Having sold well over "60 million copies of her books (paperback and hardcover) worldwide and in thirty different languages" (Rochlin 2-3), Judith Krantz definitely knows how to write a bestseller. Princess Daisy, Krantz's second bestseller teaches that bestsellers can be written like a screenplay, that fairy tales can make bestsellers, and that authors of best sellers can be a part of their own marketing and promoting process for their books.
Judith Krantz's Princess Daisy teaches one that the style of writing in bestsellers can be very similar to the style of writing in screenplays. In her opening scene of the novel, Krantz creates an image, which could be easily visualized. Krantz writes "the man in uniform watched, motionless in surprise, as Daisy leapt high and held on to a rung of the railing with one strong hand. With her other hand she took off the sailor hat under which she had tucked her hair and let it blow free" (1). More than just creating visual imagery, Krantz's writing style could easily be the script for a character's action in a movie, because it is so exact in the description of character's movements and that it is so simple in form. Yet, it is not just Krantz's ability to write simple script that makes her books seem like screenplays. Margy Rochlin writes that Krantz's "overblown characters and plots" make her books perfect for "small screen dramas"(8).
Krantz's writing style is similar to those authors who have gone from writing screenplays to writing novels. William Blatty's The Exorcist had a tremendous success when it came off the screen and into writing, by immediately making it to the Bestsellers list. Even though Krantz's novel was not written as a screenplay first like The Exorcist, it is interesting to note that both Krantz and Blatty have similar styles in the writing. Blatty sets up each scene in his novel as if one were watching the movie version detailing the actions of his characters. This type of writing style is also found in Princess Daisy. Although, Krantz offers some more insight to the character's thoughts, she does include a detailed list of the character's actions in each episode. For example, Krantz writes "'Daisy, come sit down. There.' He nestled her close to him on the couch, one arm protectively around her shoulders. He found another handkerchief in his trousers and mopped gently at her face, but soon gave up the hopeless job and simply took both her hands in his free one. She sighed deeply and laid the whole weight of her head on his shoulder"(439-440). In this description, the reader and perhaps even a screenwriter understands how the entire scene should be acted if performed.
Kathy Henderson writes, " Mrs. Krantz's books have been criticized for sounding more like screenplays than novels."(3-4). Just like her contemporary, Danielle Steel, the two authors have been criticized for directing their books to the movies. In the television production of the bestselling novel, "Message from Nam", Danielle Steel worked very closely with the television producers and executives to get the movies very similar to the script of her book (Pratsch, Assignment #3). It is interesting to note that Judith's husband, Steve Krantz, produces all of Judith Krantz's books into mini-series. Judith also gets movie version of her books made as closely to her original script, because her producing husband asks the screenwriters to "use the original dialogue wherever possible, because Judy's dialogue is very good"(Henderson 3). The two Krantz's also jointly own Steve Krantz Productions (Henderson 4) which governs the copyrights to Judith's novels and also governs the rights to her books' mini-series. This close connection in the two realms of literary property and TV property add to the mystique that Judith is writing her books to be made into screenplays. Henderson adds that even "her [Judith Krantz's] husband admits he sometimes thinks ahead to television translation when reading a work-in-progress"(4). Steve Krantz's reading of his wife's work is a probably a good call since "like clockwork, about 24 months after each book was published, it has shown up as a TV extravaganza"(Rochlin 8).
Since Krantz's novels end up on the small screen, her novels are awarded the same privileges in book sales as other books that are put into cinema. All of these books receive the same type of commercial boost in the resuscitation of paperback sales as those books that are translated out of cinema form and into literary form. Just like Terry McMillan's best-selling novel, Waiting to Exhale (George Assignment #5), Krantz's books receive more readership and a boost in book sales after they show up on the screen. Thus, it is also interesting to note how bestsellers that become dramatized increase the further sales and readership of their literary form, the novel.
Another aspect in which Princess Daisy teaches one about bestsellers is that fairy tales can make best sellers. Princess Daisy is like a "Cinderella story" in the aspect that a young woman goes from riches to near rags to riches. Krantz creates a story that seems to get more fantastical at every step. Rochlin writes, "few of Krantz's theatrically romantic figures could exist in real life"(2). This claim is definitely true in Princess Daisy, since Daisy is born to "a sultry movie queen and her polo-playing Russian prince husband."(Publisher's Weekly). The story only continues to grow because "Daisy is not born alone, and therefore hangs the tale?she has a secret, retarded half sister to whom she will be emotionally linked all of her life?. a sinister half-brother, Ram, who rapes Daisy early on and pursues her relentlessly?.her mother and father part dramatically" ( Publisher's Weekly) and then Daisy loses all of he money due to poor investing and makes it on her own as a TV commercial producer where she becomes discovered as a model. Not to mention that Krantz makes Daisy an avid horsewoman whose best friend is heir to the General Motors dynasty. Krantz's critics assert say that "it is fantasy not reality that Mrs. Krantz is after"(Curtis 683) in her novels.
