Changing Shakespearean History—Literally.
I have this problem of never being satisfied. Biographies and autobiographies feed me a certain motivation for writing protagonists, antagonists, and minor characters, but reading into their background and ‘flaws’ is never enough. I want baggage, enemies, guilty pleasures, gluttony, resentment, and what makes a man drive to leaving his legacy. The man I’ve been fascinated with is no other than William Shakespeare. It sounds like an unhealthy celebrity crush, but all I’ve ever wanted was to get under William Shakespeare’s skin and see the world through his eyes. Because I am 427 years younger, I must be creative. Naturally, I did what any unsatisfied woman would do and wrote a fantasy series based on William Shakespeare.
Going back to my introduction, one William Shakespeare isn’t satisfying—I want one for each genre: Comedy, Romance, History—and let’s throw in a woman—and Tragedy. That’s great and all, but what about their identities? The Shakespeare of Comedy is William Herbert, 3rd Earl of Pembroke, who is the “fair youth” in Shakespearean sonnets and co-founded Pembroke College with King James. King James happens to be the Shakespeare of History. These two Shakespeares are the better of the four. Now, let’s heat things up. The Shakespeare of Romance is Sir T. Moore, an Irish poet, singer, and poet who’s crazy about art and power. Who’s also obsessed with art and power? The Shakespeare of Tragedy, of course! Mary Fitton is our Shakespeare of Tragedy and is historically considered the “dark lady” in Shakespearean sonnets. She had an affair with William Herbert, who you remember is “fair youth”. Strange how they all seem to be slices of the pie, right? I could go on and tell you that Mary Fitton is a lesbian who fell in love with Viola from 12th Night, and Viola betrayed Mary to marry William Herbert and become the Queen of Comedy, but I’ll save that family drama for the actual novel:
Shakespeare’s Promenade: Book 1
Beneath the University of Oxford’s Pembroke College Library, is a secluded tube station leading to Shakespeare’s Promenade, a mystical land where the Shakespeare lineage is royalty and only the young and beautiful are gifted immortality. There is but one rule: remain contented, or torture methods will be executed to add the conspirator into Shakespeare’s army of deranged clowns. When I say deranged, I mean the kind that will cut a man’s legs off in public and throw a party after. The bad clowns. But Shakespeare’s Promenade isn’t based on William Shakespeare, it follows his granddaughter that had no idea it existed until now. Let’s fast forward a little bit.
The year is 2014, and twenty-three-year-old, Roxanna Obelix, lives alone with her depressed and legless father while she attends graduate school in Oxford. She believes her mother had been murdered by artists for the last fifteen years but is revealed that she was kidnapped by Roxanna’s estranged grandfather, William Shakespeare…but which one? Because it’s hard to believe her depressed and legless father, she does what any normal woman in her early 20’s would do, and ventures into Shakespeare’s Promenade. Tagging along is Ed, her past babysitter turned handsome Shakespearean Studies professor, and Matt, her gay social-media-obsessed best friend. There’s no guarantee of returning to the real world, but she’s certain everything will be fine once her mother is found and the four of them shall quietly exit Shakespeare’s Promenade. Disclaimer: everything will not be fine. Roxanna discovers she is a part of a conspiracy to begin the “War on Art” and murder William Shakespeare—all of them.
A brief setting exposition:
A Comedy-Tragedy statue towers over the glittered stone ground and passing citizens who have no intention of leaving. Different colored roads lead to four destinations: the red road travels to the Romance Promenade, the blue to Comedy Promenade, green to History Promenade, and black to Tragedy Promenade. Time goes by the corresponding color of the sky, and currency is based on the ‘popularity points’ a citizen has obtained throughout their stay. The more popular a citizen becomes, he or she receives a nicer home, better food, and a larger audience. Every day, citizens strive to be popular through their art while simultaneously becoming brainwashed in the process.
In six words or less: Social media filter in real life.
Shakespeare’s Promenade shall be a four-book New Adult Fantasy series, with another four-book prequel series to be determined. If you’ve read this far, this is what I meant by never being satisfied.
Aahoo Ellie Pourang is an MFA student based out of California. Find her on Instagram: @aahoo__ and her website, aahoo.xyz, for two short stories, “Lucifer in Love” and “Trials and Tribulations of Mike Pout”.