Today, we’re doing something a little different. If you remember, we interviewed Lana K. Dempsey’s character on July 28th and it was so fun that I thought we may as well make an occasional habit of it. I had the pleasure of meeting Vivienne Vincent, the debut author of Dandelions, on my author journey and I asked if I could borrow a character, Elizabeth Goodenough (Izzy for short) from the book. We’ll get a chance to talk to Vivienne in a bit, but now we have on the stage…Izzy!
Marie Lavender: Hello, Izzy. Please have a seat.
Character Izzy: Thank you for having me, Marie.
Marie: Of course! It’s my pleasure!
We’re going to start out with some simple questions, all right?
Marie: So, what is your occupation? Are you any good at it? Do you like it?
Izzy: When I was younger, I wanted to be an Ivy League student. But my family did not have enough money and I failed to get a scholarship. Which is sad because I was a really good student until Saber came along and broke my heart. The worst part is, I was in the final year of high school.
Later I took a few courses that qualified me to work as a typist. I was able to get a menial secretarial job at a newspaper office.
I was not in love with my job because I was overworked and underpaid. Also, my boss was always trying to flirt with me. He would keep staring at me which made me uncomfortable. But life does not always offer enough options to walk away.
Marie: Oh… Sorry to hear that. I think we’ve all had those jobs that we’d rather not have…
And you’re right. It’s not always easy to get out. Let’s try another question.
Tell us…what is your family like?
Izzy: My parents died in a car crash soon after I was born. I was raised by my Grandma who was a fabulous woman. She used to work for Saber’s family. She bought me a puppy when I was eight. Saber named my puppy Dandelion.
Dandelion died when I was eighteen. And soon after I finished high school, Grandma also left me. It was just an awful year for me.
So I moved to New York to live with my uncle whose wife was a real shrew. Once I found a job, I left their place and moved into a studio apartment.
There was no real family after Grandma until Saber came back into my life.
Marie: Really so sorry to hear you’ve had such misfortune…
Let’s try something else, okay?
If it doesn’t bother you at all, can you let us know what your childhood home looked like?
Izzy: Oh, it was a very small house. Grandma and I did not share a room but it was quite cramped. I loved flowers so much but there was no garden. Although, later I learned that as long as you have a roof over your head, you should not be complaining.
Marie: Very true…
Do you have any hobbies, Izzy? What do you enjoy doing?
Izzy: I enjoy reading books. I love Emily Dickinson. When I was little I used to read a lot of fairy tales. When I grew up I fell in love with stories about vampires. I love watching cartoons and dunking muffins in a warm cup of tea. Muffins taste so much better that way.
Oh, and I read the tabloids regularly.
Marie: Hmm…I’ll have to try that muffin thing. And I can’t blame you about the vampires!
So, what is your greatest dream?
Izzy: As a little girl, the dream was to marry Prince Charming and live happily ever after. After the evil wizard broke my heart, I pretty much lost track of everything.
I spent a lot of time daydreaming, though. I kept telling myself that Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, and Steve Jobs made it so there was no reason that I couldn’t. Of course they were only pipe dreams.
But now that Saber and I are back together and he’s promised to become a better person, I want to see him live up to his promise. I am sure he will not let me down.
Marie: All right.
What kind of person do you wish you could be? What is stopping you?
Izzy: Well, if you look at my life, it’s pretty clear what went wrong. But life does not always work the way we think it should. All we can do is choose the best possible option.
Marie: That’s true.
I’m going to throw another random question at you now.
Who was your first love?
Izzy: Saber, and he is the love of my life. I know he has his flaws and perhaps I forgave him too easily. But I don’t like to be a drama queen. Also, when you are in love, you can either play tough and be egotistical, or understand and accept the other person.
Marie: That’s right. And it’s better to realize someone has flaws, loving them for every facet of their character than to love an idealized version of that person.
So…let’s try another question.
What’s the most terrible thing that ever happened to you?
Izzy: Life is a series of events. It’s difficult to pinpoint a single moment. I don’t think that one tragic event alters a person altogether. For me, it started when my dog died. Saber picked the worst moment to do what he did. He broke me so bad that I was no longer able to focus on my studies.
Then Grandma passed away and putting up with my aunt was nothing short of torture.
And, of course, the mistake that I made at the newspaper office, which brought me face to face with Saber, was a nightmare.
It’s been a tough journey but I am glad that things worked out.
Marie: Me too! I’m still sorry about your hardships…
[Briefly touches her guest’s hand.]
Let’s move on to something a bit lighter now, shall we?
What was your dream growing up? Did you achieve that dream? If so, in what ways was it not what you expected? If you never achieved the dream, why not?
Izzy: Well, in one sense I did not achieve my dream but in another way I did. I did not get to be an Ivy League graduate. I was not able to have the kind of financial security and independence a stable job would have provided. But I am glad that Saber and I ended up together.
Marie: Indeed! (Sighs.) I love romance…♥
So, who is your role model, Izzy?
