I’m happy to host Margaret Egrot today. She’s the author of two novels for young adults as well as several plays and short stories for adults. She has been published in the USA (Solstice) and the UK. Her latest collection of short stories – CAST OFF – is the by product of a decision to refresh her knowledge of Shakespeare’s plays (She has a degree in English literature). She lives in the UK with her husband and cairn terrier, and visits her son in Thailand once a year where he lectures in abstract mathematics (or something like that) a subject about which she knows absolutely nothing!
About Cast Off:
Have you ever thought what a Shakespeare character might be doing when she’s not on stage? Does she like the role he’s created for her? Would she prefer a different plot? Or love interest? How does she really feel about all that cross dressing? In this humorous collection of short stories, the author suggests a few answers to these and other questions.
Cast Off is 140 pages, and was published in July, 2017 by Solstice Publishing. Learn about Cast Off and Margaret’s other works on her Amazon pages:
Why did you decide to write this book?
A few years ago I was runner up in a play writing competition organised by the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford on Avon, UK. The play had nothing to do with Shakespeare or Stratford, but the prize included a trip to the theatre and the complete works of Shakespeare, two notebooks and a pen. I felt there was a message for me in there somewhere and started to re-read the plays. The idea of imagining the thoughts and actions of some of the female characters whilst they were off stage grew from this.
What genre is your book?
I suppose it has to be classed as literary fiction, but it is certainly not very earnest – with no important messages on how to lead your life or the meaning of the universe.
Do you consider your stories character-driven or plot-driven?
Mainly character driven. Before writing each story I read the play in question several times to get a feel for the character Shakespeare intended. Then added a few modern twists and interpretations that I felt were still in keeping with the personality of the character you would see if you went to the actual play. My story line also ties in with the real play’s plot.
What makes your book unique?
Although there have been several re-writings of Shakespeare plays, especially around the 400th anniversary of his death in 2016, I haven’t seen any stories re-imaging specific female characters. And, thankfully, no-one has pointed out any to me since publication.
Do you plot ahead of time, or let the plot emerge as you write?
Obviously, the plots were already there for me with these stories. But I would decide the angle I wanted to take, and which part of the play I would be drawing from, before I put pen to paper.
How do you develop the names for your characters?
Again, all the key characters had names already. I invented a few minor characters and tired to ensure their names were appropriate to the year and country the story was set in.
How do you decide on the setting?
Mostly the setting for the play is the setting for the story. But in at least one – Journey to the Fair Country, based on Hamlet, the story takes place before the play starts, and is mostly in a different part of the country, in A Midsummer Day’s Dream (no prizes for guessing which play this is based on) the setting is a pub garden in contemporary England, and in Time Out of Mind (Romeo and Juliet) the setting is an old people’s home sometime after the play has taken place – or has it?
Do you have a writing mentor?
No. I belong to a writers’ group though, and received a lot of tips and encouragement from more established writers when I first joined. Now I try to put a bit back.
What’s your writing schedule? Do you have a favorite place to write?
I used to sit in my ‘study’ and write a thousand words each morning. A change in my circumstances over the past year or so has made the idea of a regular routine rather unrealistic. I’m more likely to write on my lap top in the evening – or think about writing anyway. Recently I have been visiting my son in Thailand and took an empty notepad and several pens. The change of scene and writing method has worked wonders, though having several hours to myself whilst he and his wife are at work may have contributed too.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Thank you for having me on your blog.
Where can we find you?