This June 30th saw the release of Katie M. John's latest YA contemporary Romance novel, 'I Defy You, Stars'. Here she tells us all about it, and why she is so passionate about introducing young people to Shakespeare.
Q: So in a nutshell, what is I Defy You, Stars about?
I Defy You, Stars is the story of an emerging relationship between Juliet and Rafe, who are soon (although they are unaware of it at their meeting) to become stepbrother and sister.
It is a complex story of taboo love against a backdrop of street art, underground fight clubs, social anarchy, poetry, divorce, bullying and a terrible accident, which hurtles both of them into the adult world at frightening speed.
Q: This is part of your Shakespeare Collection; what is that?
In 2013, as part of NaNoWriMo, I wrote a novel called 'When Sorrows Come', which was about Malachi and Ophelia, who were caught in a terribly destructive relationship and having to also navigate incredibly difficult parental relationships. As I planned it out, there were distinct echoes of Shakespeare's 'Hamlet', one of my all time favourite Shakespeare plays. It seemed natural at that point to pay homage to Shakespeare by adopting some of the underlying structure, character archetypes, and core themes, but making them relevant to a modern YA audience.
When this book came out in December 2015 it was met with a lot of positive feedback and was even nominated for a UTOPiA Award this summer. I have always loved the works of Shakespeare, even from being a young teen - the stories resonated with me even then, and across the ages. It made sense to think about how I could work with his narrative structures and characters and come up with a collection of books that might introduce his ideas and storylines to a new audience.
Q: But it's not a rewrite. You're very adamant about that.
LOL - yes, I get a bit defensive when people use that phrase. It is definitely not a rewrite. I haven't just taken the plays of Shakespeare and thought about how I can 'funk' them up - you'll see my response to folks who do that in the first page of 'I Defy You, Stars!' (Expletive warnings abound) It's funny, the story emerges and the links to the Shakespeare play are almost subconscious, although there is a lot of insider play that goes on. For example, the character of Cutz was chosen without conscious though that it works well as a nickname for a guy called Mercurio; which indeed is the character Cutz shares the function of in the play - but that's what I mean. I didn't think, 'Oh, I need to include Mercurio - let me think of a nick-name that goes with that - it's more organic than that.'
You have to remember that I studied Shakespeare for almost seven years of my life, and then went on to teach it for fifteen; his plays are engraved on my soul LOL
Q: Who is your favourite character in I Defy You, Stars.
I'm very fond of them all, and I think that they all grew as I wrote. However, my favourite character (And it's like asking a mother to choose her favourite child LOL) has to be Rafe. I think he's a complicated character, and a multi-faceted character. He's essentially flawed but he's trying to be better, and he is struggling to define himself, despite having a seemingly charmed life. His love for Juliet is pure and honest, and it's devastating watching him tear himself apart over it.
WIN A SIGNED PAPERBACK COPY
To be in with a chance of winning a signed paperback copy of "I Defy You, Stars' then simply share this post on either your Facebook page and / or your Twitter timeline and then drop a comment in the box telling us which of Shakespeare's plays are your favourite and why?
We shall put all names in a hat and do a draw on July 31st. Please include your twitter handle so we can reach you if you win. Open internationally, but bare in mind, it might take a few weeks to get overseas.
Katie's Official Website: www.katiemjohn.com
Katie's Author Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/KatieMJohn/
Katie's Secret Facebook Fan Club: www.facebook.com/groups/fiercewings/
Twitter: @KnightTrilogy twitter.com/KnightTrilogy
Amazon Page: www.amazon.com/Katie-M.-John/e/B004AVHF4E
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