American Royalty by Tracey Livesay is the perfect summer read! I’m thrilled Tracey joined me for an author interview.
About Tracey Livesay:
Tracey Livesay’s latest release, Like Lovers Do, was named one of the 100 Best Fiction Books of 2020 by Kirkus Reviews and one of the Top 10 Romances of 2020 by Entertainment Weekly.
She’s also the 2020 Emma Award winner for Best Interracial Romance for Sweet Talkin’ Lover. In addition to being named to USA Today’s list of “100 Black Novelists You Should Read,” she’s been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune and on CBS This Morning.
A former criminal defense attorney, Tracey lives in Virginia with her husband–who she met on the very first day of law school–and their three children.
Synopsis for American Royalty by Tracey Livesay
Sexy, driven rapper Danielle “Duchess” Nelson is on the verge of signing a deal that’ll make her one of the richest women in hip hop. More importantly, it’ll grant her control over her life, something she’s craved for years. But an incident with a rising pop star has gone viral, unfairly putting her deal in jeopardy. Concerned about her image, she’s instructed to work on generating some positive publicity… or else.
A brilliant professor and reclusive royal, Prince Jameson prefers life out of the spotlight, only leaving his ivory tower to attend weddings or funerals. But with the Queen’s children involved in one scandal after another, and Parliament questioning the viability of the monarchy, the Queen is desperate. In a quest for good press, she puts Jameson in charge of a tribute concert in her late husband’s honor. Out of his depth, and resentful of being called to service, he takes the advice of a student. After all, what’s more appropriate for a royal concert than a performer named “Duchess”?
Too late, Jameson discovers the American rapper is popular, sexy, raunchy and not what the Queen wanted, although he’s having an entirely different reaction. Dani knows this is the good exposure she needs to cement her deal and it doesn’t hurt that the royal running things is fine as hell. Thrown together, they give in to the explosive attraction flaring between them. But as the glare of the limelight intensifies and outside forces try to interfere, will the Prince and Duchess be a fairy tale romance for the ages or a disaster of palatial proportions?
Author Interview: Tracey Livesay
Tracey, I’m so excited to talk to you today about American Royalty out June 28th, 2022. Thank you for joining me for this Q & A.
It’s my pleasure! Thank you for having me.
Can you tell me about the inspiration behind American Royalty?
The idea for American Royalty was years in the making! Years ago, I’d noticed the increase in entertainment media (an entire industry devoted to the life of entertainers) and it occurred to me that celebrities were becoming our “royalty”. Then there was the wedding of Harry & Meghan in 2018. I remember being fascinated by the procession of the guests. Athletes, actors, singers, models, tech people all socializing together with members of the British aristocracy. It was an actual example of American royalty mixing with British royalty, as was the union itself. The final piece came in 2019 with the Harper’s Bazaar cover of Cardi B in a ballgown running away from a castle. The rapper and the prince? That was it.
What are your favorite characteristics of Dani and Jameson?
I love Dani’s determination. She sets goals and does whatever is necessary to achieve them. The doggedness that motivated her rise to the top of the hip hop game is the same drive that propelled her across the pond to save her skin care line.
With Jameson it’s all about his passion. He views that part of himself negatively, but it’s in everything he does: his approach to teaching, his feelings about environmental issues, his respect for his grandfather, his protectiveness towards his mother, and his attraction and love for Dani.
While researching this book, did you find any interesting facts or stories about the royal family?
I was really intrigued by the number of people involved in the royal family’s lives and the power they can wield. If you or I have an issue with a family member, we can deal with them directly. But that’s not the case with the royal family. Their access is guarded and limited by staff. For example, if Harry wants to see Prince Charles, he can’t just drop by his father’s house. He must make an appointment, usually with his father’s personal secretary. What if Harry wants to see Prince Charles on Monday for something important? The secretary has the power and authority to grant that appointment or deny Harry if Prince Charles’ schedule doesn’t allow it. Harry can choose to override the staff and go directly to his father, but then he’ll have an issue with that staff member, who could make access to Prince Charles more challenging in the future. And getting to the queen for a quick family visit? Good luck.
Do you have any favorite scenes in American Royalty?
I have several. First, the scene where Jameson helps Dani clean up his kitchen. He’s upset, and rightfully so, but he calms down and goes back to help her and its the first time they both have their guards lowered enough to get to know one another. I’m also highly entertained picturing Jameson trying to sweep when he’s never done it before. LOL Second, the bathtub scene. The sexual tension between the two had been building and I just love their entire interaction in the bathtub. It’s so heightened and sexy. And I love the aspect of caring that comes in the middle of it. One of my favorite scenes I’ve ever written. Finally, the epilogue. I cackled while I wrote it. As a reader, I needed the comeuppance to be shown on page.
