Guest Post: America’s Royal Obsession by J.L. Spohr, author of Heirs & Spares

Publisher: Plum Street Press

Publication Date: June 4, 2013

Order Links:  Amazon / Barnes & Noble

Synopsis: It’s 1569. Elizabeth I sits on the English throne, the Reformation inflames the Continent, and whispers of war abound.

But in Troixden, just north of France, the Lady Annelore isn’t interested in politics. Times are hard, taxes are high, and the people in her duchy need her help just to survive. Her widowed father is a good man easily distracted by horses, and her newly knighted childhood friend…well, he has plans of his own.

Then Annelore receives a call she can’t ignore.

When Troixden’s sadistic king died childless, his younger brother William returns from exile to find his beloved country on the brink of civil war. He’s in desperate need of the stability that comes with a bride and heirs. But Annelore, his chosen queen, won’t come quietly.

Now the future of Troixden lies in the hands of two people who never wanted the power they’ve received and never dreamed that from duty and honor they might find love and a path to peace.

Heirs & Spares is one part history, two parts palace plotting, and a whole lot of juicy romantic intrigue. Break out the spiced wine and sink in to this rousing read.

Author Bio: Jennie L. Spohr is the author of Heirs & Spares and several short stories. An incurable Anglophile/Europhile who has studied the trials and tribulations of royals since she watched Princess Diana take that long walk to the altar, she turned her attention to historical fiction and fictional monarchies after studying the Reformation in graduate school. When not writing, Spohr produces and hosts a popular podcast called The Kindlings Muse ( about ideas that matter in culture, including books, film, and music. She is an ordained minister and lives with her brood in Seattle.

Guest Post: America’s Royal Obsession

In 1981 I vividly remember lying on my stomach on our beige shag carpet, head in my hands, watching the constant loop of Princess Diana’s wedding to Prince Charles, fantasizing that I was one of the bevy of flower girls. I was too young, naïve and entranced to think there would be anything but bliss for this couple. My mom would buy every People Magazine with Diana in it and I’d read it cover to cover. I still have a Madame Alexandra doll of Di in her wedding gown and like Anne of Green Gables, I desperately wanted a dress with puffed sleeves. But why?

I mean really, why would I, as a child and still now, as an adult, care what a very wealthy, privileged woman in another country does with her time? My persistent curiosity about the royals is part of what drove me to write a novel about a royal marriage. It’s not as though I could emulate Diana, and it’s not as though I saw her as some sort of a role model. I didn’t find Prince Charles particularly attractive, so why? Did some part of me wish to be her?


And I’m certainly not alone in my obsession. Two-point-five-billion - yes, with a “b” - watched Princess Diana’s funeral and two billion watched Prince William and this generation’s “People’s Princess” Kate Middleton marry. And we can sense the rising tension of the worldwide media as Kate nears her due date, having to resign themselves to stories about where Kate’s been shopping and trolling the countryside for anyone who might be making baby-sized fascinators if the baby’s a girl.

But why? Why are we, especially we Americans, who had an entire war to get out from under the thumbs of royals, why are we still obsessed? Why does People continue to sell bazillions of copies if they put a royal on the cover?

It’s not just the wealth. There are plenty of wealthy people in America who take a back seat to the royals in our cultural zeitgeist. (Kardashian. Gesundheit.). It’s certainly not the fame – because who would want that, especially nowadays? Seriously, you would never, ever be able to wear yoga pants outside your door ever again without it showing up on some website. No one wants that.

There are cultural, economic and sociological reasons that I could expound upon—and bore you to tears. But I think the real reason is, deep down, we long for fairy tales, and kings and queens are key ingredients to fairy tales. They are the noble extension to the classic “hero’s journey” expounded upon by Joseph Campbell and played out in almost every fantasy and adventure novel on the market. Slaying dragons is fun, but for many of us it doesn’t get to heart of our longing. Yes, we want adventure, but we also long for a love story that plays out on a grand scale, in castles where maybe somewhere in the corners a fairy godmother is watching. A royal wedding—and a royal baby—delights the kid that still plays within us. I have never had as much fun as a writer as I did when I wrote Heirs & Spares, and got to sink into the story, to feel, see, and be royalty for 262 pages.

What draws us to this new royal baby watch is the same thing that draws us to love stories in our fiction: a hint of intrigue, the dream of living out a fairy tale in real life, complete with prancing horse carriages, glittering crowns, and promises of happily ever after. We are living our childhood fantasies vicariously through them.

And William and Kate have captured that spirit again. By all evidence, they actually love each other. And Kate, being not of noble blood, gives us that little jolt, like maybe – just maybe – if things turned out a bit differently, we could’ve been her. If only we’d had a fairy godmother.

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