Why A Midsummer Night’s Dream?

JB asked in a comment: Did you feel naturally drawn to telling a trans* character’s story through/with Shakespeare? Were the World Mine, for example, felt very natural for a gay romance because of the original concept of Shakespeare’s productions, with all the parts being played by males, and because A Midsummer Night’s Dream’s male characters seem, at least to me, at least a little inherently fey (literally and in personality traits). I mean, there’s even a gay joke in one of the protagonist’s names: Bottom, which makes me giggle on the inside every time I say or read it. What about Midsummer inspired you to tell Jordan’s specific story, if anything?

It was actually the combination of Dream and Twelfth Night, which is how Pepper’s involvement in the play came about with her writing the mash-up.

I have always wanted to write a YA story with Dream as a backdrop, in part because it had a big influence on one particular fall semester of my own high school life, and in part because of other stories I saw which had been influenced by it (although not Were the World Mine; I actually watched that on Netflix either after Jordan’s story was written or after it was plotted, I don’t remember exactly). There is something about Puck’s magic that has always drawn me in, and to me, Dream seems to be the epitome of the concept of Fairy magic gone wrong. And that lies at the root of the Shakespearean comedy, where everything seems so simple on the surface, but then nothing is exactly as it seems.

And that theme is perfect for Jordan’s story, except… Dream doesn’t have the gender themes that appear elsewhere in Shakespeare’s work. For that I needed to dig into Twelfth Night, which I fell in love with when I was just a kid and saw it performed. I always loved the character of Viola/Cesario, and the questions that the role brought up along with the mistaken identity and the questions of what it meant to fall in love.

I knew Viola was what I wanted to use as my device for Jordan’s story, but I wanted to mix that with the actual magic of Puck. Which meant, for me, rereading both plays and extracting what I needed from them (I carried around both scripts in my laptop bag for months, actually, with notes scribbled in the margins).

For me, in the end, the real root was Shakespeare himself. The stories he told were more than just comedies or histories or tragedies. He included social commentary couched in entertainment, and he was brilliant for it. And some roles, like Viola, were already very meta just by their creation: every actor in the play was male, so there was a male, playing a female character, who then played a male role during the course of the play. He poked at gender roles constantly, just as he poked at the fickleness of human emotion. He was a natural fit for a play that push at those boundaries, which then allowed for the story to be told around it.

Also, that was an awesome question, and one I really enjoyed answering! And if I didn’t actually say enough, please poke at my words and ask new questions. 🙂 Sometimes I forget things. Okay, often I forget things, I have a brain like swiss cheese.

Thank you for stopping by to chat!

About D. E. Atwood

When D.E. Atwood was in second grade, she finally grew tall enough to see the shelf above the mysteries in the bookmobile. She discovered a rich landscape of alternate worlds, magic, and space and has never looked back from the genres of fantasy and science fiction. When she was twelve, she declared that she was going to be a writer, and share the stories that she saw happening all around her. She wanted to create characters that others would care about, and that would touch their lives, like the books that she read had touched her own life. Today she has combined her interests, creating genre stories about the people who live next door, bringing magic into the world around us. When not writing, D.E. Atwood is a mother (to two children and a cat), a wife, a reader, a knitter, a systems administrator, a roleplayer, and a music aficionado. Sleep, she claims, is optional.
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