A big welcome to Jaxon Knight as they celebrate their new release Rival Princes.
The roller coaster route to Romance writing
I didn’t mean to ever be a romance writer. My last book released was a young adult novel about monster hunters, the last couple of books I wrote was about queer detectives in Auckland discovering magic is real. I’ve written about superheroes, a portal fantasy for kids and a couple of other things which may never see the light of day.
But here I am, publishing a romance novel. How did that happen?
Simply put, the Romance Writers Conference of New Zealand? It’s really, really, freaking inspiring. It’s a conference I’ve gone to a couple of times now because they have lots of excellent author speakers and panels, and workshops with practical advice on writing, marketing and publishing. Plus they have editors and agents you can pitch your work to. So, great conference, go to it if you can!
Last year’s conference hit me at a funny time. I was in the middle of a nasty restructure at work. I loved my job, I loved my team, and then I lost my job. It sucked, but I got a pretty good severance package which included some free sessions with a counselor and a couple of month’s pay.
My counselor talked me through the panic of losing my job, and we got to what my real passion was – writing. For most of my life, I’ve wanted to be a writer. Like Roald Dahl, J.K. Rowling or Stephen King. One of those big names who have writing fiction and producing novels as their whole job. Over the years, I’ve had knockbacks and disappointments with my writing, but that’s what I wanted to be doing with my life.
I had some money, I had no urgent need for another job – so I took the plunge and committed myself to write full time. But it took some planning.
If I want to make money from writing, I had to write to market. I had to write in a genre which had a lot of readers, a lot of people who read a lot. Romance was the obvious choice. I had insights from the conference and from friends who are writing romances. And I had the inkling of an idea…
I love to travel, and I love going to theme parks. Themeparks are amazing places where people come to have fun, and you are encouraged to believe in fantasy. A lot of the biggest parks in the world are designed to make you think you’re in another world, one where dreams can come true or where magic works. What better place to tell a story of love? I wrote this one line:
Themeparks are all about buying into the experience and immersing yourself in a fantasy. What fantasy do you want to make come true?
So my premise for the romance series was Fairyland: a fairy tale inspired amusement park with costumed characters. Like you might see at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter or Disneyland.
I wanted to write queer, because I am queer, and I want to see more stories where LGBTQIA folx get happy endings. And when I pitched my idea to my writing group: what if two theme park princes fell in love with each other? Well. They smiled, they clutched their hearts, their eyes went sparkly and dreamy. I knew that there’d be a market for this.
So, two days after I finished my last permanent job, I sat down with a beat sheet and wrote the outline to my first pure romance novel. My other novels all have romance in them, but it’s a minor plot, it’s not the point of the book. I brainstormed my characters, I assigned them Hogwarts houses. I sketched out some fun scenes, and then I started to write.
The thing which surprised me the most about writing Rival Princes was how much fun I had.
I shouldn’t have been surprised that I liked it. I’ve been watching Romantic Comedies my whole life, from Pretty Woman and The Princess Bride as a kid, through Four Weddings and a Funeral and My Best Friend’s Wedding as a teenager, 27 Dresses, Bridget Jones and more recently: Love, Simon. I had marinated myself in love stories for decades.
Writing Nate and Dash’s story, I fell in love with my boys, and the secondary characters came alive and demanded their own stories. I was making notes about who would fall in love with who, which parts of Fairyland park would be settings for the next books. It was like I’d opened this vast well of ideas and inspiration that I didn’t know I had access to. The ideas flowed thick and fast and good. I finished Rival Princes in one month.
I shopped it around a little, and got some really lovely feedback on Twitter’s #kisspitch on Valentine’s Day, and had some interest from an editor in a large publishing house. Ultimately she decided to pass on it, but because it wouldn’t fit their list. She said really lovely things about my story and about the characters. It gave me the push to self publish. So, that’s how I got here.
I love writing romance, it turns out, and I’m super excited to get these stories out into the world. I hope the readers love my boys as much as I do!
There are three golden rules for new recruits at Fairyland Theme Park:
1. No breaking character, even if you’re dying of heat exhaustion
2. Always give guests the most magical time
3. No falling in love.
Nate’s only been working a day, and he’s already broken all three.
Fast-tracked into a Prince role, Nate’s at odds with Dash, the handsome not-so-charming prince who is supposed to be training him. Nate doesn’t know how he ended up on Dash’s bad side, but the broody prince sure is hot when he gets mad.
Dash has worked long and hard to play Prince Justice at Fairyland. Now, instead of focusing on his own performance, he is forced to train newbie Nate to be the perfect prince. Nate’s annoying ease with the guests coupled with his charm and good looks could dethrone Dash from his number one spot … so why does he secretly want to kiss him?
Fairyland heats up as sparks fly between the two rival princes. Will they get their fairytale romance before they’re kicked out of Fairyland for good?
Find out in this standalone MM contemporary romance by Jaxon Knight, set in an amusement park where fairytales can come true.
Jaxon Knight loves theme parks, Japanese food and happy ever afters. A non-binary author from New Zealand, Jaxon spends their days writing the sort of stories they’d like to read.