I’m delighted to be taking part in a blog tour for David’s Hewson’s Juliet and Romeo. The majority of us will have heard of Shakespeare’s play and I think you can probably tell from the title that this retelling is different! You can find out one of those changes in my Q&A with David Hewson today. I’m also sharing my thoughts with you. I have to say I loved the twist!
Juliet and Romeo by David Hewson is published by The Dome Press (17th May 2018).
Available to purchase in digital, paperback and hardcover formats.
Two young people meet: Romeo, desperate for love before being sent away to study, and Juliet facing a forced marriage to a nobleman she doesn’t know. Fate and circumstance bring them together in a desperate attempt to thwart their parents with a secret marriage. But in a single fateful week, their intricate scheming falls terribly apart.
Shakespeare’s most well-known and well-loved play has been turned in to a gripping romantic thriller with a modern twist. Rich with the sights and sounds of medieval Italy, peopled with a vibrant cast of characters who spring from the page, this is Shakespeare as you’ve never read it before.
Welcome to Jera’s Jamboree.
What was the idea/inspiration for your novel?
It came out of a magnificent performance by Richard Armitage in an audio version of the same adapted story for Audible – one that’s got us nominated for an audio Oscar, the Audie for best original audio production in New York at the end of the month. (good luck!)
If you could choose to be one of the characters David, which would you be?
Definitely Friar Laurence the genial monk. He has a nice garden to look after which I envy, free accommodation and a good wine cellar. Only trouble is these pesky teenagers who come into his life.
What scene did you enjoy writing the most?
Where Romeo and Juliet first meet. In the play this is totally unrealistic – sixteen or seventeen lines in which a thunderclap of love at first sight hits them. I didn’t think this would work on the page so in this story Romeo follows her out into the garden and tries to talk to her. It’s not very successful until he makes her laugh and then a bond starts to emerge.
… and the hardest?
Where Romeo chases Tybalt through a thunderstorm and a fatal fight takes place. It’s an action scene but I didn’t want it to play like a thriller or anything, more like a sword fight on stage. Quite tricky to achieve.
Did you travel to any places David? Undergo any new experiences?
I spent a couple of weeks in Verona before writing a word, checking out real places I could use as a backdrop for the scenes. Oh and checking out the food and wine too because they matter here as well.
What are you reading now?
The Garden of the Finzi-Continis by Giorgio Bassani. This is an Italian classic perhaps not terribly well-known in the UK. It’s about Jewish families in Ferrara just before the Second World War as anti-Semitism takes hold. A fascinating and educational period of history which isn’t as well-known as it should be – and a very unusual and quite gripping book. I’m also listening to the audiobook of Madeline Miller’s Circe which is a wonderful performance from Perdita Weeks.
Are there any tips you could share with new writers David?
The easiest way to learn about books is to read them. There’s no secret, no magic formula. Reading, comprehension, work, determination and a thick skin…
Finally, what are you currently working on?
In two months I have a new crime book coming out THE SAVAGE SHORE, which brings back Nic Costa, an Italian police officer I last wrote about nine years ago. Costa had nine books in his series back then and people have been asking for his return for ages. Here he’s in the toe of Italy trying to bring in a mobster who wants to turn state informer – only to find he’s the one who has to pretend to be in the mobster’s gang to get him out.
Thank you for being my guest.
Wishing you success with all your writing/creative projects.
The preface places the time the story is set with world events. It’s a world on the brink of the Renaissance with changes and unsettled feelings affecting everyone. A time that can lift you up or push you under.
Juliet, fiery and headstrong is in search of more than just a marriage of convenience and wants to spread her wings. Romeo also has a conflict in what he wants to do as opposed to what his parents want him to do. And a love interest that isn’t suitable. Young people will find this easy to relate to!
It was effortless to become a part of the scenes. The smells and sounds in the marketplace; time spent with Nico in Mantua; the apprentice on his journey with a task from Friar Laurence; they’re all so vibrant. I could visualise the cormorants (it’s great when you learn something about history) and felt fear of what the stone lion’s mouths represented in this turbulent time. The approaching thunderstorm made me feel heavy and listless – it affected me as much as it did the characters! I became a part of the trio of friendships between Benvolio, Mercuito and Romeo – making allowances for Mercutio’s unpredictable nature and feeling a sense of calm and stability with Benvolio. Even though I knew what was coming, I felt it on an emotional level.
I’ve enjoyed being immersed in David Hewson’s historical world of Verona with the vendetta of the Capulet and Montague families the driving force of this love story. I’m wondering if there will be a sequel … 🙂
David Hewson is the author of more than 20 published novels including the Pieter Vos series set in Amsterdam and the Nic Costa books set in Rome.
His acclaimed book adaptations of The Killing television series were published around the world. His audio adaptations of Shakespeare’s Macbeth and Hamlet with A.J. Hartley, narrated by Alan Cumming and Richard Armitage respectively, were both shortlisted for Audie Awards.
A former journalist with the Sunday Times, Independent and The Times he lives in Kent.
His first book with The Dome Press, Juliet and Romeo, will be published in May 2018.
Connect with David Hewson