I'd like to welcome Megan to In the Hammock and thank her for taking time to stop by and write about the topic I was curious about!
Question from In the Hammock: What draws you in about royalty and made you want to write a book with royal characters? Is it something you've always been interested in?
Thanks so much for having me In The Hammock. This question makes me laugh because when I first wrote A Royal Pain, the duke wasn't even royal! At the time I came up with the idea for the book, I was more interested in the notion of The Ideal Man. In my mind that pretty much means one man: Fitzwilliam Darcy. Full Stop. So I knew my modern version had to be British. I also wanted him to be intellectually brilliant (but modest), fabulously wealthy (but modest), and (duh) blindingly handsome—he's not always modest about that, but you can't have everything. I was (and remain) pretty much obsessed with Regency romances, so I knew he would also be titled and that his heritage, family, etc. would be a big part of the conflict in their relationship. Anyway, it's the same book (British-Aristocrat-Meets-
but that word "royal" kind of haunts me a bit. Here's why.
When the book was acquired by Sourcebooks editor Deb Werksman, she had A Vision. She actually said those words on The Call, that she had A Vision. I was the usual freaking-out-happy-about-
new author, and then Deb was on about The Vision, so I tried to ride
out the crushing waves of excitement. When someone likes your manuscript
it's exciting enough; when they are having visions about it? Just.
Yeah. Anyway, Deb dubbed the series of books "The
Unruly Royals" during that conversation and I was like, "YAY! How
clever!" Then I was like, "Uh. But he's not royal…" And she was like,
"Just make him royal!" And I cheerfully replied, "Okay!"
As Americans (or just as me!) I'd always lumped together the words aristocracy, royalty, peerage, upper crust, The Ton, etc. They were all stewed together in a pot of people-who-are-up-there-
All of a sudden I started doing research and it turned out this word
'royal' means something very specific and distinct, especially to
British readers. Adding to my anxiety was that people who
care about this sort of thing, REALLY care about it. There are
very particular forms of address. Bloodlines. Hereditary and
non-hereditary titles. It is seriously complex. Before I started the
additional "royal research", I'd say I was the type of person
who understood the entail on Downton Abbey. Steep learning curve alert!
To further complicate matters (or so it seemed to me) I had fashioned the Heyworths after the Howard family, the real-life Dukes of Norfolk. One of the reasons the Howards have endured so long in the midst of centuries of turmoil in British History (the family's title goes straight back to Henry VIII without interruption) is their Roman Catholicism. As such, they could never actually ascend the throne themselves, and therefore they were always kingmakers, not kings. That is to say, they could never be royal. I went into a bit of a fever. He couldn't be Catholic. He couldn't be too famous or Bronte would be an idiot for not knowing him. He couldn't have a vault full of jewels from Henry the VIII. (Well…as far as the vault of jewels, of course he could!)
After consulting with several British friends and people who are far more knowledgeable about these sorts of things than I am, I realized it was not going to be a quick matter of adding a sentence about oh-by-the-way-he's-royal. In the event, I concocted a little-known younger sister of Edward VI (no need to point out that Colin Firth features prominently in the world of my imagination) and made her Max's grandmother. That way Max would be royal (from his grandmother's bloodline) AND a duke (from his father's hereditary title). When I told a friend, "Okay, so he's a royal duke!" I was gently chastised. She corrected me: "No. He's royal. And he's a duke. But he is not a royal duke. If he were a Royal Duke he would be Prince William!" Again, there are many people who know far more about this than I do. But I did what I set out to do and now Max is "legitimately" royal.
That's the royal story within the book. My own personal fascination with royalty, on the other hand, is not quite as keen as Bronte's. Okay, yes, I got up at four in the morning and put on my 15-year-old wedding dress with six similarly attired friends to watch William and Kate tie the knot. But it was mostly to see the Cullinan diamonds on the Queen and the hats and dresses of everyone who attended. So I guess I do have a "thing" for royal watching, but I don't follow the royal comings and goings much more than the occasional cover of a magazine in the grocery check-out line or daily peeks at What Kate Wore.
Personally, my fascination is much more about American Anglophilia on a broad scale. I love England. I love British culture. I love London. I love the mix of eloquence and snark in the language itself. There is a joyful tendency in the British people I know to take great pleasure in others' foibles without the requisite hand-wringing that many Americans find so necessary. Of course, these are sweeping generalizations, anecdotal and all that, but basically I love very old buildings, and drinking, and vast landscaped gardens, and fancy dress parties, and a jovial attitude toward human sexuality. And England often has much of that on offer. And coincidentally, so do many royals!
Thanks again for inviting me to your blog!
Thank you, Megan!! What a wonderful post!
I am reading this book now, and I love it! I will have my review posted early next week. Until then, here is a little more about this gem of a book:
About the Book
"A Royal Pain"
by Megan Mulry
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Release Date: Nov 1, 2012
Summary from goodreads.com:
Bronte Talbott follows all of the exploits of the British royals. After all, they're the world's most preeminent dysfunctional family. And who is she to judge? Bronte's own search for love isn't going all that well, especially after her smooth-talking Texan boyfriend abruptly leaves her in the dust.
Bronte keeps a lookout for a rebound to help mend her broken heart, and when she meets Max Heyworth, she's certain he's the perfect transition man. But when she discovers he's a duke, she has to decide if she wants to stay with him for the long haul and deal with the opportunities-- and challenges-- of becoming a royal.