Welcome to the virtual book tour for Secret Lives of Royals, a fantasy YA/NA by Shalini Dua! She takes some time to talk about her latest book, procrastination, and what you need to do if you ever make it over to London! Please also enjoy an excerpt from the book and be sure to visit other stops along the tour. You’ll have more insights into her book and her as an author and also have more chances to enter the $50 Amazon gift card giveaway.
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What was the inspiration behind this book?
The Secret Lives of Royals, has been rattling around in my head for years. Inspired by school history lessons, my travels and wanderlust for places I haven’t yet managed to visit, and by my love of food and art; Olivia’s story is a culmination of my journey thus far and the daydreaming I’ve done along the way. This novel is self-published, so I hope you will look past its raw state and enjoy the magic in this contemporary fairytale world.
Which character was your favorite to write?
I loved writing Olivia because she gets to travel to places I haven’t managed to visit yet and eat whatever I could dream up. Through Olivia, I got to experience a lot of things.
I enjoyed writing the two male leads, Connor and Alex. They may or may not be based on some of my favorite people that I have known in the past.
What was one of your favorite scenes?
I love the scene at the royal ball just because it’s so magical and filled with romantic intrigue. I also love the scenes where Olivia is discovering the secret society and learning about this new world. It’s so cool to see it through her eyes and it provided the setup for the most humor.
Will we see these characters again?
Yes, I’m working on the follow up.
Why should we read your book?
Read this book if you’re intrigued by royal life and have a passion for humor, wanderlust, food and fashion, but particularly if you’re tickled by pop-culture based references.
What do you hope people will get out of your book?
I hope people will find an escape from all the craziness in the world and just get a chance to enjoy themselves. Two major themes to take away are first, of a contemporary fairytale featuring an empowered, though flawed, female lead who works hard to shape her own future and, secondly, examining the link between media and power. Both, particularly relevant to our world today.
On what are you currently working?
Besides the follow up, I’m working on another novel about a circus and a collection of poetry. Samples of my poems can be found on my website () and Instagram (@ididntmeantofeelanything).
What is your writing routine?
Lots of procrastination. I get really hungry, get creative with my snacks, binge watch Netflix for a while. It’s the only time I clean my apartment. And then, just when I’m about to go to sleep, inspiration hits and I stay up all night writing.
What is the best writing advice you ever received?
Get the words on the page and worry about editing and making it perfect later.
Who is your writing muse?
Too many to count. Amy Sherman Palladino, Lewis Carrol, Emily Bronte, R. M. Drake, F. Scott Fitzgerald.
What are you currently reading? Up next on your TBR?
Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan and a lot of poetry, including Atticus and Rupi Kaur.
When not writing, what can we find you doing?
Traveling whenever and wherever I can. Shopping. I’m really into pinterest-ing up my flat right now. Learning from other writers and comedians.
Let’s say I’m coming for a visit to your area. What are some must-see places?
I live in London so I’d suggest a whimsical afternoon tea. The Sanderson Hotel has a great Alice and Wonderland inspired offering. The Globe is also a must-visit. Even if you’re not super into Shakespeare, the architecture alone is worth the stop. It’s also close to Borough Market and South Bank so lots of outdoor food options to explore.
Olivia can’t take it anymore. She’s had enough of the big city and it’s lack of fulfilling her dreams. Then, just when she’s about to give up and move home, out of the blue, she is offered her dream job. Olivia is suspicious but that could just be the New York in her. She decides not to pull at threads. Despite her best efforts to remain blissfully oblivious, the secret to her life upgrade is soon uncovered when she finds herself invited to be part of a secret society.
Olivia learns that there is a thin curtain separating our world from theirs. Just beneath the surface, an entirely different one exists. One that is controlled by those of Royal lineage. The chosen ones, the Royals, hold the fate of the world in their hands. Will Olivia be able to bear the weight of the crown?
Confessions of a Shopaholic meets The Adjustment Bureau, this contemporary fairytale is both relatable and aspirational. Taking a look at the current balance of media and power with a healthy dose of humor, fashion, food and wanderlust.
Read an excerpt from The Secret Lives of Royals
“It’s on Thursday. We’ll meet there at 8PM. A car will come to get you.” He pauses, gives me a once over and says, “The girls in the closet can help you with an outfit.” I’m caught off guard and I just stare at Connor, coolly heading off in the opposite direction as if he hasn’t just casually knocked my fashion sense, my self-confidence and basically who I have been up until this very moment.
“Thursday morning when I step out of the glass elevator at Le Salon, what can only be described as a glam squad descends upon me. When I ask where they came from, I’m informed that Connor has sent them because as they delicately put it, “I need help.” The first blonde eyes me warily as if I’m a 1,000 page report on her desk that she is about to dig into. “You are not, uh,” she looks at the others apparently searching for tact, “meeting a certain standard, uh, in terms of brand image.” I feel like a reality TV star, a “before” to be clear. Though, I would die if anyone from Le Salon knew my thoughts were this basic. The crew sees me, moves their heads up and down to examine me in unison as if operated by the same spine, and exchanges a look that says, “We’ve got our work cut out for us.” To be honest, I’m finding them more than a little judge-y. I wouldn’t say I’m a hot mess. Although it’s true I could get my nails done a tad more often, but I live by the rule of two out of three, which is that if you can hit two of these three things every day, you are doing pretty well: hair, make-up and outfit. Admittedly, I don’t always hit two, but I had been doing okay since starting at Le Salon. I had repeatedly accomplished all three and was very proud of myself, so I’m not sure what these critical bitches are rolling their eyes about. They introduce themselves. “Hi, I’m Sophia.” She extends a hand, Starbucks cup in the other. Sophia has dark hair and olive skin; she’s dressed in skinny black leather pants, a chic purple blouse, black pumps and aged silver jewelry. Very edgy style, but she actually seems semi-nice when compared with the other two. “Kaley,” barely glances in my direction as she sips from her Starbucks cup. Dressed in ripped dark blue jeans and a black blazer, she seems more than a tad intimidating and clearly doesn’t have time for me. “Trista,” with a slight nod of the head, ad for Starbucks pose, black dress and black pumps, appears to be a bit of an airhead though apparently a wiz with a make-up brush. Sophia hands me a coffee, which I think is quite a nice gesture despite their apparent personalities. I feel a set of hands on me as they collectively drag me into an entirely too brightly lit room somewhere left of the large closet that houses all of the fashion we use for various shoots. They push me into the tall black chair used for making-up the subjects of said photo sessions. And that is how I find myself in every woman’s nightmare, staring back at my early morning reflection, pre-coffee, in a mirror lit by at least thirty 100-watt light bulbs, which is when I stop protesting. Seriously, maybe models are not overpaid. I cannot imagine doing this for a living. I immediately develop a new respect for the gazelle-like creatures that float through this place on a daily basis and who, until today, I have been envy-judging with Mads after work in an effort to preserve the last shred of my self-esteem, which has been unceremoniously murdered by Sophia, Kaley and Trista early this morning. RIP self-esteem. You will be missed. I sip my coffee and ingest the singular source of warmth in this room.
An international upbringing and a love of stories laid the foundation for wanderlust. Shalini aspires to spend her time country-hopping and consuming pop-culture, comedy and good food but the reality is often frantically downing coffee, meeting deadlines at exactly the last second and working her unglamorous corporate job to fund all of the other pursuits.
The Secret Lives of Royals is Shalini’s debut novel. Her other work includes published poetry and scripts only she has read.
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