We are very happy to be part of the blog tour for His Royal Hopeless, the debut novel from Chloë Perrin, published by Chicken House. We heard that Chloë had been brought up in North Wales so were keen to support them and find out more.
His Royal Hopeless is funny, tender and wise, centering on Robbie – the heir to the Sinistevils – the most wicked dynasty in the world. He can’t wait to pledge his heart to the menacing power of the family Sceptre and embark on his bloodthirsty future. The thing is, Robbie is … well … nice. And when he discovers his heart has been swapped for clockwork, he’s incapable of believing Mother had dark intentions. Instead, he embarks on a quest to retrieve his heart, claim his wicked destiny, and secure Mother’s pride at last. But Mother has other ideas …
Billed as ‘Despicable Me’ meets ‘The Descendants’, this is a fun and absorbing fairy tale from a new voice in middle-grade fiction.
What are you reading at the moment?
I’m reading The Peculiar Tale of the Tentacle Boy by Richard Pickard at the moment – it’s an offbeat adventure about a girl and a mysterious boy with tentacles for hair and crab claws for hands. It’s really heartfelt, funny and wonderfully twisted (all my favourite things in a book).
What are your favourite books?
I absolutely LOVE Terry Pratchett and the Discworld series, his “fantasy-gone-wrong” tone really influenced me as a writer! I also love Diana Wynne Jones’ Howl’s Moving Castle, for the wonderful and hilarious characters but also for the complete Welsh-ness of it all.
Where and when do you write? Do you have a routine?
My writing routine is woefully non-existent!! I tend to end up writing in any spare moment I have, usually late at night fuelled by dangerous amounts of coffee and toast (would not recommend).
What was your journey to publication?
My journey to publication was quite a fun one. I entered His Royal Hopeless in the Times Chicken House competition in 2019 and was longlisted, which was amazing! However, when I didn’t make the shortlist I assumed HRH’s journey was over for the time being- until I got a phone call from Chicken House saying that while HRH wasn’t right for the competition they still wanted to have a chat about it. A coffee-shop meeting and several panicked emails to my university lecturers with the subject header “what do I do what do I do???” later, and HRH was on its way to publication!
You are a “North Walian writer who currently lives in London”. Tell us about your Welsh upbringing.
I grew up in the tourist town of Llandudno and lived there for most of my life. Llandudno isn’t such a rural area but there’s still mountains whichever way you look, castle ruins down the road and wild goats wandering the streets completely nonplussed by the people. And, of course, there’s Snowdon, Yr Wyddfa, less than an hour away. I love the history you see walking around London, but nothing will beat the wildness of North Wales for me.
Does Wales or coming from Wales, have any influence on your writing?
I think all the things I mentioned about North Wales in the previous question pretty much set me up to write fantasy-adventure stories. The fact that Robbie and Layla need to traverse through deep forests and treacherous mountains is a very Welsh influence on HRH. I also used to work as a storyteller, which involved reciting Welsh folklore by heart, and the constant practice of retelling exciting and often frightening stories about castles and magic and devious villains really moulded what I’d eventually end up writing down.
In His Royal Hopeless, there is an optimistic message for readers about forging your own path and accepting yourself for who you are. How deliberate and planned was this?
Without giving anything away, I always wanted HRH to be a book about understanding yourself in spite of what the world around you is telling you to be, so it was very deliberate. The optimism, I went back and forth on- I appreciate children’s books that give layers of reality to the lessons they teach, and I definitely didn’t want to completely sugar coat the ending of HRH. Hopefully I struck the right balance, but we’ll see what people think!
What are your hopes for His Royal Hopeless?
I hope that HRH will give perspective to people who may be in Robbie’s situation without realising it. It’s SO easy for us to get stuck trying to be something that’s actually harming us, and no one is immune to Robbie’s level of obliviousness. But honestly, I’ll just be happy if the readers laugh at the jokes!
What’s the best piece of writing advice you have received?
Have projects ready. They don’t need to be polished, but when competitions start calling for submissions you don’t want to be stuck with only a third of a first draft to hand.
The book is brilliantly illustrated by George Ermos, including some internal illustrations. What were your thoughts when you first saw them?
I ADORED them!! My biggest anxiety around HRH wasn’t “what if people don’t like it?”, but “what if it has a bad cover?” The moment I was told George Ermos was designing it, however, I never had that worry again. I was honestly stunned by the final design. George Ermos has done an absolutely amazing job. And Robbie’s crown! I very much want that crown.
Could you recommend any other books for those who enjoy His Royal Hopeless?
The books I mentioned before – any of Pratchett’s middle grade work or Diana Wynne Jones’ Howl’s Moving Castle. I wouldn’t dare put myself on their level but we do share a “this is fantasy but not quite how you remember it” tone I know children will love. Also, they’re hilarious.
Do you have any other projects on the horizon?
A few little things, but I’ll also be starting my Creative Writing MA at Brunel University London this year so I’m going to be busy either way!
What question have we forgotten to ask you?
What my favourite sweet is, and it’s Terry’s Chocolate Oranges. And yes, if you see me in the street you should definitely hand me one and I will graciously accept it.
HIS ROYAL HOPELESS by Chloë Perrin is out now in paperback (£6.99, Chicken House), available from all good bookshops including your local independent store.
Thank you to Chloë for answering our questions. Follow Chloë on Instagram @chloeperrin_author and Twitter @ChloePerrinUK