Monday, May 7, 2012

Interview with GG Vandagriff

 GG Vandagriff

Deirdra:  What is your writing and educational background?
GG: I have published eleven books in a variety of genres with traditional publishing houses over the last twenty years. This body of work includes The Last Waltz: A Novel of Love and War, the Whitney Award Winner for Best Historical Novel of 2009, a mystery series, two non-fiction books, two suspense novels, and one women’s fiction. In 2011, I went Indie, and have published the critically acclaimed women’s fiction, The Only Way to Paradise, and just last month, my first Regency romance: The Duke’s Undoing which has received five 5-star reviews on Amazon. I have also republished all my old novels, except two, which will be republished as soon as I get the return of rights from my publisher. I love being an Indie author!

I studied writing at Stanford University where I received my B.A. I also have a Master’s Degree from George Washington University.

Deirdra:  What makes you passionate about writing?
GG: I have written my whole life and cannot imagine life without some alternative existence taking place. I started as a young child, trying to escape from an unhappy home. My writing has always been a vital part of my mental health. I am a very passionate person (being bi-polar) with a penchant for drama. My real life is quite ordinary, so I live by proxy through my characters. I really love creating different realities, peopling them with complex characters, and seeing what happens. Kind of like a chemistry experiment. Sometimes I am very surprised by what happens. I love to go deeply into their consciousness, finding surprise after surprise. In the Regency I am writing now, I was thoroughly delighted to realize my heroine was an oil painter who carried a hopeless passion for an Italian man she met when visiting Italy with her father. Most of my stories have a twist at the end as I pull one last rabbit out of the hat.

Deirdra: What dreams have been realized as a result of your writing?
GG: My greatest desire has always been to help people who are suffering through the same trials of abuse and mental illness that I have suffered. I neglected to mention above that I have a twice-monthly column in Meridian magazine. Through that, and through my book Deliverance from Depression, I have been able to reach people all over the world and offer them hope through an understanding of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Almost every book that I have written has the theme of redemption. Even The Duke’s Undoing! (All good Regencies have the redemption of a rogue!) Being able to help people and make them think about their lives in a more constructive way has been very fulfilling.

Deirdra: Can you tell us a little about your book, The Duke’s Undoing?
GG: The duke of Ruisdell has just returned wounded from the Napoleonic wars. He is weary, cynical, and very bored. Known as the worst rake in England, he finds he has no interest in upholding that distinction, when his friend, the Marquis of Somerset, proposes a bet: "Five thousand guineas says that seducing Miss Elise Edwards will cure your ennui." Because his friend has just lost a packet to him, he agrees that the bet be posted in White's famous Betting Book.
The following day, while walking in Green Park, he spies a mysterious young woman, veiled, and obviously grieving. A disembodied voice, sounding strangely like that of his late adjutant, informs him, "The jig is up. That is the girl you are going to marry!" He scoffs, but is nevertheless intrigued by something about the slight figure. He even sketches her and asks if he can be of assistance to her. She declines his offer kindly.
At the opera that evening, he is captivated by a beauty across the Opera Hall. He hears the same voice, saying the same thing. The marquis informs him that the woman in question is Miss Elise Edwards. When he meets her, he recognizes her voice as that of the woman in the park. Now she is surrounded by a surfeit of ex-fiance's, one of them dangerously unbalanced. Ruisdell discovers an actual bond between them which renders him honor bound to protect her.
Thus begins a train of unstoppable events--dangerous, humorous, devilish, and amorous--that carry his life along at such a pace that the duke soon knows not whether he is on his head or his heels. And then there is that bet . . .
Enjoy this delicious romance that will carry you back to the Regency period in English history, where manners were dictated by strict rules of fashion. It is the Jane Austen era, populated by gentlemen and ladies of leisure. These books are best enjoyed with a box of chocolates, and are guaranteed to enliven any boredom (ennui) that you may be experiencing!

Deirdra: What is your process of brainstorming a story? Do you just sit down and write, waiting to see what happens next? Or do you outline first?
GG: I have tried and tried to outline, but for the most part, my stories evolve through the characters I create. If I outline, the story always ends up being completely different than my outline. I guess I am what is called a “Discovery Writer.” I “write into” my characters, and when their personalities are formed, I go back and cut out the backstory completely, and rewrite, starting with the conflict, weaving the backstory in as I go. This takes a lot of time, but it is never wasted. I am not a fast writer. With one disastrous exception, I never let go of a work until I feel it is fully actualized. The great thing about being an Indie writer is that there are no deadlines!

Deirdra: Do you ever experience a snag in a story, a form of writer's block? If so, how do you deal with it?
GG: Whenever this happens, I always know that I must go deeper into my characters. Plot complications will always arise when I do this. If I am having trouble, if the story isn’t pouring out of me, it is always because my characters are too shallow.

Deirdra:  What do you hope readers will get from your books?
GG: A sense that living righteously, doing your best to overcome challenges and opposition, makes for a productive life. No life is ideal. But the way my characters deal with their problems always makes them triumphant in their own small sphere. Also, real love redeems. Always.

Deirdra:  Where is your favorite place to write?
GG: My favorite place to write is a small cafĂ© in Florence on the corner of Via Poliziano called Robiglio’s. I can sit there and listen the ebb and flow of all the passionate Italian conversations around me, look out on the Old City, eat a fantastic pastry or sandwich, and pound away on my laptop. The Renaissance, which began in Florence, is a terrific inspiration to me. I have spent a great deal of time in that city. (It is the setting for The Only Way to Paradise). Florence is empowering to me. It makes me feel that anything is possible. I try to go once a year.

Deirdra: Where can readers go to find your books and order them?
My books are all available on and They are available in e-book format for the Kindle or the Nook, and also in paperback. You can browse and read about my writing life on:,, my Amazon author page, my Goodreads author page, and my Facebook Author Page (GG Vandagriff-Author). You can also sign up to receive my monthly newlestter on my website.


  1. Thanks for sharing these insights into G.G.'s writing. I love her books, I'm reading "The Duke's Undoing" right now. Delightful!

  2. Hi! Just came across this blog. Wonderful and very enviting. One for the authors in deed.

    Have joined.

    Author Thelma Cunningham

    Happy writing to all!


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