Wednesday 16 January 2019

Carol Anne Douglas is sharing her inspiration behind her fabulous new series — Merlin’s Shakespeare #YA #Merlin #Shakespeare @CarolAnneDougl1

Carol Anne Douglas is sharing her inspiration behind her fabulous new series — Merlin’s Shakespeare.

A writer isn't supposed to say that J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series is what inspired her to write young adult books. That's too obvious. Harry Potter probably inspired many middle grade and young adult book authors. I am glad to be one of them.

I had written stories for my friends' children long before the advent of Harry Potter. I loved making up tales in which cats could turn into leopards or wolves could hunger to eat the veggie contents of a girl's picnic basket rather than the girl. I thought I might want to write children's books. But I never did.

Then one of my honorary nieces began to act. In her first play, she was Puck. At age nine, she knew every line in the play and prompted the other actors. She kept on acting and continued to get better and better. Now she's a professional actor.

In the meantime, I became more and more of a Shakespeare geek. I had always enjoyed some of Shakespeare's plays, but the older I became, the more I loved Shakespeare. I read Shakespearean criticism as well as attending the plays. The critic I most admire is James Shapiro, who has written books such as Shakespeare and the Jews and Contested Will. The latter book challenges the argument that Shakespeare didn't write the plays attributed to him. Among other things, Shapiro points out that no one publicly questioned the authorship until the 19th century, two hundred years after Shakespeare died.

The Chandos portrait (held by the National Portrait Gallery, London) — Wikipedia.

My favorite plays are (of course) Hamlet, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Twelfth Night, and As You Like It, but there are others that I love. I think Richard III is Shakespeare's most entertaining villain. That's why he's one of the characters in my book, Merlin's Shakespeare. Of course Shakespeare's language is superb, but just as splendid are his vivid characters and his blending of drama and comedy. It seems to me that he created a fuller world than any other writer.

I started reading the Harry Potter books so I could talk with my young friends about the books they loved. Soon I fell in love with the books myself. I was terrified that I might die in an accident before I learned the outcome of the final Harry Potter book. I then read a number of other teen novels, but the only other series that I found compelling were Cornelia Funke's Inkheart series and Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games series. Nothing had the same deft blend of whimsey and excitement that the Potter books have.  

I worked for many years on a feminist news journal that I loved. That was my life's main project. Then it folded. I needed another project that would consume me. A few weeks after the journal ceased publication, it came to me: I would write a young adult fantasy novel.

Of course when I thought of writing that novel, my first thought was to visit Shakespeare's world. The main character would be a girl actor based on my young friend. The time I have spent visiting the worlds of Shakespeare's plays and taking liberties with his characters has been more fun than anything else I've ever done.

I wanted to write Merlin's Shakespeare because, like Bottom in A Midsummer Night's Dream, I've always wanted to play all the parts, and only a writer can do that.

My book brings some of the Arthurian legends, which I have loved since my early teens, to Shakespeare's world. For me, that's the perfect combination. I have written adult (not in the sense of sex-laden) novels about the Arthurian legends—Lancelot: Her Story and Lancelot and Guinevere—but they didn't have much about Merlin.

In Merlin's Shakespeare, I started with Beth Owens, a teenage girl who loves to act. She discovers that she has magical powers, but only for matters Shakespearean. Who brings her to Shakespeare's world? Merlin, the immortal wizard, who believes that Shakespeare wrote a play about King Arthur and wants to find it. On that quest, Beth visits not only Shakespeare's world but the worlds of some of his plays. His characters have lives of their own. They can talk to her, entertain her—and even menace her. I gave her Mercutio as a guide because he would say outrageous things almost nonstop.

She meets Lady Macbeth, Macbeth's witches, Titania and Oberon, Romeo and Juliet, and, against her will, Richard III.

I could have created other characters, but why would I, when Shakespeare created such great ones? He borrowed from other playwrights, and I hope he would find my borrowings entertaining.

The sequel, The Mercutio Problem, will come out soon.

I hope that others will enjoy reading my books as much as I've enjoyed writing them.

Merlin’s Shakespeare

How can a high school girl deal with a megalomaniac? What would you do if Richard III manipulated your thoughts and took you places you didn’t want to go? Would that be any easier to take if you had a chance to meet Romeo and Juliet and Mercutio?

Beth has magical powers, but will she learn how to use them in time? The immortal wizard Merlin transports high school actor Beth Owens to Shakespeare's London and the world of Shakespeare's characters in search of a missing play about King Arthur. Mercutio guides her and flirts with her, but Richard III threatens her sanity, her friends' lives, and the integrity of Shakespeare's plays.


Giveaway is now closed.

Carol Anne Douglas is giving away two paperback copies of 

Merlin’s Shakespeare

All you need to do is answer this question:

If you could be a character in any of Shakespeare’s plays, who would you be and why?

Leave your answer in the comments at the bottom of this post.

Giveaway Rules

• Leave your answer in the comments at the bottom of this post.
• Giveaway ends at 11:59pm BST on January 30th.
You must be 18 or older to enter.

• Giveaway is only open to residents of the United States, Canada and The United Kingdom.

•Only one entry per household.

• All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
•Winners will be announced in the comments.
• Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Pick up your copy of
 Merlin’s Shakespeare today!

Carol Anne Douglas

Carol Anne Douglas is a female reincarnation of Lancelot, except that she is clumsy and unathletic. She has spent many years as an editor of feminist and traditional publications. Her next novels are Young Adult fantasy: Merlin's Shakespeare and The Mercutio Problem.

Carol Anne loves to hear from readers, you can find her: Website • Twitter

Merlin's Shakespeare
By Carol Anne Douglas
Hermione Books
ISBN 1-7327899-0-6
Available in paperback on Amazon
Ebook available on Kindle, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, and IBook Store


  1. What a wonderful combination, Carol Anne, Merlin and Shakespeare - and a wonderful way of introducing Shakespeare to younger readers.

  2. Juliet - she's star-crossed just like I am.

  3. I would be Portia - smart, savvy, rich, and sought after!! I am a huge Shakespeare-lover, as well, since the age of eleven. This is a great idea and look forward to reading.

  4. I've been a lover of Shakespeare since 10th grade...some 50 yrs ago. I love most of his characters, but the one that sticks out in my mind is Ophelia.

  5. And the winners are, Mary Anne Bernal and Grace Augustine! Congratulations!

  6. Hamlet pdf, you don't have anything to worry about, especially considering it's Shakespeare. He left so many his plays "open" with questions still swirling around at the end, that even the experts cannot agree or have different interpretations about certain scenes or actions of characters. When I read a modern commentary it is SOOO different from an older commentary from such writers as Oliphant-Smeaton or Hazlitt or Coleridge. I actually prefer the older commentaries because I find them more positive whereas the more modern ones can prefer to focus on anything that can be construed as negative in the plays. I haven't read this Bloom one though, so thanks for the reminder.

  7. Nice blog, I will keep visiting this blog very often. Coffee Maker Cyber Monday


See you on your next coffee break!
Take Care,
Mary Anne xxx