December 3, 2018

Taking a Consumptive Courtesan into the 21st Century

Fallen—my most recent book—is a retelling of Verdi's La Traviata. But it is also a retelling of the original story on which the opera was based: La Dame aux camélias [The Lady of the Camellias] by Alexandre Dumas, fils.

The story is timeless, which explains why it's been adapted and retold in countless versions and multiple forms & languages, even by the author himself. Opera, ballet, film, stage, and yes, prose—all captivated by this tragic love. The movie Moulin Rouge! is one such retelling, and according to Wikipedia, there are 9 film adaptations entitled Camille, including the 1936 movie featuring Greta Garbo, not to mention the many film adaptations with other titles.

There were many challenges in trying to live up to the poignancy of the original, and of the retellings. (I'm anxious to know if I succeeded, which is to say, to see what readers think.) But one of the first was deciding how to make consumption (tuberculosis) into something relevant for modern-day Manhattan since, thankfully, TB isn't common in New York nowadays.

As I thought about the story I wanted to tell, already knowing I wanted to give more weight to the heroine's journey, I wanted to retain some of the key elements relating to consumption. The heroine's illness had to be life-threatening, and it needed to impact the lungs.

The rest of this post is up on Patreon, and in the interest of not doubling up content, click below to:

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