Izzy: I admired my Grandma a great deal. She was honest, hard-working, and very wise. After Saber broke my heart, she told me that “There are no Rhett Butlers and Darcys in real life. Only Heathcliffs.”
Grandma was tough but she was also incredibly kind and gentle. Sometimes I wonder if Saber had had her for a mother figure instead of his Grundy grandmother, he would have been very different.
Marie: That’s possible, but we also can’t change the past, no matter how much we wish. All we can do is make the best of what happened, try to better ourselves for the future.
It sounds like your grandmother was a very special person.
Now, you’ll probably think I’m digging for dirt on the next question.
Is there someone you pretend to like but really dislike?
Izzy: Not really. I am not much of a diplomat.
Can you tell us something else? What is your deepest desire?
Izzy: At this point in my life, I just want to see Saber live up to his full potential. I think that he has a good heart. But peer pressure combined with other factors can make people do things that are contrary to their nature.
Marie: That’s true.
How about one last question?
What is your greatest fear?
Izzy: I don’t have any fears. Not anymore. I feel safe with Saber. He has given me a great deal of confidence.
Marie: That’s great!
Well, it looks like we’re out of time. Thank you for visiting us today, Izzy. It was so interesting getting to know you!
(Waves goodbye to her guest.)
Now, let’s shift over and get the author’s perspective. We have author Vivienne Vincent on the stage today. It’s such a pleasure to have you here! Hello, Vivienne!
Author Vivienne Vincent: Hi, Marie, thank you so much for having me.
Marie: Really, the honor is mine.
So, we just got to talk to a female character from your story, Elizabeth Goodenough, or rather, Izzy. Quite an interesting character. Can you tell us a little about her?
Vivienne: Izzy is an ordinary girl. I think she is pretty easy to relate to. Over the course of the book, we can see her evolve. She is very dreamy and naïve. She has a good heart, which makes her vulnerable. She is not a strong, feminist role model. But the way the book ends, I think that she has the potential to become one.
Marie: All right.
What are your character’s greatest strengths?
Vivienne: She is a good girl. She’s very kind. Because she has such a good heart, she thinks that the world works the same way. Being too naïve is certainly a flaw but she learns. She is very smart and intelligent. She is witty. She has the ability to become a strong woman who can bring out the very best in others as well.
And what are your character’s greatest weaknesses?
Vivienne: I think her love for Saber could be considered a weakness. She is too dreamy and gullible. She lives in a world of her own where she forgets that fairy tales might have a Prince Charming but there’s often an evil wizard involved. When reality slaps her in the face, she is unable to deal with it. Our perception of the world depends on how we treat others. So her attitude toward Saber might be a weakness, but I cannot call it a flaw.
Marie: I think we all have certain people we can’t resist, for one reason or another.
So, what are some of Izzy’s favorite foods?
Vivienne: She is a simple girl. She does not have expensive taste. You might remember how much she hated caviar? She likes pizza, tea, and muffins. She also likes to munch on junk food late at night.
Marie: (Laughs.) Well, who doesn’t?
How about another question?
What’s a positive quality that your character is unaware that he or she has?
Vivienne: One important thing to remember about Izzy is that we do not see the complete evolution of her character in the book. The book ends with the possibility of what is going to happen next. The way I see it, refusing to sign the prenup and taking a stand so that Saber will apologize means she is ready to become a more resilient woman. She starts becoming aware of what she is capable of.
Will readers like or dislike this character, and why?
Vivienne: That is something only the readers can tell. I have received some really, really hateful comments about Saber but the good thing is that most of the people admitted that they were eventually able to forgive him.
Izzy, on the other hand, is a likable character. There might be times when the reader wonders who is that dumb? But if we remember being young and vulnerable, all of us have been there. We learn with experience.
I never meant to create characters that my readers will fall in love with. No one is perfect or absolutely adorable. But I think that Izzy is likable and Saber is memorable.
Marie: Thank you for your honesty.
And you’re right. No one can be perfect. I think that most readers like to see ‘human’ characters who have strengths and flaws just like anyone else.
Now that we have a real taste of Izzy, we have a few questions for you as well as the author.
What first gave you the idea for Dandelions?
Vivienne: Four years of unemployment. I had so much free time on my hands and I thought why not write a book? The kind of book you read for fun when life starts to get on your nerves. Saber’s character had been there inside my head for quite some time along with a few other male protagonists. Actually, this was Saber’s story, not Izzy’s.
Marie: Interesting how the muse works, huh?
Let’s try something else.
What is your writing style like? Are you a pantster or a plotter?
Vivienne: With Dandelions, I was a total pantser. When I started writing, all I had was Saber’s character in my head. Details of his interaction with Izzy were vague. But I have definitely learned my lesson. I want to be a plotter in the future.
Marie: Can’t blame you there…I am a little of both. I let the ideas flow as much as I can, and then I start plotting around what I already have.
So, now I’m throwing this one in for our aspiring writers. Did you come across any specific challenges in writing Dandelions or publishing it? What would you do differently the next time?
Vivienne: I think that writing is very difficult. It requires focus and women have to juggle so much at the same time. As a writer you don’t get to take a break. Ideas are always there; they pop up at random moments, and if you don’t jot them down right away, they vanish into thin air.
