Rewriting the Stars: Astrology in The Queens of Innis Lear

“This is the excellent foppery of the world, that when we are sick in fortune, often the surfeits of our own behavior, we make guilty of our disasters the sun, the moon, and stars; as if we were villains on necessity; fools by heavenly compulsion.” —Edmund the Bastard, King Lear

When I set about creating a secondary world for my fantasy novel, The Queens of Innis Lear, I knew I wanted to use the metaphors of the natural world traditionally found in Elizabethan literature and which Shakespeare used to explore the deterioration of the eponymous lead in King Lear, the play that inspired my novel.

Innis Lear is an island where nature is magical, practically sentient itself. The trees speak, the rootwaters of the island have a basic will to thrive, and the distant stars hold power over people and the progress of modern civilization. There are ...

Your Hour Upon the Stage: Sooner or Later, Shakespeare Will Describe Your Life

I don’t remember which of Shakespeare’s plays I read first, but I do remember the first performance I watched, start to finish: it was Kenneth Branagh’s Henry V, playing on the TV when I was eleven and my dad was deployed in Desert Storm. I didn’t understand everything that was going on, and couldn’t have if I’d only read it. But because performance can energize and interpret the play for me, in specific ways, I was able to understand this play was about war, and it was about why men fight in wars. The monologue that made an unforgettable impression on small Tessa wasn’t from the Crispin’s Day speech. It was one spoken by a soldier with whom the king is conversing about the just nature of his war. Given the quagmire of wars American has been involved in since 2001, I could analyze this now with rather depressing ...

Sooner or Later, Shakespeare Will Describe Your Life

I don’t remember which of Shakespeare’s plays I read first, but I do remember the first performance I watched, start to finish: it was Kenneth Branagh’s Henry V, playing on the TV when I was eleven and my dad was deployed in Desert Storm. I didn’t understand everything that was going on, and couldn’t have if I’d only read it. But because performance can energize and interpret the play for me, in specific ways, I was able to understand this play was about war, and it was about why men fight in wars. The monologue that made an unforgettable impression on small Tessa wasn’t from the Crispin’s Day speech. It was one spoken by a soldier with whom the king is conversing about the just nature of his war. Given the quagmire of wars American has been involved in since 2001, I could analyze this now with rather depressing ...