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The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom

by Christopher Healy

(May 1st, 2012: Walden Pond Press/HarperCollins)

There’s a lot you don’t know about Prince Charming.

Sure, we’re all aware of those guys who show up at the end of fairy tales to save the princesses, throw on a fancy suit, and get hitched in a lavish wedding. But have you ever wondered who those guys really are? Or if the few, meager facts we do hear about them are even true? (Hint: Generally not.)

In the first volume of the Hero’s Guide saga, we meet Prince Frederic, Prince Liam, Prince Gustav, and Prince Duncan — better known as the Princes Charming who rescued Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel, and Snow White, respectively — and find out that these men are far more (or less) than the cardboard cutout heroes we’ve heard tales about. Rejected by their princesses and cast out of their kingdoms, these four men bond over their shared anonymity and band together to battle witches, goblins, trolls, bandits, and giants in order to save each of their kingdoms from a diabolical plot. And by the end, with any luck, they may finally become the real heroes they were always meant to be.


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“One of the more clever, hilariously successful incarnations of the current literary rage to rip apart and rewrite fairy tales… The princes in “The Hero’s Guide” may not be charming, but Healy’s romp of a book about them most certainly is.” —Los Angeles Times

“The premise is indeed charming…a quest that recalls at moments the Musketeers and at others, the Marxes.” —New York Times Book Review

“Healy’s fast-paced debut is overflowing with suspense, humor, and carefully developed characters. Healy injects age-old characters and fairy tale tropes with a fresh, contemporary sensibility, resulting in a crowd-pleaser with laugh-out-loud lines on nearly every page.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“The fairy-tale world is tongue-in-cheek but fleshed out, creating its own humor rather than relying on pop-culture references. Healy juggles with pitch-perfect accuracy, rendering the princes as goobers with good hearts and individual strengths, keeping them distinct and believable. Inventive and hilarious.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“[A] lively, humorous adventure.” —Wall Street Journal

“This is the most fun you can have short of rounding up King Arthur’s knights, filling their armor with laughing gas, and driving them to a roller disco.” —Frank Cottrell Boyce, New York Times bestselling author of COSMIC

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  1. I don’t know if you still respond to these, but you always used to, so I’m hoping you still do.
    I was re-listening to The Hero’s Guide on a long drive last night to keep me focused (it worked very well–it’s a distinct possibility that if I hadn’t put it on, I would have gotten into a wreck) and indulge in some nostalgia, and I started wondering if you wrote chapter 1 with descriptions of chapter 20 and then had to make chapter 20 (and the leadup) match the description from chapter 1, or if you wrote up until chapter 20 and then went back to chapter 1 to include that preview. As a writer myself (yes, I’m the same Caroline who has frequented this site thanking you for inspiring me in the past–my book is done! I have an editor and cover art!), things like that always interest me.

    1. Hi, Caroline! That is a great question! I’m surprised no one’s ever asked it before. But the answer is that I wrote the “flash forward” in the beginning first and then found ways to work the plot to make it come true. That was my first novel and the only one I didn’t outline first, but even now, I often plot my books by filling in gaps between scenes I know I want to include. It’s like solving a puzzle. Frequently, the finale is the first part of a story I’ll envision, and then I have fun figuring out how to get there. (And CONGRATS on your book!)

  2. Hi Mr. Healy! Is “No One Leaves the Castle” going to have sequels? It was soooo good. I actually think it’s my favorite of the heroes guide stories and that’s saying a lot.