Putting the YA in FRIYAY: Penguin Teen Screen with Katharine McGee

If you’re looking for a fun thing to do tonight, join us and our friends at the Revue Cinema in a tweet-a-long! We’ll be watching the classic Amanda Bynes film, What a Girl Wants. Featuring a world where Colin Firth is an English lord running for Prime Minister and Amanda Bynes is his estranged daughter who grew up in the US, What a Girl Wants is an ideal teen movie – and it pairs perfectly with Katharine McGee’s American Royals.

We’re pleased to bring you a Q&A with Katharine ahead of the screening – keep reading for her thoughts on how Canada would fit into her reimagined world and who would play the conniving Daphne in a movie adaptation. And don’t forget to tune in tonight at 7pm EST – we’ll be tweeting too!

Given this is a film screening series, imagine American Royals is a film and give us your elevator pitch.
American Royals is Gossip Girl meets The Crown! It’s a fun, escapist story of romance, drama, family tensions and forbidden love set in a world where America has a royal family.

The seed of the idea behind the book comes from a real historical moment: American revolutionaries offering General George Washington the crown (which he refused). How much real American (and British) history went into the book? Is there a Canada in this alternate reality?
The worldbuilding was definitely one of my favorite parts of writing American Royals. I’m such a history nerd, I could have spent years teasing out all the what-ifs! I tried to acknowledge the real historical timeline whenever I could, such as mentioning that the British burned part of Washington Palace during the War of 1812 (in the real War of 1812, they burned the White House!).

I had such fun plans for Canada, but didn’t have space to get into them in the book. One of my favorite moments of British history has always been the Jacobite Rebellion—I have a soft spot for displaced royals trying to reclaim their thrones (I rooted for Daenerys throughout Game of Thrones!). In American Royals, I had hoped to rewrite history and send Bonnie Prince Charlie to Canada, making modern Canada an independent monarchy ruled by the descendants of the Stuarts. I pictured a brooding Stuart prince as one of Beatrice’s suitors at the Queen’s Ball!

The relationship between Princess Beatrice and her father is one the most engaging in the book. What drew you to this father-daughter dynamic?
One of the strangest parts of being the future king or queen is surely the fact that you spend your life training for a job you’ll only take on when your parent dies. It builds an extremely unusual conflict into the parent-child dynamic! I loved exploring this tension through Beatrice and the king. He is a dad talking to his oldest daughter, but at the same time a monarch addressing his second-in-command. And even though Beatrice adores her father, and would never want anything bad to happen to him, she will also never be fully empowered until he’s gone.

Daphne is ostensibly a villain, but her motives are entirely understandable and complex. What was it like writing Daphne?
This may surprise you, but Daphne is the easiest character to write! Every time I reach a new scene, I have to ask myself what my character wants and what she’s willing to do to get it. That can get muddled with some of the other characters—Samantha is often her own greatest obstacle, and Nina struggles to figure out what she wants—but with Daphne it’s inevitably so clear. What does she want? Prince Jefferson. What is she willing to do to win him? Anything.

The book was written before there were actual royals living in America. How does the context of the book change now that there is an American Royal, Meghan Markle?
I actually started working on this concept back in 2012, before Harry and Meghan were dating! I always knew that there would be an “everygirl” character who fell into a romance with the prince. More recently, when I started the first draft, I found myself working parts of Harry and Meghan’s relationship into the pages: particularly since Nina, like Meghan, is a person of color. The criticism that Nina faces from the media echoes many of the headlines about Harry and Meghan.

Americans have been fascinated by all the trappings of monarchy, the palaces and tiaras and big ceremonial occasions, because we don’t have any of our own. But I do think that Harry and Meghan have sparked a renewed flood of American interest in the royal family. Now that we have a duchess living on the west coast, the concept of my book doesn’t feel quite as far-fetched as it once did.

If you had to cast a film of American Royals, who would be your dream Beatrice, Samantha, and Jefferson?
This is such a hard question! I don’t know who I would cast as the royal siblings, but I could see Madelaine Petsch (Cheryl from Riverdale!) as Daphne—I think she’d capture both her ruthlessness and her surprising vulnerability. Also, I frequently have readers reach out asking if I can cast one of the Hemsworth brothers as Connor!

