Teri Wilson is the author of the new novel Royally Roma, a retelling of the classic film Roman Holiday. Her other novels include Unleashing Mr. Darcy and The Art of Us. She is a contributing writer for the website HelloGiggles.com.
Q: How did you come up with the idea for a modern retelling of Audrey Hepburn’s Roman Holiday?
A: I’m a big Audrey Hepburn fan, so I watched Roman Holiday for the first time years ago when I was in college. It was one of the first classic movies I’d ever seen.
Then a few years ago, Roman Holiday celebrated its 60th anniversary, so I went to see it on the big screen at my local theatre. I fell in love with the story all over again.
Shortly afterward, I took two trips to Italy, just a few months apart. When I was in Rome, I kept imagining what the story would be like set in today’s world. Months later, when I was in Florence on a writer’s retreat, I began to work on the actual book.
Several little tidbits in Royally Roma came straight out of that writing retreat, including the name Mano Romano. Niccolo was actually named after an outrageously flirtatious waiter we had one night.
Q: Did you need to do any research to write this novel?
A: I’d say my trips to Italy comprised most of my research, but I did have to look things up after I returned, especially some of the facts about the Coliseum. I also watched the movie Roman Holiday several times while I was working on the book.
Q: What did you see as the right balance between a modern story and the classic film?
A: Besides incorporating the film’s theme of a royal in disguise exploring Rome, I also wanted to capture the whirlwind feeling of falling in love in just a few short days. These were the big takeaways from the movie that I thought needed to be explored.
But I didn’t want the book to be exactly like the film, which is why I chose a contemporary setting. I decided to switch the genders of the hero and heroine because I thought that would give the story a more modern vibe.
Q: This is the first in a series. What can you tell us about the next book?
A: Book 2 in the Royals series comes out in July, and it’s called Royally Romanov. I’m so excited about this book! It was inspired by Anastasia, but like Royally Roma, it’s also a contemporary romance.
Here’s a little peek:
In this charming modern day retelling of the 1956 classic Anastasia, a museum curator falls for a mysterious man who may or may not be a long lost heir to Russia’s imperial Romanov dynasty.
Finley Abbot is organizing the most prestigious art exhibit of her career at the Louvre museum—a retrospective of art from the House of Romanov. But the sudden appearance of Maxim Romanov threatens to turn her into the biggest laughingstock of the art world. When she finds herself falling in love, she realizes there’s even more at stake than her career. How can she trust a man with her whole world when he can’t remember a thing about his past?
After suffering a violent blow to the head, Maxim’s only clue to his identity is a notebook containing carefully researched documentation in his own handwriting indicating that he is the sole surviving descendant of the Grand Duchess Anastasia, previously thought dead in the murder of her family during Russia’s Bolshevik revolution. His struggle to put the mysterious pieces of his past back together leads him to Finley. At first, she’s convinced Maxim is nothing but a con artist. But there’s something undeniably captivating about the beautiful, brooding man who claims to be searching for his identity—something Finley can’t quite bring herself to resist. When he reveals a secret about one of the imperial Fabergé eggs in the collection, she accepts he may actually be telling the truth. But as soon as Finley and Maxim act on their feelings for one another, Maxim is confronted with evidence that calls into question everything he’s begun to believe about himself.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: I’m finishing up Royally Wed, the third book in the Royals series. It’s loosely based on an old Fred Astaire movie, Royal Wedding, and it’s been such [fun] to write!
A large part of the book takes place inside Buckingham Palace, complete with the Queen’s royal Corgis. And lots of romance, of course.
Q: Anything else we should know?
A: I hope that readers of this series who haven’t seen Roman Holiday, Royal Wedding or the original 1956 version of Anastasia will watch these classic films. It’s lovely to see how these movies hold up over time. They’re classics for a reason.
--Interview with Deborah Kalb