• Sheryl Gwyther

Sweet Adversity ... 'What's in a name?'

Well, the day is here ... Sweet Adversity, my historical adventure (for anyone who likes stories about feisty, brave yet vulnerable girls on impossible quests) is out in the world - or 'in the wild' as I call it ... in paperback on book shelves and ebooks across the world.

You might recognise the quote above as coming from Will Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet, his play about the star-crossed, but doomed young lovers.

Shakespeare's plays weave through Sweet Adversity like a silver thread, not just because my protagonist, Addie has a pet cockatiel who quotes Shakespeare, but because Adversity herself is named after the famous line from the play, As You Like It, when the French duke accepts his treacheous banishment to a forest and decides to 'make the best of it' ...

“Sweet are the uses of adversity, Which, like the toad, ugly and venomous, Wears yet a precious jewel in his head; And this our life, exempt from public haunt, Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, Sermons in stones, and good in every thing.”

I've also used Shakespeare's quotes as chapter headings. The man knew human nature so well that for every situation Addie gets herself into throughout the story ... there is a suitable quote. Like magic!

Yeah, I guess you can tell I have great admiration for The Bard. My first encounter with the plays was as a teenager in the far north of Queensland when a troupe of travelling actors arrived in town on the train. They set up in the local hall and I sat enthralled as The Merchant of Venice took me into another world. One of the leads was a brilliant, unknown, young actor from Brisbane - Geoffrey Rush.

Theatre runs in my blood - my grandmother, Grace Margaret O'Neill was a doyen of musical theatre and variety shows in the 1950s and 60s - organising, directing and playing in many shows in Innisfail. My early memory was watching her centre stage as someone handed her a huge bunch of flowers.

Today, Innisfail is known as the Arts centre of the far north. Here's an image of Nana O’Neill - second from the left, performing in the chorus for the Russian Cossack song, Kalinka, back in 1965, in the Innisfail Town Hall.

For an extra smile ... check out this Russian flash dance mob performing Kalinka in a Russian supermarket! Gorgeous!!

By the way, Sweet Adversity didn't always have this title ... way back it was called McAlpine & Macbeth. Until the day some kind soul, who I will always be grateful to (although not at the time) said it sounded like a firm of solicitors.

It wasn't long before I let serendipity take its proper course to find a perfect title ... and Adversity got her name, and the book got a title ... all in one go. Such is life!

#Shakespeare #HarperCollinsChildrensBooks