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Perilous Siege Blog Tour - Pride & Prejudice in an Alternate Universe

By Mariagrazia @SMaryG

A new awesome blog tour for Meryton Press starts today here at My Jane Austen Book Club. Are you ready for some more fun? Read what author C.P. Odom has written to introduce us  in the alternate universe of his new Pride and Prejudice original retelling.  Good luck in the giveaway contest!  M.G.

Good day, Maria Grazia. It's a pleasure to be with your readers today to launch the tour for my latest release from Meryton Press, Perilous Siege: Pride & Prejudice in an Alternate Universe. Today I am sharing an insiders' look at the artwork behind this story because not only am I the author of this story, I am the illustrator of this 3-D art too!I thought it would be fun to share this exclusive look inside my new book as a way for your readers to a sneak peek at this story and learn some more about this illustration process. Thank you for welcoming me to your blog and supporting authors, such as myself. 

An insiders’ look into my novel, Perilous Siege, the latest release from Meryton Press

Hi all. I’m here to talk about my latest book, Perilous Siege – Pride and Prejudice in an Alternate Universe. I’ve done three previous novels for the same publisher: A Most Civil Proposal (2013), Consequences (2014), and Pride, Prejudice, and Secrets (2015). We just finished this latest one, and it’s available in e-book form at Amazon.I started writing Pride & Prejudice fanfiction in 2005 while still working as an engineer and moved into publishing my work after I retired in 2011. Before that, I raised two boys with my late first wife and adopted two girls with my second wife. I have a history of playing sports in my younger years, and I served a stint in the Marines in the early seventies. As for how a guy comes to be writing in a field dominated mostly by female authors, I finally read my late wife's beloved Jane Austen books and then watched the BBC Pride and Prejudice (1995) miniseries. That motivated me to go looking for Austen fanfiction to read and then later to write. Perilous Siege is my fourth novel, and it’s rather different than my previous three, which were what I call “What If” stories (an example of a “What If” story would be Darcy not meeting Elizabeth at Pemberley when she is touring Derbyshire.
From that deviation, I would try to portray what might well have happened, for good or ill, while trying to keep the characters true to Austen’s portrayal). But I wanted to something different for Perilous Siege. Rather than a purely romantic view, with sweetness and light with some angst stirred into the plot, I thought it would be interesting to have a modern-day person with an interest in Jane Austen thrust into the world of Regency England and given an insider’s view of the events in P&P . But I couldn’t use the science fiction concept of time travel. A time traveler couldn’t go back in time to the world of P&P, because that world that never existed except in the fertile imagination of a writer who lived during that time. I also didn’t want the trip to be one from which my modern observer could return to his own world. I  wanted his trip to be a one-way journey. And the Siege Perilous from the King Arthur legend was the mechanism I chose to transport my modern-day character to the world of Darcy, Elizabeth, Georgiana, and Colonel Fitzwilliam (who necessarily became a much larger character than in the actual P&P text).I’ll confess straight-up that, having injected my modern-day character, I didn’t consider myself bound to what transpired in Austen’s book, and I may even have played around with some difference in certain characterizations. As I had my modern-day observer think, after he realized the people in this Regency world were living, breathing people who could hurt , it would have been foolish of him toexpect all concerned to play out Austen’s storyline as if they were actors reading from a script for his enjoyment. Darcy, for example, is undoubtedly more amiable than Austen wrote him, and Elizabeth finds herself governed by emotions she hadn’t even been aware of. The result, however, was a very convoluted plot outline with all kinds of contradictions. I was struggling with that when my wife came down a kidney infection in 2016 that put her in the hospital for a month and kept her under intense medical care for months afterward. When I tried to pick up the threads of Perilous Siege, I found myself in the clutches of . . . dare I say it? . . . WRITER’S BLOCK!I had never before had a problem sitting down to write, and I probably subconsciously considered writer’s block as something that other writers might have but not moi . But I now had it big time. I could sit down to my laptop, but I would find myself soon surfing the internet rather than writing.So, in something approaching desperation, I decided to try to visualize some of what was in my mind in 3D art using a software modeling program called Daz Studio. The end result was that, after signing the contract with MP and going through several months of intensive editing, I wound up working with Ellen Pickels, the Meryton Press final editor/cover artist to design the cover for my book:


