Today marked the final chapter of Veil of Secrets and The Royal Romance: Book 3. While Veil of Secrets is a relatively new book, The Royal Romance is a series that dates back to April 2017 (For a throwback, read about Book 1 here!). Now that Book 3 has wrapped up, let's take a look back on the series with the writing team:
It's been a pretty intense race to the finish line for The Royal Romance: Book 3. How are you feeling? Are you doing okay?
Jennifer: I think we've mostly made it out alive. As the saying goes, you can sleep when you're dead... or when you've completed all the chapters of all three books of your series.
Kara: The Royal Romance has always had a really tight schedule, but Book 3 pushed us to our limits! There were a lot of late nights, a lot of weekends spent writing. We really wanted to get this right (or as right as possible in the time we had!) and give readers an ending they'd like. Our motto for the last 8 weeks has been "Fall across the finish line," because we knew we just had to wrap up chapter 22 and then we could collapse.
Jeffrey: But in our trials and tribulations, we found enlightenment. Now, we spend our days upon a mountain in divine bliss, drinking tea, sampling pastries, and petting corgis.
(Okay, sure, Jeffrey.) The Royal Romance started out as a lighthearted fairy tale romance. Did you know all along that it would end up here -- a story with political intrigue, enemies-turned-allies, and one very adorable corgi?
Kara: TRR always had darker elements lurking in the background, even from the first book, but the deeper you go into court life, the more dangerous things are. Coming off of writing The Crown & The Flame, I always love when Jennifer and Jeffrey let me put in some darker twists. Players will probably be happy that they didn't let me kill off as many characters as I wanted to. I wanted Bastien to die at the start of Book 3. I wanted Madeleine to die when she got poisoned. Whenever I'm involved, the body count tends to go up...
Jeffrey: "Kara's trail of bodies" was a phrase we used in brainstorms.
Jennifer: Like Kara said, we did always have some darker themes written in between the lines, so it was less a matter of 'will the story end up being about political intrigue and your enemies?' and more like 'when will the story turn?' I will admit, I was delightfully surprised when we decided to take a small scene in the ceremony chapter and refashion it into an all-out battle between your bridal party and the assassins.
Early on, some readers picked up on a few connections between The Royal Romance and The Crown & The Flame. Those connections were front and center in Book 3. When was that planned? Were there any plot details that readers may have missed?
Jennifer: Well, what happened was, back when we were creating Book 1, we wanted an evil redhead to be your antagonist, and Kara said, "Oh, what if we used Zenobia, but the twist is she's a Nevrakis descendant?" Ever since then, we set a precedent that little TC&TF details could populate the TRR world, and I regret nothing. I think Olivia being a Nevrakis descendant is my favorite connection, but other details that pleased me were that Kenna's portrait hangs in the palace dining room and that Lucretia is wearing the very necklace that Val stole in TC&TF.
Kara: I was really sad to leave The Crown & The Flame, so I was delighted that we got to put in some connections. I think most have been caught, except I don't think anyone has mentioned how the little girl in Lythikos is named after Val. My favorite link is Leon’s Ram’s Head Mace and Val's Dead Man's Flail making an appearance.
Olivia: My favorite references are actually some of the smallest ones. I live for every brief, snarky line Olivia throws in about her ancestors - with that Nevrakis history, there's an endless well to draw from.
Jeffrey: I'm going to go with Maxwell’s Coney Island outfit with the necklace of Bubbles, the baby kraken.
Out of the whole series, what was your favorite moment?
Jennifer: There are so many! But I'd have to say my favorite moment was in Book 1 where you follow Drake out into the snow and he explains why he dislikes the court and how he let his sister down. We'd purposefully written Drake up to that point as being slightly antagonistic, but this was the kind of the moment where I could see the main character falling for Drake. (Though, having said that, I definitely teared up reading both the proposals and the marriage vows.)
Jeffrey: Given my answers in the previous Inside Choices, I’m obligated to say the moment a series of hat jokes paid off in a magnificently gaudy hat. In non-hat-related moments, I really enjoyed showing off everyone’s house outfits during the costume ball in Book 3. Hats off to the art team!
Meagan: Hmmm… I really can't say that I have a favorite moment. There are way too many! I might have to pick the reveal of our corgi in a tuxedo, because it felt like the culmination of my own behind-the-scenes quest to add adorableness to everything. I'd say probably the most satisfying scenes for me to write were the proposals and Anton's ultimate defeat. As enjoyable as it is to see the culmination of your positive relationships with the people you've grown to know and love, it's also very satisfying to finally see everyone work together to defeat the enemy that has taken so much from them.
