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Exclusive Interview: Lindsey Duga Talks KISS OF THE ROYAL

Lindsey Duga flips a fairy tale trope on its head in KISS OF THE ROYAL!

In Lindsey Duga‘s upcoming novel Kiss of the Royal, the Forces of Darkness are ravaging the warrior protectors known as Royals despite their keen fighting skills and magic abilities.

Specifically bred to be take-no-prisoners badasses, these Royals are unlike anything you’ve seen before. Princess Ivy possesses a magic that fuels her and can also strengthen other warriors if transferred to them via kiss. Prince Zach has never received a magic kiss and still remains the fiercest warrior out there. Ivy knows that combining their powers might be the key to defeating the Forces of Darkness, but Zach refuses. Is it about proving himself or is it something else?

Thanks to Entangled Teen, we had an opportunity to chat with Lindsey about Ivy and Zach’s push-and-pull romance, twisting up a fairy tale trope, and creating an all-out war! Take a look below!

What were your earliest inspirations for Kiss of the Royal?

With the whole magic system in this world based off “magic kisses”, fairy tales were naturally a huge inspiration. In fact, I really wanted this book to feel like a fairy tale in its own right, or more like a fairy tale spin-off. It’s like what would happen if seven hundred years after Snow White and Sleeping Beauty had their magic kisses mass-produced. Everyone would be using the magic kiss until the “magic” of true love itself was lost. That idea was so fascinating to me and I loved taking that concept and running with it. The history of the world is also derived from one of my favorite childhood fairytales: Snow White and Rose Red.

The other big inspiration, which ultimately sparked the dynamic between my two main characters, was the 2008 romantic comedy, 27 Dresses. During the planning of her sister’s wedding, Jane is forced to work with a cynical wedding columnist. Jane believes in the beauty of marriage while the reporter is seemingly jaded when it comes to love. Their interactions and arguments were a great source of inspiration for my two characters, Ivy and Zach. In my book though, the genders are reversed, so the boy is the hopeless romantic while the girl is the logic-minded realist.

Tell us a bit about the rich fantasy world you built and the war within!

To really talk about the world, I need to first explain how I came up with the big bad of the book: the Forces of Darkness. If anyone ever watched the tv show Sailor Moon you might recognize the term “Negaverse”. Basically it’s this army full of evil aliens controlled by this evil queen…sound familiar? What was so alluring about the Negaverse was its refreshing simplicity. The evil aliens were evil–it was just that straight-forward. Since I already knew the concept of magic battle kisses would be kind of difficult to wrap your head around, I wanted something that wasn’t hard to follow or understand. So the idea of an army of monsters came to be. How I tried to make it unique was the backstory and origin behind how the evil itself was born.

Besides the war against the evil monsters, there is also another clash between two sides: people who believe in love, and people who don’t. This was probably one of the hardest world-building concepts to explain, and I did it through showing a very rigid distinction between Lust and Love. Lust, of course dealt with procreation, but it’s also defined by a lack of any real emotional feelings, while Love is irrational, emotional, and illogical. You might find that I tried to embody the traits of these two beliefs in Ivy and Zach.

What would you say Ivy and Zach’s biggest strengths and weaknesses are?

Well, they are both crazy stubborn. But I’m pretty sure the plot wouldn’t exist if they weren’t! Strangely enough though, their stubbornness proves time and again that it can be both a strength and weakness.

Zach’s weakness comes from his past. He’s got a lot of guilt, which sometimes makes him independent and reckless, often leading them into dangerous situations. For Ivy, one of her biggest weaknesses is her insecurities, which come from a very raw source. Not to mention, literally the weight of the world is on her shoulders and she’s constantly worrying if she’s strong enough or powerful enough to save it.

Even if she’s plagued by insecurities, Ivy still faces her mountain-load of responsibilities head-on. She doesn’t run from them or try to hide, and tries her absolute best in whatever she must do. Zach’s hidden strength is his sheer force of will and powerful resolve. Throughout the chapters, he’s constantly tempted to give in to something that he wants more than almost anything, but he puts aside his own wants for the greater good.

Ivy and Zach butt heads, but there’s clearly something special about their relationship. What do you think makes them so good together?