Like any other writer, I had my fair share of writer’s block. But there was something worse. When changes were suggested during edits, first of all, I could not figure out what and how to change. I would make one little change and that would change the entire chapter. Sometimes the whole book was affected.
During the course of edits, I had to do a lot of research which should have been done when the book was written. But I did not always plan to publish it.
I have been a Harlequin reader for a very long time, so I sent it to one of their imprints. I was rejected. I sent it to a lot of other publishers and agents. All of them turned me down. I think I must have sent it to more than a hundred publishers, I cannot even recall how many. Maybe fifty agents. Those who were nice enough, politely turned me down. Most of them didn’t even reply.
But I was determined so I thought about self-publishing. And then out of the blue, one publisher told me that it’s an interesting story but there are certain flaws; rapid shift of POV, head-hopping, and telling the story instead of showing etc. I had no idea what those terms meant but I was glad to receive constructive criticism and I started working on the book again so that I could resubmit the manuscript.
But then, I received an e-mail from Solstice. They accepted the manuscript and assigned an editor, Debbie Rowe, who helped me overcome a lot of problems. Dandelions was written in third person and Debbie told me to rewrite the book in first person so that I could avoid certain issues.
And it has been an amazing experience.
For my next book, I want to have a better outline and work at a consistent pace instead of sleep deprivation and starvation.
Marie: (Laughs.) If you’re anything like me, sleep deprivation and starvation are pretty much a part of the job description.
It’s fascinating to hear about your journey, and what you learned from it.
So much goes into the process, and we need all the help we can get.
Well, it was a such a pleasure having you here on the I Love Romance Blog! And how apropos is that, considering what a great story Dandelions appears to be.
Readers, you will just have to pick up a copy of this sexy, contemporary romance by Vivienne Vincent, a very talented author!
Here is the blurb for Dandelions:
“There are no Rhett Butlers and Darcys in real life. Only Heathcliffs.”
An avant-garde romance that goes beyond sexual chemistry and digs deep into human nature and relationships.
Elizabeth Goodenough met Saber Fergus for the first time when she was eight and he was twelve. He broke her heart when she was eighteen. Ten years later, an unwitting mistake on Izzy’s part once again brings her face to face with the same one-night stand that once brutally crushed her.
But something seems different this time. Has her dark knight really transformed into a knight in shining armor, or is he playing her all over again?
Vivienne is also offering us a great excerpt from the book!
At this point, Saber cracked a crooked grin and asked, “What’s his name?”
His flat voice became ebullient. His mischievous smile created subtle wrinkles around his deep-set, ebony eyes. They were shining far more brightly than the stars I spent hours staring at trying to figure out which ones were my parents.
“I haven’t named him yet. I got him only about a week ago. I am still thinking of a name.”
“Got him or stole him? Just like you were trying to steal our flowers.”
He was teasing me and it was working.
“You cannot steal flowers. Flowers belong to Mother Earth and Mother Earth belongs to all of us.”
“This part of Mother Earth belongs to me, so I own everything in here including wicked little girls with their hideous looking sons of bitches.”
The way that stiff-necked boy retaliated right away, it became clear that he was not someone easy to take down.
He continued. “So since both of you belong to me, why don’t I name him for you? Dandelion. How is it?”
“Dandelion?” The name made me smile. “I like it. I will call him Dandelion. Now he has an actual name. Grandma says once you have a name, you become a real person. Dandelion too is a real person now.”
“No, he is still an ugly son of a bitch. Do you like the dandelion collection over there?”
“It’s beautiful. I wish I had some in my house, but our house is too small and we don’t have a garden.”
“You can take one from here. Come with me.”
Saber moved toward the garden and I followed him. He plucked a dandelion and handed it to me. It was my first time holding one. I was staring at the delicate dandelion when Saber came close and blew right into it making it vanish into thin air. I was still trying to figure out what had happened when I heard a giggle.
“You are a meanie,” I told him.
His eyes shone like a polished apple. He snatched the stem out of my hand and flicked it. It fell on the ground.
“Dandelions are far too delicate. They are just an illusion. They look real but they never last. Here.” He plucked a red rose and gave it to me. “Take this instead. Red roses are far more resilient.”
Universal Amazon link: http://bookgoodies.com/a/B01IG97RCU
We’ll be sure to get a copy of this steamy romance! ♥
About Vivienne Vincent
Vivienne Vincent grew up in a fairly conservative environment which ironically sparked her interest in unconventional subjects and romance novels. As a young girl she became interested in novels from the Victorian era as well as modern day romance. She is pretty much obsessed with British and American sitcoms and crime series. Look her up on Facebook and Twitter to keep up with her. She loves to hear from readers.
And, if you want to know how to connect with the amazing Vivienne Vincent, here are some author links:
Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.to/2abR73V
Once again, I want to thank both of our guests, Izzy, a female character from Dandelions, and Vivienne Vincent, the brilliant author of the novel, for stopping by! It was so much fun to have you here!