Six months after the events of Cauldron’s Bubble, Alda is stranded in her remote cottage, unable to recreate the magical object that allows her to travel between time and place. Meanwhile, Dreng’s home with Miranda on a distant island begins to crumble. They both escape to Fairy Land, where they become embroiled in a battle of immortals as the clans of Queen Titania and King Oberon fight for supremacy. In order to evade capture and return to their worlds, Dreng must rely on his adversary, Caliban, while Alda discovers an ally in the mysterious Ophelia. In a realm where only humans can die, will Alda and Dreng save themselves and, more importantly, each other? Or will they succumb to the fantastical powers in play?
Double Double Toil continues to build on the world introduced in Cauldron’s Bubble by intertwining Shakespeare’s plays in a unique and exciting way, introducing their stories to new readers and established Bard fans alike. Elements and characters from Hamlet, Macbeth, The Tempest, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Othello, and Romeo and Juliet combine in this fast-paced tale of magic and adventure. Read on…
Welcome to Day One of the Double Double Toil blog tour! Amber Elby was kind enough to answer a few of my questions about a variety of topics, from her exciting sequel to the importance of book bloggers. So let’s check out what the self confessed Shakespeare enthusiast has to say!
Before we begin I’d just like to say make sure you go and check out all the other lovely bloggers participating as well! A full list will be included at the bottom of this post! And SURPRISE, the first page of Double Double Toil will be unveiled!
But for now, let’s begin!
Why is it so important for you to make Shakespeare accessible to a wider, and younger, audience?
Everyone who reads already knows Shakespeare, whether they are aware of it or not. Apart from some religious works, Shakespeare’s plays have the greatest influence on Western literature, yet many younger readers aren’t aware of his importance because his works are “old,” which may be synonymous with “boring.” I was lucky to have a graduate school professor who encouraged us to re-read the Bard’s works as we wrote screenplays to look for techniques and inspiration, so I learned to associate his plays with the act of writing. This association has influenced all of my written works, but it’s obviously more explicit in the Netherfeld Trilogy. My hope is that others will look for similarities between modern writing and early fiction in order to appreciate and understand the full history of our literary culture.
As an author, how do you think the prominence of social media and book bloggers has impacted your releases?
I don’t think that book bloggers are for authors; they are for readers. I do enjoy interacting with the blogging community on Twitter, and I have picked up many books based on bloggers’ recommendations, so I know their influence firsthand. As an author, I’ve seen spikes in interest in my novels following reviews, so there is a measurable effect as more readers become aware of books. I’m conscious that when reviewers write about my books, the author is not their intended audience, but I am always grateful for the time and energy they put into reviews.
Cauldron’s Bubble incorporated elements of The Tempest, Hamlet and Macbeth – which plays can we expect to see woven into Double Double Toil?
In addition to those plays, I draw from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Othello, and Romeo and Juliet. I also mined information from outside of the Bard’s fiction: there is a character in Double Double Toil referred to as “the beautiful youth,” which alludes to the young man who inspired many of Shakespeare’s sonnets, and I named an original character after one of Shakespeare’s family members. The third novel, Trouble Fires Burn, will continue to draw inspiration from parts of Shakespeare’s life, even though he is not a character in the world of my books.
Whilst Alda and Dreng are the two protagonists within the books, can we expect to see even more from the supporting characters this time round and are there any exciting new additions?
Of course! I’ve added many characters from Shakespeare’s cannon, including Oberon, Titania, Puck, and Ophelia, but all have been twisted and/or expanded to make them more original. Caliban has an increased presence in Double Double Toil, and Hamlet continues to be an influence off-stage. There are also cameos from lesser-renowned Shakespearean characters, but I don’t want to spoil anything. Additionally, Double Double Toil takes place six months after Cauldron’s Bubble, so Alda and Dreng have both grown during the time between novels and have some surprises for readers as well.
It’s clear to see from your Twitter account that you’re very much a family orientated person – are there any elements of yourself, your children or your husband that you’ve incorporated into characters within the Netherfeld world?
