Tag Archives: Blood and Ink

Shakespeare’s Knowledge of Old Drama

Since doing research for my own novel “Blood and Ink”, I have had many people ask me about different aspects in the novel, as to whether or not some of the events actually happened or not. Of course, as I have stated before, I am a fiction writer not a historian; but it is interesting as a writer to take things from the real life and apply them to an imaginary encounter in a novel.

One of the events in my novel is where Shakespeare and his family went to Coventry for a county fair and to see the players perform a “miracle or mystery” play on the stage. Did they really do this and what was Shakespeare’s knowledge of the old drama of the day?

So this post is about the knowledge he had and an excerpt from my novel of a day when he might have visited Coventry.

What were “miracle and mystery” plays? Craig’s The Complete Works of Shakespeare reads “The miracle play, also widely current in England, shows a different variety of religious drama, although mystery plays and miracle plays shade off gradually into each other and are not different in origin. Miracle plays, as distinguished from mystery plays, are those which tell the stories of the lives and miracles of saints and martyrs. English records are preserved in considerable numbers of plays on St. Katherine, St. Laurence, St. Nicholas, and other saints; but the texts of only two or three have been preserved, and they are not representative. To know what when on dramatically in honor of the saints one must study the plays preserved in French. One finds there a variety of saints’ plays as well as the great Miracle de Notre Dame.

There are also the great group of dramatized allegories of varying lengths, known as the morality plays. A number of them, such as The Castle of Perseverance, Mankind, and Everyman, are still in existence. Moralities were less offensive to the taste of the Reformation than were the mystery and miracle plays so that they had a better chance to survive.”

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Shakespeare knew these plays in their old forms, we know this because of his references, along with a bit of ridicule, to various episodes and characters in them. Herod and Termagant, both characters in mystery plays, appear together in Hamlet. Shakespeare compares Falstaff to the Mannington ox which is a reference to the Mannington fair and possible the morals. Falstaff remarks in contempt about Justice Shallow. Both references in I Henry IV of “that reverend vice, that grey iniquity, that father ruffian, that vanity in years” and “that old white-bearded Satan” recalls knowledge of the morality plays.  When Falstaff refers to the flea on Bardolph’s nose as a black soul burning in hell-fire, he may have been referring to the play of the Last Judgment.

Craig’s book also says: “Shakespeare had opportunity to see the old plays, for the Corpus Christi play was performed annually in Coventry, only fourteen miles from Stratford, until he was sixteen years old. It is no extravagant guess that he joined the throng of those who attended the play at the chief city in Warwickshire. In some places in England the Corpus Christi plays continued to be performed until after the beginning of the seventeenth century in spite of the fact that such plays were obviously “blasted with antiquity.” Shakespeare was a child of his time and therefore looked with amusement, if not contempt, on these old-fashioned folk practices.”

Which brings me to my own interpretation of his family’s visit to Coventry. An excerpt from my novel brings the flavor of the day as the Shakespeare family travels on the road toward Coventry for a Mayday fair.

Excerpt from “Blood and Ink” –

The townspeople of Stratford welcomed the drizzly days of May. The ice covering the banks of the Avon melted and laughter came again to the waters beneath Clopton Bridge. William watched the children splashing and playing, jumping from the Roman stone wall holding the bridge in an arch. The wagon he sat upon clacked across the cobblestones, rocking his family from side to side. They were one short on their journey to Coventry this spring, and he looked to the spot where his sister, Anne, would have sat. Little Anne did not make it through the harsh winter and he missed the dimples in her face.

Gilbert nudged William from his dreaming. “I heard Mother say this would be the last year for our trip to Coventry.”

William shrugged his shoulders. “’Tis the same as last year.”

Gilbert scooted closer and lowered his voice. “Nay, ’tis not the same. Father said the council in Coventry has banned the mystery plays. They see it as an old influence of Catholic Mary. You know, watch the plays and scare the common folk to confession.”

“Well, if ’tis banned, then why do we go?”

