Today you are treated to a very unique express interview I conducted with Christy English, author of the lovely How to Tame a Willful Wife, a Regency retelling of Shakespeare’s classic (and much beloved) Taming of the Shrew. This interview is a 20 seconds, elevator ride interview, so read on to get a first glimpse of the story, the inspiration behind it as well as Christy’s take on Shakespeare retellings and their appeal.
Stella: Hi Christy, welcome to Book Lovers Inc! Congratulations on the release of How to Tame a Willful Wife, the 1st book in your new Shakespeare in Love historical romance series published by Sourcebooks!
Christy: Thank you so much for hosting me. I am excited to talk about my novel in relation to my favorite playwright.
Stella: How to Tame a Willful Wife is described as a Regency retelling of the famous and beloved The Taming of the Shrew. Why did you decide to retell this piece?
Christy: I did not know I was re-telling Shakespeare until I made it through the first three drafts. The first two chapters of the novel came to me in a dream, and I started writing about Caroline and Anthony as soon as they showed up. I was not sure who these people were, but I knew they were interesting, so I followed down the road they led. I watched as the book unfolded, and it occurred to me finally that this story was The Taming of the Shrew, but that it was about the husband being tamed.
Stella: What was the appeal, what inspired the idea for the story?
Christy: I have always loved Kate’s strength in the play. I really should call her Katherine…it’s Petrucchio who renames her in an effort to take her down a peg…or ten. Katherine is strong-willed to the point of being foul-tempered, but I have always thought of her as an animal in a trap, fighting for her life. When foxes are cornered, they bite.
I found a more palatable way for my Petrucchio to claim his wife, by making my Katherine loyal to her father and her family. Caroline marries Anthony to save her father’s estates from debt, and it is a good choice, even if their marriage had not turned out as well as it did. Like Katherine in the play, Caroline is a brave woman who faces reality. In the end, however, Caroline shapes it to her own liking, instead of being starved into submission.
Stella: Why do you think The Taming of the Shrew is one of Shakespeare’s most popular plays, having been adapted many times from period pieces to more modern (10 Things I Hate About You) films and TV series?
Christy: I think modern audiences overlook the darkness inherent in The Taming of the Shrew, and focus on the witty banter. And there is a lot of wit there. I think it is through modern adaptation that this play really comes alive. Through the modern eye, we can soften the problems of the play while drawing out the strengths. For the play to work, in the end, Petrucchio and Katherine have to find a middle ground they both can live with. In most productions I’ve seen, this comes from Katherine winking at the audience as she gives her final speech about obedience in an ironic tone. Equality is an ideal we are still striving for, and not just in fiction.
Stella: In what way is How to Tame a Willful Wife similar/different to The Taming of the Shrew?
Christy: In How To Tame A Willful Wife, there is no younger sister who serves as a foil who needs to be married off. The suitors in my novel are disbursed after chapter three, and we are left alone with just Caroline and Anthony as they deal with their fiery attraction for each other. Their passion in bed sometimes serves as much as a hindrance as a blessing, but it keeps them dealing with each other and allows for their affection to grow until they can finally learn to see each other as real human beings. It gives them the time they need to fall in love.
Book #1 in the Shakespeare in Love series
How To Tame A Willful Wife:
1. Forbid her from riding astride
2. Hide her dueling sword
3. Burn all her breeches and buy her silk drawers
4. Frisk her for hidden daggers
5. Don’t get distracted while frisking her for hidden daggers…
Anthony Carrington, Earl of Ravensbrook, expects a biddable bride. A man of fiery passion tempered by the rigors of war into steely self-control, he demands obedience from his troops and his future wife. Regardless of how fetching she looks in breeches.
Promised to the Earl of Plump Pockets by her impoverished father, Caroline Montague is no simpering miss. She rides a war stallion named Hercules, fights with a blade, and can best most men with both bow and rifle. She finds Anthony autocratic, domineering, and…ridiculously gorgeous.
It’s a duel of wit and wills in this charming retelling of The Taming of the Shrew. But the question is…who’s taming whom?
After years of acting in Shakespeare’s plays, Christy English is excited to bring the Bard to Regency England in the re-telling of The Taming of the Shrew, How To Tame A Willful Wife. When she isn’t acting, roller skating, or chasing the Muse, Christy writes historical novels (The Queen’s Pawn and To Be Queen) from her home in North Carolina. Please visit her at http://www.ChristyEnglish.com
Sourcebooks has generously offered a paperback copy to a US/CAN resident and since we here at BLI are so excited about this book we would like to offer a copy of How to Tame a Willful Wife by Christy English to a lucky international commenter as well!
All you have to do is tell us: what is your favourite Shakespeare retelling? Or your favourite Shakespeare play?
(You can read our full giveaway policy here)
Please be sure to include a valid email address in the comment form (need not be in the actual body of the comment).
This giveaway is open to all!
Giveaway ends on Saturday, 8 December 2012; we will announce the winner on Sunday.