My immediate family is strewn throughout my imaginary worlds. My husband knows that he has always been the inspiration behind Dreng because he was Dreng’s age when we started dating. He offers critiques when my hero seems off-character, and some of the dialogue in Double Double Toil was taken directly from our conversations. My two daughters’ names were combined and shortened into “Alda,” and my oldest daughter’s natural climbing ability is something shared by my female protagonist. My youngest daughter is a self-declared fairy expert, so she told me many stories that influenced my creation of Fairy Land. I’ve been asked before if my grandmother or mother inspired Alda’s Gramma; some of the details are similar, like the cookies she makes in Double Double Toil, but my family is not as mysterious or magical as Alda’s, even though the women on my maternal side all know how to dowse for water.
If you could invite three characters from Shakespeare’s works to a dinner party, who would you choose and why?
I’ve heard others answer this question before and have always enjoyed their responses, so I’m happy to have a chance now! I think I’d have a girls’ night with Hamlet’s Ophelia (because she really needs to find her own voice), A Midsummer Night’s Dream’s Hermia (because she is funny and fierce), and Juliet (because I’d like to give her some advice about boys).
The third and final book in the Netherfeld trilogy is being released next year. Have you taken any time to think about what’s next for you as a writer?
My upcoming third book, Trouble Fires Burn, will be released in August of 2019. After the conclusion of this trilogy, I’m going to write a stand-alone novel set in the magical worlds of Netherfeld called Caliban and the Void. I realized earlier this year that I would not be able to fit Caliban’s entire story into this trilogy, so he deserves his own book. Once that is completed, I plan to write a similar fan fiction series based on the works of a different author, one not as famous as Shakespeare but who has much more potential for world building. That author’s identity, for now, is top secret.
BONUS QUESTION – There is currently a lot of controversy regarding reviews within the book community and as a book blogger myself, I know we’re always curious to see writers’ opinions on this topic. So, as an author who uses Goodreads, what are your thoughts on negative reviews about your work?
There are two kinds of negative reviews that I find frustrating – not simply for my own novels but for any book. The first type are from reviewers who get concrete information wrong. I’ve read reviews of classics in which the reviewer obviously missed some connection or failed to understand some concept, so they essentially review a straw man and not the actual book. The second type are reviews from people who read books knowing that they won’t like them; often these begin with something like “I don’t like this genre, but I decided to give it a go.” That would be like a vegetarian ordering a steak and then criticizing it for being made of meat… What did you expect? Of course it goes without saying that all opinions are valid, but I would personally only post positive reviews because I don’t see the point of wasting time on something that I do not enjoy. Yet if someone loves writing negative reviews, and that makes them happy or fulfilled, then to quote Shakespeare, “To each his own.”
A big thank you to Amber Elby for kindly answering my questions!
Click the link below to read the first page of Double Double Toil and see how Alda and Dreng’s magical Shakespearean adventure continues!
If you’re in the local area, Amber is having a book launch in Austin, Texas at Malvern Books on October 14th at 2PM and attending the Mid-Cities Teen Book Fest at North Richland Hills Library in Texas on October 20th! I’m sure she would love to see you there!
Thank you so much for reading and make sure you head over to visit Meg at Between The Pages for DAY TWO of the blog tour tomorrow! She’ll be discussing Amber’s most influential books and you’ll also be able to read the second page of Double Double Toil!
About The Author
Amber Elby was born in Grand Ledge, Michigan but spent much of her childhood in the United Kingdom. She began writing when she was three years old and created miniature books by asking her family how to spell every, single, word. Several years later, she saw her first Shakespearean comedy, Much Ado About Nothing, in London. Many years later, she studied Creative Writing at Michigan State University’s Honors College before earning her Master of Fine Arts degree in Screenwriting at the University of Texas at Austin. She currently resides in Texas with her husband and two daughters and spends her time teaching, traveling, and getting lost in imaginary worlds.