Hello, my name is Julie Kagawa, author of The Iron Fey series. If you've read The Iron King, you might recognize several characters from Shakespeare's famous play, A Midsummer Night's Dream. Oberon, Titania, and, of course, Robin Goodfellow (aka Puck) all play important parts in the story, as does the play itself, since it is through human dreams and imagination that the fey of the Iron King exist.
The thing that stuck with me most about A Midsummer Night's Dream was the combined mischievous and almost accidental comedic nature of Oberon's trusted servant, Puck. Sent on a mission to make two mortals fall in love, Puck mistakenly places a love elixir on the wrong mortal's eyes, causing a fair amount of havoc in the process. Then, for the sheer fun of it, he gives another mortal the head of a donkey and contrives to have Queen Titania fall in love with that man. This, I knew, was a character that had more stories to tell (and more animal bits to bestow on those who proved deserving to wear, let's say, a pig's nose). And who better to offset a dark and brooding prince than someone so carefree?
But it wasn't just Puck that inspired me from the pages of Shakespeare's work. Woven within A Midsummer Night's Dream is a taste of the whimsical, and oftentimes capricious, nature of the fey. You have the struggle between Oberon and Titania over an Indian prince – a struggle that, I think, establishes a history that I tried to build upon with Titania's reactions to Meghan. You have the callousness of Puck giving a man the head of a donkey and terrorizing his friends, for no better reason than he finds it amusing to do so... an attitude that Leanansidhe (from The Iron Daughter) certainly understands! And finally, you have the nebulous nature of the fey themselves, interacting with the people around them, but, in the end leaving them with little more than dreamlike memories, and, perhaps an inkling of belief. Or, as Puck said it:
Think but this, and all is mended—
That you have but slumbered here
While these visions did appear.
And this weak and idle theme,
No more yielding but a dream,
Gentles, do not reprehend.
If you pardon, we will mend.
And, as I am an honest Puck,
If we have unearnèd luck
Now to ’scape the serpent’s tongue,
We will make amends ere long.
Else the Puck a liar call.
So good night unto you all.
Give me your hands if we be friends,
And Robin shall restore amends."
This world that Shakespeare envisioned, a world where faeries prey upon the unsuspecting mortals who wander into their realms and regard them as little more than playthings, and yet do so not out of malice but simply because it is their nature, forms part of the foundation on which the fey of The Iron Fey series rest. Like countless other writers, I found inspiration in Shakespeare's writing, and I trust the Bard won't mind too much if I borrowed some of his ideas.
Thank you, Julie, for such a brilliant guest post! Be sure to check out Julie's website and my review.
The Iron King was released on 21st January 2011, and can be bought from Amazon UK and Amazon US. However, if you're an e-book fan, you may be interested to know The Sunday Express is giving away 1,000 free e-copies of The Iron King to UK readers! Be sure to check it out!
For more information on the Iron King and to find out about forthcoming releases from Mira Ink visit miraink.co.uk