12:30 pm EST, April 5, 2016

Interviewing Erin Watt: Jen Frederick and Elle Kennedy give us insight into The Royals

Reading Paper Princess left us with all sorts of questions about the series, Erin Watt, and how exactly The Royals came to be. Check out our interview with the ladies behind the magic.

If you haven’t read Paper Princess yet, you should really get on that. Yes, I know it came out yesterday. That’s no excuse. Very minor spoilers may lie ahead, so consider yourself warned. I want you to enjoy Paper Princess to the absolute fullest. It’s definitely one of my favorite books so far this year. It’s the kind of story that sticks with you, and has you thinking about what comes next. I was so curious, I had to ask Elle and Jen a few more questions about how it came to be and what might be coming next.

The Partnership

We read all about how your friendship came to be and how the friendship formed, which was incredibly sweet and full of football goodness, in the Erin Watt announcement, but how was writing together? Did it flow pretty seamlessly? Was there any specific division of labor on the project, or did you just trade chapters on and off?

Writing together was a blast! We both have a similar sense of humor, and we understand each other’s priorities (ie: Football’s on, can’t write!), but we’re also really good at motivating each other. Our writing process was very easygoing. One of us would write around 2000 words and then we’d switch off. We just kept sending pages back and forth until the book was done.

Any chance we might see more than just a Royals trilogy? There are so many great characters in Paper Princess that we want to read more about that we’re not opposed to begging.

Never say never! We love all the characters in the books too and would love to give them their own stories. A lot will depend on the success of the first three books and whether readers actually want more books. We’re dying to write a book for Easton, so fingers crossed!

Do you hope and/or plan to keep this partnership (and Erin Watt) hard at work after The Royals wraps itself up (many, many years from now we hope)?

We can’t imagine ever not writing together. This collaboration has been inspirational on both ends—not just for the works we write together, but our solo endeavors as well. We talk plotting all the time and beta read for each other, which is so helpful. Writing can be a lonely job sometimes, so knowing that there’s someone else who’s there to support you and hold your hand really takes a lot of the anxiety away.

Is it hard to balance working on your own series with the Erin Watt project? 

No, actually. We’re both pretty disciplined and write daily. In a lot of ways, writing together helps to keep us motivated to finish our own series so that we would have more time to write together! It’s a symbiotic relationship.

‘Paper Princess’

WHY WOULD YOU END IT WHERE YOU DID?! (Okay, taking off my cliffhanger-stressed-reader hat for a second. Ah, that’s better.)

We never set out to write a book with a cliffhanger. We set out to write this story about Ella, a survivor alone in the world, who finds herself thrown into new and tumultuous circumstances. By the time we got to the end of Book 1, we realized we had so much more of her story to tell. And where it ended was a very natural stopping point. At no time did either one of us say, “Let’s end this on a cliffhanger!” But it just ended up being the right ending for this story.

How did the idea for The Royals take shape? A very rich man with five sons adopts his deceased best friend’s estranged teenage daughter from the wrong side of the tracks. It’s a lot to wrap your head around!

It started with Ella. We wanted to write a heroine who was tough-as-nails, someone who hadn’t been hardened by her past, but rather, was wiser for it. We knew she still had to have a girly side but also possess natural survival instincts that ultimately guide her. And we both wanted the story to be over-the-top-soap-opera in style. We knew there’d have to be a lot of plot twists and turns of unexpected proportions to make this story super fun to write.

Any specific inspiration for Ella or the Royals, or did they just come to you as so many characters do?

They mostly just came to us. A few reviewers have picked up on the fact that the name of our heroine is a riff off of Cinderella and a rags-to-riches story. Here’s an accurate representation of our email plotting process:

Jen: Ella is the child of the man’s druggie brother…
Elle: No blood relation!
Jen: Okay. Adopted brother. Although I hate demonizing adoptees. Let me think up some other screwed up family tree. Wait, how about they were military buds? SEALs!
Elle: First scene should be her stripping and the new daddy showing up and hauling her away.
Jen: How many sons?
Elle: Five.
Jen: Five?
Elle: Five. Also, I think that when she gets to the mansion, Royal is insistent that his sons need to treat her with respect because she’s had a tough life, etc. But the sons are all set on making her life miserable. They don’t want her there. They think she’s a trashy interloper who wants their money.
Jen: We need an angry make out scene.

Will we learn more about the twins and/or Gideon Royal? They played more minor roles in the first book, and we are definitely intrigued as to what kind of role they will play in future books in The Royals series.

You’ll definitely learn more about the rest of the boys in Books 2 and 3. The trilogy is full of Royal sons and their royal messes.

Easton is arguably the best of the Royal brothers, despite his unabashedly womanizing ways. He befriends Ella when she needs a friend most of all, and for that, we will always have a special place in our hearts for him. Any plans to give him a story of his own at some point, or will further books in the series explore his happiness?

WE LOVE EASTON. That is all we can say at this point. (And no, that does not mean there’s a love triangle, it just means we love him).

Just for fun

What are three random facts about yourselves your readers may not know?

Elle:

  • An entire wall in my office is a solid wood bookshelf. I own hundreds of print books (yes, I’m still a dinosaur who prefers print books!)
  • I’m incredibly fussy about the quality of tomatoes on my sandwiches.
  • I give places the (mental) shakeyfist when they have Pepsi as opposed to Coke products.

Jen:

  • I drink about a gallon of barely sweetened ice tea a day during the summer.
  • I love jewelry but rarely wear it.
  • I’m a gadget junkie. I like to early adopt and then be disappointed!

What are your favorite romance tropes to write?

Jen: I really want to write a guardian / ward romance. I grew up reading Harlequin Presents on the sly. (My mother was adamantly against these types of books, but I read them anyway).

Elle: I love to write enemies-to-lovers stories, the sort of books where the hero/heroine can’t stand each other at first and then realize they are perfect for each other.

What are your favorite romance tropes to read?

Jen: Hero in pursuit! I love those stories. Did I mention the guardian/ward trope? Kidding.

Elle: Again, enemies-to-lovers. Or falling for your brother’s best friend.

What are three of your favorite authors/series at the moment? You know, the ones you just can’t get out of your heads.

Jen: Favorite authors include Meljean Brook and her fantastic steampunk series, Lauren Gilley’s motorcycle club books starting with Fearless, and R. Lee Smith. Her book, Last Hour of Gann, rocked my world and made me question whether I should even be an author.

Elle: Pierce Brown’s Red Rising trilogy is my most recent omg-I-love-it series. I also adore JR Ward’s BDB books, and anything written by Danielle Steel.

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