Maybe This Time and The Turn of the Screw

Many, many years ago, I was working on a masters in feminist criticism and I did a journal entry on how I’d fix the classics. Evangeline would stop her ceaseless searching for the boy she’d left behind and open a fast food franchise with her face on the sign so he could find her. Madame Bovary survey the men around her, decide that there must be more to life than these guys, and strike out for new parts. Hester Prynne would look around town and say, “What a bunch of hypocrites,” and make everybody pay through the nose for embroidery. And the governess in The Turn of the Screw would send a letter to the kids’ guardian at the first sign of ghosts that said, “Get your butt down here, this place is haunted.” As the years passed, I lost my interest in saving Evangeline, Emma, and Hester, but the governess haunted me. She didn’t even have a name. It was so wrong. “I’m going to do my version of The Turn of the Screw,” I’d tell people. Nobody said, “Oh, goody.” They probably thought the original version was holding up pretty well. I did, too, but something had to be done about that governess. Finally I decided it was time. “I’m going to write my version of The Turn of the Screw,” I told my editor. She didn’t say, “Oh, goody.” Well, all great artists are misunderstood. I persevered, my editor said, “I trust you,” I signed a contract, and then I had to actually write it. Continue reading