Echoes of Literature james antony

Exploring Shakespearean Rhapsodies and Literary Journeys with the Award-Winning Author

Award-winning author James Anthony shares insights on Shakespeare retellings, literary influences, and upcoming projects, illuminating the transformative power of words.

Embark on a literary journey through the eloquent mind of James Anthony, an acclaimed author whose pen wields the power to breathe new life into classic tales and transport readers to distant lands. Hailing from the vibrant streets of London, England, Anthony’s literary repertoire spans across genres, showcasing his versatility and profound appreciation for the written word.

At the heart of Anthony’s literary prowess lies his unique ability to reimagine the timeless works of William Shakespeare. With a blend of reverence and audacity, he skillfully retells Shakespeare’s sonnets and plays, infusing them with modern flair while preserving their timeless essence. Stephen Fry aptly dubs Anthony’s endeavors as ‘a dazzling success,’ a testament to his skillful craftsmanship and profound understanding of the Bard’s legacy.

Beyond the realm of Shakespearean reinterpretation, Anthony embarks on adventures of his own, chronicling his travels with the finesse of a seasoned raconteur. His ‘Slow Road’ series, reminiscent of the wanderlust-inducing narratives of Bill Bryson, captures the essence of exploration and discovery, inviting readers to journey alongside him through distant landscapes and cultural tapestries.

In this exclusive interview with Reader’s House Magazine, James Anthony offers intimate insights into his literary inspirations, personal reflections, and the meticulous process behind his creative endeavors. From his profound reverence for Eckhart Tolle’s transformative wisdom to the poignant narratives of Adam Weymouth’s “Kings of the Yukon,” Anthony’s literary influences traverse the spectrum of human experience, leaving an indelible mark on his own literary journey.

Join us as we delve into the mind of a modern-day bard, whose words resonate with depth, wit, and an unbridled passion for storytelling. Through his candid reflections and visionary aspirations, James Anthony invites us to explore the boundless realms of imagination and embark on literary odysseys that transcend time and place.

If you could meet any writer, dead or alive, who would it be? And what would you want to know?

Perhaps an obvious answer, but it would have to be William Shakespeare. The man is an enigma. So little is known about him: no interviews, letters, personality reviews or character insight has survived. Only 14 words in his own handwriting remain, 10 of which are his name (all of which are spelled differently each time, none of them being the spelling we recognise today.) This paucity of insight into who our greatest writer was has led many to speculate about his life and character, all of which is likely wrong. Hence, meeting William Shakespeare would answer what is currently unanswerable about the great man. I’d first like to know if he had any idea of the legacy he was creating, but then I would press him on the contents of his sonnets: why did he write 126 love poems to a young aristocratic male and 28 to a lowbrow dark-skinned woman? I feel sure many of his secrets would be even more entertaining than his masterpiece plays. 

What genres do you especially enjoy reading?

I love to read a good travelogue in the late evening. Being transported from my local streets of West London to the wilds of North America or the spice markets of Mumbai makes for perfect soporific relaxation and wind down at the end of the day. And the beauty of a good travel read is that you go as far as your fading energy permits, then hop back to where you left off the following evening. Great travel writing can be mental yoga for the soul. 

What’s your favorite book no one else has heard of?

“Kings of the Yukon”, by Adam Weymouth. This debut book from a young English writer is breathtaking at every turn of the mighty Yukon river, which he canoes down its 2,000 miles from the furthest point upriver where the King Salmon spawn. With poetic subtlety, Weymouth paints both the landscape and peoples of this little visited region of North America, tying the fate of communities to the dwindling stock of ever overfished Kings. A thrilling, joyous, informative and heartbreaking read, I recommend this book to anyone with a spirit of adventure and love of lyrical language. Just fabulous. 

What books do you find yourself returning to again and again?

For the past six years, I’ve read a passage from Eckhart Tolle’s ‘The Power of Now’ every day. The wisdom in his words is matched by his efficient eloquence, conveying life-enhancing guidance with ease and grace that at times leaves me breathless. As a personal help guide, The Power of Now has proved transformative for me, quietening my mind and pacifying my soul, a journey I never knew worth taking until this book found its way to me. When I reach the end, I flip back to page one and start again, gleaning equal joy on repeat readings. I feel sure I shall read from this book for the rest of my days. 