Ellen told me I was the first author to design the cover for his own book, and it all came about as serendipity! When MP was preparing my contract, I shared a number of my 3D art images withthe submissions desk, suggesting they might be used as ideas by the cover artist when it came time to do the cover. I’d had some experience with how difficult it sometimes can be to come up with a cover, since we struggled with the covers of my second and third novels. My thought was a possible collage cover, but remember I’m a left-brained engineer rather than a right-brained artistic type likemy first wife. I wasn’t trying to push my own images, since I know several very skilled 3D artists who are real wizards. I just do it as a hobby.

And, to try to break through writer’s block! (It didn’t work, by the way, but that’s a different story).Among the images I shared was one in which I visualized my modern-world observer, Major Edward McDunn. He was part of a contingent of Marines in the future world of 2045 who were sent from the U.S. to England to assist in trying to resist barbarian invaders trying to take the country away from its rightful owners. Unfortunately, the attempt to save England failed and McDunn was grievously wounded before being sent off to the Regency by the Siege. I had written enough early on so that my image of him was of a tall, dark man who looked rather the worse for wear after six months of intense combat. Here’s the image I came up with, with him looking out over the countryside near Cornwall:

Note the beard, which is a definite no-no for a Marine, but all the razors have worn out because his regiment hasn’t been resupplied. You can’t see his hair in this image, but it’s just as unkempt.I also shared an image of the wizard/priest Kaswallon, who rescues McDunn, the only survivor of the final battle in which his unit is wiped out. Kaswallon’s family has had custody of the Siege Perilous since the fall of Camelot and the dispersal of Arthur’s knights. As Kaswallon explains to a badly wounded McDunn, there are an infinity of parallel worlds, and Siege Perilous will send to the one where he belongs. This feat is only possible because the Siege is of Divine origin, being the vacant seat at the Round Table. Remember, Rome at the time of the legendary Arthur had become Christian, so Arthur and the inhabitants of Camelot were also Christian (at least in my imagination!). So here’s the image I crafted of how Kaswallon might look:
Ellen Pickels is an absolute genius with Photoshop but doesn’t understand anything about how to generate 3D art, while I’m the exact opposite. So she asked me if I might be able to put McDunn into an image of a field at Pemberley as it’s described early in Chapter 1, where Darcy and Fitzwilliam go to investigate what their driver had seen among the grass and flowers, while Georgiana remained withthe coach. Interestingly, Debbie Styne who worked with me for months to edit the text, suggested almost the same scene but completely independently! So, I took a few days and finally managed to come up with something close to what became the front cover. I was still thinking my imagery would just be the inspiration for a mo e capable artist to work up. So I was surprised when Ellen played with the layout in Photoshop, added the title and author and sent it back to me. That was the first time I realized my design might actually be used. 
So, with the front cover more or less stabilized, Ellen was intrigued by what I’d done with the image of the wizard. I wasn’t very happy with it at the time, because I didn’t really have a good model of a wizard’s robes, but Ellen asked if I could find a costume that was blue but had symbols on it as described in  the text. She also asked if I could put him and McDunn into the cave just before McDunn was sent on his way. I gulped a bit but more or less cheerfully set out to see what I could do. This one took a while, because I didn’t really have the massive catalog of 3D clothing and scene models that a pro would have. But I finally came up with an image in a cave with McDunn astride the Siege Perilous, as in the book. The Siege is described as looking like nothing more than a simple rock, and I made sure Kaswallon wouldn’t be mistaken for a pagan wizard by putting a cross in his right hand to go with his staff in his left.

This image, suitably cropped, wound up becoming the artwork for the back cover. Interestingly, the blue ray coming down from above was not the result of any artistic design on my part. The 3D model I found for the cave happened to have that as part of the model, so I just left it in!
So that’s how the cover design came about. On the page at the front where my previous novels were listed, Ellen (who formatted the book for printing) inserted:
Cover design by C. P. OdomLayout by Ellen Pickels
I thought that was rather gracious of her, because that would normally say: Cover by Ellen Pickels. She also surprised me by putting the USMC logo on the spine!
Among the other images I made were the following:
- After the meeting described in Chapter 1 between Darcy, McDunn, and Colonel Fitzwilliam, the four future friends gather at Darcy’s coach, where Georgiana is introduced. This is another character I took liberties with, and she’s not the shy, retiring girl from P&P. Also, note McDunn’s hair. I mentioned he was rather unkempt!

