FINDING KATE with Author Maryanne Fantalis (Part 2)

Welcome back to my conversation with author Maryanne Fantalis about Finding Kate, her retelling of The Taming of the Shrew. If you missed the beginning of the interview, check it out here.

Maryanne is back!

I’m interested in the names of the settings, Whitelock Town, where Kathryn lives, and Bitterbrook Keep, Sir William’s home. Where did those come from?

You know, I completely made these up and I’m not even sure anymore where they came from. Generally, with the names of towns I’m making up, I look at the towns in the area I’m working with and try to come up with something that will fit in. I know that with the name for Whitelock, I wanted a sense of cleanliness and order, a place where things are just so. And with Bitterbrook Keep, I wanted a sense of falling on hard times, the idea that things aren’t always as easy as they seem from the outside, even when you’ve got an old family name and a keep that’s been around for a thousand years. Some things are just serendipity, you know?

I loved both those names, by the way, and I thought they fit the book so well!

Speaking of names, I noticed a similarity between Finding Kate and The Last Sister, which is that the love interest calls the main character by a different form of her name than the other characters do. And they’re all variations of “Catherine,” however you spell it, which is not surprising because when you’re working with names from the past that are still recognizable to modern readers, your choices can be limited. (Though in your case, Shakespeare chose Kathryn’s name.) What are your thoughts on this?

Well, Shakespeare seems to have loved the name Katherine because he used it in several plays, and every time, he almost immediately shortened it to Kate (for instance, Lady Hotspur and Princess Katherine of France, just to name two). I don’t know if he did that for the meter (fewer syllables in Kate) or if he liked the wordplay (he conflates “Kate” with “cake” in a particularly yummy pun in Shrew), or maybe he just liked the sound of the name “Kate”.

In any case, I discovered as I read the play closely that everyone calls the main character Katharina pretty consistently, regardless of any considerations of pun, rhyme or meter. However, the love interest Petruchio (whose name I changed in my novel to Will) immediately begins calling her Kate from the very first moment they meet. In fact, she tries to correct him (“They call me Katharina that do talk of me”) but he refuses to listen and launches into a stream of praises of her as Kate (“plain Kate/And bonny Kate… the prettiest Kate…”) that astonish her. Knowing Shakespeare as well as I do, I found that very significant. I believe that Shakespeare was deliberately saying that Petruchio views Kate differently from everyone else, that this stranger is the only one who sees the real woman, as opposed to these people who live with her and see only “the shrew”. Once I grabbed onto that idea, the whole idea of “taming” took on a very different shape and the title Finding Kate followed pretty quickly.

Thank you so much for talking with me about Finding Kate, Maryanne!

Readers, I hope you’ll put Finding Kate on your TBR list. Be sure to enter the giveaway below. If you don’t win, you can find Kate (see what I did there?) wherever you like to buy books. If you’re more of the borrowing type, it’s also very helpful to authors when you request that your local library purchase a copy.

Enter the giveaway below, then leave a comment telling us which of Shakespeare’s women you’d like to see Maryanne retell! (If you have any trouble with the Rafflecopter giveaway, just leave a comment and we’ll make sure you get entered!)

a Rafflecopter giveaway




Filed under Author Interviews, Reading, What I'm Reading, Writing

12 Responses to FINDING KATE with Author Maryanne Fantalis (Part 2)

  1. My favorite Shakespeare play’s always been THE TEMPEST. Maybe a new take on Miranda?

  2. I’ve really enjoyed this interview! And it makes me curious… how would Maryanne handle a play like ROMEO AND JULIET? It’s a play that has seen soooo many renditions, but I feel like Maryanne might be able to draw some unique insights into Juliet’s personality, which can easily be flattened.
    Thanks for the awesome interview, Courtney and Maryanne!
    (Disclaimer: I’m only really familiar with two Shakespeare plays, and ROMEO AND JULIET was the one I much preferred XD)

    • Thanks for your confidence, Mary! I agree with you that ROMEO AND JULIET has been done and done, so I probably won’t touch that one unless there’s a public outcry from my adoring fans… LOL! Now I’m curious what your other Shakespeare play is.

  3. Dynal Roberson

    I always loved Hamlet, so maybe Ophillia?

    • In my dreams, I’d like to write a gender-flipped HAMLET where Hamlet is a woman, Ophelia is a man, and we can finally put the whole Oedipal/incest thing to rest once and for all. Whether I ever get that chance remains to be seen, but a lot of it is already in my head and it’s beautiful.

  4. This book sounds intriguing. I’ve never read Taming of the Shrew, though I know the premise. I’m wondering, is the novel appropriate for young adults?

    • It is absolutely YA appropriate. There’s no sex and little violence, but it does include some discussions of politics and history that may prove interesting (and hopefully lead readers to inquire further into the events of 1485).

  5. Oh, I just saw I was supposed to answer the question. I second the suggestion of Juliet. 🙂

  6. Oh, what a fun surprise. I actually went ahead and asked my library to purchase a copy. I haven’t heard back yet but I still hope they agree so others can find this book, too.

  7. Hooray! I’ll be in touch soon, Carmela!