Gilbert looked to their father whose back was to them as he rallied the horses to Coventry with a click of his tongue. “Father still clings to it, know you this?”

William frowned and pulled his coat closer around his shoulders, still feeling a chill in his bones. Gooseflesh raised on his forearms as he thought of his father’s descent, the meeting with Edmund Campion and the testament he saw his father tuck above a rafter in his workshop three years ago. So much had changed since that talk with his father. Foremost, the capture of Campion. William remembered seeing his father stagger in late from a tavern, his cheeks pale and ashy, but not from too much ale. John slumped in a chair, hanging his head over his hands. Mary and William gathered near to him, sitting on the hearth and urging him to speak. When the words came out, what a tale he relayed.

The lower lid of John’s eyes reddened. “Walsingham arrested Campion, and many others. Edward sent word that his sources at the Tower reported for the past month they subjected Campion to thumbscrews and the clenching jaws of the Scavenger’s Daughter before throwing him into a pit below the White Tower. There is more. Campion crumbled and delivered names to his torturers. After his confession, they dragged him to Tyburn where they burned his innards and quartered him into four parts. His head now sits as food for the ravens atop the ramparts of London Bridge. Edward fears for us all, for the Queen’s wrath will descend upon Warwickshire, headed up by that sinister man, Walsingham. We must learn to suspect strangers in our midst.”

William found it impossible to care about the death of the Jesuit. His thoughts continued dwelling on pursuing his nagging desire for the stage. A day did not pass without his mind tracing over the peculiar dream he had several years earlier in the forest at Park Hall. Yet, his family needed money and, as the eldest, he had to find work. In between tanning hides for his father’s gloving work, setting traps for hares in Charlecote forest, and packing wool in woven bags, he managed a few chances to walk the boards at Burbage’s tavern. The plays usually brief, always staying to the classic lines of Plautus or Seneca, but just enough to keep his blood stirring.

John Shakespeare hid well the cause of his fall from the rest of the family. The thought made William’s skin crawl, for in his father’s demise he brought them all down. His mother turned into a wafting specter, ashy and non-existent, while his siblings bumped about their lives grasping for semblances of their identities, the way for a family of an ambitious man whose star plummets. William squared his shoulders and jaw, setting down a promise in his mind.

I shall never travel that path. When I marry, my family will never suffer from my ambition.

Within the hour, the cart rallied around Wiltshire Wood where the oak tree girths widen and the whispering tales of thieves in the trees fill the air. They topped the hill overlooking a fresh culled wheat field just south of Coventry, green and lush with new growth, and the lilting music of days long past drifted on the wind. Old Celtic ballads plucked upon lutes and lyres, piping and drumming surged through the gathering crowds, beckoning their pagan past. William stood up in the cart and held his hand over his eyes, shielding the spring sun, and scanned the field for the stage. In the distance, past the maypoles adorned with a rainbow of dyed ribbons, two green banners flapped in the breeze embroidered with the arms of the Earl of Leicester. William’s blood raced. He clasped his hands together and laughed, grabbing hold of Gilbert’s shirt.

“Look there, ’tis Leicester’s Men on the stage. If you look for me, there is where I will be.”

William jumped from the cart and sprinted across the emerald field. As he approached, the sights and sounds of players drowned out all notice of the festival. Richard Burbage, William’s longtime friend, saw him from afar and waved to him.

“Will, come join us!”

William touched his hand to the stage, feeling the knots and the grain as he soaked in the sensation pounding within him. He watched the players as they walked around him. They were all there, the statues of his idolatry: William Knell, Tobias Mills, and John Singer, decked in costume. Tarleton, adorned in white face paint and rosy cheeks, sat on the steps tapping upon a tabor. William nodded to him as he rounded the corner of the stage.

Richard came up to his elbow and nudged him. “What say you, Will, shall you join us for a line or two?”

A knot formed in his stomach as he cut his stare to Richard. “What do you mean? To perform with Leicester’s Men? Surely they would not allow it.”

