It’s happening! May is a rockin’ month for monarchy. First, author Rachel Hawkins new must-read YA book Royals hits shelves May 1 –– and then, Prince Harry and (American girl and future princess) Meghan hit the aisle on May 19. We spoke to author Rachel Hawkins about both. Here’s the inside scoop:
- How do you feel about the timing of your book so close to the (next) Royal Wedding? Are there similarities between ITB* royals and IRL royals? * ITB: In The Book
Honestly, the timing is so good that I wondered if I might be a witch? Did I The Secret this into the universe? What other magic might I be able to do? Then after I came down from that power trip, I mostly felt really excited, both because Yay Fortuitous Timing, and also because I really, genuinely love a royal wedding. As for similarities, there are definitely some (the more responsible older brother/heir, the more fun younger brother with a penchant for partying), but I also had a lot of fun imagining my very own royal family. I think the Bairds are a little more freewheeling than the Windsors.
- Any wishes you’d like to send to Prince Harry and Meghan?
I wish them all the love and happiness in the world, and also maybe for them to have a baby around the time Book 2 comes out. Let’s keep this thing going, kids!
- How did you research “Royals?” Did you visit Scotland? Ever meet any real royals? (C’mon, you can spill here. It’s just us.)
I did visit Scotland! I’ve actually been going to Scotland once a year now since 2012 just because I love it so much, and the book definitely would not exist without those trips. I also read a lot of Tatler magazine, which is banana-pants and great, as well as several books about the current British royal family to just kind of get a sense of how things worked. As for meeting any real life royals, I’m totally counting the lady in the tiara who bumped into me while having her bachelorette party (sorry, “hen night”) in Edinburgh back in 2014. No doubt a duchess in disguise or something.
- As an only child, did you have sister-like relationships growing up that informed Ellie and Daisy’s sibling interactions?
I always joke that as an only, I’m forever collecting other only children to be my siblings, so yes! The most important friendships in my life are with women, and some of those women I’ve known since I was little bitty. While that’s not exactly the same as having a sister, there’s still that sense of shared history to draw from, I think, plus the complications that naturally come up as people grow up and evolve.
- Your royals –– like the real royals –– are forced to lead dual lives. In the book, when flaunty, for-the-cameras Princess Flora shows an actual human side, Daisy thinks, “Is anyone in this family what they seem like?” Which leads to these questions: What was your process for plotting your characters’ public and private sides? Do you map your characters’ personalities and motivations out before you start writing? Have you ever experienced being dogged by the press?
Developing the characters is my favorite part of the writing process, so it’s one of those things I like to work on as I go rather than plotting it out beforehand. A lot of what I wanted to do with ROYALS involved asking those questions- what’s it like to know people are always looking at you? How might that change how you behave not just in public, but in private, too? What contrasts might be the most interesting to explore here? And those were all things that came out during the writing process rather than before. I personally have never been hounded by the press, but I was once recognized in the grocery store while wearing no makeup and a Harry Potter t-shirt, so, like, I can sympathize, clearly.
- On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being “Queen Elizabuhwho?” and 10 being “I can tell you where Meghan Markle is right now,” what’s your “Royal IQ?”
I’m gonna say I’m a solid 8!
- Depending on your answer to the above, a follow up:
- If you answered between 1 – 5: What about the royals caught your fancy and inspired your new book?
- If you answered between 6 – 10: Have you always followed royalty, and specifically, the British family? What’s the fascination for you? How long did “Royals” brew as an idea?
I have always, always, always loved Stories About Royals. It’s not about being super pro-monarchy or anything for me, but I think the stories are just so interesting. It’s soapy and larger than life, and that’s always going to draw me in. I’m not sure why I took such a shine to the British Royal Family in particular, but I remember being really into Henry VIII’s six wives when I was in around the second grade. I think the combo of SO MANY QUEENS+ Gruesome Death probably appealed (I was a very weird kid.) As for ROYALS, I came up with the idea on William and Kate’s wedding day and started fiddling with some scenes around December 2011 (fun fact! The first scene I wrote was Miles and Daisy helping a certain inebriated prince to his room. No one even had names then. They were literally, “X, Y, and Z.”) I worked off and on on the book for the next 4 years, and finally got really serious about writing it in 2015. I’m not sure any of my books have had such a long “cooking” process!
- Let’s talk royal #SexyHistory: Which historical royal –– male or female, of any century –– do you find most captivating? And why?
Mary Queen of Scots. She’s my fave even though literally everything she did was a disaster. Maybe that’s why I like her? (Also, being tall, attractive, and something of a Trash Fire was a Stuart Family Trait, really, so it was in her DNA.) I also just think there’s something really human about her. Bad taste in men, family complications, plus a need to be a little more important than she actually was…her story is so Larger Than Life, but the stuff that brought her down is actually fairly relatable. (Okay, maybe people plotting to blow up your husband isn’t that relatable, but y’all get what I’m saying.)
- Prince Seb is sinner to best friend Miles’ savior, but can that kind of friendship be sustained for long? Will there be a Come-to-“Geez!Us!” moment? One that either sends them Land Roving off in different directions –– or has them lifting a Pimm’s cup together? Any predictions?
I think Miles and Seb are in it for the long haul, Bestie-Wise. They certainly won’t always agree, and I think Miles is learning to put his foot down more, but at the end of the day, they love each other and, more importantly maybe, they need each other.
- If you were a Royal Wrecker, what would your nickname be? And why?
I love the Brit Habit of the “ezza/azza” nicknames. In fact, in the first draft of ROYALS, I really over-used it. I think there was a Jezza, a Mazza, a Chezza…So I’d have to go with Razza for me!
- In Royals, after all the shenanigans in Scotland and the queen so unamused, come Christmas, will Alex and Ellie actually tie the knot? (Again, you can spill here. It’s just us.)
Lucky for Alex and Ellie, they’ve found The Real Deal in each other, so I think they’d move heaven and earth to make their Christmas wedding date. Will other people maybe get in the way of that? Well, the course of true love (and insane-o royal families) never did run smooth…
- Last question: The Miles-rescues-Daisy-horse-riding scene. Yep, not a question. Just needed to say it out loud. Werk!
CO-SIGNED, AND THANK YOU.
- OK, now that THAT’S been said, give us a hint about Daze and Miles. Does the papparazi pop them? Does Flora cast an eye in a new direction? Could a Winters/Monters save-the-date be arriving forthwith? And, if so, when exactly IS “forthwith?”
There is a second ROYALS book coming in 2019 following a brand new American Girl Dealing With All These Royal Shenanigans including a scary boarding school, some snobby Aristo-Mean Girls, and a camping expedition that makes Outward Bound seem like a backyard sleepover. Daisy and Miles MIGHT be making an appearance. Forthwith. (I don’t know when that is either, don’t tell anyone.)
Read more about and pre-order your copy of Royals!