My second story for this anthology was In Fair Verona, which features a character from Romeo and Juliet. Well, I couldn’t let this queer Shakespearean anthology go by without claiming a spot for Mercutio, could I? I’ve spent most of my life convinced that he was deeply in love with Romeo, after all.
At the time this thought occurred to me, I was reading the English Heritage anthology Eight Ghosts, and writing my own ghost story, An English Heaven. So, in a spectral mood, I wondered whether there are some ghosts out there who aren’t the remnants of human beans – but of strong characters from literature? We authors often like to say that characters take on lives of their own… What if some of them continue on beyond the inspiration and even the life of their author, in a kind of literary afterlife?
If so, then Mercutio certainly has the chutzpah to exist in his own right. And he might be found in a number of places, but one of them could certainly be Verona… And who else has visited Verona, and might encounter him…?
Enter Lord Byron and entourage, with a suitable flourish. Though the timeframe is neither here nor there, I set the story in early November 1816, when Byron travelled to Verona with his friend Hobhouse. Though I admit to conveniently ignoring Hobhouse (let’s pretend they went their separate ways while in town), I did draw on some of Byron’s thoughts on Verona, to be found in his letters.
And I have to admit to feeling rather pleased with the results… I hope you might give it a try – and if my story isn’t quite the thing, no doubt you will find something else in this quixotic tome to bewitch you!