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Q&A with Karen Schaler, Author of A Royal Christmas Fairy Tale

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Karen Schaler is the author of A Royal Christmas Fairy Tale.

It’s that time of year for Hallmark Christmas movies and holiday-themed reads! It’s something that I especially look forward to as I read plenty of heavy books throughout the year. Be sure to check out my post dedicated to 11 new holiday books coming out this year!

One of best writers of Christmas-themed movies and books is Karen Schaler. She is a three-time Emmy Award-winning storyteller, screenwriter, author, journalist, and national TV host. Karen has written original Christmas movies for Netflix, Hallmark, and Lifetime, including the Netflix sensation A Christmas Prince, Hallmark’s Christmas Camp, and five books, Christmas Camp, Christmas Camp Wedding, Finding Christmas, Christmas Ever After and A Royal Christmas Fairy Tale, earning her the nickname “Christmas Karen” in the press. So excited to feature her on the site!

Here’s the synopsis for her latest, A Royal Christmas Fairy Tale:

A charming Christmas village, a storybook castle, a royal ball, and a gorgeous prince are the last things New York City reporter Kaylie Karlyle expects to find on her holiday freelance assignment to Europe. But when the family she’s interviewing turns out to be the royal family of Tolvania, Kaylie has a meltdown when the quirky queen wants her to write a Christmas fairy tale for the spunky, young princess. Kaylie must battle the princess’s father, who doesn’t trust the media, and her own insecurities about writing anything beyond the news.

To spark inspiration for the fairy tale, the queen recruits the prickly Prince Alexander to show Kaylie the family’s most spectacular royal holiday traditions. And sparks definitely fly when the only thing Kaylie and the prince agree on is that they’re both more “bah humbug” than “ho, ho, ho.”

But somewhere between sleigh rides and snow angels, merrymaking and mistletoe, upside-down Christmas trees, and a legendary Christmas crown, Kaylie and the prince open their hearts to Christmas and start believing in themselves and each other. It’s a real-life fairy tale in the making until Kaylie discovers a secret about a royal Christmas heirloom that jeopardizes everyone’s happily ever after. Can the magic of the season save this holiday happy ending? 

Let’s get to know Karen as she talks about her writing career, crafting holiday-themed stories, the idea behind her latest story and much more!

You’re the ultimate storyteller from your journalism career to working on films to writing novels. Can you talk about where you draw your writing inspirations from?

My mom will tell you that as soon as I started talking, I started telling stories and never stopped. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t see everything as a story. If I see two people walking down the road, I start making up stories about them. It doesn’t matter if I’m in a store, a bank, a restaurant, everything I see jumps out as a potential story. I’m always asking people questions because I’m genuinely curious, that’s likely the journalist in my blood. Now writing fiction I get to have even more fun. My imagination can take bits and pieces of real facts and run wild and I love that!

My creativity is one-hundred percent fueled by traveling to new places, embracing new customs, and meeting new people. This is why I started my Travel Therapy TV series that I produce and host where I’ve combined my love of travel and storytelling. Travel Therapy is all about picking the best trips to take based on what you’re going through in life. I’ve traveled to more than 68 countries searching for the most inspiring and empowering places to feature. I’ll be using Travel Therapy as my inspiration coming up when I start writing my summer rom-com movies and novels. 

Why is the holiday genre the right fit for you? What do you like best about writing holiday-themed stories?

I’m passionate about telling holiday stories that are uplifting and empowering that are a safe place to escape to in a chaotic world. For years as a hard news crime and investigative reporter and reporting from war zones, I covered some of the most grueling and gut-wrenching stories. I made a conscious choice in my career that going forward I wanted to tell stories that bring people happiness and joy. I believe Christmas is the most magical time of year where anything truly is possible. That might seem cheesy to some, but I embrace and find comfort this kind of heartwarming storytelling. I want to write stories that give people hope. Even when there are tears, as my characters learn and grow, I want a happy ending. I think we all deserve that. 

What do you think are some of the key elements that must be included in every holiday novel and movie? 

I could write a book on this question alone, but I’ll try and make it simple…

Since we all experience the holidays differently and have our own traditions, I think any holiday novel and movie should include some kind of nostalgia and traditions. In my new novel A Royal Christmas Fairy Tale,holiday traditions are a very important part of this story. I loved using some of my own traditions and creating new traditions for this story. I also always include holiday activities and recipes in the back of all my Christmas novels so my readers can perhaps find some new traditions they’d like try.  

