Today I am so pleased to welcome Kenzie Blades to Joyfully Jay. Kenzie has come to talk to us about a new release, The Prince and the Pencil Pusher. Kenzie has also brought along copies to give away. Please join me in giving a big welcome!
Kenzie has written some questions and answers to share with us today!
5 Questions with Kenzie Blades about The Prince and the Pencil Pusher
Q: First things first: what attracted you to writing in this series?
A: I really love writing the royal falling in love with the commoner trope. Every romance reader has dreamed of a handsome princ(ess) sweeping them off of their feet. I love the kinds of sacrifices royals and commoners typically have to make to be together. My prince in the story (Xabier) and my commoner (Zain) have an added layer of challenges: Zain ostensibly works for Xabier but he’s keeping a lot of secrets. Their attraction is complicated and, ultimately, jeopardized, when Zain is not really who he seems.
Q: Does that have something to do with the superpowers? What are those about?
A: I can’t say too much without giving away spoilers. But, yes—powers exist in this world, though not all of them are super. All royals are born with some sort of ability but certain powers are silly or useless. In The Prince and the Pencil Pusher, mention is made of a duchess who can bend the actions of squirrels to her will and a duke who can expertly trim topiary hedges. Most of the comic relief in the story comes from dumb and silly powers or powers run amok. Most of the drama in the story comes from the fact that some non-royals or half-royals also have powers. The Ministry of Powers exists so that those with powers can be kept in check, but, in reality, the presence of superpowers in Abarra (especially among royals who don’t like to be told what to do) makes life in Abarra a little chaotic.
Q: Come on…you can tell me. What is Prince Xabier’s special power?
A: Prince Xabier is called the Duke of Brix; his power is turning up the sugar in wine grapes in order to ripen them. This may seem trivial, but wine is highly prized in Abarra. Despite his talent for making great wine, Prince Xabier has been appointed by Queen Maialen to serve as the Minister of Powers. His main goal throughout the early part of the book is to get himself reassigned. But Queen Maialen has a reason for wanting him to remain in his post as Minister of Powers. Just as Xabier is scheming to get himself fired, the Queen is stopping him, move-for-move.
Q; Talk about the interplay between Prince Xabier and Zain. What makes their chemistry crackle?
A: Their romance is part enemies-to-lovers, part mutual pining, part workplace romance. Xabier is Zain’s boss, so neither of them should really be lusting after the other, let alone pursuing anything given the uneven power dynamic. Zain is always on Xabier’s case because Xabier resents his job and doesn’t take it seriously. Xabier thinks that Zain is too serious and too much of a rule-follower and likes to have fun at Zain’s expense. Underneath it all, they see past the parts of each other that drive the other one crazy and recognize the treasure that lies beneath. That’s where the mutual pining comes in. It takes a big event for them to be able to drop their facades and finally let what has been waiting to happen finally come to pass.
Q; Final question: tell us about the setting of the book, the fictional country of Abarra. Why should we fall in love with it?
A: Abarra is a fictional country located between France and Spain. The real “country” located between France and Spain is the Basque Country. The Basque Country is legally part of France and Spain, respectively. Culturally, it’s very different and some people who live in the Basque Country consider themselves neither French nor Spanish, but Basque. Abarra, in my mind, was always meant to be a proxy for the Basque Country. Coincidentally, I happened to live in the Basque Country for a few months, in a tiny seaside town called Mutriku near Donostia (San Sebastian). I loved being able to use Basque names and a few details that are true to Basque culture. Readers will fall in love with Abarra because it’s a more interesting and dramatic version of the world we live in. North and South Abarra are always feuding and the royals (and their powers) are always causing trouble.
Bad things happen when supos go unchecked. That’s why Abarra needs The Ministry: to keep tabs on royals with powers run amok. Queen Maialen has entrusted the safety of her subjects to her nephew, Prince Xabier, placing the agency in his capable hands.
Only, the Prince would rather spend his days putting his own power to good use in the vineyards than to wither away on the bureaucratic vine. Tired of policing perpetrators and babysitting bean-counters, he schemes to groom his first lieutenant (and second cousin) the Duke of Shrubs. After months spent moving chess pieces, he is poised to convince the Queen to assign his cousin to his post.
But an unlikely pawn still stands in his way: the sexy Zain Otxoa is the pushiest pencil-pusher in all of The Ministry and head of internal affairs. Prince Xabier has plotted to have him fired at least thrice. Zain’s influence over the Queen—his only saving grace—is baffling.
When a master maneuver to have Zain reassigned exposes a shocking imbroglio, Prince Xabier learns The Ministry isn’t what it seems. And Zain isn’t a pawn at all.
Kenzie Blades is a queer author of romantic LGBTQ+ fiction and is the alter ego of a multi-award winning author who writes other fiction under a different name. Kenzie lives in San Francisco and enjoys lots of things that start with the letter B, like bacon, bourbon and books.
Kenzie has brought 10 copies of The Prince and the Pencil Pusher to give away on the tour. Follow the Rafflecopter below to enter.
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