Shakespeare did it. He took other people's stories and reworked them. It's fair to say that he did it pretty well. How would I manage, I wondered when I tried to rework one of his stories? Turning it into a teenage novel? The play was OTHELLO. It's not one of my favourites but the central triangle has always fascinated me. OTHELLO/DESDEMONA/IAGO. Why did Iago do what he did? What was his motive?
As in all reworkings I threw most of the events and the characters out. I found the heart of the story which I wanted to explore and built outwards. So I have a teenage girl, Elise, who loves the boy next door, Carl. Carl likes Elise but in the novel he falls for an American girl, Sandy. Elise tries to stay calm thinking it is a fling but when it becomes clear that Carl and Sandy are close she decides to try and part them. Carl is mixed race and this is important because while Elise is whispering untruths into his ear about his girlfriend's fidelity she also comments on his race and the fact that the girl he loves is white.
Elise doesn't intend for anyone to die. She only wants Carl back. Sadly, though, things go badly wrong.
I've set my story at the coast (so another thing in common with OTHELLO). It takes place in a Norfolk seaside town in the winter. It's cold and dull and this Love is the only thing Elise has to hold onto.
OK maybe it does sound more Mills and Boon and less like OTHELLO but I'm hoping my readers will trust me for twists and turns and gritty realism.
The dropped handkerchief has turned into something else which is the trigger for the grim ending.
Would Shakespeare have approved? He would certainly have approved of me using his story. Whether he would have liked what I did with it is another matter.