Inside Wilde in Love
Warning! In describing relations between characters, I may wreck a book for you by making it clear who someone marries, or the outcome of a book. Please do not read about The Inside Take if you're wary of knowing who is paired with whom!
- One of the inspirations for this book was a comparison of our modern celebrity culture and that of Georgian England. I came up with the idea while watching Something Rotten!, a Broadway musical that turned Shakespeare into a Renaissance rock star. I combined the humor of the Broadway show and the frenzy surrounding another show, Hamilton, and ended up with Wilde in Love (the novel and the play).
- Along with fame comes fans and stalkers. Mental illness isn’t a modern phenomenon, but I got a sense of Prudence’s thought processes by reading an interview with a man charged with stalking an actress living in Brooklyn. The terrifying calmness with which he misinterpreted the slightest gesture was striking.
- I gave more time in this novel to Alaric’s family, because his siblings are an integral part of the world of the Wildes of Lindow Castle series. I got tired of heroes who walk alone through the world. Alaric has many people who love him. And just as it might in real life, the loss of his elder brother Horatius had a tremendous effect on him.
- There’s no “big misunderstanding” in this novel. Willa has practical, real reasons not to marry Alaric (stalkers really are dangerous). But life is always dangerous, and what they learn is that love makes it a far safer place. Alaric quotes the poet Hafez in a toast for his brother’s betrothal at a moment when he realizes the importance of love. My father, Robert Bly, introduced me to the poems of Hafez; his translations are gathered in a volume entitled The Angels Knocking on the Tavern Door. Here’s the poem Alaric mentions, in a translation by Daniel Ladinsky:
Of a great need
We are all holding hands
Not loving is a letting go.
The terrain around here