Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Guest Blogger: Hanke Quense, Author of Falstaff's Big Gamble

Falstaff’s Big Gamble is Shakespeare's Worst Nightmare. 

It takes two of the Bard's most famous plays, Hamlet and Othello, and recasts them in Gundarland.  There, Hamlet becomes a dwarf and Othello a dark elf and Iago and his wife, Emilia, are trolls.

If that isn't bad enough, these two tragedies are now comedies with Falstaff, Shakespeare's most popular rogue, thrown in as a bonus.

Both Hamlet and Othello are plagued by the scheming Falstaff, who embezzles money from Othello.  After Hamlet becomes king (with help from Falstaff) the rogue becomes the dark nemesis behind throne.

Read an excerpt!

Hamlet, Crown Prince of Denmarko, paced the castle battlements late on a clear, cool spring night. He walked with hands clasped behind his back and head down. He had a thin nose with brown hair and eyes. His scrawny build and clean-shaven face gave him the appearance of a starving waif.

He paused, gazed at the multitudinous stars, sighed and continued his pacing. A breeze brought the smells of the harbor: salt water and rotting fish guts. At last, he stopped, thrust one hand to the sky and declaimed, "To bee or not to bee?" He stroked his chin. "Whether 'tis nobler to buy honey from the peasant farmer in the market and thus provide him sustenance and income to support his brood of brats, possibly keeping him from rebelling over high taxes . . . or to grow my own honey thus, gaining coins to assert my independence from my noble family and the sordid court? Hmm."

He paced some more, still troubled by his vexing question. Nothing less than his future depended upon the answer. Because his uncle, and now stepfather, Clodio, had usurped his right to rule the kingdom, he needed a profession and an income.

"Do you always talk to yourself?" a voice said from the shadows.

"Who . . . who goes there?" Hamlet's head snapped from one side to another while his hand grasped the hilt of his dagger.

"'Tis I, the ghost of your father. I bring a message for your ears alone."

Hamlet goggled at the specter who materialized in the shadows of a doorway. "You're not my father's ghost. My father was a dwarf and you're the ghost of an elf. You're an impostor and a dead one to boot."

"Hey, your father is busy and he asked me to fill in."

"Busy? In the underworld? What's he doing?" Hamlet clutched his red tunic and tugged downward as if to hide his shaking hands.

"He met a good-lookin' ghost of a female dwarf and he's wooin her."

"Dead not a month, and he forsakes his wife, my mother?

"You gotta understand. Life on this side — no pun intended — is pretty borin'. When you gotta a chance to do somethin' interestin', you gotta go with it."

Hamlet ran a hand over his face. Why me? he thought. "What's the message?"

"His death was no accident. It was murder most foul. Here is his exact message. 'But know, thou noble youth, the serpent that did sting thy Father's life, now wears his crown.’” The ghost paused then added, "Did your father always talk funny like that?"

"Murdered? By whom?"

"Didn't you listen? The message tells you who whacked him. Your father wants you to send this guy over here so he can talk to him. He doesn't wanna wait until the guy croaks from natural causes."

Hamlet watched in awe as the ghostly figure evaporated. A few seconds later, it popped back into sight. "Oh, I forgot to tell you. Your father says, 'Thy mother the queen is to know naught of this nocturnal visit.’" The ghost disappeared.

His father's murder shocked him. And the murderer had married his mother immediately afterward. Did the world have no morals?

He recalled his first thoughts when he'd heard of his father's death. How he admired the perseverance and tenacity his father must have had to commit suicide by suffocating himself with a pillow. Now all that admiration was wasted; the old dwarf had had help.

What to do? He needed to make decisions about bee farming and now he had to avenge his father. Was there no end to the demands on a prince's time? He said to the stars, "To bee-keep or to avenge? That is the question."

What Inspired Me To Write Books by Hank Quense

I started out writing short stories. A lot of them. I have about fifty published short stories, but I haven't written one in several years.

While writing one short story, the plot got complicated and it grew into a short novella. My next "short story" also became a novella, a longer one than the first one. On one project, while I wasn't paying attention, I ended writing a novel. Then another novel.

Now I have a hard time trying to write a short story. Earlier this year, I decided to write a short story. I finished designing the characters, building a plot and so forth. My next step was to figure out the scenes needed to tell the story. To my disgust, I ended with a large pile of scenes that could only be handled in a long novella or a short novel, most definitely not a short story. After that, I conceded. I now believe I'm incapable of writing another short story.

So, the answer to the question is; I wasn't inspired to write books, it apparently is something I grew into.

Award-winning author Hank Quense lives in Bergenfield, NJ with his wife Pat. They have two daughters and five grandchildren. He writes humorous fantasy and scifi stories. On occasion, he also writes an article on fiction writing or book marketing but says that writing nonfiction is like work while writing fiction is fun. He refuses to write serious genre fiction saying there is enough of that on the front page of any daily newspaper and on the evening TV news.

Hank’s previous works include Zaftan Enterprises, Zaftan Miscreants and Tales From Gundarland, a collection of fantasy stories. Readers Favorite awarded the book a medal and EPIC designated it a finalist in its 2011 competition. His Fool’s Gold is a retelling of the ancient Rhinegold myth and Tunnel Vision is a collection of twenty previously published short stories. Build a Better Story is a book of advice for fiction writers.

He has a number of links where you can follow his work and his occasional rants:

Hank’s Blog:http://hank-quense.com/wp

Strange Worlds website:http://strangeworldsonline.com

Follow him on twitter: http://twitter.com/hanque99

Facebook fan pages: https://www.facebook.com/StrangeWorldsOnline

Purchase Falstaff’s Big Gamble in paperback or kindle format at Amazon

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