We have UK author Kate Walker with us today and she's got a print, signed copy of her latest A THRONE FOR THE TAKING for one commenter!
Kate Walker on the web:
Over to Kate now...
Prince Charming - or The Black Sheep Prince? Writing a Royal Romance.
All good fairy tales have a beautiful Princess and of course they have to have a Prince Charming. The heroine – the Princess - goes through all sorts of trials and tribulations. Like Cinderella, she is treated cruelly by her wicked stepmother and ugly sister. Or perhaps like Snow White she is thrown out of the castle by the wicked queen – another bad press for Stepmothers! - and goes to live with seven little dwarves in a cottage in the forest. Or even, as in the story of the Princess and the Pea, she has to try to fall asleep on a big, cushiony bed but finds it so uncomfortable that she is bruised all over – just to prove that she is a princess!
Meanwhile, the Prince really does very little. He might organise a ball in order to hope to meet a beautiful princess so that he can marry a suitable bride and make her his queen. Or he might go hunting through the kingdom, carrying a glass slipper with him, to ensure that every girl in the kingdom tries it on to see if it fits. Or he might come across the Princess – or Snow White – fast asleep and under a wicked spell – and then kiss her to bring her awake so that they can fall in love live happily ever after.
If I’m honest, this never really satisfied me. Even when I was young enough for fairy stories. I wanted a Prince who was more that Prince Charming. A man who did more than run balls and kiss his heroine awake. And I’ve always much preferred to read – and write - about a hero who was more than just ‘charming.’ From the very earliest days of reading stories, fairy tales, or other things, I’ve always been much more interested in the more ambiguous hero – the man who could be good, or might be dangerous, depending on what happens in the story and whose side he’s on. Starting right back in my childhood, I loved the darker, less obviously ‘heroic’ male character . Then I moved on to the ambiguous heroes of Mary Stewart, the classic – Heathcliff, Mr Darcy, Mr Rochester . . . Is it any wonder that I ended up writing for Presents?
And then the heroine – I admit I wanted someone who did rather more than look beautiful (with her fairy godmother’s help!) or who could run a home well for those dwarves. I definitely wanted someone who could do more than fall asleep and wait for the prince to come and kiss her awake. And as for someone who couldn’t possibly fall asleep if there was a pea in the bed . . .!
So when I wanted to write A Throne for The Taking – which was my very first and, so far, my only royal romance, those were the thoughts that were in my head as I created my soon to be king Alexei and his princess (well, actually she’s a Grand Duchess) Honoria (Ria). My hero doesn’t start out as a Prince – in fact, being a Prince is the last thing he’d want – and he believes, the last thing his kingdom will want. He’s been exiled from his country of Mecjoria for years, has a dark reputation, and there are scandals that have shadowed his name as he has grown up. His is actually a ‘black sheep prince’ (that was my working title of the story) and the image that was in my mind as I created my royal hero.
And I wanted a heroine who did rather more to prove that she was a real princess – a potential Queen. So I gave Ria the mission of going to find the missing prince, and trying to persuade him to come back home, to run the country that needed him so badly. Even if this meant confronting someone she had once believed was her friend but who now thought of her as the darkest enemy, part of a family who had destroyed his life and that of his mother in the past.
As soon as I started to create my characters I knew that, royal or not, they were very, very human. Because, that’s what a prince – or princess actually is. Someone who may be in a position of power and wealth, who might ride in a coach and wear spectacular jewels – but who still, deep down is just a person – a man or a woman.
And it is the men and the women who are our heroes and heroines - who fall in love and who fear that their feelings are not reciprocated. Or that they have given that love to someone who is not worthy of it. Someone who will throw that love right back at them if they want to. All the power, all the wealth, all the glamour, won’t help if the love of their life doesn’t love them back or if things go terribly wrong emotionally. So I created my prince as a very human person. Someone who has to deal with love and disappointment and the pain of loss. Because isn’t that what we all want fro the romances we read? To see people we can sympathise with and believe in learn the truth abyut love and how it will change their lives – hopefully for happy ever after.
Of course, my black sheep prince can be Prince Charming too – when he wants to be. If he didn’t then his princess would never ever fall in love with him.
Could you fall in love with a Black Sheep Prince?