I’ve been honored to feature Evelyn Skye’s YA books Circle of Shadows and The Crown’s Game. When I heard the premise of her new fantasy for adult readers, I couldn’t wait to feature it. THE HUNDRED LOVES OF JULIET explores the nuances of love, grief, and loss and is perfect for readers looking for a cozy romance.
A woman fleeing her disastrous marriage discovers that she is part of a legendary love story that spans lives, years, and continents in this modern-day reimagining of Romeo and Juliet.
When Helene was young, she dreamed of the perfect man and filled her notebooks with stories about him and about love in its purest form. But after a messy divorce, she has let go of such naive fantasies. She has moved to a small town in Alaska, where she is ready to write her novel and build a new life without romance. Fate has other plans, though.
Helene soon meets Sebastien Montague, a handsome fisherman who is her invented hero made flesh, down to the most idiosyncratic details. But how can a man she created possibly exist in the real world?
While Helene tries to discover the truth behind his existence, Sebastien is determined to keep that truth from her, for he is a man scarred by serial tragedy, hiding a secret that has broken his heart time and again. Yet the shadows of the past emerge, endangering Helene and Sebastien’s future before it even begins–and it becomes clear that it won’t be easy to forge a new ending to the greatest love story of all time.
In our last interview, you said, “I get to provide people with an escape from the real world when they’re immersed in the pages of my books. And I get to bring joy into their lives. Remembering this keeps me going when I’m having trouble writing.” In what other additional ways has writing brought you joy?
When someone finishes reading one of my books, I want the stories to leave them with a smile and a belief in the good in the world. I love giving people hope and showing them that true love exists, both in fiction and in real life. THE HUNDRED LOVES OF JULIET was inspired by my own true love story, and that is the heart and soul of this novel. Writing this book has been the honor of my life.
I love when fiction is inspired by true stuff! THE HUNDRED LOVES OF JULIET is also a brilliant twist on the original Shakepeare’s Romeo and Juliet. How did you know that this was a story you wanted to explore further?
So the premise of THE HUNDRED LOVES OF JULIET is– What if Shakespeare got it wrong? What if Romeo never died, but Juliet did, and she’s reincarnated over and over? And in every lifetime, he finds her, falls in love, and then has to watch her die again. But then fast-forward to the present, and this time, Juliet’s reincarnation refuses to accept their past and believes they can forge a happily ever after.
Romeo & Juliet has always been one of my favorite plays, but it’s striking to me that it’s held up–in modern-day–as a love story to aspire to, when in reality, it’s a tragedy. So I thought, what if I could make Romeo & Juliet truly a love story worthy of being on a pedestal? I wanted to take the essence of their relationship and let it grow, and to see what would happen if such passionate love were given more than just a few days to flourish.
Excellent. As a reader, I’m always looking for love stories that have a chance to grow. THE HUNDRED LOVES OF JULIET is also your first novel for an adult readership. How did you approach this differently than writing for a Young Adult and/or crossover audience?
One of the hallmarks of YA stories is that many of the protagonist’s experiences are first-times. Whereas when writing adult fiction, the author has to look at the story through the lens of a main character who has been through different iterations of these life milestones before. For example, in The Hundred Loves of Juliet, Sebastien (ageless Romeo) has been in love with reincarnations of Juliet many times before and also lost her over and over. How does someone live like that, knowing that they will have their soulmate, but only for a brief period of time?
For Helene (reincarnated Juliet), she’s just coming out of a rocky marriage and rediscovering herself. In YA, this might be a character’s coming-of-age; in adult fiction, the protagonist is looking back through years of being lost and then–hopefully–reconnecting with the dreams and vision of herself that she had put by the wayside.
Sounds like a great journey for both characters! If you could pick three books in addition to yours that your readers would enjoy, what would they be and why?
OTHER BIRDS by Sarah Addison Allen – this is a beautiful, hopeful book set on a quirky island, where the characters all live in the same small apartment complex and start as strangers but eventually become each other’s found family. It’s about being different and loving yourself for it, and also accepting that you deserve to be loved for your idiosyncrasies and flaws. It’s also about keeping the past with you while moving on to your future. This lovely book is set in modern-day and has just the faintest hint of surreal in it. I literally hugged this book when I finished reading it.
NO TWO PERSONS by Erica Bauermeister – This is a book for book lovers, and it’s a book to read slowly and savor. The plot begins with a debut novelist finding her voice and her story; when her book is published, the reader follows it out into the world and sees how it impacts other people’s lives. It may seem like a short story collection, but the ending weaves the vignettes together in a satisfying way that will leave you smiling quietly in your favorite reading chair.
EMILY WILDE’S ENCYCLOPEDIA OF FAIRIES by Heather Fawcett – Emily Wilde is a charmingly curmudgeon of a professor who specializes in fairies and is bent of writing the most comprehensive encyclopedia on all their types that the academic world has ever seen. She holes herself up in a remote snowy village to research her fairies in peace, but her gregarious and infuriatingly endearing colleague shows up to “help” her. This book is not a typical fairy fantasy book, and I loved how eccentric both the characters and the writing were.