Today, Olivia from YA-Mag is chatting with author Melissa de la Cruz about her novel THE RING AND THE CROWN! Check it out!
Princess Marie-Victoria, heir to the Lily Throne, and Aelwyn Myrddn, bastard daughter of the Mage of England, grew up together. But who will rule, and who will serve?
Quiet and gentle, Marie has never lived up to the ambitions of her mother, Queen Eleanor the Second, Supreme Ruler of the Franco-British Empire. With the help of her Head Merlin, Emrys, Eleanor has maintained her stranglehold on the world’s only source of magic. She rules the most powerful empire the world has ever seen.
But even with the aid of Emrys’ magic, Eleanor’s extended lifespan is nearing its end. The princess must marry and produce an heir or the Empire will be vulnerable to its greatest enemy, Prussia. The two kingdoms must unite to end the war, and the only solution is a match between Marie and Prince Leopold VII, heir to the Prussian throne. But Marie has always loved Gill, her childhood friend and soldier of the Queen’s Guard.
Together, Marie and Aelwyn, a powerful magician in her own right, come up with a plan. Aelwyn will take on Marie’s face, allowing the princess to escape with Gill and live the quiet life she’s always wanted. And Aelwyn will get what she’s always dreamed of–the chance to rule. But the court intrigue and hunger for power in Lenoran England run deeper than anyone could imagine. In the end, there is only rule that matters in Eleanor’s court: trust no one.
Olivia with YA-Mag: Melissa, welcome to the Young Adult Magazine!
YA:Let’s talk about Marie-Victoria and Aelwyn. What makes them the perfect characters to tell this story?
Melissa de la Cruz: Thanks for having me! I wanted to tell the story from the point of view of a princess who didn’t want to be a princess and the sexiest sorceress in the world, who had to essentially become a nun, to show the rigidity of the world they live in, and how much they would have to grow to accept their destinies for the good of the kingdom.
YA: What sets the girls’ story apart from other historical fantasy novels, like Libba Bray’s GEMMA DOYLE series or THE INFERNAL DEVICES books by Cassandra Clare? What will readers find that is unique to this tale?
MdlC: The Ring and the Crown is different in that it is about royal court life, it’s a bit of a girly “Game of Thrones” in that it is about the chess match between the different characters and the power play between them, one that is tied up in the romances and desires of the characters.
YA: What non-book influences (films, television shows, music, plays, etc) helped spark this story?
MdlC: I love storytellers who take a risk, and Baz Luhrmann is one of my favorite filmmakers, Moulin Rouge and Great Gatsby were huge influences on The Ring and The Crown. I wanted my readers to picture this alternate historical time period, but with a thumping modern soundtrack. I like the incongruity of that, the shock, the unexpectedness. Not everyone ‘gets’ it or likes it, but that’s fine, the ones who do REALLY get it and those are my readers.
YA:When you were a teen, what was your favorite book (YA or otherwise)? Now that you’re an author for teens, what is your favorite contemporary YA?
MdlC: I was a huge fan of Sweet Valley High, the Sweet Dreams series, Lord of the Rings, Dune, Stephen King. So romance, fantasy and horror! Now that I write for teens I still enjoy those genres—my favorite writers include my friends and colleagues Margie Stohl, Alyson Noel, Leigh Bardugo and Laini Taylor. I love authors who mix romance and fantasy.
YA: What is the story behind the title THE RING AND THE CROWN?
MdlC: It’s a fun story! We had a few titles in mind. At first I wanted to call it THE GLIMMER SEASON, sort of a magical twist on the London Season, but we thought it wasn’t quite enough. Then I thought about calling it “JUST A CROWN” after the Emily Dickinson poem. Then from there, it became THE RING AND THE CROWN, to show that the romance and the politics are intertwined. I love the title!
YA: This is the first in a series. What can you tease us about the next installment?
MdlC: In a way I wrote the first book only so I could write the second! It’s a very romantic story, about two people who fall in love after they are already married. It’s very sad and swoony and so much happens in it, the fate of the empire and magic are all tied in as well. It’s funny that a lot of people say they thought TRATC was all tied up; it was always a first book for me, the first step in a way.
YA: Readers most likely will know you from your previous work, the BLUE BLOODS series. After so long with those modern-day vampire stories, what has been the most challenging part of writing for historical fantasy? What has been the most rewarding?
MdlC: I think getting the time period right was a little more difficult, but I really didn’t want to write something that was so bogged down, I wanted to write a historical fantasy that READ like a contemporary book with modern teenagers. That was my goal. I like doing research, so that wasn’t hard. What was fun to discover was that the social life of someone in the 1880s was so much busier and even more scandalous than ours—some parties would not start until midnight, and balls would go till dawn, and that was just par for the course.
YA: If you could cast the Dream Film of THE RING AND THE CROWN, who would be in the lead roles?
MdlC: Ah, that’s always hard for me. I’m not really up on all the young actors, and I do find it a little odd that all the same young people are playing all the big YA roles. That being said Shailene Woodley would be great as Marie, I think, she could add one more to her resume right? 😉
YA: What’s up next for you in YA land? Any pet projects you can tease us about?
MdlC: So many new projects but none that I am allowed to announce yet! I am working on many sequels including STOLEN, the second book to the Heart of Dread series that I write with my husband. That one is so full of action and thrilling yearning. It’s so much fun. The new projects are fantasy based is all I can say, and I have a contemporary idea I’ve been toying with, that one is in a very very early stage though.
YA: All right, last one! If you could spend one day with Marie-Victoria and Aelwyn, what would you do together? What would advice would you give to each girl about her past or future?
MdlC: I think we’d all go have some lovely tea and then get ready for a fabulous ball. I would tell Marie that she’s stronger than she knows, and to Aelwyn that she’s not as jaded as she thinks she is.
YA:Thank you very much, Melissa! And again, from YA Mag, congratulations on THE RING AND THE CROWN!
Readers, be sure to check out Melissa de la Cruz at her website www.melissa-delacruz.com. Or follow her on Twitter @MelissadelaCruz.
THE RING AND THE CROWN, published by Disney-Hyperion, is now available at your favorite retailers and local independent bookstores!