- Among McDunn’s fellow Marines was the unit corpsman for his battalion, Corporal Sandra Desmond. When I was on active duty, a corpsman was like a medic in the Army, except they were actually Navy pharmacist mates. But we Marines loved our corpsman, because they’d keep us alive in combat, and corpsmen never had to buy their own drinks on liberty. I postulated that the corpsman slot would have been moved to the Marines by 2045, and it would be one of the positions in which the sex of the Marine would be irrelevant. So here’s my image of Desmond, who McDunn calls “Dancer” because of the feline grace with which she moves:

- Debbie Styne (who isn’t a big fan of 3D art, by the way) kept reiterating that we needed to get through the preliminaries at the first of the book and get to the Darcy & Elizabeth parts in the latter two-thirds. In an attempt to mollify her, I generated this image of Darcy asking Elizabeth to dance at the Netherfield ball. Debbie wasn’t thrilled with Darcy’s hair, and she especially didn’t like my early attempts in which I had Caroline Bingley, Charlotte Lucas, and Mr. and Mrs. Bennet in the background. But she did think McDunn in Regency attire was at least passable, so he made the final cut. I think he looks appropriately tall, dark, and large as he observes how the events are similar to but also rather different from P&P . And, of course, there’s that haircut of McDunn’s! You might also note that Elizabeth doesn’t appear all that unhappy to be dancing with Darcy! Remember that point . . .


[Spoiler Alert!] This is an image of Corporal Sandra Desmond on her wedding night. Somehow it appears not quite everyone got wiped out back in 2045! And who might she be marrying and holding out the glass of wine to?


About the book
What is the Siege Perilous, and how does it affect the lives of everyone in the Regency universe of Pride & Prejudice?When a man dressed in bizarre attire suddenly appears in a field on his Pemberley estate, Fitzwilliam Darcy has little inkling of the many and startling changes this man’s strange arrival will have on his life, his family’s lives, and indeed, his whole world.

Mysteriously sent to the Regency world of Pride and Prejudice, this refugee from a future Armageddon is befriended by Darcy. How will the presence of Major Edward McDunn influence the events of Jane Austen’s signature work, especially the tangled courtship between Darcy and the complex and endearing Elizabeth Bennet?Meet the author: C.P. OdomBy training, I’m a retired engineer, born in Texas, raised in Oklahoma, and graduated from the University of Oklahoma. Sandwiched in there was a stint in the  Marines, and I’ve lived in Arizona since 1977, working first for Motorola and then General Dynamics. I raised two sons with my first wife, Margaret, before her untimely death from cancer, and my second wife, Jeanine, and I adopted two girls from China. The older of my daughters recently graduated with an engineering degree and is working in Phoenix, and the younger girl is heading toward a nursing degree. I’ve always been a voracious reader and collector of books, and my favorite genres are science fiction, historical fiction, histories, and, in recent years, reading (and later writing) Jane Austen romantic fiction. This late-developing interest was indirectly stimulated when I read my late wife's beloved Jane Austen books after her passing.  One thing led to another, and I now have three novels published: A Most Civil Proposal (2013), Consequences (2014), and Pride, Prejudice, and Secrets (2015).  My fourth novel, Perilous Siege, was recently published in the second quarter of 2019.

I retired from engineering in 2011, but I still live in Arizona with my family, a pair of dogs (one of which is stubbornly untrainable), and a pair of rather strange cats.  My hobbies are reading, woodworking, and watching college football and LPGA golf (the girls are much nicer than the guys, as well as being fiendishly good putters). Lately I’ve reverted back to my younger years and have taken up building plastic model aircraft and ships (when I can find the time).
Author Links

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Meryton Press is offering eight eBooks copies of Perilous Siege!  The giveaway runs until midnight, April 21, 2019. 
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