Like many of you my love of reading started with the classics. And I’m sure I’m not the only one who let my imagination run wild with thoughts of what was left behind the scenes of some of my favorite classic couples. What fun it was to discover that Gabrielle Vigot got the chance to actually take the classic relationship between Daisy Miller and Fredrick Winterbourne and make it Wild and Wanton! Let’s chat with her and learn more.
Hi, Gabrielle, and welcome to Coffee Time Romance. Why don’t you tell us a little about yourself?
For starters, I wasn’t always a romance writer. I used to be like lots of people who thought romance novels were for unimaginative writers and tear-prone moms. But I wanted to write to prove to myself I could finish a project, and I needed to find a genre—something fun and saucy at the same time. The small press I copyedit for was looking for romance suggestions, and I was weighing whether to submit when one of my coworkers at my day job suggested I watch this Nora Roberts interview. I was struck by how grateful one of her fans was for the “escape” Roberts provides through the fantasy worlds in her books, and of course it had a big part in changing my opinion on the romance genre.
As for my life before all that, I grew up in Hawaii, going through some wonderful foster families before being adopted by yet another wonderful family, and running off to college in Philadelphia, earning an art degree. Panicking like every other art student after graduation, I was applying to a post-grad art program when my mom took a look at my application and said, “You are a better writer than you are an artist.” Go figure!
I’m so glad you learned to love the romance genre. It is a perfect escape from the difficult things in the world. Now, tell me about Daisy Miller: The Wild and Wanton Edition.
Daisy Miller is a very important novel in its time. It’s about an insouciant young American woman on an extended vacation in Switzerland and Italy and her struggle to fit in with high society there. Like some urban American girls today, Daisy has a habit of being terribly flirtatious with several male characters in the novella. This earns her an unsavory reputation. The other main character, Frederick Winterbourne, works hard to gain her favor and make her see the error of her ways. Unfortunately, this pushes Daisy away as he corners her in a party, chases her through the coliseum, and lectures her after a heartachingly luscious kiss. You’ll have to read the e-book to find out if he makes his way to her heart or if he loses her for good!
Mmm, that sounds exciting! What made you want to make this story Wild and Wanton?
I was intrigued by the delicate way Daisy holds Winterbourne’s interest and the way she teases him so delightfully without giving herself to him. Let’s just say I wanted to tip the balance a bit and add the scenes Henry James must have imagined but would have been too decorous to dream of writing during the late 1800s.
That’s what I love about the Wild and Wanton adaptation. We get a peek at what we always pictured happening with this couple. What did you find most difficult, or most fun, about re-working this classic?
The most difficult part about writing this adaptation was figuring out the best places to add scenes, and deciding the ending. The original novella has a tragic and abrupt end, and I had to decide whether to leave it like that or change it. I wanted to do justice to the flow of the original story while spicing it up quite a bit. It was definitely a challenge to do so!
Well, I think you did a great job with keeping the flow while adding some fun. Daisy is already a flirty character in the original version; why do you think these heroines are so much fun?
I think we all can look up to Daisy, really. She lived in a time where social mores were very stifling and restrictive for women—it is not appropriate for her to be as flirtatious as her character is. Where some personalities might have adopted a more modest attitude while attempting to make friends abroad, their story would have been boring. We have a sublime need to root for the underdog. We want to stand up against injustice, whether well-meaning friends, the government, or our parents or bosses have imposed it upon us. We can live vicariously through women like Daisy and appreciate the lessons she teaches Winterbourne and her new friends as well.
Are there other classics you’d like to revamp?
Crimson Romance has already taken so many classic novels and spiced them up check them all out at www.crimsonromance.com, and the Wild and Wanton edition of A Room with a View is definitely recommended for my readers. If I had to choose another classic to revamp, it’d have to be something unusual or unexpected, such as Frankenstein. I’d love to hear from fans on Facebook or by email if you have any requests!
Oh, yes! A Wild and Wanton Frankenstein would be awesome! Do you have a favorite scene? Which one and why?
Without giving away too much, I have to say that Daisy’s mom is very feisty as well, and there’s an unusual scene in the beach tents involving a “languorous tongue” that was way too much fun to write.
Is there anything you had to cut from the book that you wished could stay?
I tried to stay as true to the original storyline as possible, with a few exceptions. Henry James’s original story had a wonderful arc to it.
Seeing as how you did keep to the original storyline as much as you could, would you say that’s a reason lovers of the original Daisy Miller should consider reading its Wild and Wanton cousin?
The Wild and Wanton Edition is sort of like fan fiction; you can read about the characters you love falling for each other in greater detail and going places Henry James wouldn't dare to put them. Daisy's mother's character is also a bit more "developed," as I put it.
Outside of this story, are you writing anything else or have something new on the horizon?
I think my next project will probably be an original contemporary novel with some romance and some suspense. It’s time for me to write one of my own, and I’ll be sure to post details for my fans on Facebook once I do!
Please do, I’m sure an original you write will be a delight for your fans. Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
One of my first inspirations was a teacher’s tiny handwritten comment: A story I’d written in the style of Edgar Allan Poe was “decidedly Poe-like.” I think as a writer you have to cling to miniscule things like this and have a slightly inflated sense of self to survive through so much rejection. Do not give up. Take part in National Novel Writing Month (November, http://nanowrimo.org/) and join online support forums to get advice and support from other writers. Once you’ve published, don’t forget your old writer pals—always ask to promote each other. Stay abreast of the latest trends in terms of what publishers are looking for—you will have to adapt your writing to that. But don’t write something you hate just because you think it will sell, or it will blow up in your face. Write, write, and write some more, and don’t care what others think of your manuscript until you’ve finished it. Better to have written with passion, attempting to publish all your life and fail miserably, than to never have tried at all.
Great advice, Gabrielle! Last fun question; if money were no object what hobby would you pursue?
I would definitely make traveling more of a habit. And of course I would write from home and have my own darkroom. And I’d love to spend part of my time helping other people get published. We writers need to stick together.
I can’t think of anything better than traveling and writing. Good luck in your future endeavors!
Gabrielle Vigot is the author of Daisy Miller: The Wild and Wanton Edition. The original novella is about an out-of-control young socialite in the 1800s, and Vigot's version is updated with all the sex and romantic drama of the contemporary romance. Purchasing links: gabriellevigot.wordpress.com
TWITTER: http://twitter.com/ GabrielleVigot