Without giving too much away, what can readers expect to see in the sequel, coming this fall?
Majesty has more of everything! More drama, more romance, more secrets coming to light. You’ll also see some fun new corners of the American Royals world.

When is the last time you saw What a Girl Wants? How do you think it connects to American Royals?
I love What a Girl Wants! I’ll watch anything with Colin Firth (he’ll always be Mr. Darcy in my mind… sorry Matthew Macfadyen). Like American Royals, What a Girl Wants follows a young woman struggling to figure out who she is, despite what the world expects of her. It’s got romance, family drama, and social commentary, set in a world of ballrooms, titles, and glittering tiaras.

***

American Royals
By Katharine McGee
448 Pages | Ages 14+
ISBN 9781984830173 | Random House BFYR

When America won the Revolutionary War, its people offered General George Washington a crown. Two and a half centuries later, the House of Washington still sits on the throne. Like most royal families, the Washingtons have an heir and a spare. A future monarch and a backup battery. Each child knows exactly what is expected of them. But these aren’t just any royals. They’re American.

Two princesses vying for the ultimate crown. Two girls vying for the prince’s heart. This is the story of the American royals.

KATHARINE MCGEE: website | instagram | twitter

Can’t make it tonight? Don’t worry, you’ll have plenty of chances to catch up with the Penguin Teen Canada team and talk YA books – check out our full schedule of #PenguinTeenSocial events coming up this month!

Putting the YA in FRIYAY: Staff Picks

The holidays are over but you still have time to hit up a bookstore before 2020 rolls around! In case you need some inspiration for your next read, here’s what our team loved in 2019:

Vikki VanSickle, Associate Director, Marketing & Publicity

The Fountains of Silence
By Ruta Sepetys
ISBN 9780399160318
Ages 12+ | Philomel Books

Ruta Sepetys once again shines light into one of history’s darkest corners in this epic, heart-wrenching novel about identity, unforgettable love, repercussions of war, and the hidden violence of silence–inspired by the true postwar struggles of Spain.

The Secret Commonwealth (Book of Dust, Volume 2)
By Philip Pullman
ISBN 9780553510669
Ages 14+ | Knopf BFYR

The windows between the many worlds have been sealed and the momentous adventures of Lyra Silvertongue’s youth are long behind her—or so she thought.

Sylvia Chan, Manager, Marketing & Publicity

American Royals
By Katharine McGee
ISBN 9781984830173
Ages 14+ | Random House BFYR

Two princesses vying for the ultimate crown. Two girls vying for the prince’s heart. This is the story of the American royals.

The Starlight Claim
By Tim Wynne-Jones
ISBN 9781536202649
Ages 14+ | Candlewick

Fast-paced, evocative, and intensely suspenseful, Tim Wynne-Jones’s latest psychological thriller finds a teenager setting his wits against the frigid wilderness and a menacing crew of escapees.

Evan Munday, Publicity Manager

The Grey Sisters
By Jo Treggiari
ISBN 9780735262980
Ages 12+ | Penguin Teen Canada

Two years after a deadly plane crash, best friends D and Spider head into the mountains to face their grief and find more than they bargained for.

Aurora Rising
By Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
ISBN 9781524720964
Ages 12+ | Knopf BFYR

The year is 2380, and the graduating cadets of Aurora Academy are being assigned their first missions. Star pupil Tyler Jones ends up with the dregs…not to mention Aurora Jie-Lin O’Malley, the girl he’s just rescued from interdimensional space.

Samantha Devotta, Associate Publicist

Chicken Girl
By Heather Smith
ISBN 9780143198680
Ages 12+ | Penguin Teen Canada

Poppy used to be an optimist…until she’s cyber-bullied. Then she takes refuge in her job (wearing a feathered chicken suit) before meeting a little girl who changes the way she thinks.

House of Salt and Sorrows
By Erin A. Craig
ISBN 9781984831927
Ages 12+ | Delacorte Press

As one by one her beautiful sisters mysteriously die on their isolated island estate, Annaleigh must unravel the curse that haunts her family.

Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram @penguinteenca for more recommendations in 2020 … see you next year!

Putting the YA in FRIYAY: Indigo’s Best Books for Teens

A while back, Indigo released their 2019 Best Books for Teens list, and we’re stoked to see so many of our faves made the cut! There are books that were on our #Penguin10 list, as well as a few that were included in our #FantasyFriday and #SciFiSaturday campaigns (and even one that was part of #IRLWednesday!), not to mention some we just love in general! How many have you read?