Richard pulled a mask from his cloak. “Who is to know? ‘Tis a masque we perform today. You know Sidney’s masque The Lady of May?”

William huffed. “Know it? Has not every child in Christendom suckled on his works?”

Richard handed him the mask. “Then put this on and we will keep the secret. Master Wilson owes me a favor. I will have you on his mark, so come with me.”

The groundlings gathered before the stage and roared at the clown Tarleton’s prologue, his comic ambles full of religious slights tame enough to keep his head and wild enough to thrill the audience. The masque came next and William hit his queues with finesse, even falling upon the gestures and attitudes like natural rote. As the last exeunt passed and the final bow before a cheering crowd, William gazed out behind his mask upon the faces and heard his calling. His heart soared. At that moment, his eyes fell upon a golden-haired maiden gazing up at him as Andromeda upon Jason. She tilted her head toward him, giggled and wove away into the crowd.

The May dance began. Hundreds of people gathered at the poles, clapping to the rhythm of the pipes and tabors and watching as maidens attired in white laced corsets and flowing blue skirts circled and braided the ribbons of the maypole, in and out, twisting the colors, as their voices soared breathless in laughter and song. William watched only one girl among the virginal flowers, her hair shimmering like struck gold coins dipped and cooled in water, and flowing down her back to her waist.


*Want to read more? Buy the book here: Amazon “Blood and Ink”


So, using a bit of artistic license, I used Shakespeare’s knowledge of the miracle, morality, and mystery plays as food for my own scene in my novel. While these plays, in Shakespeare’s time, affected the population in moral and religious instruction, Craig points out that it also gave them a command of a way of dramatic thinking and a form of literary culture. The plays were so dear to their hearts that they disappeared slowly from the surrounding countryside, from those who still adhered to the old way of thinking. And do we not see the same in our own modern-day theater and film? Culture and drama are still developing and updating, yet many hold on to old ideas, the old miracles, morality and mystery of our day.

To write about men like Shakespeare and Marlowe is to write about ourselves, for in truth, whether 21st century or 17th century, we are still human, influenced by the same wants, needs, and desires. Ambition still rules our hearts, love still moves us, and tragedy shapes our actions. So, to view a slice of their lives, whether in fiction or non-fiction, gives a mirror into our own soul. At least, that is my thoughts… what about yours?

I would love to hear!

Thanks for reading.

D. K. Marley



I’d like to welcome Naomi Miller to the blog today for a guest post.

Dr. Naomi Miller is a professor of English and the Study of Women and Gender at Smith College. An award-winning author of books on Renaissance women and gender, she teaches courses on Shakespeare and his female contemporaries, as well as on modern women’s adaptations and reinventions of Shakespeare. Her debut novel, Imperfect Alchemist (Allison & Busby, November 2020), focuses on Mary Sidney Herbert, Countess of Pembroke: https://naomimillerbooks.com/.

After thirty years as a scholar of early modern women’s studies, she realized that her work wasn’t close to being complete as long as the wider public had no awareness of the extraordinary women authors who were published and read in the time of Shakespeare. Imperfect Alchemist is the first in a projected series of novels centered on these authors, called Shakespeare’s Sisters – celebrating Renaissance women not simply for their relation to men (like the wives of Henry VIII), but for their own voices.

She was interviewed by the Folger Shakespeare Library’s podcast “Shakespeare Unlimited” – a great interview if you wish to listen here:


Imperfect Alchemist: Writing Women’s Voices 

Guest Post by Naomi Miller 

Many popular novels about Renaissance women picture them in relation to powerful men. One  need look no further than the steady stream of novels about the wives of Henry VIII, perpetuating a  phenomenon that I have named the “Noah’s ark approach,” which positions women in dependent  relation to famous men. Contemporary readers of historical fiction have missed out on an extraordinary array of women’s voices that were heard in their own period – both acclaimed and reviled – but then  silenced over time and excluded from the canon of accepted classics. 