For me, the Christmas stories I hold closest in my heart are the ones that help me remember what truly matters most at the holidays, your family, friends, your loved one, your community and giving back, and how being present is the best present you can give someone. 

The Lifetime movie I wrote starring Toni Braxton, Every Day is Christmas, is one of my favorite stories because it’s a reminder of all of the things that are the most important. My favorite line I try and live by is, “You make time for the people who matter the most.” 

It seems in recent years, both holiday books and films have really taken off. Why do you think this area is seeing such big growth and widespread acceptance? 

I think we’re seeing an explosion of Christmas content because now more than ever we need these positive, feel-good stories to help uplift us and give us hope. On the business side, everyone is going all in on holiday stories because they see the demand is there. There are more than 140 new Christmas movies coming out this year for 2021, and more than 100 new holiday novels. That’s a record that will likely be broken again next year. 

Let’s talk more about A Royal Christmas Fairy Tale! Can you talk about how the book was inspired by the real-life royal family? What can readers expect when they pick up the book?

I was inspired to write A Royal Christmas Fairy Tale after writing Netflix’s first original Christmas movie A Christmas Prince that has two sequels. While A Royal Christmas Fairy Tale is a completely new royal romance with its own loveable characters this heartwarming story still takes us inside that magical world where there’s a storybook castle, a charming kingdom, a fabulous holiday royal ball, and of course a handsome prince. In A Royal Christmas Fairy Tale there’s also a quirky queen and a spunky young princess and a journalist who starts to question everything about her life and love. 

The original ideas for both A Christmas Prince and A Royal Christmas Fairy Tale were inspired by a trip I took to the beautiful Isle of Anglesey in Wales for my Travel Therapy TV. VisitBritain tourism had invited me to come do a story about “walking in the footsteps of royalty” showing where Prince William and Kate once lived. Even though I was with a UK tourism guide doing a positive travel feature the local community on the island was very suspicious of me and protective of the royal family and for good reason.

I understood that I needed to earn people’s trust and once I did we were able to do a beautiful story together. This experience in Wales, along with all that has happened with the royal family and the media was on my mind as I wrote A Royal Christmas Fairy Tale.

This is a heartwarming story about the power of believing in yourself to find your happily ever after and having the courage to pivot and go in a new direction if it means finding happiness and following your heart. I believe with all the challenges we are facing in the world right now A Royal Christmas Fairy Tale is the ultimate escape and could be just what your heart needs this holiday season. 

What are you working on next?

Right now, I’m Christmas 24/7 working on several new Christmas movies and my next Christmas novel. I’m also working on a summer rom-com movie feature and novel inspired by my Travel Therapy TV series and a destination that’s the ultimate escape. I’m also working on a one-hour TV series comedy/drama. I’m so excited to be starting the new year in Palm Beach, Florida, January 7-9th at the amazing RomaDrama event that brings fans together with their favorite Hallmark, Lifetime, and Netflix TV stars. I’ll be on several of the writing panels sharing behind the scenes stories and tips about writing movies and novels. I’ll also be doing a special Christmas Camp panel for the Hallmark Christmas Camp original movie and novels I wrote that will include the movie’s director Jeff Fisher and one of the star actors Lily Anne Harrison. I’ll also be signing a limited edition hardcover copy of my Christmas Camp novel. Tickets are on sale now at www.romadrama.com. I can’t wait to see everyone and hope to see you there!  

What are you currently reading and what’s on your TBR (to be read) list?

Right now, I’m actually reading screenplays as we head into award season. I’m a member of the Writers Guild America East where we’re fortunate to be able to screen some of the top movies and television programs of the year and read the scripts so we can vote. For anyone wanting to write TV and/or feature films I highly recommend reading all the screenplays you can get your hands on (a lot are listed online for free) because it’s a great way to learn and be inspired to write your own story. 

I’m also continuing to bring my Christmas Camp Hallmark movies and books to life creating real-life Christmas Camps for grownups with resorts, destinations and other travel partners. And the zooming continues with virtual Christmas Camp events for libraries, book clubs, and anyone needing some Christmas cheer! To make sure everyone can have a Christmas Camp experience I’ve created a free ‘Karen Schaler’s DIY Christmas Camp Guide’ that includes exclusive holiday recipes and activities from all my Christmas books and movies. Just go to my website www.karenschaler.com and next to my new book A Royal Christmas Fairy Tale click on ‘Get Your Free Gift!’ and enjoy!  To keep the Christmas spirit going I’m also doing ongoing giveaways on all my social media channels and love connecting with everyone. Merry Christmas!

You can order A Royal Christmas Fairy Tale on Amazon here!