A few days ago I had my very first “appearance” related to KISSING SHAKESPEARE. I use quotes because it was a virtual gig. Back in early February, Jenni Newton of the Florida Virtual School asked me to be a guest speaker at their Shakespeare Festival. I hesitated, because my book isn’t out until August. But she was persuasive, and I decided it would be a good experience for me, as well as an excellent way to introduce the book to some teens.
FLVS asked me to create a PowerPoint presentation about the book, which I did, and we set a date to record the narration to go with it. The students would view the slides prior to a live chat with me, so even though they would not have read KISSING SHAKESPEARE, they would know something about it.
Here are some of the questions posed by students and faculty during the live chat:
Q: How long did it take you to write your novel?
A: Two years, including research. Five years from start to publication.
Q: Did you write when you were a teacher and librarian? Have you always been a writer?
A: I knew I wanted to write, but it was always a “someday” kind of thing. I know many teachers have written, currently write, while teaching. But that just didn’t work for me. I could only do one thing at a time, since I had a great passion for both!
Q: The basis of your book is really interesting. What would have happened if Shakespeare hadn’t been a writer? What inspired that concept?
A: The history of the time inspired the concept, which evolved as I wrote the book. I knew that one of the plot elements would be that the Jesuits were trying to recruit him for the priesthood, which led me to have the main character, Miranda, wonder what he would have become had he not become a writer and actor. She imagines him as a great scholar. The Jesuits were renowned for their learning and scholarship, and she thinks Shakespeare would have fit into that world.
We discussed time travel, the Shakespeare authorship question, and our favorite plays. Was time travel a challenging concept to write about? Definitely. One reason why my male main character doesn’t want to change historical events; he wants to make sure they unfold as they were meant to.
As far as the authorship question…I’m a “Stratfordian!” I firmly believe Shakespeare wrote the plays, not Ben Jonson or Christopher Marlowe or Edmund de Vere, the Earl of Oxford. I love the idea that an obscure young man from the middle of England could arrive in London and end up writing the most beautiful and profound plays the world has ever known.
And in KISSING SHAKESPEARE, Miranda and her guide through time, Stephen, make it their mission to see that he does.