Almost Royalty is a really fun read about some really terrible people (and a few good ones). Courtney, the main character, is a witty narrator who prefers Velveeta to caviar and struggles with finding her place in a very complicated social landscape in L.A. Author Courtney Hamilton is so nice and funny and was able to answer some questions on where she got inspiration for these terrible dates, her favorite Velveeta recipe and more. Almost Royalty comes out May 28 and you can find it on Amazon. Thanks for talking with me, Courtney!
Before I ask you about the story: What has been your favorite part of the process of going from idea to finished book?
My favorite part of the writing process was that by creating this story, I was able to synthesize many ideas that have floated around my head and give them a cohesive framework. By writing “Almost Royalty,” I think I explained to myself what my subconscious was trying to tell me, which was: GET AWAY FROM THESE PEOPLE!!!!
What surprised you about writing the book?
I was surprised that I actually have a great time when I’m writing. I’m in the middle of writing Almost Royalty Book #2, and when I actually stop procrastinating and do it, I usually have a good time and laugh a lot.
I have to ask, what’s your favorite Velveeta recipe?
Velveeta Junior Pizza–you take a slice of bread, put some cut tomato slices on it, and put Velveeta slices over the tomatoes which you then place in a toaster oven or microwave, or whatever you use to melt cheese with. The Velveeta melts on the tomatoes–it tastes great. I also really like the Velveeta Chicken which I mention in Chapter 3. Unfortunately, we are on somewhat of a health kick in my household, so I’m not allowed to eat cheese-type foods too often, make that ever. BTW, it might interest you to know that some people have refused to read the book because Courtney eats Velveeta. I’m not kidding.
You share a name with the main character–how much of Almost Royalty, if any, was autobiographical?
I seem to be a magnet for insane people and outrageously bad behavior so a good portion of “Almost Royalty” was drawn from my real life.
Courtney went out with a lot of … interesting men. Were any of the terrible dates from real life inspiration–and can you tell us which ones?
L.A. is a very tough town for dating, so–as bad as many of the dates I describe are–they’re a fairly typical blend of what people experience when they date in L.A. Parts of almost every date I describe have happened to me. But honestly, the interesting thing about writing the book is the amount of people who have told me their bad date experiences. Some of them are so awful that the make mine look like a lovely picnic (with Velveeta) in an Alpine Meadow filled with wild flowers–they’re enough to make you decide that you will never, ever, attempt to meet another person. Which reminds me: In honor of the Official Publication Date of “Almost Royalty,” we are going to hold a “Describe Your Worst Date Ever” Contest starting on June 1, 2014. The top 3 winners will receive a signed, publication copy of “Almost Royalty”, a $10 Amazon Gift Card, and have their description of their “Worst Date Ever” featured on my blog, FB page, and Goodreads.com post.
Courtney’s home is styled a lot differently than the homes of the Ivy Elite. I especially liked the bright orange bean bag chairs at an Ivy Elite book club and the bathtub in the back yard garden, none of which you’d find in Courtney’s home. How do you think the decor added to the idea of being part of the elite?
The “Elite” home described in the Prologue was the home of a true B-Level, sort of the aspiring or true “almost royalty”– so they’ve pretty much overbought on their home and are in a cash-poor position. Courtney doesn’t really care about those things, so–when she visits their home, it’s as if she’s an anthropologist, trying to understand how this strange tribe lives. She’s not at all impressed with them and stunned that her friends are.
A big theme in the book is wanting to keep up appearances, often leading the characters to spend money they don’t have. Do you think “keeping up appearances” has been influenced by the recession, do people act the same way today?
I think that there will always be people who care about “keeping up appearances,” even if we are in the middle of a dystopic melt-down, and by that I mean something straight out of a zombie-filled future like “The Walking Dead.” Someone will always be creating some ridiculous hierarchy by which to compare themselves favorably to others, even if it’s “See, only the really good-looking Zombies try to eat me, but you get all of the scruffy ones” or “They gave me the large bomb shelter to live in, but you only got a medium.”
How has working in Hollywood influenced your story and characters?
I think that my stories have been influenced by working in Hollywood only to the extent that I’m not impressed with it and see Hollywood as just another industry. Truly, if I were living in Palo Alto, I would be writing about the “Almost Royalty” of that town–like that new Mike Judge show “Silicon Valley”, and if I were living in London, I’d probably be writing about their main industry, the Royal Family (specifically Duchess Kate, Princess William and baby George) and what it’s like to live among them, especially the disgruntled Almost Royalty–now that would be interesting, especially because we never get a contemporary show that portrays their lives, we only get something that happened almost 100 years ago, so no one gets upset. . .or sued.
And lastly, how will people be able to read Almost Royalty–where will it be available?
“Almost Royalty” will be available on May 28, 2014, on Amazon.
Thanks again, Courtney!