Shakespeare, The Novel: The Taming of the Shrew

Cover image The Taming of the ShrewThe latest addition to my oeuvre is my novelization of William Shakespeare’s ‘The Taming of The Shrew’ which is now available as an ebook on Smashwords.

I must admit that the idea for this book wasn’t entirely my own. It was my friend Miriam (to whom the book is dedicated) who first suggested it.

Miriam teaches high school English which, of course, means teaching at least one Shakespeare play each year. Miriam loves teaching Shakespeare’s plays, her favourite being Macbeth, but as anyone else out there who teaches English would know, this is getting harder and harder every year as young people read less, spend more time ‘consuming’ popular culture and are less exposed to our literary and cultural traditions. Add to that the fact that Miriam teaches in a school which is culturally and linguistically diverse.

So, when, after recounting her experience of teaching Macbeth to her Year Ten class, Miriam said, ‘You know what really would have helped? If the kids had been able to read Macbeth as a novel before we tackled the play. What do you think about adapting Shakespeare’s plays into novels?’ I was intrigued.

Miriam’s suggestion didn’t come entirely out of the blue. She knew that I’d been studying Shakespeare’s plays as research for my novel, Not Wisely but Too Well. At the time, I was planning a blogging project which had taken me back to the beginning of the canon, so my mind was focussed on The Shrew. ‘Sounds like a good idea,’ I replied. ‘How about I start with The Taming of the Shrew?’

Our earliest plan for the project was for it to be a series of textbooks with potential to be repackaged for the commercial market. So I submitted the project, with The Taming of the Shrew as an example, to two major academic publishers. Both eventually got back to me with virtually the same reply: We like the idea, but it doesn’t fit our list. Although I was disappointed, I took some comfort from the fact that they had been polite and didn’t declare the idea a total anathema.

A few months later I submitted the project to a small publisher. This time, although their suggestion to me was redundant, the reply was a little more encouraging: Reads very well, but we’ve not had much luck getting similar titles into schools and I’d suggest a more specialist educational publisher.

From all this I gathered that there was no fundamental problem with the concept nor my writing. It just wasn’t likely to sell well enough to attract a commercial publisher. That left me one final option – self-publishing… again.

At first I held onto my ambitions to tackle Shakespeare’s entire canon, but I soon realised that without the backing of a commercial publisher for editorial support, publishing and marketing, there was no way I could complete the project, or even, to be honest, make much of an inroad into it, on my own. However, I had completed The Taming of The Shrew so I thought I might at least share it with my readers.

If you have friends who enjoy a good romantic romp, please pass this post onto them. Better still, buy them a copy of the book from Smashwords.

You and your friends will be more than welcome to visit me at paulinemontagna.com.au and  you can keep up with any new developments on my website, and receive special announcements and offers by subscribing to my email list. You can also follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads. And, of course, you can purchase all my books from Smashwords.

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