Olivia: I think I have to go with the wedding vows your love interest recites. We really wanted the wedding to show just how far you and your love interest have come together, and that moment in the cathedral captured so much of what we love about each of these characters.
If you had to form a Royal Council, who in The Royal Romance would you pick as your top advisor?
Olivia: Hana! She knows almost as much about the court and kingdom as Liam, and she has the kind of generosity and empathy I'd want my Royal Council to live by.
Meagan: I'd pick the little girl from Lythikos who won her spot as one of their fiercest warriors by doing 'a tactical analysis of the greatest battles in Nevrakis history.' She's going places.
Do you have anything you'd like to say to The Royal Romance fans?
Jennifer: It was New Year's Eve 2017 when Kara and I were hanging out and talking about how fun it would be to write a story about a girl trying to win the heart of a prince. It was a long path to get here filled with a lot of brainstorms and a lot of late nights riddled with feelings of self-doubt, but I wouldn't have changed a second of it. Thank you for reading our story. It was a privilege to write it for you.
Kara: First, I'm sorry to anyone that we've let down. TRR was an ambitious series that tried to do a lot of things with an already challenging schedule, and we didn't always pull off what we wanted with the flawless execution we envisioned.
Second, I've been working on The Royal Romance for the last year and a half. We've released 3 books. 60 chapters. Writing for Choices -- the weekly deadlines, the pressure, the multiple plotlines to keep straight -- it's intense, but it's also the most amazing writing I've ever done. I fell in love with these characters like they're my real friends -- at midnight, I'd be messaging Jennifer and Jeffrey with ideas. Everyday I feel grateful and excited for the stories I get to tell and the team that I get to tell them with, and that's completely and entirely because of all of you. Thank you, thank you, thank you for making The Royal Romance possible!
Jeffrey: Thank you for coming with us on this wild journey that we’ve been on since last year. We’re sorry for the bugs we hit during the wedding. Thank you for bearing with us through the fixes.
Meagan: The Royal Romance was the first project I worked on at Pixelberry, and you have all made it such an incredible experience. The community of fans is truly astonishing and inspiring to me. You are writers, you are artists, you are culture critics, and so much more. Thank you for using your talents to celebrate these characters who are so dear to us. Most of all, thank you for making this past year working on The Royal Romance an amazing, unforgettable experience.
Olivia: The Royal Romance was also my first project here, so it'll always have a special place in my heart. Knowing that this series means as much to our readers as it does to us makes all the late nights, in-depth brainstorms, and hat jokes worth it. Although our plot includes intrigue, drama, and romance, the heart of this story is about an unbreakable group of friends. It's wonderful to see people finding that same kind of friendship through the stories we get to tell, and I hope you'll carry your memories of these characters with you for a long time. I know we all will!
Finally, what's next for The Royal Romance team? And of course, what's next for The Royal Romance series?
Jennifer: Onwards and upwards! I'm turning my attention to a different project for the time being. As for the future of TRR, while we haven't definitively planned anything after Book 3, we do feel there's more story to tell, so it might not quite be curtains for these characters...
Kara: We've promised that you'll see these characters again, and you will! Now that Book 3 is wrapped up, Jennifer, Olivia, and I will be brainstorming and working hard to figure out what form that will take. Whatever comes next, we want to make sure we have an exciting, fun, and new story to tell. But unfortunately, it could be months or even a year or more before we'll be able to release something, so please hang in there, and play all the other amazing stories coming out in Choices in the meantime! If you love and miss TRR, the best thing you can do is keep supporting Choices the way you have been: Leaving 5 star reviews, sharing the game with your friends... and trusting that we're hellbent on making whatever comes next even more awesome!
Olivia: As Kara mentioned, I'll be working with her and Jennifer on whatever the future of these characters may be. We can't share any details yet, but just know that we'll do our very best to make it a worthy new chapter in the Choices universe! In the meantime, I'll also be writing for America's Most Eligible, which serves up a very different kind of drama than what we've seen in Cordonia.
Meagan: I'll continue to work in the realm of courtly romance and intrigue as a writer for Desire and Decorum! I'm going to miss Riley, Liam, Hana, Drake, Maxwell, Bertrand, Olivia, and the rest of the TRR crew, and I can't wait to see what they get up to in the next chapter of their story, whatever that may be.
Jeffrey: I’m moving onto a top secret undisclosed project about [redacted] and lots and lots of [redacted] with a side helping of [redacted].
That's all for The Royal Romance (for now!). When we've got concrete news about the future of this series, we'll let you know. But for now, we hope you'll stay tuned for what's coming this fall: The Senior, Big Sky Country, It Lives 2 (real title still to come...), High School Story, and perhaps a magical adventure...