'Royals' by Rachel Hawkins Is The New YA Book You Need To Read Before The Royal Wedding
No, Rachel Hawkins did not purposefully time the May 1 publication of her latest YA book, Royals, to coincide with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's May 19 royal wedding, but that doesn't mean she's not super excited about the fact.
"God, I want to send those two a fruit basket for this timing! Do you think they have enough fruit baskets? They probably do," Hawkins tells Bustle. "I first started writing this book at the end of 2011, so Harry and Meghan hadn't even met yet. And I used to joke, 'Wow, I sure wish Prince Harry would tie the knot close to my book release.' I didn't think he'd actually hear me. Thanks, Hazza, for doing me a solid! I'm very excited for the royal wedding, and have plenty of stuff planned. I'll be up early live-tweeting it, obviously, and I think there's also some fun stuff planned for the Penguin Teen website that day. We're gonna have a ball."
Speaking of having a ball, you should check out the Royals tour dates below! And, trust me, you're definitely going to want to take advantage of the auspicious timing of its publication and dive right into Royals during the run-up to the royal wedding for maximum enjoyment.
Here's the plot: Daisy Winters is an offbeat 16-year-old with bright red hair; a part time job at a bootleg Walmart... and a perfect older sister, Ellie, who’s engaged to the Crown Prince of Scotland. Daisy has no desire to live in the spotlight, but relentless tabloid attention forces her to join Ellie at a secluded castle across the pond. And here's where things get really fun. Once there, she discovers that the dashing (read: incredibly swoon-worthy) Miles, the prince's roguish young brother, has been appointed to teach Daisy the ropes of being regal. And of course, Miles kicks up scandal wherever he goes... and tries his best to take Daisy along for the ride.
The dramatic tale of a strong-willed American gal being unexpectedly and fully thrust into the royal spotlight probably sounds pretty familiar at this point, but you might be surprised to know just who exactly inspired Hawkins' take on the tiara-clad fish out of water.
"The first seed for Royals sprouted while watching Pippa [Middleton] at William and Kate's wedding because people were paying so much attention to her, and I got to thinking about how weird that would be," Hawkins says. "If you marry a royal, you kind of know what you're getting yourself into. You're actively choosing that, and there are going to be people around you, helping to smooth that transition. Being the sister of the woman marrying a prince means you might (and probably will) get famous even though you didn't choose that. And I thought that was an interesting idea to explore —what happens when you're thrust into that whole bizarre whirlwind even though it really doesn't have anything to do with you?"
This focus on the transition from Daisy's non-royal status to — well, still non-royal but life-changingly royal adjacent — is just one of the ways that Royals is very different from its predecessors, where most plots follow the soon-to-be-princess and culminate in a wedding. The other? Yeah, you've guessed it: the Scottish setting. If you've been thinking, wait, does Scotland even have its own royal family? The answer is no. But to Hawkins, there was just no other way Royals could have worked.
"So I have a bit of a Scotland problem," Hawkins says. "I've visited there every year since 2012 because I just can't get enough of the place. When I first started thinking about the book that became Royals, I hadn't planned on setting it in Scotland — I was just going to go with an alternate English royal family. And that was fine, but it wasn't quite working. So then I toyed around with the idea of making up my own country a la Genovia in The Princess Diaries, but that wasn't quite working for me, either. I was actually emailing my agent about it when I had this sudden burst of inspiration that, 'Oh, hey, I could set it in Scotland!' And then I spent about two weeks making up 400 years of alternate history because I'm a dork like that."
It's clear that Hawkins not only understands our need for royals stories that shake up the old-school plots and pitfalls, but for stories that stay true to the root of our royal obsessions, too.
"I have always loved all things royal. When I was little, I spent a lot of time pretending to be Anne Boleyn with a towel on my head (it works, trust me.) I'm not necessarily, 'Yay, monarchy!' all the time, but there's something so delightfully soapy about the whole thing," Hawkins says. "It's all larger than life, and I've always liked telling 'big' stories. I think it's especially fun to tackle modern royalty because there's such a clash of tradition and a need to fully move into the 21st century there. So you've got the pomp and circumstance, and social media. The collision of those two things is a lot of fun to play with."
And for all of you other fans of all things royal out there — which is pretty much all of us at this point, right? — you won't have to get too down in the dumps after the glitz and glam of Harry and Meghan's ceremony is all said and done because Hawkins has got you covered with the continuing tales of Scotland's royal family to look forward to.
"There's a second book coming in 2019, following a character we already met in Royals and also sorts of new shenanigans in the lead-up to Ellie and Alex's wedding. Of course, I could write these books forever, so I might just keep stretching out the time until the wedding. Sorry, Ellie!"
I'm not saying that Hawkins can work her publishing magic to coincide the next Royals book release with a Harry and Meghan baby announcement — but I can dream, right?