Author interview number three for the A Summer’s Day anthology, shakespearean stories with a twist, which will be available very soon. Please don’t forget that all proceeds will go to the It Gets Better project!
My guest today is a very old friend – well not old in herself but one of the first authors I met when dipping my toe into the balmy waters of LGBTTQ fiction – and a very lovely person.
Thank you Elin for hosting me today!
Hi everyone. I’m Dianne Hartsock, one of the authors in A Summer’s Day Anthology. Ah, Shakespeare! With his tragically romantic comedies and dramas, full of characters we either love or hate. My story, Two Guys from Vancouver, is based on the play Two Gentlemen of Verona. If you haven’t read this play yet, you should. Speed’s wit and sharp tongue steels the scene every time!
What led you to pick your source material for your story?
Like most of you, I have my favorite plays, and when I was invited to be part of this anthology I had no trouble picking the one I’d use. Two Gentlemen of Verona came instantly to mind. It was perfect! Two best friends vying for the same woman. A woman who dresses as a man to be near the one she loves. Danger and intrigue, betrayal and even an outlaw gang who makes Valentine their leader.
It was so much fun turning this story into a contemporary m/m romance! Since Shakespeare offered me this excellent plot, the first thing I needed was modern names for my characters. I confess I Googled ‘most popular boy names for 2016’ for inspiration. I was looking for names that sounded like or were similar to the ones Shakespeare used.
Once I had my names, I turned to the plot itself. I wanted my story set in modern times, so instead of Valentine going out into the world for experience, my Val goes off to college, leaving behind his best friend Preston, the one he’s been pining after but can’t have. He rents a room in an old Victorian style house with other college students where he meets the lovely and tragic Silver.
Then, like in Shakespeare’s play, his friend Preston follows him and becomes instantly enamored of the beautiful Silver as well. But what of his boyfriend Julian, left behind and forgotten? In Shakespeare’s play, Julia disguises herself as a paige boy and follows Proteus. In my story, Julian dresses in drag and he and a friend and goes to Portland for a night on the town to forget his heartache. Of course, Val and Preston end up at the same night club where absurdities ensue. But unlike most of Shakespeare’s plays, my story has a happy ending.
Shakespeare definitely has a way with words. What is your favourite insult/endearment/inspiring passage/? Which bit do you wish you had written?
Of all Shakespeare’s characters, I love Speed the most! He’s Valentine’s sharp tongued, sarcastic servant in Two Gentlemen of Verona and kept me laughing throughout the whole play. Here’s a sample:
Speed. If you love her, you cannot see her.
Speed. Because Love is blind. O! that you had mine eyes; or your own eyes had the lights they were wont to have, when you chid at Sir Proteus for going ungartered!
Val. What should I see then?
Speed. Your own present folly, and her passing deformity; for he, being in love, could not see to garter his hose; and you, being in love, cannot see to put on your hose.
Val. Belike, boy, then you are in love; for last morning you could not see to wipe my shoes.
Speed. True, sir; I was in love with my bed. I thank you, you swinged me for my love, which makes me the bolder to chide you for yours.
But more than that, my favorite Shakespearean quote is:
“At first I did adore a twinkling star. But now I worship a celestial sun” spoken by Proteus to Silvia, infatuation compared to true love. I find it a very romantic and think of it when writing love scenes. In my story, I have…
No, I think I’ll leave it to you to guess which one of my characters says it to the other!
What are you working on now?
At the moment I’m doing my final read through for a story I’m submitting to another charity anthology called Turn the Page. The specific focus of this project is suicide prevention and awareness. The planned beneficiaries (at this point, subject to change) are: The Trevor Project (local chapter), Prevent Suicide Wisconsin, HOPES – Helping Others Prevent and Educate about Suicide, and Suicide Prevention Resource Center – UWM (Milwaukee), with a tentative release date of October 8, 2016
My story, Robin’s Confession, is about a young man, sweet and pretty, who sometimes dresses like a boy and other times wishes to wear dresses and eye shadow, with ringlets in his hair and scars on his arms from years of cutting. In this story, Robin faces his self-doubt and loathing and finds a way to be true to himself and to face the world bravely.
Could we please have an excerpt?
Sure! This excerpt is from Two Guys from Vancouver
Valentine has been watching Preston date man after man with never more than a brotherly hug for him. Finally, despairing that Preston will ever love him in return, Val moves away to college, where he meets the glorious Silver, a man with problems of his own, who just might be his answer. Torn between his attraction to Preston and his growing desire for Silver, Val wonders if he’ll ever find love or will his life become as tragic as any of the Shakespearean plays he loves so well.
Val took a long drink from the thermos, enjoying the cool bite of lemon and vodka on his tongue, the alcohol content exactly enough to send a pleasant tingle along limbs already lethargic from hours in the sun and sea air.
“Sure.” Val handed over the bottle, his gaze lingering on his best friend, his heart rushing. Preston’s skin was bronzed from months in the summer sun, his board shorts hugging muscular thighs and the large cock Val knew lay hidden under the bright fabric. He wanted to lick a path down Preston’s glistening chest, knowing he’d taste of sweat and sea salt.
Preston swallowed a mouthful of the Lemon Drop and sputtered, laughing as he licked the stray drops from his lips. “Shit! That stuff’s potent.”
A shiver ran through Val. If he moved only a few inches he could be kissing the mouth that had been driving him wild all summer. And by the gleam in Preston’s brown eyes, he wouldn’t object, either. A shout on the still air shattered Val’s dream and he pulled away, scowling at the bottle Preston handed back to him. Julian approached them up the beach; Preston’s latest boyfriend, lithesome, lightly tanned, with gorgeous blond hair cascading to his shoulders.
Val hated him. Problem was, Julian was great, always laughing, genuinely kind. If it wasn’t for the fact he was fucking Preston, they would most likely be good friends. Julian plopped down beside Preston and Val sighed. Probably for the best he was moving from Vancouver to Portland in the morning. The two cities were only nine miles apart, but it would take him out of Preston’s orbit.
A wave crashed with force on the shore and Val turned his attention to the ocean, shining golden with the setting sun. A hot guy jogged by, seagulls cried on the still air. Still not enough to distract him from the couple chatting beside him. When they began to kiss, he’d had enough. Climbing to his feet, he strolled down to the water’s edge. A wave broke and he watched the foaming water climb the beach, shivered when it reached his toes. It had been a fantastic day; warm and lazy, hours spend in idle conversation or contented silence with his best friend while the sun crossed the sky. Now he felt tired and achy, with a two hour drive home ahead of him.
“They do not love that do not show their love,” he murmured, and scowled at the lowering sun.
Dianne is the author of paranormal/suspense, fantasy adventure, m/m romance, and anything else that comes to mind. Oh, and a floral designer, which is the perfect job for her. When not writing, she can express herself through the rich colors and textures of flowers and foliage.
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Dianne-Hartsock/e/B005106SYQ/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1361897239&sr=8-1
Release Date: 12th of August
Cover Art: Jay Aheer Simply Defined Art
Genre: MM Mixed*
We have modern retelling of some plays, interpretations of others and one of the sonnets, and delightful referencing of anything Shakespeare.
There is gentle YA romance next to very hot 18+ stories and all kinds of relationships – first love, May/December, interracial, second chances, happy endings and even a tragic one.
We’re travelling from Ancient Rome through Renaissance England to modern day UK, Venice Beach and other places in USA, Vancouver and Havana.
There’s fun, drama, tears, angst, joy and, above all, lots of true love.
Note: All proceeds of this collection go to the It Gets Better Project™.