Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Interview with Debbie Rigaud for Truly Madly Royally

Truly Madly Royally

by Debbie Rigaud
Publisher: Point
Release Date: July 30th 2019
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult, Romance
 photo addtogoodreadssmall_zpsa2a6cf28.png photo B6096376-6C81-4465-8935-CE890C777EB9-1855-000001A1E900B890_zps5affbed6.jpg


Fiercely independent and smart, Zora Emerson wants to change the world. She's excited to be attending a prestigious summer program, even if she feels out of place among her privileged, mostly white classmates. So she's definitely not expecting to feel a connection to Owen, who's an actual prince of an island off the coast of England. But Owen is funny, charming...and undeniably cute. Zora can't ignore the chemistry between them. When Owen invites Zora to be his date at his big brother's big royal wedding, Zora is suddenly thrust into the spotlight, along with her family and friends. Everyone is talking about her, in real life and online, and while Owen is used to the scrutiny, Zora's not sure it's something she can live with. Can she maintain her sense of self while moving between two very different worlds? And can her feelings for Owen survive and thrive in the midst of the crazy? Find out in this charming romantic comedy that's like The Princess Diaries for a new generation.

Can you briefly describe TRULY MADLY ROYALLY and their main characters?

TRULY MADLY ROYALLY follows what happens after Zora (a Jersey girl-next-door) meets and falls for Owen (an actual prince of a European country) at a prestigious college program one summer. Is that brief enough? Because I can go on and on about their memorable meet-cute, their sweet chemistry and, yes, their colliding worlds. It’s a fun ride—one I hope readers enjoy coming along for!

Who would you say is your favourite character from the story and why?

I love them all, but my favorite character is Zora. I admire her. Even though she’s way out of her comfort zone, and figuring things out isn’t easy, she handles it. Sometimes she handles it clumsily, sometimes she handles it like a bawse, but she handles it. Plus it’s cool she has a few life hacks for staying on task, including mapping goals out with her best friend. But at the end of it all, I love that she has a big heart. She loves her community actively, and wants to make a difference in it. Zora knows life is interconnected, and she works hard to be a strong link in her family and her neighborhood.

How did the story occur to you? Did you find inspiration anywhere?

When it came to crafting Zora’s personality, I found inspiration in the girls and women around me who are quick to pitch in, lend a hand, make an impact. I interviewed a community-minded friend who is always thinking up ways to add social or creative value to her neighbourhood. I wanted to learn what makes her tick. I gave Zora some of the same impulses she has, and I think this brought Zora to life. As far as the theme, I was definitely inspired by Meghan Markle’s engagement to Prince Harry, as well as by the community reaction to their nuptials. All over Black Twitter, there was excitement, curiosity, judgement, indifference, support and so I tried to weave those sentiments throughout the story where it made sense.

If you could choose one song to describe your book, which one would it be?

“Get Back to Me” by Abby Deneke, a song on The Paragon Project, Vol. 2: Medicinal Music album (and streaming on Spotify). This song is so special because it was written and performed by Columbus, Ohio high school students. I just love it. When I heard this song, I was struck by how perfectly it captures Zora’s struggle at one point—the should-I-or-shouldn’t-I tug of war. She’s got this mapped-out summer, but should she allow herself to get distracted by this cute boy, this prince with the swoon-worthy accent? The song brings to life this mood so well.

If your book was going to be made into a movie, who would play your characters?

Oooh, fun! I’d love to see Skai Jackson play Zora. She’s definitely a goal-getter like Zora. She also supports causes close to her heart, like Zora does. And whoa, she’s such a fashionista! You just know she’d look stunning attending a royal wedding. For Owen, I’m going with Lucas Jade Zumann from the Netflix series “Anne with an E.” I am a huge fan of that show, and he’s a standout on it. On the show he and Anne have this ongoing crush, and he plays into the will-they-or-won’t-they role so well. And of course, if Meghan Markle ever comes out of acting retirement, she’d make a lovely Sadie, the royal bride. Just putting that out there. ;-)

Summer is here and we love to go out and enjoy the sun. What drink and place do you think will go with your book to have a perfect book date?

The cover covers it all. ;-) A picturesque picnic, summery drinks, adorable company. Yes, Zora and Owen chilled on a college campus with some cool drinks—fruit smoothies for starters. But I’d also recommend a peach iced tea at the park. Even Jersey girls like Zora and I are allowed to enjoy signature Southern refreshments on a romantic summer’s day.

Can you recommend your readers any other books in case they are left hungry for more once they finish TRULY MADLY ROYALLY?

There are diverse royal romances tearing up the adult lit world right now (by Alyssa Cole and Jasmine Guillory to name two), and I’m all over them. In the YA/NA world, royal romances are hot as well. There’s Casey McQuiston’s RED, WHITE & ROYAL BLUE, Rachel Hawkins’ HER ROYAL HIGHNESS and the upcoming AMERICAN ROYALS by Katharine McGee. As for contemporary YA romances starring Black girls, I highly recommend I WANNA BE WHERE YOU ARE by Kristina Forest, and Justin Reynolds’ THE OPPOSITE OF ALWAYS

What’s next for you?

I am co-writing a middle grade series with activist/actor Alyssa Milano! The first book comes out in October and I can’t wait. I’m also working on another YA rom-com, this time centering on an overprotective Haitian-American girl. It’s been something I’ve been working on for years, so I’m glad it’s just about ready to share with editors.

YA author Debbie M. Rigaud began her writing career covering news and entertainment for magazines. She’s interviewed celebs, politicians, social figures and “real” girls. Her writing has appeared in Seventeen, CosmoGIRL!, Essence, J-14, Trace, Heart&Soul and Vibe Vixen, to name a few. Her first YA fiction writing was published in the anthology HALLWAY DIARIES (KimaniTru Press/September 2007). Her first standalone YA book--a Simon Pulse romantic comedy titled PERFECT SHOT--is due out in the Fall of 2009.


  1. I've been really intrigued about this book for a long time. Great post and interview.

  2. Books like this are my favorite kind to read in the summer. It has been on my TBR since I first found out about it.

  3. Great interview, I have this book added to my tbr it sounds really cute! I love YA contemporary romance the best.