Part I Part II Part III Part IV
Part V Part VI Part VII Part VIII
Part IX Part X
(I know I've already said so, but I had no idea I'd be carrying this series on this long . . .)
Somewhere along the way as I was researching the Salt Lake Temple and bemoaning the fact that I couldn't do my really cool idea for retelling Much Ado about Nothing, I had a brain flash:
Why the heck not?
(Sort of a V-8 moment.)
So what if I'd originally imagined the retelling in a contemporary setting? Who said I couldn't retell the story in the 1800s?
And thus the plot and characters for my next book were born. Instead of trying to adapt Shakespeare's story to the twenty-first century, I could make it work in the mid-1800s.
That meant figuring out a lot of plot points: in what way could the Claudio character mistake one woman for another and how could it be believable to the reader? I came up with using a situation involving a photograph, which necessitated research into the photography technology at the time.
The technology had to dovetail with the temple history, preferably at a point in the construction where something interesting was actually happening. Those two factors are what led me to zero in on 1867 as the year the story would take place, making it my earliest historical.
I pulled out my volume of complete Shakespeare and reread the play. Sometimes I had it next to me as I drafted. I cannot tell you how much fun some of the scenes were to write, especially those between Ben and Bethany (Shakespeare's Benedick and Beatrice). I purposely mirrored much of their dialogue. There were times I found myself laughing aloud and grinning ear to ear.
Part of the joy of adaptation is that you can change things. For my story, I decided to combine the characters of Don Pedro and Don Jon, but only as far as their plot purposes, not their actual personalities.
Don Jon is the villain in the play. He purposely sets things up to go wrong. Don Pedro, on the other hand, is a good man who figures out that Benedick and Beatrice still have feelings for one another and decides to play cupid.
I gave Phillip both jobs, but I had him inadvertently cause the problem Don Jon purposely sets up. Phillip is good like Don Pedro and would never intentionally do something villainous. That's why his name starts with a P instead of a J.
(Contrary to what some readers have thought, no other character plays the part of the villain Don Jon. Which is why a certain person's name I won't mention also doesn't start with a J.)
One big change came when I was more than halfway through the first draft. I suddenly realized that the characters would not play out the story the same way the Bard's did. There was no way I could redeem the Claudio character the way the play did. It wouldn't work, for starters, because the further I got into the story, the more I realized that the Hero character would have none of it.
Then out of the blue, Phillip started doing all kinds of things that threw a pretty darn big wrench into the original story.
(I'm trying hard not to include major spoilers. I'm hoping that only people who know either the play or Spires of Stone will know what all this means.)
Instead of freaking out and trying to force my characters back into their proper roles, I gave them free rein, and they played out their story the way they wanted to.
Things morphing at the end of the book necessitated me going back to earlier chapters and changing quite a lot there. I went through more drafts than I'd done in ages on any other book.
When I finally submitted it at the end of the year, I was pleased with the way it had turned out. I didn't bother attaching a title to it, because 1) I'm bad at titles and 2) they always pick the title anyway, so I just submitted it as my "Salt Lake Temple Book."
When it was accepted (for another fall release!), I was thrilled.
Sometime in February, my editor sent me the reader evaluations and asked me to do some revisions based on what I agreed with in them. (One of the eval suggestions: It needs a better title. Um, ya think?! I laughed.)
My editor said some areas needed rewriting, but didn't really point me in a direction. I had almost a month to get the new version to her.
A simple request, one would think. I'd done revisions before, so I wasn't worried.
I should have been.
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