My own projected series, Shakespeare’s Sisters, comprises six interrelated historical novels  that imagine the stories of early modern women authors from their own perspectives. These novels offer fictional engagements with an array of early modern figures, from queens to commoners. Historical women, including Mary Sidney Herbert, the protagonist of Imperfect Alchemist, are at the  center of the narratives, bringing their voices and experiences to life for modern audiences.  

Shakespeare’s Sisters centers on women whose lives and voices both shape and are shaped by  women, many of whom appear in each other’s stories. Spanning generations and social classes, the  series paints a multi-hued portrait of Renaissance England, seen through the lives of courtiers,  commoners, poets, playwrights and, above all, indomitable women who broke the rules of their time  while juggling many of the responsibilities and obstacles faced by women worldwide today. 

Imperfect Alchemist, the opening novel in the series, is an imaginative reinvention of the  remarkable life of Mary Sidney Herbert, Countess of Pembroke – friend of Queen Elizabeth, visionary  scientist, advocate for women writers and scandalous lover of a much younger man. One of the earliest  women authors in Renaissance England to publish under her own name, the Countess successfully  forged a place for herself in a man’s world.

A member of one of England’s leading families, she carved out space for herself as a daring  and often controversial figure in a royal court riven by jealousies and intrigues. Her pioneering literary  and scientific experiments challenged many of Renaissance England’s established conventions – one  of the things that most strongly drew me to her.  

As an influential literary patron as well as author, she convened a literary salon of writers  whose membership included Edmund Spenser, John Donne, Ben Jonson and other authors interested in  testing the limits of literary forms. Her own play about Antony and Cleopatra is believed to have  influenced Shakespeare.  

Responding to the Countess’s role as mentor to a cohort of women writers – including Mary  Wroth, Aemilia Lanyer, Elizabeth Cary and Anne Clifford, all of whom will play lead roles in the Shakespeare’s Sisters series – I have imagined these women into her circle, their interaction with the  male authors inspiring visions of new possibilities.  

In Imperfect Alchemist, the fictional Mary Sidney Herbert is mediated through my knowledge  of her real-life circumstances and her writings. She was also a scientist, practicing alchemy in her  private laboratory to prepare chemical and herbal remedies. Although the Countess was a well regarded alchemist, no manuscript records of her alchemical recipes or experiments survive. I have  drawn on historical accounts documenting the detailed practices of other female alchemists of the  period present an authentic, if conjectural, account of her scientific work.  

As the acclaimed historical novelist Sarah Dunant observes, fashioning historical  verisimilitude, “like a pointillist painting,” lies in the details. Indeed, Dunant describes historical  details as “gold dust,” giving her readers confidence that they’re encountering worlds that actually  existed, thus grounding the novel’s inventions in a “multicolored” world.  

To lend a broader perspective than Mary’s point of view alone, I introduce an invented  character, Rose Commin, her lady’s maid – a country girl who brings an entirely different outlook to their intersecting lives. Trained to serve and observe, Rose proves to be both a keen judge of character  and a skilled artist whose drawings give new dimension to Mary’s own life and writings.  

Most of the characters in the book are fictional renditions of real historical figures whose roles  combine elements of their actual lives with my own inventions. The “supporting cast,” both real and  invented, adds three-dimensionality to the fictional storyline. 

Once I embarked on the first draft of the novel, I had to guard against my tendency, as a  scholar, to plunge down historical or literary “rabbit-holes,” enticed by fascinating details that would interrupt the writing process and might obscure rather than illuminate the story – dust rather than gold  dust. The most valuable advice I received came from a novelist friend who reminded me that “as a  novelist, your responsibility is to the story, not to history. Just tell the story that matters!” 

So what is the story that matters in Imperfect Alchemist? Most of the novel is written from two  alternating points of view: Mary’s, in the third person, and Rose’s, in the first person. As I was writing,  the story that came to matter the most was about both of these women, driven by sometimes conflicting  imperatives of creative expression and desire – one a quiet artist, the other an outspoken author – who  come to connect across class lines, learning truths from each other that they never expected to discover  about themselves and their world. 

