Last week, I shared an excerpt from my upcoming release, United by Their Royal Baby. Despite what I said on Twitter, I don’t have any prophetic powers. I had no idea how relevant my royal duet, Conveniently Wed, Royally Bound, would be in light of the recent royal news.
In United by Their Royal Baby, my hero and heroine have to put aside their shared past (though, spoiler alert, they can’t 😉 ) to save their kingdoms. This involves a baby, so Prince William and Kate Middleton’s news about their third child was amazing timing (thanks, guys!). Falling for His Convenient Queen follows directly on from United by Their Royal Baby, and is an enemies-to-lovers story that’s fun and romantic. All the royal characters are mixed-race, which makes Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s news so timely. (Really, the royal family have been so accommodating about my latest books…)
This royal duet has meant a lot to me.
I didn’t write it hoping it would become relevant (though I’m not complaining), but because I realised I could create stories that aren’t generally seen in the world. And the entire experience of writing these books did not disappoint. Here are some of the reasons why:
This royal duet has helped me grow as an author
I’ve learnt a lot about writing this year. Which isn’t a surprise, considering I’ve done more writing this year than I ever have in my life. It’s been my first year writing full-time, and this royal duet, my first linked books. And when you’re doing something for the first time, you’re bound to make mistakes. I won’t repeat those mistakes or the lessons I’ve learnt here, but I will tell you that I’m a much better writer for having written these books. The experience was painful, though the experiences that force you to grow always are. Hopefully you’ll be able to see that as you read these books.
Strong female characters
A lot about my royal duet was prescient. (Someone on Twitter describe it like this, and I have to say, it works!) I wrote this before women began sharing how difficult the world is for us. Perhaps it was a way for me to deal with my own feelings about being a woman. And how much it means to have agency and power in a world that often doesn’t allow it.
Leyna, the heroine of United by Their Royal Baby, is a queen. Not because she married a king, but because she was next in line to the throne. It gave me so much joy to write that. And to give her a strength I wished I had – and real, visible power – while making her emotional and complex, and having that be a part of what makes her such an incredible ruler. (As I type this, I realise how much Leyna reminds me of Wonder Woman and how much that film meant to me.)
There are many other women in this book. Kinds I hadn’t even realised I’d included until a friend pointed it out (thanks, Jenni!), but who still illustrated that strong women don’t look alike. Some are likeable; others not. Though hopefully, all of them will resonate with you in some way.
I could have said mixed-race characters in general, as I’ve realised more and more how little representation there is of us. But it was incredibly meaningful for me to write mixed-race royalty. Because I hadn’t seen them in books before, and since this often speaks to how valued people feel, I wanted my community to realise their value. Representation matters. It matters that my family – my future children, my nieces and nephews – will get to see themselves as royalty. Will get to believe that they can be royalty.
I want my family to be surrounded by books that I never had growing up. Books where they can be royalty, or millionaires, or billionaires. Books where their heritage as Africans, as South Africans, is normal, and more than a just reminder of our struggles. I’m incredibly grateful that I can help that in my own small way. And so happy I work in an industry where I’m not the only one.