Frankly in Love
By David Yoon
ISBN 9781984812209
14+ | Putnam BFYR

Two friends. One fake dating scheme. What could possibly go wrong? In this moving debut novel, David Yoon takes on the question of who am I? with a result that is humorous, heartfelt, and ultimately unforgettable.

Two Can Keep a Secret
By Karen M. McManus
ISBN 9781524714727
14+ | Delacorte Press

Echo Ridge is small-town America. Ellery’s never been there, but she’s heard all about it. Her aunt went missing there at age seventeen. And only five years ago, a homecoming queen put the town on the map when she was killed. Now Ellery has to move there – and suddenly another girl goes missing.

Wilder Girls
By Rory Power
ISBN 9780525645580
14+ | Delacorte Press

A feminist Lord of the Flies about three best friends living in quarantine at their island boarding school, and the lengths they go to uncover the truth of their confinement when one disappears.

Spin the Dawn
By Elizabeth Lim
ISBN 9780525646990
12+ | Knopf BFYR

Project Runway meets Mulan in this sweeping fantasy about a young girl who poses as a boy to compete for the role of imperial tailor and embarks on an impossible journey to sew three magic dresses, from the sun, the moon, and the stars.

Aurora Rising
By Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
ISBN 9781524720964
12+ | Knopf BFYR

The year is 2380, and the graduating cadets of Aurora Academy are being assigned their first missions. Star pupil Tyler Jones is ready to recruit the squad of his dreams, but he’s stuck with the dregs nobody else in the academy would touch…not to mention Aurora Jie-Lin O’Malley, the girl he’s just rescued from interdimensional space.

The Beautiful
By Renée Ahdieh
ISBN 9781524738174
12+ | Putnam BFYR

New York Times bestselling author Renée Ahdieh returns with a sumptuous, sultry and romantic new series set in 19th century New Orleans where vampires hide in plain sight.

The Secret Commonwealth (Book of Dust, Volume 2)
By Philip Pullman
ISBN 9780553510669
14+ | Knopf BFYR

The windows between the many worlds have been sealed and the momentous adventures of Lyra Silvertongue’s youth are long behind her—or so she thought.

Four Dead Queens
By Astrid Scholte
ISBN 9780525513926
12+ | Putnam BFYR

Seventeen-year-old Keralie Corrington may seem harmless, but she’s, in fact, one of Quadara’s most skilled thieves and a liar who soon finds herself entangled in a conspiracy that leaves the four queens of Quadara dead.

The Things She’s Seen
By Ambelin Kwaymullina and Ezekiel Kwaymullina
ISBN 9781984848789
12+ | Knopf BFYR

Nothing’s been the same for Beth Teller since the day she died. Her dad is the only one who can see her and she needs his help to solve a mystery and get him out of his grief.

Blood Heir
By Amélie Wen Zhao
ISBN 9780525707790
12+ | Delacorte Press

This hot debut, perfect for fans of Shadow and Bone and An Ember in the Ashes, is the first book in an epic new series about a princess hiding a dark secret and the con man she must trust to clear her name for her father’s murder.

How to Make Friends with the Dark
By Kathleen Glasgow
ISBN 9781101934753
14+ | Delacorte Press

That’s how it feels for Tiger. It’s always been Tiger and her mother against the world. Then, on a day like any other, Tiger’s mother dies. And now it’s Tiger, alone.

American Royals
By Katharine McGee
ISBN 9781984830173
14+ | Random House BFYR

Two princesses vying for the ultimate crown. Two girls vying for the prince’s heart. This is the story of the American royals.

Gravemaidens
By Kelly Coon
ISBN 9780525647829
14+ | Delacorte Press

The start of a fierce fantasy duology about three maidens who are chosen for their land’s greatest honor…and one girl determined to save her sister from the grave.

 

Putting the YA in FRIYAY: Introducing the Penguin 10

Calling all YA readers! We’re excited to introduce you to the only books you need to read this fall – the PENGUIN 10! From contemporary to fantasy, thriller to historical, we have something for everyone and we can’t wait to share these fantastic reads with you starting in September.

Follow along on social media using #Penguin10 to see what other people think!

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