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Thursday, May 25, 2017

An Interview with M.E. Castle, author of the Fakespeare series

Today M.E. Castle is at The Hiding Spot to chat about Fakespeare, his new series for young readers! We talk about writing for reluctant readers, sources of inspiration, and more!

Your new middle school series, Fakespeare, offers a fun spin on the Shakespeare plays. What about Shakespeare appealed to you as source material for this series? 
I think an underappreciated aspect of Shakespeare’s work is his humor, even in the non-comedies. The degree of seriousness and reverence given to his work can sometimes hide the fact that Shakespeare was pretty silly, bawdy and lighthearted in much of his writing. I don’t think his heaviest, most dramatic and most powerful words would do as well without such a counterbalance. I wanted to bring that goofy side out and showcase it, because it serves well as an entry point to Shakespeare for people who might have trepidations. 
These books are excellent picks for reluctant readers. Was reaching this audience a goal for you? Do you feel that certain tactics can be helpful in reaching an audience that is reluctant in general or simply finds writing like Shakespeare unappealing? 
It was a goal, yes! There’s plenty in common between people who are hesitant about Shakespeare and those who are reluctant about reading in general. I think the frequent approach to tackling those issues is a bit skewed and unhelpful. Too often, literature is something proffered like a spoonful of acrid medicine. We’re told it’s good for us, it’s important that we read such and such, it doesn’t matter if we enjoy it because the benefits are worth it. 

This can breed resentful readers. If you want someone to read more, or to read Shakespeare or Homer or Cervantes, precluding the possibility that they might actually like it will only kneecap your efforts. I don’t just love Macbeth because it’s a work of stunning wordcraft that digs deep into the philosophical guts of loyalty, ambition, and marriage. I also love it because it’s a gothic bloody tale of royal intrigue full of double crosses, murder and sword fights. If somebody who’d never read Shakespeare asked for a recommendation, which of those descriptions would you lead with? 

That’s where you start. Try and convince someone they could, in fact, like what you’re offering to them. 
Tell me a little bit about your writing process: Do you outline? Start at the beginning? The middle? The end? 
It varies from work to work. I’ll start out by jotting very slightly organized thoughts in a notebook for a while, and coming back to the notes later after I’ve let it stew in my head. I also tend to come up with ideas for scenes and characters first, and built the bigger plot around that. With Fakespeare, of course, I already had plots to work (mess) with, so it was more a case of figuring out how these people would function within an approximation of Hamlet and Romeo & Juliet, and how a version of those plays would be different with these special guest stars. 
Inspiration comes in many forms. Share three people, places, or things that inspire your creativity. 
In a very “tips and tricks” oriented society, I think it’s important to take time while working on an idea to just think about it. No books, no paper, no internet, no music. A lot of the time, key new pieces fall into place in my head when I’m doing literally nothing but sitting(or walking) and thinking. Something else I like to do that inspires is walk through a bookstore and glance at lots and lots of books. Just looking at the spine or the cover, reading the title, maybe the blurb on the back if I’m especially drawn to it. You collect all these little bits and pieces of the ideas and stories out in the world, and it can really help with your own. Finally, I love playing games of all kinds. Video games, tabletop roleplaying, board and card games. The practice of becoming a character in a story with a specific challenge or set of circumstances to overcome really gets my mind going about how to approach issues I’m having with what my own characters should or could do in their circumstances.
My blog is dedicated to my personal hiding spot, books. Name a notable book that provided you with a hiding spot. 
Isaac Asimov’s Foundation, and the whole subsequent series. When I first picked it up I was in my middle school years, doing my best to dodge all of the angsty, petty, squabbly nonsense that comes with adolescence. Diving into a story thousands of years in the future, spanning a civilized galaxy, with the fate of human civilization and knowledge at stake, was a perfect way to escape from the absurdity of growing up when I most needed to. 
What can readers look forward to next? 
There’s plenty of ground to cover when it comes to Shakespeare, but there are other great works of the past that the Narrator might have eyes on. Difficult to predict, that crafty Narrator. Keep your eyes open, there’s plenty of classic lit to trample through - I mean, approach with proper dignity and reverence.

More About the Books
Three kids get lost inside Shakespeare’s book and must help Romeo and Juliet finish their story in order to return home in this silly middle school series!

Dear Reader,

You are reading this because you expressed interest in the Get Lost Book Club.

Are you ready to embark on a journey to Italy, where you’ll find yourself right in the middle of a major feud between two rival pizza-making families: the Montagues and the Capulets? A swordsman and perfumer will hunt you. There will be disguises, fake pizza, and tomato fights (make sure to duck!). You must help Becca, her stepbrother Sam, and her dog Rufus convince Romeo Montague to ask Juliet Capulet on a date, or you will all be stuck in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet forever!

Intrigued? Worried? Downright terrified? You should be. But if you’re ready for an adventure, step right up and follow me. It’s time to get lost.


The Narrator

Follow the blog tour!

Monday - Novel Novice 
Tuesday - The Winged Pen
Wednesday - Middle Grade Mafia
Thursday - The Hiding Spot


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