The Story Behind ‘Shakespeare Ashes’ by Chris DeBrie

Shakespeare AshesEver since I was a child, I’ve been a what if kind of person. Not necessarily in a constructive way. It is usually just to amuse myself. I’ve written down a lot of those fantasies, and they became stories. At first, that was all my stories contained: A bunch of action and emotional dialogue, with little sense of character. Fun stuff.

At some point in my twenties, that changed. Growth as a person parallels growth as a writer. Once I started seeing others as complete people, my writing got a little deeper. Every person I see, I get a flash of what s/he would be like as a character of mine, of what backstory I’d create.  Doing that used to keep me from actually relating to people–I’d be off in my own world, dreaming with my eyes open. I learned to compartamentalize. By now, I can take a snapshot of my surroundings, and revisit it once I’m at the laptop.

All writers are mixed and folded into their work.

Shakespeare Ashes is a load of those snapshots, collected and unfiltered. I originally wrote the story in third-person, and from one character’s point of view. But this character had friends who were just as interesting. They wouldn’t shut up, so to speak. So I kept writing the things I heard them say. One day, I wrote a chapter in first person, “just because”, and I realized the story was meant for that format. I rewrote the book. It took almost a year.

There are more characters to imagine. More what ifs. And it all started with my illustrated book from the second grade, with wallpaper for a book cover and a crayon drawing pasted on front. The title was, “Forkhead”, about a boy with fork-shaped ridges in his head. Forkhead and his best friend play some pranks around school. They trade some schoolyard snaps. Then they somehow become astronauts and camp on the moon in sleeping bags, with no space suits. i remember they stayed on the moon for 999 days, and the story ended there, so my guess is, they must have gone insane…

Chris DeBrieChris DeBrie was born in North Carolina, creating comics and stories as soon as he could hold a pencil. He wrote the millennial love story As Is as a ninth grader, publishing it a decade later. Selective Focus was the result of those homemade comic screenplays. With Shakespeare Ashes, he pulls the reader into the raw thoughts of four very different characters. DeBrie is a fan of photography, learning languages, and clean water. He lives in Virginia.


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