An interview with Rachel Hauck,
Author of Once Upon a Prince
Every little girl dreams of being a princess. Every woman longs to be treated like royalty. We’re all just a little bit fascinated by royal weddings and the princess that lives in every woman. That’s why readers will fall in love with Once Upon a Prince (Zondervan/May 7, 2013/ISBN 978-0310315476/$14.99), the first release in the Royal Wedding Series by award-winning author Rachel Hauck.
However, there is more to Once Upon a Prince than a royal love story. Hauck hopes that once readers reach the end of the book, they realize: God has a beautiful plan for them! She even works some of her own experience into the story.
Q: Is there a “moral to the story” in Once Upon a Prince you hope readers will walk away with?
I hope readers walk away with a sense of hope and well-being. The moral about “the power of love” to change hearts, even a nation, is timeless and powerful. Love truly does transcend time and culture. It’s the truest picture of Jesus. Oh, and God has a beautiful plan for you!
Q: Do you think sometimes we miss what God’s plans are for us because we are so focused on our own plans?
We can, yes, but I also think God so loves us, so understands our weak human frame, He works things for good. One of my sayings is “I’m willing to hear ‘no,’ God.” I know how hard it is to wait on the Lord, to feel responsible for my own destiny, but He really is for us and can redeem our mistakes. I try to keep a “Yes” in my heart toward Him. And I’m willing to hear “No” if I’m pursuing something He doesn’t want me to pursue. I also have confidence that in even the smallest, most remote ways, He makes His will known. He directs our paths. And so we’re back to the “Yes” in our heart to Him first and above all.
Q: Have you ever had to give up on one of your plans, like Susanne did, because it wasn’t progressing or someone came along who threw the plan off track?
This is my life song! “Not my will but Yours, Lord.” After college, I tried everything I knew to get a job — networking, interviewing — but no doors opened. Then one day I said, “Lord, I’ve done all I know to do. I give up. You put me where you want me.” That night, that night, an old friend from junior college called and told me about a job in Melbourne, Florida. A month later I moved down and started a new job and a new journey.
The “I’ve got nothing” journey Susanna experiences is my personal journey. It’s the dialog and MO between the Lord and me. Everyone is different, but I believe God leads us and directs us with recognizable patterns.
Q: There are some areas of his life that Nathaniel has no control over, and his life is about to change in a big way. While none of us are in the middle of transitioning into being King, what are some ways we can embrace life’s changes with a willing heart?
Life is always changing for us in some way. Marriage, babies, death. Children leaving the nest. Friends moving away. Family coming and going. Maybe a new job or a job loss.
With me, I say, “I hold all things with an open hand.” I love the amazing things God’s done in my life, yet outside of my marriage and my family, I hold relationships and my career loosely. God has to have enough of my attention and heart to move me in the direction He needs.
My husband and I were in youth ministry for more than 20 years, and we had a lot of kids come and go. Many of them became like our own kids. But when their season came to fly, to find their own ways in life, I knew I had to let go. The tears I cried were happy tears but tears none the less.
We have to believe God loves us and is for us. Then the changes are easier to endure, even joyful.
Q: There are often clues directing us to the Lord’s will, but sometimes they are difficult to recognize. Do you have any advice for trying to discern whether the clues are actually clues or our own wishful thinking?
When I figure it out, I’ll let you know! Actually, I think it’s the patterns I mentioned earlier . . . about how God leads us. That’s usually a good indicator.
But I’ve had my share of wishful thinking go awry. A good friend once told me, “I know God’s plans for me are good, and as I pursue Him, I try not to imagine the outcome.” That really stuck with me. I seek Him, and truly, He holds my heart so tenderly in His hand. I can trust Him to orchestrate the outcome of my life.
When I’m disappointed, I go back to “God loves me and God is good.” It gives my heart the right perspective.
Q: As a romance writer, do you think there’s ever a time to give up love for the greater good of others?
We should never give up on love. Love is always for the greater good of others, as well as us. What I think we have to do is redefine love. Sometimes actions we consider “love” are really not love at all.
Jesus gave up all the beauty and majesty of splendor of Heaven, became a man and died a cruel death on a cross. All for love. Wow, what kind of love is this? Not the world’s definition of love.
But is there a time when two people love each other, want to marry but give up that hope because of love? Maybe because the family is against it? Or because they know they have different callings and goals? Yeah, I think there’s a place for that. I’ve known of a few couples who walked away from a relationship because it wasn’t right even though they loved each other.
Mostly love is about believing, hoping, enduring, forgiving and never failing.
Q: Your books usually relate back to Christ and His sacrifice through some form of symbolism. Can you tell us how the Lover’s Oak relates not only to the love story in Once Upon a Prince, but to the Gospel message?
I loved finding this real-life tree so near to my real-life setting: St. Simon’s Island. The tree is a symbol of Jesus, the tree of Life. And He is the God of love. When we go to Him, stand in His shade, we find our true selves, we find our lives. If you’re confused about life or where you’re going, go to the Tree of Life — Jesus.
For Susanna, finding true love while at Lover’s Oak is about finding the truest of all love when we come to Jesus.
Q: In the acknowledgements of Once Upon a Prince, you write about getting up early to watch William and Kate’s wedding. Have you always been entranced by royals or just by their love stories?
I’ve been fascinated by the love stories of royals through the years — both real and fairytale. But what I loved about William and Kate is the “ordinariness” about them. Is that a word? Anyway, they charmed the world with their love story, and I think they are a couple to watch.
I’m equally fascinated by the love story of my friends and people I meet. Love is that transcendent force that captures all of us — men and women, young and old.
Over Christmas, I recorded my 99-year-old grandmother telling me about her favorite Christmas. “When Grandpa gave me my engagement ring,” she said. It was a precious moment.
Q: How many details about royalty in the book are real, and how many were based on your own imagination? What kind of research went into this book?
The details are fictional though grounded in what I hope is royal reality. I read a lot of books on England’s royal family — both historical and contemporary — and used their lives and history as a boilerplate. “Is this scenario plausible?” Across Europe, the royal families have different functions and titles, so I used combinations of titles and authority to create my royal families and their countries.
I also followed a few royal blogs and forums to get a feel for how people feel about royal families. I researched the royal families of Italy, France, Spain, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Greece, Luxembourg . . . and several Grand Duchies.
I did not model my characters after anyone living or dead. They are from my imagination.
Q: What can readers expect from the rest of the Royal Wedding Series? How many books will be in the series?
They can expect a fun, heartwarming, “ahhhhh” kind of read. Stories that inspire hope and tell of truth. The next book is Princess Ever After, releasing early 2014. The third and final book is tentatively titled To Catch a Prince. So, stay tuned for a fun, royal ride!
Visit her website at www.rachelhauck.com to sign up for her newsletter, read her blog, and follow her on Facebook (Rachel Hayes Hauck) and Twitter (@RachelHauck).