Please welcome Nicole Murphy to Delighted Reader to talk about her new book, Loving the Prince.
Loving the Prince is my sixth novel to come out but it’s actually the first novel I ever wrote. Or at least attempted to write. I don’t think I ever finished that first version of it, but then I was 14 years old and I knew NOTHING about story, I just wanted to write.
That was 30 years ago. Over the years, the story of Cassandra Wiltmore, her family and her lover Kernan Radaton has taken many forms. Sometimes it’s been pure romance. Sometimes it’s been a family saga. Sometimes it’s been action adventure.
I could never find the right story to bring Cassandra to the world, but I couldn’t give up on her. Cassandra is a part of my psyche, created during one of the most important periods of my life. Along with my love of space opera films, epic fantasy novels and Duran Duran, Cassandra has been one of the constants of my existence since I was young.
Last year, it all finally came into shape. The story for Cassandra and Kernan to meet and fall in love was a business-set espionage thriller, with beatings and kidnaps and amnesia.
The character of Cassandra has not really changed over all those years – she’s still feisty, adventurous, loyal and loving. She’s also always been royalty – my homage to the ultimate space princess, Leia Organa.
After all these decades with her in my life, it’s bitter-sweet that she’s finally out there in the world. I’ve no longer got any reason to go back to her story, to try again to find the perfect moment for she and Kernan to meet and fall in love. Good thing there’s been the two sequels to write – Cassandra’s twin sister Diana’s story is next, and the final story features Cassandra’s nemesis Plissa Waltric finding her path to true love.
And who knows? Maybe Cassandra and I will meet up again, and our relationship will be different. It won’t be about establishing her life and her happiness any more, but seeing how she is as a mature, sophisticated ruler.
I’d like that.
Here’s one of my favourite parts of the book. Another thing that’s really not changed from the early days is Cassandra’s problem with a fellow royal – Grendon, Great Youson of Flactor. Grendon’s been obsessed with her since they met as children – Cassandra can’t stand him. But Grendon is completely oblivious to her real feelings, and is into public demonstrations of what he believes is their mutual passion. The result – well, I find it very amusing J
Cassandra frowned. “What do you…” Then her eyes widened as memories shifted into place. “Oh peace, it’s the tenth of Manamary, isn’t it?”
Eorin’s smile widened so much that Cassandra was sure the sides of his mouth must hurt. “Yes it is.”
“What has he done now?”
Cassandra hoped Kernan had already left but no, he was waiting outside and fell into step next to Eorin, behind her.
With trepidation, she approached the main entrance to the RBMC building. It slid open and a cacophony of sound assaulted her ears.
She stepped outside, shielding her eyes from the sun and blinked to focus. Then her insides wanted to curl up and her legs wanted to run away – fast and far.
Before her was a ten-piece band with a variety of stringed instruments and two horns, all wearing horridly clashing bold colours. They were tuning up, and in the process had managed to gather quite a crowd.
“I think this is the best yet,” Eorin said.
Cassandra cast him a quick glare.
“What is this?” Kernan asked.
If Eorin answered, Cassandra didn’t hear because the band struck up the song. It blasted through the air, loud and strident. The band did a small, shuffling dance and in the process, some more people in the garish clothing came through them to stand at the front.
Oh Peace, it wasn’t just music – there was a song too.
“Cassandra, Cassandra, my one true love;
With beauty shining like a pure white dove;
It pains me dearly we must be apart;
But know I always hold you close in my heart;
Twenty years have passed since we first met;
Plenty of time to meet others and yet;
You still have a tight hold on my heart;
As you have from the beginning, right from the start;
I cannot wait until I can make you mine;
And we can be together all the time;
Until we can be, know this one great truth;
You are my true love, my guiding light, my
The choir sang it beautifully and the musicians played well, but the music written for them was discordant and the words…
Unfortunately, they sang it several times and Cassandra had to stand there and paste a false smile on her face and appear to be interested because Grendon would have spies watching and she had to respect the Great Youson, ruler of Flactor.
As much as she wanted to slap some sense into him.
When it was done, there was silence as the crowd tried to decide how to respond to such an appalling piece. A few gave some desultory claps, but overall the sense was one of astonishment.
Cassandra stepped forward. Addressing crowds wasn’t her favourite thing to do, but she understood her role in this.
“Musician and singer friends, what a wholly remarkable performance,” she said in a voice that carried across the crowd.
The man at the front of the band winced and Cassandra felt sympathy. He was probably a talented musician, forced to take this job because of the huge money on offer.
“Where are you from?” Cassandra asked.
“Rica, your highness. We were hired by the Great Youson of Flactor to bring this message of love to you on the anniversary of your first meeting.”
“You play very well,” Cassandra said. “Please, give your name to my protector and I will hire you for some other work.” His reward for having to sully his talent with that horrid music.
“The Great Youson asked that we report your words,” the musician said.
This was where it became tricky. She didn’t want to encourage Grendon, but she couldn’t insult him either. “Tell the Great Youson that I am touched by his regard and I am sure that when he finds a woman deserving of his love, his romantic gestures will make her very happy.”
With that, she turned and walked inside.