When Tania Navarro, age 19, wrote to me about KISSING SHAKESPEARE, she asked several questions. Afterward, I asked her if she would mind if I used them on this blog, since many other people have asked me the same questions. She was kind enough to give her consent. Tania is nineteen and lives in eastern Iowa. Below are her questions (in bold) followed by my answers:
I know that KISSING SHAKESPEARE is the first novel you’ve written, but are you planning to write a sequel? When Stephen and Miranda meet again?
I’d love to write a sequel to KISSING SHAKESPEARE, but it’s too soon for my publisher to commit to one. So many readers have written to me to ask if Miranda and Stephen will ever see each other again. Obviously, there is much more of their story to tell, and I’ve spent many hours thinking about it. A reviewer on Goodreads also said she wanted a prequel—the story of Stephen and his beloved Mary Swindon! I’ve never thought of that, but you never know!
Are you planning to write any other books?
I have a new book coming out from William Morrow/Harper Collins late in 2013. Cover and title to be revealed soon!
What inspired you to write KISSING SHAKESPEARE in the first place? Was it Hoghton Tower? Or something else? Or was it someone?
I’ve been to England many times, and setting does play a powerful inspirational role for me. I love British history and British writers. The idea for KISSING SHAKESPEARE struck me when I was reading a book called WILL IN THE WORLD, written by a Shakespeare scholar named Stephen Greenblatt. This was the first time I came across the idea that Shakespeare may have been a schoolmaster in northern England in his late teens, before he married Anne Hathaway. I thought that was a fascinating tidbit, and my mind immediately went to how I could build a story around it.
The “someone” would have to be Shakespeare!
Who are your favorite authors?
Shakespeare, of course. But Jane Austen is first in my heart! Among YA writers, I currently love Rachel Hartman (Seraphina), R.L. LaFevers (Grave Mercy), Laini Taylor (Days of Blood and Starlight), Kristin Cashore (Bitterblue). I’m a great mystery reader. I enjoyed GONE GIRL, by Gillian Flynn. I admire Jo Nesbo, a Norwegian mystery writer, and his novels about detective Harry Hole. Yep, I’m a fan of Stieg Larsson, too! And Peter Robinson, a British writer.
Did you name any of the characters from your book after someone you know?
I didn’t name any of the characters after people I know. In fact, I usually avoid doing that, because it’s hard for me to separate a person’s name from their personality. When I’m writing, I need to focus on my character, not who their name reminds me of! In KISSING SHAKESPEARE, I knew I wanted the heroine to be named for a Shakespearean character. I chose Miranda, because it’s a name still popular today. Since her parents were Shakespearean actors, it’s logical that they would have named her after one of his heroines. Miranda is in The Tempest, in case you haven’t read that one yet. Her Elizabethan name, Olivia, is also that of a Shakespearean heroine, from Twelfth Night.
I believe there are some writers with dozens of books who, just for fun, name minor characters after relatives or friends. Maybe that’s something you think about doing after you’ve written so many books.
How long did it take you to write this novel?
I started doing research for KISSING SHAKESPEARE in 2007 and my agent sold the book to Random House at the end of 2010. Without the historical aspect, it probably wouldn’t have taken as long.
Was it difficult to end your book?
It was difficult to finish KISSING SHAKESPEARE only because of its poignant ending. I wasn’t even thinking about a sequel at that point, BTW! The way it ended was the only logical outcome. Still, I sat with my box of tissues wiping away tears while I wrote!
Were you excited to bring Miranda’s adventure to a close and start something else?
While I was waiting for my editor’s revision comments for KISSING SHAKESPEARE, I wrote most of my upcoming book. After I completed the KS revision process, I finished the new book.
Thanks, Tania, for letting me share your questions! If anyone else would like to ask one, I’m happy to respond.