Even though Krantz creates fantasy, that is what her readers want because "in Krantz's tales, one is always assured of both a happy ending and villains"(Rochlin 3). This kind of writing proves that escapist, modern day fairy tale literature creates bestsellers, because the public buys these kind of stories. Madonne Minor says that "we live in a culture where lots of women feel very empty?.they feel that they haven't been nurtured, that they haven't been fed. And what they love is talk of material culture?they love detail?repetitive romance novel reading is what fills up those empty fantasy spaces"(Rochlin 5). Krantz like her other romance contemporaries, Danielle Steele, Jackie Collins, and Sidney Sheldon offer their readers with these fantasies and descriptions of the glamorous and romantic life. By writing about the fantasy fairy tale life of their characters, these authors provide their readers with an escape from reality.
Princess Daisy, like any fairy tale shows how the main character becomes a success through his or her own will. Daisy loses all of her wealth and must support her twin sister on her own, so she takes the skills she has learned in college with play directing and sets off for the world of television commercial producing. Daisy becomes a success through her own hard ambition. Other best sellers show this same trend in "making it on one's own," because the public buys success stories. Betty Smith's A Tree Grows in Brooklyn tells a much less glamorous story of a young girl who lives in almost poverty and grows up to go to work to help support her family. The young woman, Francie Nolan, battles against her circumstances to eventually get away from New York City and go to college in Michigan. Not only does she succeed, but also her entire family seems to work themselves out of poverty and into a better way of life. Both of these novels represent one of the trends in bestsellers which is to show how people overcome adversity.
On a final note, Princess Daisy teaches one that authors of bestsellers can be a part of the marketing strategy of their books in order to make it a success. The publishing world still credits Krantz with her record breaking $3,208,875 sale of the paperback rights of Princess Daisy in 1980. Judith Krantz is a commodity for Crown Publishing, because before her "Crown Publishers Inc. was a house bereft of authors who appealed to the female demographic"(Rochlin 4). The executive vice president of Crown Publishers, Michelle Sidrane says that "we consider her [Krantz] a partner in that process"(Rochlin 3) of promoting and marketing her books.
Before Krantz began writing her novels, she was already well known for her work at Cosmopolitan magazine. Therefore, the women who read her work in Cosmo became her "target audience" in her novel career (Rochlin 9-10). Krantz's friend, Helen Gurly-Brown, the editor of Cosmopolitan even helped promote Princess Daisy by putting the book into serialized form in the magazine (Waldron, Assignment 5) Krantz believes that she "knows her reader's turn-offs and turn-ons"(Rochlin 3) when it comes to making a dust jacket. Krantz rewrites the blurbs to make them sound more enticing. For example, Krantz describes one of her characters in Dazzle as "an electric hussy who is potent, determined, and fierce as she fights for those she loves"(Rochlin 3). Not only does Krantz have a part in the writing of her blurbs, but she also has the final say in her own publicity pictures. Krantz's picture covers the backside of her dust jackets. Rochlin writes that "Krantz makes sure that not too many age lines are airbrushed out because 'that way, you look real but not plastic"(3). Krantz realizes that she has become a celebrity and therefore understands that in marketing her book she must also market her own image.
Judith Krantz may not be writing the kind of novels critically acclaimed as great literature but she is producing a best selling entertainment with her fantasy like tales of romance and passion. At entertaining, Krantz appears to be a success, her novels quickly cross the written medium to television mini-series. Krantz knows how to appeal to her audience's need to escape the realm of reality and so she makes modern day fairy tales come to life through her writing. One can learn by reading her bestsellers what it takes to become a success in her field, be imaginative, be prepared to create a book ready for movie production, and be ready to market an image as the author to propel your sales.
George, Preethy. 20th Century Bestsellers Web Page: Waiting to Exhale by Terry McMillan. Assignment #5
Pratsch. Candice. 20th Century Bestsellers Web Page: Message from Nam by Danielle Steel. Assignment #3
Waldron, Leigh. 20th Century Bestsellers Web Page: Scruples by Judith Krantz. Assignment #5
Henderson, Kathy. "They're Keeping Their Mini-Series All in the Family." New York Times Late City
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Rochlin, Margy. "The Hardest Working Woman In Trash Fiction." Los Angelos Times Home Edition.
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Curtis, Charlotte. New York Times Book Review. 85:9. March 2, 1980
Publisher's Weekly. Vol. 217. January 11, 1980. P.78
Krantz, Judith. Princess Daisy. New York: Crown. 1980.