Michaela MacColl: “Romance?!”

Posted November 6, 2010 by Sara | Novel Novice 1 Comment


Today, we are thrilled to present an exclusive guest blog from Michaela MacColl, author of the new book Prisoners in the Palace. Very briefly, here’s the synopsis of her book (which will put her guest blog into context):

London, 1838. Sixteen-year-old Liza’s dreams of her society debut are dashed when her parents are killed in an accident. Penniless, she accepts the position of lady’s maid to young Princess Victoria and steps unwittingly into the gossipy intrigue of the servant’s world below-stairs as well as the trickery above. Is it possible that her changing circumstances may offer Liza the chance to determine her own fate, find true love, and secure the throne for her future queen?

Thanks once again to Michaela for stopping by to guest blog & to the folks at Chronicle Books for setting up the blog tour! Keep reading to find out how you can get an exclusive discount on your copy of Prisoners in the Palace — and possibly WIN your own shiny copy!

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Thanks to Sara for having me on to guest blog!

My publicist introduced me to Novel Novice (and now I’m hooked). But I couldn’t help notice that romance is a big theme on this site. Naturally – who doesn’t like romance? Well, me for one. I’ve never cared for books where love is the main goal of the protagonists. When I wrote Prisoners in the Palace I was thinking about a novel of political intrigue, maybe a little suspense with a dash of social commentary. I figured that teen readers would come for the Princess and get hooked on the rest.  Well, plans change. And it’s usually your characters who make the change happen.

My main character is Liza, a young lady fallen on hard times. She gets a job working for the seventeen year old Princess Victoria at Kensington Palace. Victoria doesn’t need a maid as much as she needs a spy. Members of her own family are conspiring against her and she doesn’t know who to trust, especially when scurrilous articles start appearing for sale on the streets of London. Liza gets sent out to find the source of the articles and meets a young publisher named Will Fulton. They clash immediately: Will defending his right to publish whatever will sell and Liza’s insistence that the truth would be nice. Will’s looks are based on Wesley, my all-time favorite romantic schmuck from The Princess Bride.  Naturally Liza and he are destined to be together – but only after they become allies and friends. My favorite line in the book is when Liza confides to her diary that “Will does me the inestimable honor of treating me as an equal.”

But still the romance was secondary to my vision of the book, a good solid sub-plot at best! Imagine my surprise when Chronicle (a brilliant publisher by the way!) called the book “A Novel of Intrigue and Romance.” Really? Romance? Hmm. Then I reread the final text. Hmmm. Pretty romantic. But not too much so. In my humble opinion, the romance supports the story without overwhelming it. Then I began to think about all my favorite books – A Wrinkle in Time – where Meg and Calvin learn to appreciate each other despite the dangerous situations they are in. Or The Chronicles of Prydain where Taran and Eilonwy grate on each other’s nerve through five books – but their friendship and respect for each other is the bedrock for all their adventures. Even the historical mysteries I am completely addicted to – there’s always a little bit of romance. What better opportunity for a young hero to prove his love if not when the ingenue is falsely accused?

So, suspense and intrigue, with a dollop of romance. I can live with that.

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Catch the next stop on the blog tour at Mother Daughter Book Club tomorrow!

And if you want to purchase your own copy of Prisoners in the Palace — head to Chronicle Books and use the special promotion code PRISONER to get FREE SHIPPING & 25% off your entire order. (That means you can buy other books to and save on them as well!)

As for the CONTEST … here are the details:

Fill out the Prisoners in the Palace Contest Entry Form and tell us which you’d choose – Romance or Intrigue? – to be entered into a random drawing.

One winner will receive a copy of the book courtesy Chronicle Books.

Here are the rules:

  • U.S. Only
  • 1 entry per person

The deadline to enter is Wednesday, November 10th at midnight (PT).

Questions? Leave ’em in the comments!

Sara | Novel Novice
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