The celebrated novelist Hilary Mantel maintains that “you become a novelist so you can tell the  truth,” and observes that “most historical fiction is … in dialogue with the past.” My driving aim is to  “tell the truth” that becomes visible in these historical women’s writings, and to put my own fiction  into dialogue with theirs. 

My goal has been to tell a story that imagines the perspectives of historical women in a world  that encompasses both known facts and imagined possibilities, illuminating the historical record without being limited by it. I like to think that the real Mary Sidney Herbert, alchemist and author, would appreciate my transmutation of her story.

Naomi Miller, “Imperfect Alchemist: Writing Women’s Voices”

Thank you for your guest post!

D. K. Marley

The Hist Fic Chickie

Buy the book:


Well, it is official. It has taken a while but Sir Derek Jacobi and Mark Rylance have convinced me after all these years. Not that my opinion matters in the least to them, after all, they are huge stars . . . and what am I? A mere unlettered writer who dreams of being a success. I guess I grew up with a fondness for the Stratford man, the Shakespeare we all know by his face and works, since I aspired to be another one of those wannabe writers who did not have the luxury of going to college but aspired to be something greater than a glove-maker.

While in high school, I learned of the extraordinary genius of Shakespeare, and marveled at how this man, a school dropout, could write such words. Mind you, I had big plans of going to college but life circumstances sent me down a different path, a path I do not regret – thus, as Shakespeare, life has schooled me in sometimes the most harsh and bitter way. Don’t get me wrong, Iife has also given me some of the most incredible gifts in the world (i.e. my family).

Anyway, for so long after graduation, Shakespeare was my idol. I absorbed everything he wrote and daydreamed about the day I might get to visit his home in Stratford. And then, it happened. No joke, I fell in KMart . . . slipped through a spilled bottle of detergent after passing two employees chatting nearby. For two months I had to go to a chiropractor to readjust by back but I was in heaven, for not only was my therapy paid for by the BigWigs at Kmart but I paid for my first trip to England with the funds. Two weeks roaming Britain. Ahhhhhh!!!!

1997. September, to be exact, my husband and I touched down at Heathrow airport. Two weeks after Princess Diana was killed. While I played the perfect tourist, gawking at every historical thing I could find, I will never forget the melted candle wax along the pathway to Kensington Palace and the flowers still in the gate. Heartbreaking!!!

We made the normal rounds of sight seeing, onward to Stratford-upon-Avon to see Shakespeare’s homeplace and walk the streets where he lived (suddenly I’m singing Freddie’s song from “My Fair Lady”). I was quite overcome with emotion and bought countless souvenirs in the local shops. When back in London, we visited the Globe Theatre in Southwark and took a tour. During the tour, a sort of exhibition was being held in the lobby area, a walk-through about Shakespeare’s life, and the very last display depicted the faces of five men with the headline “Who Was Shakespeare?” Needless to say, I had never heard the story, so I stood there and read every word. I’m not sure what drew me to Kit Marlowe but in his eyes I found the compulsion to write my first novel. For the next 15 years, non-college related, I studied and studied and studied . . . and wrote and revised, wrote and revised . . . on and on and on . . . all with the premise that Christopher Marlowe actually wrote the plays and sonnets attributed to Shakespeare. To me, the story was plausible but I have to say, I never confessed to be a scholarly historian, just a simple writer with what appeared to be a great idea for a book.

In my book, “Blood and Ink”, Marlowe is not killed in Deptford. He is exiled by Lord Burghley but continues to write and publish his plays through Shakespeare. There is a a lot of spies, intrigue, murder, betrayal, love, rejection, ambition; you know, Shakespearean stuff. I had the privilege of corresponding a few times with Mr. Peter Farey about the topic of Marlowe, and whose research fueled my writing to such an extent that I will be forever grateful. I, also, was fortunate enough to meet Sir Derek Jacobi and Mark Rylance at the Globe Theatre when I returned in 2007 at an authorship debate concerning the Earl of Oxford and Francis Bacon. I remember asking Sir Jacobi, “what about Marlowe?” He was so congenial and gracious, allowing a quick selfie on my phone (to which I lost ages ago), and even allowed me to tell him about my book. When I left the debate, I was not convinced about Oxford or Bacon, as my mind was fixed upon Marlowe’s star.