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Author Interview: Tracey Livesay: Let’s Chat About Writing
I would love to know if you’re a plotter or a pantser. What seems to work best when you’re working on a new manuscript?
I’m a total plotter. I have an entire process I go through when working on a new book. In the past, I’ve attempted to skip steps, thinking it would make me write and deliver books faster, but what I’ve come to realize is my process is my process. I complete character and plotting worksheets at two different points while drafting my books.
Do you have any favorite snacks, music or rituals for your writing? For instance, are you blasting music or need complete silence?
My writing ritual involves a scented candle and a white noise machine. Complete silence doesn’t exist for me… I’d hear the A/C turn on, the hum of the printer, the whoosh of the dishwasher… LOL So I need the white noise machine, set to either a thunderstorm or crashing waves on a beach. I can’t write to music because the lyrics are distracting, but I do have a playlist for sex scenes and breakup scenes, that I will listen to before I draft those scenes to get me in the mood.
I read and loved your Girls Trip series. Your characters are so lovable and easy to root for. Do you have any tips for writing strong and memorable characters?
Thank you! My tip for writing characters is to know your character and be specific! Know your character meaning understanding their motivation. What do they want at the beginning of the story? What is their goal? And why do they want it so badly? I always try to make the “why” the flaw the character needs to overcome to reach their happily ever after.
Specificity is your friend! I try to add tiny details that make my characters unique. You tend to think that not being specific means more people will be able to relate to them, but the truth is being super specific makes them more relatable. Because we all have those quirky parts of our personality. And, if we know the characters, we’ll understand why they make the choices they’ll make throughout the story.
Do you have any advice for new writers?
There is no absolute advice. Run in the opposite direction from anyone who tells you there’s only one way to do something and it’s THEIR way. The important thing is to figure out what works for you and do that. Comparing yourself and your process to what anyone else is doing leads to madness. I know. I spent lots of time there.
What started your foray into reading and loving the romance genre?
I’ve been a reader since I was a little girl. My nose was always in a book. When I was 12, a waitress who worked at my parents’ restaurant commented on my bookish ways before giving me my first romance. It was a Silhouette. By the end of the second chapter, I was hooked. It’s been my favorite genre ever since.
Reading Recs, TV Casting & More: Author Interview: Tracey Livesay
American Royalty is one of my top Summer 2022 reads! What are some romances on your TBR and/or must read romances?
Yay!! I’m so happy you enjoyed it! Oh god, there are some amazing books out there. Ones I’ve loved: The Wedding Crasher by Mia Sosa. A Caribbean Heiress in Paris by Adriana Herrera. Dating Dr. Dil by Nisha Sharma. On Rotation by Shirlene Obuobi. On my TBR: Fake it til you Bake it by Jamie Wesley. Honey & Spice by Bolu Babalola. Ben & Beatriz by Katalina Gamarra.
I always love talking about TV and movies. If you were to cast an adaptation for American Royalty, do you have anyone in mind for your characters?
What’s funny is that I usually cast my books with actors before I start writing, but I didn’t do that with American Royalty. Dani and Jameson were their unique selves from the beginning and I couldn’t picture any actors in the role. And now, Duchess is how she appears on the cover of the book. The cover artist, Erick Davila, knocked it out of the park, so that’s who I see when I’m thinking about her.
Do you have any favorite TV shows or movie franchises?
Do I? Where do I begin? LOL My taste is varied. I love Ted Lasso, this great new comedy on Peacock called Grand Crew and Upload on Amazon. I love reality television, like the Housewives and the Bachelor franchise, but I also love competition reality shows, like Project Runway and Top Chef. I love all the FBI procedurals on CBS (Tuesday is my favorite night of TV) and action/mystery shows like Jack Reacher and Jack Ryan, both on Amazon. There are so many more, but then this would turn into an essay titled, “Why I love TV and Movies.” And I never even got to movies!
Who is the perfect reader for American Royalty?
Anyone who loves a fun, sexy story where true love triumphs in the end!
What are you working on next?
I just turned in the first draft of the second book in the American Royalty series. I’m waiting for notes from my editor—and taking a much-needed break–before I dive back in!
Thank you again for taking the time to speak with me, Tracey! How can readers best connect with you?
You’re welcome. I really enjoyed this. If readers want to connect with me, they can go to my website, http://www.traceylivesay.com/ to learn more about my books and to sign up for my newsletter. They can find me on Instagram at @tracey.livesay. And they can sign up for my reader group on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/groups/liveliesromancereadergroup, where I do a live chat every month.