Today we’re psyched to introduce you to Stephanie Kate Strohm and her YA Contemporary The Taming of the Drew which is slated to release Spring 2016!
- Why did you choose the setting for your book?
I went to Middlebury College in Vermont, and Lake Dunmore is only about a five minute drive from campus. In addition to the four years I spent at school, I also spent two summers in Vermont rehearsing/performing plays, so I was very familiar with how beautiful Lake Dunmore is in the summer! From the first moment I saw that giant squirrel statue wearing a striped bathing suit and a huge hairbow, I know that this was a place I’d want to write about. Lake Dunmore doesn’t have a Shakespeare theater – and I honestly don’t think there’s even room for one on the shore – so most of the geography in the book is of my own invention, even though Lake Dunmore is a real place.
- What was your inspiration for THE TAMING OF THE DREW?
I spent three years working at outdoor summer Shakespeare festivals. I love the weird, wonderful world of summer stock theater – a world most people probably haven’t spent a lot of time in – and I wanted to set a summer YA novel in the same setting that had given me some of the best summers of my life. And because I am so passionate about Shakespeare, I wanted to give one of my favorite plot lines a bit of a modern update in the hopes that it might hook people who wouldn’t necessarily call themselves Shakespeare fans.
- What was your favorite part about writing THE TAMING OF THE DREW?
Getting to express how much I love Shakespeare! You think Cass and Drew talk too much about Richard III? You have no idea how much I talk about Richard III.
- What was the hardest part about writing this book?
Getting the tone right for Cass. She’s very sassy, pretty sarcastic, and speaks her mind, but in earlier drafts, sometimes she would edge over into being downright mean, which was not what I wanted. It’s a tricky balance to find – being forthright and sarcastic without being mean.
- Who is your favorite rogue character from a book, TV show, or movie?
Claire, from Outlander! I am in awe of anyone with medical abilities. And of anyone who could successfully live in the 18th century. I think I’d love to time travel – I’m a total history nut – but I’m also fairly certain I’d be dead of dysentery within a week.
- Which character in THE TAMING OF THE DREW do you identify with most, and why?
This is a tough one! I identified very strongly with the protagonist of my past two books, Pilgrims Don’t Wear Pink and Confederates Don’t Wear Couture, but the protagonist of this book and I are very different! Cass and I are both passionate about Shakespeare, but that’s where the similarities end – I hate confrontation and I rarely lose my temper. I identify with Cass’s passion for Shakespeare, with Amy’s delight in trying on her costumes, Heidi’s love of Brigadoon, and even with Drew’s disdain for theater exercises. But I don’t think there’s any one character who’s very much like me.
- This book is based off of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. In what ways did you draw from that story, and how did you twist it?
The biggest twist is that the genders are reversed! In The Taming of the Shrew, the male character “tames” the female one, but in The Taming of the Drew, it’s the other way around! All of the things Cass does to Drew, however, are pulled directly from Shakespeare – then given a modern update.
- What sources did you find inspiration from while writing THE TAMING OF THE DREW (note: this can include music, movies, books, art…etc!)
I listened to a lot of Avril Lavigne and Fall Out Boy – maybe it was the skaters that influenced me! I also listened to a lot of songs from the late 90s and early 2000s, since those are the songs that are nostalgic to me, and writing this book was a very nostalgic process – brought me right back to my theater camp days! Of course, I couldn’t help but be inspired by the best Shakespeare adaptation of all time, 10 Things I Hate About You. I am honored to share a source material with one of my favorite movies.
- This book is a fun and sassy romantic comedy. Can you tell us a bit about your process for writing snappy dialogue and humor? Any tips to give aspiring authors?
I love writing dialogue – it is absolutely 100% my favorite part of the writing process! It’s what I feel most comfortable writing, and what makes me happiest. This is my favorite tip: read your dialogue out loud! I do for all of my scenes. I used to be an actor, and if I’ve written something I wouldn’t want to say on stage, I change it. When I read what I’ve written out loud I get a much better feel for the pace and the flow of the scene.
- Describe the type of reader you hope picks up this book when it’s on the shelves.
I hope the teens who live for drama club and the spring musical and theater camp pick up this book. That community was my whole life in high school, and I feel like I so rarely saw it reflected back to me in pop culture. I also hope the teens who think Shakespeare is boring pick up this book – I’d love to have the opportunity to change their minds!
Stephanie Kate Strohm is the author of YA novels PILGRIMS DON’T WEAR PINK and CONFEDERATES DON’T WEAR COUTURE. When she’s not writing, she can usually be found baking delicious pies, knitting hideous scarves, and sneaking her dog, Lorelei, into shops all over Chicago. Her next book, THE TAMING OF THE DREW, will be published by Sky Pony Press in Spring 2016. For more info, like Stephanie on facebook, follow her on twitter and check out her blog.