What kind of reader were you as a child? 

I was a clamorous reader until about 12 years old, transfixed by Enid Blyton and Agatha Christie. But as a teenager, my reading slowed to a trickle, sport, music and affairs of the heart consuming my life and mind, relegating literature to the shelves. I was a poor English student, scraping through my exams with the little effort my low enthusiasm delivered. Like so many children, Shakespeare left me cold, unable to crack the language at a pace that might make the tale rewarding. Thus, I took the practical path of sciences, leaving the arts aside. I often now ponder how life might have evolved had the writing bug that caught me midlife have had time to foster from an early age. I of course will never know, but as with the stories I tell, I can always dream. 

What advice would you give your younger self? 

Follow your heart, not your head. We live in a complex, multi-faceted world with opportunity and risk under every unturned stone. My dear parents were war kids, raised on the need to provide a stable home above all else. To achieve that, they had to work, independent of whether they wanted to or not, and that ethos rubbed off on me. I studied hard and got a great job in an industry I never really loved. And, because of that, I never fully hit my stride. Only in my later years have I tapped into my creative side, one that I’d sideline as a hobby and not ‘real work’, but yet have the creative industries are flourishing, and there is opportunity aplenty with hard work and perseverance. If I’d followed my heart and not my head, I’d have found a rich, rewarding life that never feels like work. 

What process do you use to retell Shakespeare’s plays in your Shakespeare Retold series? 

I am currently writing my 9th retelling of Shakespeare’s work. At its core, this requires dogged hard work. I tell myself one builds a house one brick at a time; lay 10 bricks a day, you have a house in two years. I use the same methodology with retelling Shakespeare, one line at a time. I target 150 lines a day, knowing that I’ll have the book written in about 150-200 hours. When I find the hours, I build the book. 

What book would you like to write but never will? 

As a young teenager, I was stopped in the street by a gentleman extolling the way of the Lord. He asked me what I thought was the biggest threat to humanity. To his surprise, I said ‘over-population’. I’d seen graphs in human geography classes that showed the alarming growth in population and the pressures it was putting on humanity, especially in the poorer corners of our world. In the thirty years since, the population of our world has doubled. I learned populations remain stable when couples produce 2.3 children. The solution thus seemed startlingly obvious: have more than 2.3 children to make the problem worse, or less than 2.3 to help solve it. And within that, I’ve envisaged a book, ‘Two Kids Max’, explaining the basic mathematics and the simple choice we face if we want to avoid overwhelming our earth with people, like locusts strip a crop. But it’s a deeply touchy subject, with political, economic, religious and societal pressures that I frankly don’t have the wherewithal to fight. So, to my enduring shame and regret, ‘Two Kids Max’ will remain unwritten. 

What book has changed your life the most? 

Like many youngsters, I wanted to be a rock star, but a lack of musical aptitude put paid to that. Instead I found poetry, and within all the joy that comes from making music: sentiment, expression, rhythm and beat. Unlike in rock band, the words alone play the instruments. But, striving to learn how to write better poetry proved tricky. I found the genre preposterously pompous, their output unduly ‘clever’ and ultimately dull.  My poetry was more Ramones than Vivaldi, and I felt I didn’t belong. But then I read Stephen Fry’s ‘The Ode Less Traveled,’ a layman’s guide to writing poetry that felt like it was written for me. I was enraptured by the poetic structures and Fry’s self-deprecation as he tackled metre, rhythm, form and structure. I followed each exercise, then repeated the book once done. It taught me to write poetry that I was proud of. I felt accomplished. It led me to the older poets who diligently wrote in verse instead of the bombastic more prose poetry. And I garnered confidence to rewrite, “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” I never looked back. 

What’s your next big project? 

After leaving Big Business, I headed Key West, Florida and drove down the backroads of North America to Deadhorse in far north Alaska. I chronicled the journey, the history of the land, and the effect on my soul in my book ‘The Slow Road to Deadhorse.’ After nine years of living stateside, I moved back to my native London and plan to write my next travel journal, ‘The Slow Road to Muckle Flugga’, starting in the Scilly Isles of the southwest coast of England, heading to Muckle Flugga off the northeast coast of Scotland’s Shetland Islands. I’ll chronicle my life and observations of my homeland after being away for so long. The journey beckons. 

Verified by MonsterInsights