Houston’s Latest NYT Bestselling Author Reveals Details About Latest Book

Pull out your fascinators and tiaras – here’s your reason for a royal summer.

Author from Houston Katharine McGee has published the third book in her series that re-imagines America as a monarchy, and less than a month after the novel hit bookstores, the series landed on the New York Times bestseller list.

The American Royal series, published by Random House, follows four young women associated with the royal family – the Washingtons. Correct. Rather than pursuing a democracy, the founders in McGee’s fictional America chose a kingdom. Now, more than 200 years later, the country has its first reigning queen – and she’s mixing things up. Think: The Princess’s Diary meets Gossip Girl

The third in the series, rivals, was released in late May and McGee is currently working on the fourth and final book. She joined CultureMap for a Q&A on the series, as a writer in Houston, and more.

The McGee File
Age: 34
Family: husband Alex and son William
Neighbourhood: Upper Kirby
Most recommended restaurant in Houston: Nobie’s – “their pies are so good.”
Favorite authors: Philip Pullman, Evie Dunmore, Philippa Gregory and Margaret George
Favorite bookstore in Houston: Bookstore Blue Willow

CultureMap: Where did the idea for American Royals come from?

Katharine McGee: I’ve been toying with the idea for American Royals for a long time. I grew up reading historical fiction and I’ve always dreamed of writing a historical fiction novel of my own – something set in a royal court, be it at the Tudor court, or at Versailles, or with the Romanoffs. . Anything with backstabbing and political intrigue and forbidding drama and love.

When I worked at the book publishing company in New York in 2011, I was an editorial assistant and I worked on children’s literature. I was in New York City the day Prince William and Kate Middleton got married. New York felt like a city on vacation that morning. It was so much fun. The streets were packed with people wearing fascinators, and the wedding was streamed on the jumbotron in Times Square. The photos of the royal family were on the cover of every magazine and newspaper I passed to the newsstands. It was so interesting that we in America were incredibly fascinated and obsessed with this wedding of Royals who aren’t even ours. Which, of course, led me to the place of, “I wonder what it would be like if we had a royal family.”

It was a lightning bolt moment when I realized that I could fulfill my dream of trying to write a story about the royal court, but actually do it in a modern America with a royal family. The books still have all those ingredients that I love so much – they still have the forbidden love and the young people struggling with their destiny to rule a country one day, they’re just set in an alternate version of the contemporary America.

CM: The latest in the series came out this summer. What’s so exciting about this one?

miles: The third book, Rivals, is so much fun. I honestly think this might be the most pure fun book I’ve ever written. And I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that the third book in a series, as a writer, gives me more room to really put my characters in unexpected positions and take them to places that are pleasing to the readers. will surprise. The first book in the series is more of an introductory book, explaining the world and characters and what’s at stake. And then the second book is mainly a construction book. And by the third book, I like to think of it as a kind of ‘let’s have fun with the world’.

The book is full of unexpected alliances and relationships that will surprise you. Some old relationships have revived some brand new ones and the world is getting bigger which is a lot of fun.

CM: What can you tell us about the future of the series?

miles: I’m currently working on book four, which is the last American Royals book. I was very lucky. The publisher bought the first two books and then bought the second two books in a different deal. So I knew when I got into book three that there was going to be a fourth book. This allowed me to write the incredibly dramatic cliffhanger ending that haunts so many readers. Of course I couldn’t have done that if we weren’t sure if there was going to be a fourth.

The fourth book is in the works and will be out next year – I’m not sure when exactly. It was in some ways much more difficult than book three, because resolutions are always very tricky. And I feel like the series will go on long enough for me to give every character we’ve met over the course of the series their fair amount of screen time and the resolution they deserve, which means I’m at this point. juggling a rather impractical cast.

CM: You’ve written two YA/New Adult series. What attracts you to that genre and to writing a series about a stand-alone?

miles: I honestly think I think series is just really more fun for me as a writer. I spend a lot of time leading up to a project, figuring out who the characters are, how they’re all connected, and how the world makes sense. For both The thousandth floor and American Royals, it was a process that took several years and several concepts to really work out before I could even sell a concept. And that’s how it feels to me, like I’ve put so much work in advance into building and creating this world. And now I’m just having fun, spinning extra stories in the world with the same characters and just putting them in new configurations, new romantic entanglements, and finding new ways to intersect and bring their stories together.

I’ve never tried to write a standalone. I think it could happen at some point in the future, but I’m certainly not ruling it out, but it’s not what my mind is naturally drawn to.

Another challenge besides struggling with book four is that I also have this looming question on the horizon of what’s next concept or series after American Royals. And so I’ve spent some time, I’d say for the past calendar year, trying to sort that out.

CM: You lived in a few cities before moving back to your hometown of Houston. What was it like for you to be an author here?

miles: I am very pleasantly surprised by the Houston literary scene. Writing is such a lonely profession. And I work almost entirely from my home office – except I go to Local Foods and write on a patio when it’s not summer. I tend to look at my personal life for the company and the sociability that my job doesn’t provide. I don’t go to an office and I don’t really have co-workers – my poor friends often hear a lot about the books and weigh on the characters and know about things as they happen. And then my husband and my sister both weigh in.

I’ve really enjoyed exploring Houston’s literary scene lately as there is so much here, including independent bookstores. The Blue Willow Bookshop is the one where I do all my events, although Brazos Bookstore also has some incredible events. The Barbara Bush Literacy Foundation is hosting some great events, and we get some incredible authors through Houston. And then we have some other authors based here.

CM: Do you have any favorite restaurants/coffee shops that you enjoy treating yourself to before, during or after a day of writing?

miles: I can’t believe I’m saying this – I’m a little embarrassed to be honest. My guilty pleasure is Berryhill. I mean, their margaritas are good and their fish tacos are, I think, the best fish tacos in Houston. It’s become my go-to place when I’ve had a hard day writing and I haven’t cooked dinner or I need to vent and relax, my husband and I and maybe my friends who live in the area go to Berryhill together. There and Local Foods are probably the only two places in Houston where I am known by first name.

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