Multi-genre author Andrew Hartley has a background as varied as his books. He is the Russell Robinson Distinguished Professor of Shakespeare in the theater department of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He’s also affiliated with the English department in addition to serving as editor of Shakespeare Bulletin and Resident Dramaturg of the Georgia Shakespeare Festival.
Daily Dragon (DD): What led you to try your hand at fiction writing?
Andrew Hartley (AH): It’s something I’ve done as far back as I can remember. That was my thing as a kid, telling stories. I love the idea that we can get caught up in a narrative, sucked in by characters we love (or hate) or connect to in some way. By the time I was eighteen I had decided I wanted to write long fiction. In those days, when self-publishing wasn’t the option it is today, writers were very much at the mercy of the major publishers and it took me a long time to find the right home, but I learned a lot in the process.
DD: You’ve written several series, most recently the Darwen Arkwright fantasy trilogy for middle grade readers. Please tell us a bit about this series.
AH: The Darwen Arkwright series is about a misfit English boy living in Atlanta who is given a strange mirror which, after sundown, turns into a door to another world. That world is beautiful and strange and full of monsters trying to get out. The series has elements of Narnia, of Harry Potter and of steampunk, and the first book in the series (Darwen Arkwright and the Peregrine Pact) won SIBA’s young adult book of the year for 2012, and is up for several regional awards. It’s a trilogy, the third book of which, Darwen Arkwright and the School of Shadows just came out.
DD: You’ve also written thrillers and fantasy adventure. What drew you to this particular mix of genres?
AH: To be honest, I’m always a bit baffled by this question. Why wouldn’t I? 🙂 I read very widely—always have done—and the idea of writing the same kind of story over and over bores me. So yes, I write whatever I’m drawn to read, which means I wander from genre to genre. I’m an agent’s nightmare.
DD: What are your thrillers and adult fantasy series about?
AH: I’m glad you asked about my adult fantasies because I’m giving a short story away this weekend in honor of the con! The story is called “The Slave Trader’s Wedding” and you can download it from www.Amazon.com for free all con. These stories (there are 2 complete novels (Act of Will and Will Power) follow a smart mouthed medieval actor called Will Hawthorne who falls in with a group of adventurers.
My thrillers tend to be contemporary adventures/mysteries rooted in archaeology, so they tend to tell stories fro more than period at once. Or they are supposed to. 🙂
DD: Perhaps your recent adaptation of Macbeth is more the sort of work people expect from Shakespeare scholars. Please tell us about that.
AH: It’s a novel which I wrote with British mystery writer David Hewson and which approaches Shakespeare’s story as if it is a medieval thriller (which it kind of is). We wrote it originally for audio and it was performed by wonderful Scottish actor Alan Cumming and was nominated for best audio book of the year. It’s out now as a print book too, and we’ve just finished a Hamlet which will be voiced by another exciting actor (whose name I’m not allowed to reveal yet!). In each case, the core story will be familiar to people who know the plays, but they are adaptations which explore elements of the stories Shakespeare doesn’t do much with and radically reinterprets characters and events.
DD: “Resident Dramaturg” is a title I’m not familiar with. What does such a person do, and what drew you to this job?
A dramaturg, at least where Shakespeare is concerned, is usually the scholar attached to a production, who is there to bring a sense of a literary, critical, historical and theoretical perspective in terms that will help the director, cast and production team make interesting, innovative and intellectually coherent choices. A good dramaturg helps push a show into new and exciting areas.
DD: Your website says you’re an Atlanta Braves fan. Did you go to Dragon Con night at Turner Field?
AH: I wanted to (though I’ve been anxious about the team, even with their massive division league, lately) but there are just too many people I want to see. It may take a zombie apocalypse to tear me away from the Hyatt bar during Dragon Con. 🙂
DD: Thanks for joining me today.
AH: My pleasure.