The Gentleman Poet: A Novel of Love, Romance, and Shakespeare’s “The Tempest,” by Kathryn Johnson
Like many authors, I’m often asked where the ideas for my books come from. The answer? Everywhere!
It doesn’t matter how exciting or quiet your life is—there is raw material for a rich and satisfying story within you. For instance, everyone has hobbies. Some of us quilt, others collect cookbooks or enjoy playing a musical instrument. One activity I enjoy is sailing with my husband. Our relaxing days on the Chesapeake Bay went a long way toward inspiring The Gentleman Poet, my latest novel. Right now, the crisp late fall weather is a reminder that we’re nearing the end of our sailing season. It’s truly romantic skimming across the Chesapeake Bay in our vintage sailboat Purr during the spring, all summer, and early fall before it gets too cold to be enjoyable. But as cooler days arrive, and the water turns steel-gray, choppy and chill, our fascination with being out on the water wanes, and I often wonder what it must have been like for women and their families sailing on creaky wooden sailing ships across vast and terrifyingly rough oceans capable of swallowing them whole in one huge wave.
I suppose it was partly my sympathy for these brave souls of just a few hundred years ago that prompted me to write a novel involving a shipwreck in the 17th-century, and for creating my heroine survivor Elizabeth Persons. Because this isn’t really a story about William Shakespeare, although you may catch glimpses of someone very like him in the story. It’s not even so much about a single play that he wrote, as much as it is about the courage of a young woman who—like so many women today—yearns for love and a better life for herself. Despite the hardships Elizabeth faces, she tests herself, discovers her talents and learns about the world around her—all of which give her the strength to rise above tragedy and reach out for happiness.
Maybe this story provides a message for all of us today during these challenging and stressful times. History shows us, again and again, the awesome emotional and physical strength of women at moments of crisis. Their journals, memoirs, and letters remind us that we as a sex have incredible resilience, and the power within us to be just as strong as our sisters who came before us, when we are tested. I saw the need to write about this strength in my romantic historical novel. I needed also to write about how Elizabeth finds love, despite life throwing incredible barricades in her path.
This is a book dedicated to women everywhere, throughout time, who have grown stronger through adversity and found ways to bring joy and love into their own and others’ lives. I hope you’ll enjoy Elizabeth’s journey even as you create your own life adventure in the 21st century.
Warmly, Kathryn Johnson
Warmly, Kathryn Johnson
You can reach Kathryn at her website where she offers tips for new writers and support from her mentoring service: www.writebyyou.com.