Friday, September 7, 2012

Author Interview with Elise Broach

The DMS was lucky enough to interview Elise Broach, author of the middle grade novel Shakespeare's SecretLizzy recently reviewed this intriguing book, and it was great to share our thoughts about it and hear yours! We are excited to learn a little bit more about the story behind the story. So, without further ado... take it away, Elise! 



What inspired you to write Shakespeare’s Secret?

Shakespeare's Secret came about from a combination of ideas. I thought it would be fun to create a modern story that was loosely based on a Shakespeare play, much the way the movie Clueless is based on Jane Austen's Emma, but takes place in a modern Beverly Hills high school. The play Much Ado About Nothing is full of gossip, betrayal, and intrigue, so those themes seemed like a good fit for a modern middle school. I started with two characters named Hero and Beatrice (after the two main female characters in the play) and then created the missing diamond mystery for the plot, though questions of identity and popularity were always a big part of the story.

But the original manuscript actually had nothing in it about the Shakespeare authorship question, if you can believe that. When I was doing the revisions, I decided I wanted to connect the missing diamond to something Shakespearean, so I made it the critical clue to Shakespeare's true identity. I always loved studying that period of history (I lived in England when I was 12, 13, and 14) so it was fun to include that in a book, and I thought it deepened the questions of personal identity that were already so important to the story:  who we are, who we say we are, and who other people think we are.


How long did it take you to write Shakespeare’s Secret?

It took me about a year and a half to write the first draft of Shakespeare's Secret. I started it when my children were young; my daughter Grace was just a toddler, so I didn't really have much time to write. I made a commitment to myself (and my wonderful writing group) to write a chapter every three weeks, and that's what I did until the book was finished. I had never written a novel before, and the experience was such an important lesson for me in the value of breaking down a seemingly overwhelming project into small, easily completed chunks.

What are some of your favorite books from childhood? Were there any specific authors who inspired you?

Oh, this is too hard!  I have so many favorites. I read all the time as a child. I guess the books that stand out in my memory are Charlotte's Web, Stuart Little, A Little Princess, The Great Brain series, the Little House books, and the Albert Payson Terhune dog books. The two books I loved when I was a little older were Daphne Du Maurier's Frenchman's Creek and the Canadian adventure Mrs. Mike by Benedict and Nancy Freedman.  As far as authors, E. B. White was a huge inspiration - as my readers can see in my third novel, Masterpiece.

Where did you come up with the characters Hero, Danny, and Mrs.Roth?

I wish I had a good answer to the question "How do you come up with your characters?" I think there are some parts of the writing process that come more easily to certain writers, and some parts that are really hard - and characters tend to be the easy part for me. I never base characters on anybody I know, and I never do those exercises that writing workshops recommend, like "What would be in your character's closet? What's her deepest secret? What does your character want most?" It's hard to explain, but my characters really just emerge in my imagination fully-formed. Hero's experience of moving around a lot is similar to my experience growing up, because my father worked for General Electric and my family moved every two or three years. But beyond that, her quirks and personality are her own.  

If you could befriend a character from any of your books, who would you befriend? Why?

Oh, let's see... maybe Lucy from my YA novel Desert Crossing. She's passionate and impulsive, so she keeps things interesting, and at least in that story, she could really use a friend.

Where do you like to write? Do you listen to music while you are writing?

One thing I've learned the longer I've been doing this is to write anywhere. I carry a notebook with me, in case of that wondrous event when I'm struck by an idea for a picture book or novel. I have a desk and computer set up at home, and I often work there, but I'm just as likely to work at one of the local libraries or in a nearby coffee shop. When I'm home, I don't listen to music while I work, but when I'm in a cafe, there's a lot of background noise - music, other people's conversations, street noise. It doesn't bother me.  Once I'm working, I tend to get lost in the world of the book.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be? Why?

I love the West, and I really miss it; I went to high school in northern California, and my parents still live there, and I miss the scale of the landscape... the mountains, the long views. But I have to say, I really love where I live now, in the woods of Connecticut. We are in a tiny town of only a few thousand people, with woods and creeks and farms in every direction, but we're still only an hour away from New York City, which is one of the most vibrant and interesting places on the planet.

What is your favorite of Shakespeare’s plays?

Of the tragedies, my favorite is Macbeth. I first read that when my family moved to England, and I really loved the language and the darkness of the plot. Of the comedies, Much Ado About Nothing and Twelfth Night are my favorites. They are very funny and have great romantic entanglements and confusions. 

Where can we purchase your books?

I hope you can find many of my books in your local bookstores! They are also available online. 

Happy reading!