Now, thirteen years later after that debate, my book is published (and has won a couple of awards), and I was determined to hold to the idea of Marlowe as ‘the man’, the true author of the plays, even after meeting the two men who are advocates for the Oxford as Shakespeare idea.

That is, until recently. During this pandemic of 2020, as with most people I suspect, I’ve spent my days staring endlessly at the telly watching hours of movies, documentaries, and mindless soul-snatching dribble to fill the soul-snatching historical year. In my clicking and adding to my ever-growing ‘watch list’, I added items I know I’ve watched in the past but piqued my interest once more. “Anonymous” directed by Roland Emmerich and starring Sir Derek Jacobi, “Nothing But the Truth” and “Last Will and Testament”, two documentaries also starring Sir Derek Jacobi – all covering the topic of Edward de Vere, the Earl of Oxford, being the true author of the plays and sonnets of Shakespeare. I watched them all with intent, even finding myself chuckling at the same passages I used when referring to Marlowe’s life now being used to show Oxford’s life. Did it cement my resolve towards Marlowe? Well, here is the rub.


By Source, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=31673330

I am now a convert. The huge amount of evidence and reasoning portrayed in these documentaries, especially astounded me beyond anything so at the last I am declaring, “How can it not be DeVere?” While this does not at any rate take away from my novel Blood and Ink – I still stand behind what I wrote, after all, as I said before, I am a historical fiction author (alternate historical in this case) and not a historian. Whether it was Marlowe, Oxford, Bacon, or the actual Will Shaksper from Stratford-upon-Avon, you have to admit, the stories do make for great historical fiction. I still present my novel as a sound story. While not historical fiction, it is an alternate theory which will boost those in favor of Marlowe as the author. Who knows, maybe this second watching of these shows have sparked another novel in the making! And I am all for that notion!!

I loved some of the quotes they used in the second documentary, some of the famous men throughout history who also believed in the Earl of Oxford as the man, or at least believed the man from Stratford was not the true author.

Such as, Henry James, author of The Wings of the Dove and The Portrait of a Lady, who said:

 I am “a sort of“ haunted by the conviction that the divine William is the biggest and most successful fraud ever practiced on a patient world.

Or these others:

“In the work of the greatest geniuses, humble beginnings will reveal themselves somewhere, but one cannot trace the slightest sign of them in Shakespeare … I am not concerned with who wrote the works of Shakespeare … but I can hardly think it was the Stratford boy. Whoever wrote them had an aristocratic attitude.” – Charlie Chaplin, actor

The Egyptian verdict of the Shakespeare Societies comes to mind; that he was a jovial actor and manager. I can not marry this fact to his verse. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“I no longer believe that William Shakespeare the actor from Stratford was the author of the works that have been ascribed to him.” – Sigmund Freud

“But what if it turns out, as it just possibly might, that William Shakespeare of Stratford was not the author of the plays ascribed to him? There is a theory, advanced by reputable scholars, seriously and, in my opinion, plausibly, that Shakespeare merely lent his name as a cover for the literary activities of another person … If, by some terrible chance, this theory should be proved, then straightaway Stratford’s tourist status would dwindle.” – Sir William Tyrone Guthrie, Tony award-winning theatre director

“Isn’t it odd, when you think of it, that you may list all of the celebrated Englishmen, Irishmen, Scotchmen … clear back to the first Tudors — a list of five hundred names, shall we say? — and you can … learn the particulars of the lives of every one of them. Every one of them except one — the most famous, the most renowned — by far the most illustrious of them all — Shakespeare!” – Mark Twain, author of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn

“I think [an alternative candidate] wrote Shakespeare. If you don’t, there are some awfully funny coincidences to explain away.” – Orson Welles, Actor

“I am firm against Shaksper — I mean the Avon man, the actor.” – Walt Whitman, American Poet

Thank you for reading my ramblings or listening to my Southern un-degree’d voice talk about high-falutin’ things!!

