The author is attacked by angry academics over her Hamlet prequel at ESRA 2013
Haha--just kidding! Actually, that's a picture of me illustrating "Exit, Pursued by a Bear" in the Shakespeare Without Words theatre workshop led by Philippe Goudard for the ESRA conference. Actually, despite my worries, the Shakespearean academics were mostly very genial and my panel, on Shakespearean adaptations and "tradaptations" (where the line between translation and adaptation is blurred) went quite well, I think.

Protean Shakespeare Panel: Adapting, Tradapting, Performing Early Modern Plays

With Frank Brevik, discussing the difference between Conservative, Moderate, and "Lunatic Fringe" productions 

Listening to Klaas Tindemans describe Ivo van Hove's 6-hour Belgian production of the Roman Tragedies
Of course, my trip wasn't all work and no play! I got to spend a few days before and after the conference sightseeing (and shopping!) in Montpellier and Paris.

Self portrait: Hermes at Hermès

My favorite tourist attraction in Paris was, perhaps not coincidentally, the one with the fewest tourists: the Père Lachaise cemetery is (apart from a small crowd more-or-less permanently gathered around Jim Morrison's grave) blissfully peaceful. We took a bouquet of flowers up and spent several hours just wandering through the cemetery laying tribute at the graves of the writers and artists who have been an inspiration to us. Here's me in front of the tomb of one of my favorites, Oscar Wilde:

Taking Europe by Storm!

 I'll be presenting an academic paper at this year's meeting of the European Shakespeare Research Association in Montpellier, France. The theme of this year's conference is Shakespeare & Myth. I'll be on a panel discussing "Protean Shakespeare: Adapting, Tradapting, Performing Early Modern Plays," talking about how prose fiction adaptations of Hamlet (including works by Salman Rushdie, John Updike, and Margaret Atwood as well as my own novel The Lunatic, the Lover and the Poet ) can be considered as non-theatrical "productions" of the play, and comparing "traditionalist" and avant-garde approaches to such intertextual fiction. This conference looks really exciting overall, with theatrical workshops and events as well as academic papers, so if you're in striking distance of Montpellier, France between June 26th-29th, come by and say Bonjour!

I won an Oregon Literary Fellowship!

Specifically, the Friends of the Lake Oswego Library William Stafford Fellowship in Creative Nonfiction. Which means I'll be spending some time this year working on a memoir about my childhood being raised by...well, the sort of people who would name a child "Myrlin Ambrosia Hermes." You can read a short excerpt from it at the Literary Arts online chapbook, as well as some very kind and insightful words from judge Michael Pearson and a Q&A in which I tried my best to answer both honestly and thoughtfully. My favorite answer, to a question about my creative process:

"Writing, for me, is like trying to remember a vivid and complicated dream. You can see and understand the entire scene in a flash, but it gets slippery when you try to pin down the details." 

Read the entire interview, as well as excerpts from the other honored writers, at the link above. And if you're an Oregon resident with a literary project in mind, there are still a couple of weeks left to get your application in for next year's awards. I've applied for several years running, so it just goes to show that you never know when your work will resonate with the judges. Good luck!

What I've been up to lately...

I've been working on my next book (a historical novel about Restoration playwright Aphra Behn) and it's hard to shift gears long enough to work on something else, even a blog post. Author Tom Spanbauer once described to me the process of working on a novel as "going away into another world for a while," so that even when you are not writing, part of your mind is always elsewhere, in the book. And while I know writers who thrive juggling several projects at once, for me it would be sort of like trying to maintain two part-time jobs, one in Tokyo, and one in London.

So at the moment, my head is stuck in Suriname in 1663 (before becoming a playwright, Aphra spent some time in the West Indies and Antwerp as perhaps the worst spy in His Majesty's secret service). But I do have some thoughts that I want to put down soon about Alexander Fodor's 2007 film Hamlet, an experimental, rather surreal version of the play I saw recently, in which the character of Horatio is a woman, and explicitly portrayed as in love with the prince.

Oh, and I just realized that I never posted here the link to the essay I wrote for Salon last year about my godfather, Herb, to whom The Lunatic, the Lover, and the Poet is dedicated. He was the first person to ever tell me about the mysterious "Mr. W.H." and that Shakespeare's sonnets were written to a man. The recipe for his prize-winning saffron cake is included at the end of the piece, so enjoy! Many thanks to author Joseph Skibell for naming The Lunatic, the Lover, and the Poet one of his favorite books of 2010. I met Mr. Skibell at last year's Wordstock, Portland's annual literary festival, where he was on a historical fiction panel I moderated. I loved his novel A Curable Romantic, a brilliantly written magical realist peek into the world of Sigmund Freud. The Lunatic, the Lover, and the Poet also made Top-Ten lists for bloggers Ryan G of Wordsmithonia and Trisha of Eclectic/Eccentric.