On A Midsummer Night’s Dream by Emma Mills

A Midsummer Night’s Dream is one of my very favorite Shakespeare plays. I first saw it at an outdoor theater when I was a little kid. I got to go backstage beforehand, and my sister and I made friends with the little girl who played the role of the changeling child. She showed us the donkey head mask for Bottom’s transformation, and gave us fairy glitter to wear. The whole experience felt magical.

I went on to see many different high school and professional productions of Midsummer over the years. One stand-out production was an all-state high school show that I was involved in during college. I loved watching that production unfold with student actors who were so passionate about their parts and the show itself. It was also really cool to see the interactions between the cast members and crew over the course of the production—the different friendships and relationships that developed throughout.

In setting out to write FOOLISH HEARTS, I knew I wanted to explore a group of students involved in a school play. I also knew I wanted their experiences to be a little bit reflective of the play itself. Midsummer felt like the perfect show. It features couples with varying relationship statuses—from in love to unrequited love to just broken up—and it deals with the evolution of these different relationships. This served as a foundation for me in approaching FOOLISH HEARTS. Iris and Paige, for example, mirror Oberon and Titania in a way—their falling out kicks off the novel, and draws protagonist Claudia in, dramatically changing the course of both her and Iris’s senior year.

I love the intersection of love and magic in Midsummer—how love is its own particular brand of magic, capable of enchanting and transforming. Although FOOLISH HEARTS is not a re-telling, I wanted to bring the spirit of the show to the book, and hopefully capture a little bit of that magic!

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