Amazon ☞ Barnes and Noble

Connect with Elise Broach: 
Author Website 






36 comments:

  1. I love Shakespeare - this sounds intriguing :-)

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    1. Hi Rachel, It's a great book with an excellent cover! Thanks so much for stopping by! ~ F

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  2. I always enjoy these author interviews.Interesting to read of some of the recommendations made by writing workshops - these sound a rather complicated way of doing things if you ask me.

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    1. Hi Petty, Thanks! We love to get the inside scoop : ) I think each author has their own creative methods, some workshops can be helpful to spark new ideas. Great to hear from you! ~ F

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  3. Sounds like a great middle grade! Love the idea of a Shakespeare twist.

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    1. Hi Bish, It's a really creative idea! Thanks for stopping by! ~ F

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  4. I saw this book on your website! I've been dying to read it..great interview. I love the Shakespeare and can't wait to read this book. Just ordered it. :)

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    1. Hi Donna, Excellent! We hope you like it : ) Thanks for stopping by! ~ F

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  5. Loosely basing a middle grade book on Much Ado About Nothing is perfect. I already love it, and I really love that cover!

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    1. Hi cleemckenzie, Isn't it amazing! It's one of the best that I've seen- so intriguing! Great to hear from you : ) ~ F

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  6. It is great that Elise is exposing younger kids to Shakespeare! Oh my gosh The Great Brain Series! Loved those books as a kid! Brings back so many fond memories

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    1. Hi Heidi, It is such an interesting topic and he was an amazingly imaginative writer. Thanks so much for stopping by to share your thoughts with us! Always lovely to hear from you : ) ~ F

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  7. I haven't heard anyone reference The Great Brain series in so long! I loved those books!

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    1. Hi Libby, We love hearing about the books that have inspired the authors that we interview. Great to hear from you! Thanks so much for stopping by to check out the interview! ~ F

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  8. Sounds like the perfect spin on Shakespeare for middle grade readers!

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    1. Hi Cate, It's an excellent read! Thanks for popping over to visit with us : ) ~ F

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  9. Love the concept and the cover. Is that a Brett Helquist illustration?

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    1. Hi Kelly, I just looked up the illustrator- it is Kelly Murphy who did the cover from what I found out. I have never heard of her- but she does an amazing job! Great to hear from you- Thanks for stopping by : ) ~ F

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  10. Oh this sounds good! And great interview. I've always lived in CA and love it :)

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    1. Hi Christy, Thanks! Great to hear from you : ) California is fabulous! ~ F

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  11. I've read this book and it is great. I thought it was interesting that the authorship mystery wasn't part of the original story. I learned a lot about Shakespear after reading this book- I was curious and did research. Great interview.

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    1. Hi Trey, Excellent! So glad that you found this book interesting! Great to hear from you : ) ~ F

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  12. Cool interview! I learned so much about the author. Interesting.

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    1. Hi Flex, Great! Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts with us : ) ~ F

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  13. Write more books like this please!

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    1. Hi Adriana, Exactly! Thanks so much for popping over- it's always a pleasure to hear from you : ) ~ F

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  14. Macbeth is my favourite Shakespeare play, too. I love where you live ~ a small town with creeks and woods and yet not too far from the city. 'Shakespeare's Secret' sounds exciting, and I can't wait to recommend it to a student when she gets a little older. Great interview!

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    1. Hi Claudine, That's great! I think your student will enjoy the story. Great to hear from you : ) ~ F

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  15. What a great interview. How could I not want to read Shakespeare’s secret after reading this?

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    1. Hi Barbara, Thanks! We would love to hear what you think about the story. Thanks for stopping by : ) ~ F

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  16. Nice interview! I loved Shakespeare's Secret! I also enjoyed Broach's Missing on Superstition Mountain, which I reviewed on my blog a couple of months ago--the setting is so deftly portrayed, I could imagine it even though I've never been there.

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    1. Hi Ruth, Elise is a wonderful writer and we truly enjoyed learning more about her. Excellent that you reviewed Missing on Superstition Mountain. Thanks so much for stopping by! ~ F

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  17. Great interview! The book sounds amazing, I'm adding it on my TBR list! :)

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    1. Hi Petra-
      So glad you liked the interview. :) This is a great book. Enjoy! ~F

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  18. Now, this is an interesting idea - to take a Shakespeare story and adapt it to young readers. Sounds like it turned out well.

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    1. Donna- It was a fun mystery and the Shakespeare element added a lot to the book. So much to learn! :) ~L

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Thank you for stopping by and commenting. We love to hear your thoughts! Fairday's Blog is no longer accepting awards. We appreciate all the nominations that we have received and are honored to have been mentioned! Happy Reading!

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