after each chapter read just as I did for "A Heart for Milton"
Would like to take this opportunity to thank Trudy once again for writing and sharing these beautiful stories with us.
Your Wattpad fan RAfandreamer aka Summer

cristine said...

Thank you very much for this wonderful interview! I've read the book twice and it is my favourite N&S fanfic. I've also read N&S twice. It is indeed really great to get into Thornton's head!

This is my first year in FanstRAvaganza. I'm trying to read all the interesting posts. There is so much to read about RA. What I've enjoyed the most so far are the interviews.


Trudy said...

Thanks so much, Summer. It is sweet reward to know so many people enjoy my work. And I really appreciate it when people leave comments after I post chapter updates - I think most writers love feedback. It's a joy to write for such an appreciative readership. We all love the characters so much.

Trudy said...

Thanks, Cristine. I'm honored that my book is a favorite. Enjoy being part of the RA love!

Angela M Castro said...

Well, I just made a "huge mistake" and since I was completely intrigue by the book I decided to just start reading the tiny snippet that amazon offers, only to find myself two seconds later buying the book for my kindle.
I started to read it, and It seems like I am not sleeping tonight until I am finish!

I'll still love to have the book in physical! :D

Greetings from STL! We have a great summer like night to harmonize with my reading!


Trudy said...

Lol! I hope you can find a place to stop and get some sleep. Right after chapter 7 might be good.....

kaewink said...

I´ve had A heart for Milton long on my tbr-list. N&S is such a wonderful story and seeing who it might continue is a wonderful thing!

I personally found it really interesting how different the film version and the book really are - not in essential character features, but some scenes are not like that in the book. So I would also recommend everyone that loves the series to also read the book.
And Mrs. Gaskell had a wonderful way to write!

Trudy, thank you for sharing your thoughts!

kewinkler at gmail dot com

Trudy said...

It was my pleasure, kaewink, to have the opportunity to explain my views.
I couldn't agree more in encouraging others to read Gaskell's book. She has a beautiful way of describing deep feelings.
And yes, it's interesting to note the differences between the book and the miniseries. I love them both.

Alice said...

What a wonderful idea this book!!! And thank you to open the giveaway open worldwide!!

my email: anne.wentworth@hotmail.fr

Unknown said...

I again want to say congrats for getting your story published! And I loved the interview! It's nice to get inside a published writer's head. You story is amazing, although it's been a while since I've read it (too busy reading all of the other wonderful fanfic), but I went back and began reading it again (still not happy with Aunt Shaw for running interference between them, but glad things worked out anyway). I'm not sure what my favorite part is, because it's all so good!

I'm curious, though. What made you decide to publish it?

Anyway, just wanted to say thanks for such a wonderful story. And I like the thought you put into your story, that you really studied the characters. It's really a very lovely story!


Trudy said...

Thanks, Clockwood! What made me publish? It's hard to recall but it was the combination of several factors. When readers first suggested it, I balked, thinking there was next to no market for a Gaskell sequel. Who had ever heard of her? But, I found that many people enjoyed my story at Wattpad without knowing anything of the original book or miniseries!
What put me over the edge was seeing how many P&P spin-offs were on the market. Why not Gaskell's N&S? At last, after seeing that someone else had self-published a John Thornton story (Loyal Wynyard's 'John Thornton, Look Back at Me'), I decided I could do the same.
It's been great fun to reach out to all those N&S lovers out there! I'm happy if I can satisfy that longing for a little more of the story.

Margay Leah Justice said...

I absolutely adore North and South and I'd love to read this sequel!

Trudy said...

Hello, Margay! I hope you will seek it out and give it a try. Thanks for your interest.

Herba said...

Thank you for that great interview and the insight into the writing process

minor_herba AT web DOT de

Trudy said...

I'm glad you enjoyed the interview, Herba.
Unfortunately, the giveaway winner has already been announced. I hope you will still seek out 'A Heart for Milton.' Thank you for your interest.

Star-Maiden said...

I loved how you wrote about John's and Margaret's romance. I had wanted to know more about how they courted and their wedding, etc. Your writing made this love story complete.
I have to tell you that I cry every time I read the epilogue. I grieve that John's and Margaret's "love story" had come to it's end. I know that their's was such a passionate and based on love that I didn't want t to end!
I enjoyed reading this interview so much and it really added more to each characters personality more fully. I find. Myself thinking about them throughout the day.
Thank you once again for a timeless "love story"!

Trudy said...

Thanks so much for commenting. Many people have told me that the ending brought them to tears. I'm glad the characters became so real to you.
I like to look at it from Arabella's perspective. Wouldn't you be happy to know that your great-grandparents lived a life full of love and happiness?

I'm pleased you enjoyed my book. I hope to publish another. Stay tuned. :)