It was always important to me that, while they are different in almost every way, Ivy and Zach are still equals. One doesn’t try to overpower the other by force, and instead they use logic or emotion to persuade each other to believe in their side. Despite their differences, they also find very painful similarities in one another, and that makes them vulnerable. Some of the best scenes, in my opinion, are the ones where they are raw, open, and honest about what they want.

I think they work because even when they see each other’s worst qualities and fears, they still respect each other. They still admire each other.

Which other characters did you love dreaming up along the way?

Ivy’s page, Bromley. Hands down. Brom was absolutely my favorite character to write. At first, he just started out as a plot device. He was there to carry messages and get Ivy from one scene to the next. Then he began to transform into this sweet, impossibly brave kid. Not only does he see Ivy as a big sister or a mother figure, but he also admires her and believes in her. Brom’s true allegiance isn’t to the Royals, but to Ivy alone.

He’s also Zach and Ivy’s biggest cheerleader. He totally shipped them before anyone else did.

What’s your writing process like?

I like to let my idea for a book germinate in my head for a few months before putting even one sentence on paper. During this period, I listen to a lot of new music that I feel matches the tone and genre of the story. A lot of my favorite scenes in books are those that I created as music videos for a certain song!

For drafting, I’m typically a connect-the-dot/constellation writer, which is a little different than a pantser or an outliner. While I don’t know what’s going to happen in every scene of every chapter, I do have plot points that I know I need to hit. How I get to those points is the fun spontaneous part.

I’m also a huge reviser. I’m pretty sure my very first novel was up to thirteen versions. That number has progressively dropped with each book because I’ve learned and grown as a writer. But I’m pretty sure there will always be two or three versions before I consider it ready to send to even my agent. 

This is your debut novel. What are some of the big things you’ve learned about the publishing process along the way?

As most writers already know, publishing is a giant waiting room. It’s reminiscent to the agony of sitting in the DMV waiting for your number to be called, while only to discover that you forgot the one item you need to make the change on your license. It’s no one’s fault of course, it’s just that it takes time to read an entire book, gather feedback, and then have it executed. I like to make the most of that time and have various projects in various stages. One is with a critique partner, one is in draft mode, another is about to be submitted…that way it feels like I am still moving even if I’m on a treadmill.

One big thing is the amount of people and steps there are behind the scenes that you still don’t really see even as a soon-to-be published author. Once I got to go through the actual process, I thought, surely now I’ll understand what it takes to publish a book, but the truth is that there’s a lot I still don’t understand. For instance, how covers are created and approved by Barnes & Noble, or how book blurbs are written, or all the teams of people and readers that read your book and give feedback. There is so much that goes into it that I think my head would explode if I learned everything, which just makes me even more grateful that I enjoyed my publishing process so much. I really adore my editor, Lydia Sharp, and the whole Entangled Teen team. They made what could’ve been a really stressful journey into everything I’d hoped it would be.

Kiss of the Royal hits bookshelves on July 3, 2018. You can preorder a copy now for just $5.99 via…

Amazon | B&N | iBooks | Indiebound | Kobo | Entangled Publishing


In the war against the Forces of Darkness, the Royals are losing. Princess Ivy is determined to end this centuries-long conflict once and for all, so her new battle partner must succeed where the others failed. Prince Zach’s unparalleled skill with a sword, enhanced by Ivy’s magic Kiss, should make them an unstoppable pair—but try convincing Zach of that.

Prince Zach has spent his life preparing for battle, but he would rather be branded a heretic than use his lips as nothing more than a way to transfer magic. A kiss is a symbol of love, and love is the most powerful weapon they have—but try convincing Ivy of that.

With the fate of their world on the line, the battlefield has become a testing ground, and only one of them can be right. Falling for each other wasn’t part of the plan—but try convincing their hearts of that.


Lindsey Duga is a middle grade and young adult writer with a passion for fantasy, science fiction, and basically any genre that takes you away from the real world. She wrote her first novel in college while she was getting her bachelor’s in Mass Communication from Louisiana State University.

Other than writing and cuddling with her morkie puppy, Delphi, Lindsey loves catching up on the latest superhero TV show and practicing yoga.

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

By Kait

Kait is a New Englander, a YA book and adaptation lover, and a Slythindor, as well as a red velvet and red wine enthusiast. She likes to like things. Catch her on Twitter: @kaitmary