Today I am on the Blog Tour for The King is Dead and I am here with a guest post from the author for you all.
Before I share that though, here’s some information on the book.
Title: The King is Dead Author: Benjamin Dean Publisher: Simon and Schuster Published: 7th July 2022 Format: Paperback Source: N/A Summary: James has been a prince all his life, and since he was born, he’s been thrust into the spotlight as the first Black heir to the throne. But when his father dies unexpectedly, James is crowned king at the tender age of seventeen, and his life irrevocably changes.
When James’ boyfriend suddenly goes missing, threatening envelopes appear in the palace, and gossip and scandals that only he knows are leaked to the public. As the anonymous informant continues to expose every last skeleton in the royal closet, James realises even those in his inner circle can’t be trusted.
I’m often asked for my inspiration behind writing my YA debut, The King is Dead, and I usually give a similar response – I’m curious, for better or worse, by the monarchy, both what is presented on its surface and what might lie behind its front. Imagining what really happens behind the palace gates, especially in the face of public scandal, intrigues me. Although I usually prefer to mind my own business, I guess you could just call me nosy.
But one of my biggest inspirations behind writing the story of a young prince turned king, secretly gay and now the first Black monarch to sit on the British throne, was…well, me.
Let me explain! I’m not a vain narcissist, I promise. But, once I began to explore the idea of setting a story behind the gates of Buckingham Palace, I knew straight away that I wanted – needed – to create a new royal family, one that more closely resembled me and the communities I’m from or identify with. One of the things I enjoy most about being an author is placing Black and queer characters into positions of power and authority, and when I started to think of a new king taking the throne, I imagined what it would be like for a Black and queer heir to suddenly find himself wearing the crown.
Enter King James III, 17 years old and, reluctantly, the first Black king to wear the crown. He’s sensitive and introverted, always leads with his heart instead of his head, fiercely protective and loyal but scared of the duty and expectation that now weighs on his shoulders. He craves love above all else, a hand to hold so that he might find comfort and safety away from the whispers that threaten to reveal his secrets.
It was so important to me to write a character that is emotional and, in some ways, flawed, but also one who is growing in themselves and, crucially, learning how to stand in their power. I didn’t want to shy away from letting my characters make mistakes or be less than perfect, or to excuse them from the obstacles they might face in the real world as the first Black and queer king to sit on the British throne. But I also wanted readers to see this royal family experiencing happiness, to find strength rather than weakness in their most raw and vulnerable moments, to see them love and be loved in return. And I wanted, more than anything, for readers to find themselves in the pages of this story.
Writing characters who look and identify like me is an inspiration for my work and one I hold close to my heart. It always will be. So, long live this Black and queer royal family.