D. K. Marley

Who’s the Chic?

Hi, my name is D. K. Marley and I am the Historical Fiction Chick!

I’ve always loved reading books since I can remember. I think my first favorite book was Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. I remember watching the Disney movie over and over again, reading the book over and over, and then acting out the stories while I played on my granddaddy’s little farm in South Georgia.

I don’t know why but I developed a curious fascination with all things British, even as early as six and seven years old. My mom had several Beatles albums that I played on my little record player and I always tried to mimic their way of talking. My grandmother was also a huge Anglophile and an English Literature teacher, so when I turned eleven and she caught me perusing the pages of her college Lit book and her Shakespeare book, she promptly gave them both to me as gifts and set me on the path. Then, when my mom introduced me to the Victoria Holt series when I was about thirteen, I was hooked with historical fiction. Later on, in high school, I read “The Far Pavilions” and started writing my first novel (which I never published).

Years went by after graduation. I married and had my daughter, then took up writing again while she took her naps. In the vein of The Far Pavilions, I wrote a story about a young girl growing up in Kashmir, half-blooded with a British father and an Indian mother, whose mother and father both die in the Indian mutiny. She is shipped off to Britain to distant relatives she has never met and begins to suffer the cruelty of prejudice and hate. Anyway, it also became a novel that never left the manuscript phase but I like to think they both were my testing ground.

It wasn’t until 1997, my husband and I set off on our anniversary trip to London. We arrived there the month after the death of Princess Diana. I will never forget the sight of seeing the candle wax still embedded in the pebbled walkway in front of Kensington Palace.

During the trip we took a side-trip to Stratford-upon-Avon and to the Globe Theatre in London. While there, they were having some sort of museum exhibition about Shakespeare and one of the walls featured five men who might have been contenders for writing the plays attributed to him. Needless to say, I had never heard the idea but something intrigued me. I said while standing there, “Well, this might make an incredible story!” I took out a pen and some scrap paper and started writing notes, especially about Christopher Marlowe whose eyes seem to draw me in that day.

My journey began that day. After thirteen years of writing, rewriting, setting aside, getting frustrated, almost giving up, going to writing retreats, trashing a lot of the storyline, and more rewriting, I published a small run in 2010 just for family and friends. Sort of testing out if I even was going in the right direction. Some interest but something was still not quite right. I set it aside for another five years.

In 2015, my life changed overnight. The night of the Super Bowl, I lost my daughter, son-in-law, and unborn grandbaby to a stupid drunk driver who was running from the police. My kids were on their way home from a Super Bowl party and were only one mile from their house. Grief changes you irrevocably. After years of grief therapy and wanting to completely give up, my therapist suggested I start writing again,; first, a small journal to my daughter; then second, something that I enjoyed writing about before. After months of writing in the journal, I finally took the old manuscript of “Blood and Ink” off the shelf and did an entire revamp of the story.

I contemplated searching for an agent and going the traditional route but with the suddenness of losing my kids and the fragileness of life still fresh in my mind, I decided to take back my own power and self-publish which I did in May of 2018. Things progressed very quickly. By December I had it in ebook, paperback, hardcover, and Audible (thanks to the incredible vocal stylings of Mr. Jonathan Dixon) and at the end of the year I received the first award from The Coffee Pot Book Club for the Bronze Medal for Best Historical Fiction for “Blood and Ink”. My feet found their path and my eyes were focused on the next three books. “The Prince of Denmark”, “Child of Love & Water”, and “The Fire of Winter” all followed in succession and this crazy year of 2020 the first of my new historical time-travel will come out.

So, I guess you can say I found my voice through tragedy which is very appropriate for a Shakespeare-lover. Every word I write now is for and because of my kids and for my grandmother who set me on the path.