Wednesday, April 23, 2014

It's Shakespeare's Birthday!

It's Shakespeare's Birthday! Yay! Will is 450 and still going strong. I like to imagine Shakespeare transported from his time to our own, suddenly dropped down one evening onto a busy street in London or New York or -- why not? -- Grand Rapids or Kalamazoo. Amid the whizzing cars, beneath the blinking stars and plane lights in the sky, by the tall buildings and the strangely clad peoples of all hues, he stands astonished for a moment. But just for a moment. Then, like Malcolm McDowell as the time-traveling H. G. Wells in Time After Time, he quickly pulls a tablet (paper, not a drug) from his pocket, and starts taking notes. "My tables! Meet it is I set it down." He walks a block, glancing and scribbling all the while, then enters a building that, for some reason, bears his name on a signboard. If he's in

Monday, April 7, 2014

More on Writing Historical Fiction

I've been invited by Christine Sneed (, author and friend, to participate in a blog-relay of sorts, by which writers answer a slate of questions about their writing and then pass them on to other blogging writers. So here goes. The questions come with the relay, and I shall answer them to the best of my ability.

What are you working on? My diplomatic manner (still in the formative stages), my empathy and listening skills, my resistance to worry, my students' Othello exams, and, oh, yeah, some stories! At the moment I'm engaged in perhaps the third rewrite of a book I call Gunpowder Percy. It tells the tale of the twelve men and several women who conspired to blow up the Houses of Parliament in the 1605 Gunpowder Plot. Like most of my novels, it involves real historical characters and events with a bunch of made-up stuff thrown in -- ok, I mean artfully added -- to shape a story. This one centers on Thomas Percy, one of the leaders of the plot, who's driven slightly cuckoo by his obsessive attendance of Shakespeare's history plays. Any more would be a spoiler.

How does your work differ from others of its genre? It's much better. Ha! Actually:

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Bones of Macbeth Uncovered at Scottish Supermarket

Incredibly, forensic and DNA evidence has revealed that bones long preserved in the deep freeze of an Edinburgh Tesco in Queen's Road are the remains of the eleventh-century Scottish king Macbeth.

The investigation of the store's kitchens was initiated by Judith Paddock, Jane Pywacket, and Harpier Malkin, founding members of the "Friends of Macbeth," a group that has long maintained that Shakespeare's play Macbeth maligned a king who was neither tyrant nor murderer, but noble Scottish ruler.

"Shakespeare was always looking for villains for his plays,
and rewriting history," Paddock says. "And in 1605 he worked
for King James I, wh'od been the victim of several assassination
attempts, and was a generally unpopular geezer. James wanted
a play to caution his subjects against all thoughts of rebellion
or regicide. Shakespeare the King's Man knew what side his
bread was buttered on, so he came up with Macbeth, a play in