It was January 2020 (otherwise known as THE BEFORE TIMES).
I was in Los Angeles in an AirBnB in Echo Park with my husband and dog. We usually leave our Pacific Northwest home in the winter and head south to California to escape the endless gloom, so we were settling into the city. Earlier that month, fires ravaged Australia, and a virus caused the city of Wuhan in China to go on lockdown, there was threat of war in Iran. Things felt unstable but we had no idea what lay ahead in the future. I was working on adapting the first book in my horror romance series into a TV pilot (Darkhouse, from my Experiment in Terror Series), and I was about to start writing a horror YA book for submission.
Then, Harry and Meghan moved to where we lived, back in Canada. Well, we live on Salt Spring Island, and they were on the next island over, Vancouver Island, but it’s pretty much the same neighborhood. I started watching as all the paparazzi started reporting on them and photographing them in my usual stomping grounds, despite them moving to BC to have some privacy.
And it got me thinking…they could have moved next to me! In fact, they were only renting…what if they decided to move to MY island? What if they became my neighbors? Best friends? Would it be annoying to have the media there all the time, would the bodyguards/PPO think we’re a threat? ETC.
That’s literally the idea that came slamming into me. I just KNEW there was a story there, that my agent would love this idea, that I could write this as a fun and sweet romantic comedy. It was high concept and felt right, all powered by the questions WHAT IF?
I went on Twitter and said…
As you can see, The Royals Next Door WAS this idea. I immediately met my agent for lunch after I tweeted that. She was ready to hear my progress on my YA horror but the moment I told her about this she said “That’s it! That’s the one.”
I wrote a few chapters, a proposal, it went on submission, and eventually my DREAM publisher picked it up: Berkley.
Somehow I managed to finish the book during the start of the pandemic (wasn’t easy, but it was a lovely escape when I wasn’t bleaching my groceries).
On August 31st (today), over a year later, it was released into the wild. In, yes, still a pandemic.
Now you know the inspiration. Yes, a million times yes Monica and Eddie are based on Meghan and Harry. That’s not a secret. They flat-out inspired me by moving to my island and making me think “Wow, what would it be like to have royals as your neighbors?” Then of course I thought of the heroine Piper, a romance podcaster and teacher, and Harrison the PPO to the royals, and I knew that this story wouldn’t actually be about the royal couple, but the people who work for them/live next to them. Royal adjacent, if you will. I immediately fell in love with both characters, and loved that I was able to write them living on my island (the book is set on Salt Spring Island, BC – go Canada!).
And so that’s how the book was born and I’m so delighted it’s finally out in the world. It’s a sweet and sexy rom com that touches on a lot of mental health issues (that are personal to me), as well as the stigma that reading romance gets. But above all, it’s a light, breath of fresh air that I hope will be a lovely, feel-good escape for anyone who needs it right now.
(Of course this is not my first foray into royals…if you wish to read something similar but that focuses on royals, check out my Nordic Royals series below. We have a romance between a nanny and a widowed king (A Nordic King), a surprise pregnancy (The Royal Rogue), a marriage of convenience enemies-to-lovers (The Wild Heir) and a twist on Roman Holiday with a runaway prince and a commoner (The Swedish Prince)