Thursday, August 9, 2012

Interview With Pamela Mingle Author of Kissing Shakespeare

After reading and falling in love with Kissing Shakespeare, I just had to reach out to Pamela Mingle to let her know how much I loved it. Pamela has kindly shared some of her thoughts about the book, the inspiration behind it, the characters ... oh and we may discuss food and perhaps which historical figure she'd be willing to smooch. Read on...

Pamela, thank you so much for doing this interview with us. Let me say that I thought the premise of Kissing Shakespeare was so interesting.  I thought of Stephen as a time lord à la Doctor Who and Miranda as his traveling companion. How did you come up with the idea?

Thank you! I’d read about the possibility of Shakespeare being employed as a schoolmaster when he was a young man. I wanted to tweak the idea by blending the contemporary and historical. When I first began writing Kissing Shakespeare, I didn’t intend for Stephen to be such a huge part of the story. He was merely Miranda’s guide, the person who made it possible for her to travel back. But of course he became so much more.

What do you think makes William Shakespeare still so relevant almost 400 years later?

Shakespeare wrote about timeless themes we still identify with today: love, revenge, jealousy, self-knowledge, betrayal—and those are only a few. Who can’t recall a boy or girl we dated, someone our parents disapproved of, à la Romeo and Juliet? Or being consumed by jealousy, like Othello? Fortunately, our experiences don’t usually end in tragedy, but the essential emotions are the same. Sparring lovers, like Katherine and Petruchio in The Taming of the Shrew, is a common motif in books and movies today, and I certainly used that in Kissing Shakespeare. The beauty of Shakespeare’s language still captivates. And it continues to surprise me every time I discover a commonly used expression or phrase originated with The Bard, such as, “fight fire with fire,” “pure as the driven snow,” and “love is blind.” Of course there are countless more.

I’ve always thought that writing a story which includes a historical character or actual historical events to be a bit of a tricky enterprise.  Your setting for the story, England during the 16th century was a tumultuous time politically and religiously. Were you at all worried about how those events would unfold around Will, Miranda and Stephen or even how you would characterize Will? 

The young Bard
I like dropping characters into troubled times to see what happens. How do their personal stories play out against dramatic and sometimes tragic historical events? On the one hand a writer has to remain true to the historical facts; on the other, she must create fictional characters and situations within that context. The religious and political turmoil in Kissing Shakespeare obviously was crucial both to plot and character. 
I did worry about the characterization of Shakespeare. People have their own strongly held beliefs about what kind of person he was. Through my research I learned that he was thought to be a man who wanted to please, who was eager to achieve success. So I tried to make him that kind of person in the book. We do know that at age 18 he married Anne Hathaway, who was already expecting their child, so I felt safe in portraying him as a bit of a flirt. But, given his astonishing body of work, I also wanted to show his thirst for knowledge. That was why I decided to make the Jesuit life seem appealing to him.

Miranda is an aspiring stage actress following in her parents’ footsteps. Have you ever dabbled in acting yourself?

No, I’ve never had the desire to act, or the talent! But I’m in awe of great performers, the way they transform themselves into their character. Even if it’s a famous actor—Meryl Streep comes to mind—we forget it’s Meryl Streep. She becomes the Iron Lady, or Sophie, or The French Lieutenant’s woman. I guess you could say there’s a little bit of acting when you’re dramatizing a character in a book. Part of you becomes that person.

Without giving away too much, what is your favorite scene in the book?

That’s a tough one. One of my favorite scenes is when Miranda and Stephen ride out from Hoghton Tower and spend the day together. It’s very romantic, and I love writing romance! Some of the humorous scenes were fun to write, especially the one in which Miranda tricks Stephen into practicing the seduction with her.

Hoghton Tower, Lancashire

The ending left me wondering … could there possibly be more adventures with Stephen and Miranda? (Please say yes J)

I can’t give you a definitive answer on that one. I would love to write a sequel—finish Miranda and Stephen’s story—but there are many factors to consider before a publisher commits to a second book.

Now is the part of the interview where I ask those silly but entertaining questions.  If you could be a character from any of Shakespeare’s plays, which one would you be and why?

Not someone from the tragedies! I think Beatrice, from Much Ado About Nothing. She’s so witty when she spars with Benedick. Juxtaposed with their story is that of her cousin Hero, which is terribly sad. I was moved to tears the first time I saw it performed.

Kissing Shakespeare describes a lot of food and dessert at the dinner table. We BiblioJunkies are fans of delicious flavor. Needless to say, dessert is our lifeline. What’s your favorite dessert? And did you ever try some of the food described in the book?

On trips to England I ate a lot of sticky toffee pudding. Good thing it’s not on many menus here. I could eat it every day! Of course I’ve had many of the vegetables, meats, and fish mentioned in the book. Never tried mutton, though, and have no desire to. Yuck!

And finally, Miranda kisses Will Shakespeare to save the literary world as we know it. If Stephen charged you with such a mission, which historical character would you like to kiss?

A young Henry VIII

I’ll stick with the Tudors. Forget that famous portrait of Henry VIII when he was portly. As a young man, he was virile, broad shouldered, athletic, tall—and very kissable. But I’d hurry back to the present before he could call for the executioner!

Pamela, thank you for spending the time with us. Readers, isn't she awesome? To learn more about Pamela, you can visit her website at or you can follow her on Twitter @PamMingle

Now I must go watch The Tudors or Shakespeare In Love or Much Ado About Nothing ...

Happy Reading!

~ Bel


  1. Great interview! Can't wait to read this book! I will be spreading the word...

  2. Thank you! Please do spread the word! ~Bel