I’m the daughter of Romeo and Juliet.
Yes, that Romeo and Juliet. The one that Shakespeare wrote about.
No, they didn’t die in the tomb. Rumors of their deaths were greatly exaggerated. In fact, they’re alive and well and the parents of seven kids. I’m the oldest, with the emphasis on ‘old’—a certified spinster at twenty, and happy to stay that way. It’s not easy to keep your taste for romance with parents like mine. Picture it—constant monologues, passionate declarations, fighting, making up, making out . . . it’s exhausting.
…This smart-aleck female is my newest creation, Rosie Montague (Rosaline if I’m in trouble), and the book is A DAUGHTER OF FAIR VERONA, coming June 25, 2024 in hardcover, eBook and audiobook.
The whole thing is Susan Elizabeth Phillips’s fault.
Or maybe Jayne Ann Krentz’s.
Probably my daughter Arwen is the one most to blame. Or to praise. It depends on how you look at it. Let’s start there.
I was brainstorming with Arwen (yes, the whole family brainstorms plots and titles with me) and I said, “I’d like to write a book that springs off of a story so iconic everyone knows it without having it explained, like Pride and Prejudice or —”
She said, “The Daughter of Romeo and Juliet.”
I said, as does every single person who hears it, “Romeo and Juliet are dead.”
Okay, here’s the problem with that. They were never alive. Shakespeare’s play is fiction… I guess you knew that, huh?
Needless to say, Arwen is staring at me like I’ve lost my mind, I get a grip on reality, and we chat about the idea. I sit down and write the first four pages so easily it’s as if Rosie has been lurking in my mind fully formed.
Then I put it away, because like Rosie, I’m a sensible person (see below) and this is like nothing I’ve ever written before. It’s like nothing anyone has written before. Not in a bad way, I hasten to add, but publishers and readers hesitate to leap on new ideas.
Next…Susan Elizabeth Phillips.
Do you know Susan Elizabeth Phillips? She’s the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the upcoming SIMPLY THE BEST, the latest in her wildly popular and groundbreaking Chicago Stars series. To put it simply, Susan invented Sports Romance. That’s why she’s #1.
If you follow Susan on social media (I recommend it) you know she’s also funny, opinionated, kind, encouraging, clear-spoken, opinionated…did I say opinionated? 😀
ANYWAY, one day after she, Jayne Ann Krentz and I had been exchanging witty emails, she emailed privately to say, “You’re funny. You should write romantic comedy.”
I wrote back and threw a verbal tantrum. Because I’m, as I said, sensible. I ranted about how I already wrote three genres (or four, depending on how you look at it) (suspense, paranormal, historical, romantic suspense) my readers are already confused, and what in the name of all that’s holy would I write another genre?
Then I walked around the kitchen for a couple of minutes, remembered THE DAUGHTER OF ROMEO AND JULIET, and wrote back, asking, “How do you write romantic comedy?”
She wrote back, “1. Boy meets girl. 2. Boy and girl fall in love and battle while having witty dialogue. 3. Boy and girl live happily ever after. Duh.”
I think we can all agree the “Duh,” was what forced me to write back and ask, “If it’s so easy, why don’t you write faster?”
And she wrote back and called me a bad name.
I was shocked. Shocked, I tell you.
I called New York Times bestseller Jayne Ann Krentz, author of the upcoming THE NIGHT ISLAND and as you recall, my cohort in law-breaking book promotion, and confessed all. She has that effect on me. She says, “Hello,” and everything thought in my brain spills from my mouth. In this case, after the spillage, she said, “Send us the pages.” Which was a direct command and you know how intimidating Jayne is.
Okay, maybe not. Maybe Rosie Montague was kicking my subconscious saying, “Hey! Pay attention! I’m here!”
Per instruction, I shipped off the four pages to Susan and Jayne…and they, individually and together, were encouraging. They told me I had to write the book. Most important, they told me they laughed. Nothing works on me like someone laughing at my humor.
So I did write the book.
I called it THE DAUGHTER OF ROMEO AND JULIET and it was easy to write. Easy to write! I have never said that in my whole life. Some stories are easier to tell than others, but I take the job seriously and it takes much plotting and sweating and rewriting and editing to satisfy me, and THE DAUGHTER OF ROMEO AND JULIET was easy to write?!?
I fell into Rosie’s character, I knew Romeo and Juliet (don’t we all?) and, (according to my publisher) the story “blends irresistible mystery, a wicked sense of comedy, my trademark plot twists, a swoony romance subplot, and an incorrigibly determined heroine into a delightful confection that will draw in readers of historical fiction, feminist women’s fiction, mysteries, historical romance, and young adult.”
I sent it to my agent who said something about, “When I picked myself up off the floor…” and proceeded to sell it and two more books in the series to visionary John Scognamiglio at Kensington Books.
Kensington renamed it A DAUGHTER OF FAIR VERONA and they’re excited about the Daughter of Montague series. I’m thrilled with the plans they have to promote it. The cover they created does not merely catch the eye; it’s fun to study, to look at the symbols and realize how it all ties together with the legend.
COVER REVEAL! ⬇
Kensington is planning book boxes and stickers and…we’re going to be serving up so much fun!
Book 2 (untitled) is done. (Think Hamlet, with a sarcastic ghost.) It was also easy to write!! Book 3 is plotted and I’m working on it and the next suspense (also untitled) at the same time. Yes, I am having too much fun. 😊
I asked myself, why are these Daughter of Montague books so easy to write?
It took me a bit to figure out, but—it’s how I write to you. Like me, Rosie chats about her life, her parents, her siblings and at the same time, she’s living an experience in her own life; an experience that starts with another betrothal for her and ends in…murder. (See above: mystery.) Daughter Arwen read the synopsis and when she saw who the killer was, she scribbled in the margin, “Holy shit!”
So there you have it. If you love my newsletters, you’ll love A DAUGHTER OF FAIR VERONA. Read the summary, read the excerpt, read the early reviews (two are from Susan Elizabeth Phillips and Jayne Ann Krentz, who both read the entire manuscript and officially said Very Nice Things) and please pre-order your copy.
Susan said, “First I smiled, then I chuckled, then I laughed out loud. It’s fresh, audacious, and altogether captivating.”
Jayne said, “I loved it! A DAUGHTER OF FAIR VERONA is the ultimate fan fiction.”
More to come soon. I’ll keep the next letter shorter and less exclamation points-filled. 😊 I’ll also ask for your help with the beautiful new Daughter of Montague website. Trust me. The next year is going to be fun!
New York Times bestselling author of
Many good books in many wonderful genres which if you haven’t read them all, you’ve got time before 2024 to catch up! 😊
Printable/downloadable booklist sorted by genre, series and in order.
Books by Series with covers and links.
Fairy tales don’t tell children dragons exist. They already know that. Fairy tales tell children dragons can be killed. — G. K. Chesterton