I’m delighted to be hosting Alison May on Linda’s Book Bag today. Alison’s latest novel Midsummer Dreams was published by Choc-Lit in paperback on 14th February 2016 and is also available in ebook. Midsummer dreams is available to buy on Amazon UK, Amazon US, from all good bookshops and directly from Choc-Lit.
Alison May tells us all about the ultimate romance writer – Shakespeare!
Four people. Four messy lives. One night that changes everything …
Emily is obsessed with ending her father’s new relationship – but is blind to the fact that her own is far from perfect.
Dominic has spent so long making other people happy that he’s hardly noticed he’s not happy himself.
Helen has loved the same man, unrequitedly, for ten years. Now she may have to face up to the fact that he will never be hers.
Alex has always played the field – but when he finally meets a girl he wants to commit to, she is just out of his reach.
At a midsummer wedding party, the bonds that tie the four friends together begin to unravel and show them that, sometimes, the sensible choice is not always the right one.
A modern retelling of Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream and second novel in the 21st Century Bard series.
The Ultimate Romance Writer
A Guest Post by Alison May
When readers and writers discuss the greats of romantic fiction there are a few names that come up time and time again, names like Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte and Georgette Heyer, but for me, there’s one name that tops them all – step forward William Shakespeare.
Now I’m sure that at the mention of Mr Shakespeare some of you want to run away screaming, having been traumatised by enforced exposure to his Titus Andronicus at a formative age, but, please, stick with me, because when it comes to matters of the heart William Shakespeare is very much The Man. Whatever those other romance authors might have done, Shakespeare did it hundreds of years earlier, in blank verse, frequently with cross-dressing. His romances range from the broad farce of twin-based confusion comedies like The Comedy of Errors, to the doomed infatuation of literature’s ultimate star-crossed lovers in Romeo and Juliet. He shows a relationship corrupted by lust for power in Macbeth and a relationship destroyed by jealousy, politics, war and, finally, a snake/sword suicide combo in Antony and Cleopatra. He plays with the difference between the romantic thrill of the chase and the serious commitment of true love in Love’s Labour’s Lost. If there’s a story about love to be told, then somewhere in his thirty-seven (ish) plays and one hundred and sixty (ish) poems, Shakespeare will have told that story.
I’ve written two contemporary novels that have their roots in Shakespeare’s romantic comedies, and I’ve been astounded both times by just how modern Shakespeare’s stories still feel. Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing (aka Trix in Sweet Nothing) is a thoroughly modern romantic heroine. She’s stubborn, intelligent, funny, warm-hearted and absolutely adamant that she’s not going to do anything as daft as fall in love. You probably don’t need to have seen the play to guess how that works out!
In A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the inspiration behind Midsummer Dreams, there is love and romance all over the shop. Hermia loves Lysander. Lysander, rather handily, loves Hermia right back. So far, so simple. Unfortunately, Demetrius loves Hermia too, but she can’t stand the sight of him, unlike Helena, Hermia’s best mate, who is quite certain that Demetrius is perfection made flesh. Alongside them we also have Oberon and Titania. Now they probably do love each other, but right at the moment they’re slap in the middle of an almighty lover’s tiff, and as they’re both powerful fairies, their tiffs do a have a tendency to get the tiniest bit out of hand. In this case they end up with Lysander thinking he might love Helena instead of Hermia, and Titania herself getting frisky with a donkey. The play is a glorious riot of people falling in love with the wrong people and then finding the right person and then finding that the right person has gone right off them and then falling in love again and … and well, if that’s not enough excitement for you, there’s also a donkey. And the takeaway message from all of that is simply this:
You love who you love.
It might not be sensible. It might change sometimes of its own accord, but, however much you might want to, you can’t decide, you can’t even be bewitched, to truly love somebody else.
About Alison May
Alison was born and raised in North Yorkshire, but now lives in Worcester. She is a History graduate from the University of York and has a Creative Writing degree from the University of Birmingham. Alison has worked as a waitress, a shop assistant, a learning adviser, an advice centre manager, and is now a creative writing tutor and freelance trainer for charities and voluntary organisations.
She is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and won their Elizabeth Goudge trophy in 2012 for her short story Feel the Fear which was published in the RNA’s 2014 anthology.
Alison writes contemporary romantic comedies.