Debbie Rigaud is the author of the YA romantic comedy Truly Madly Royally, which follows the protagonist, Zora, into a prestigious summer program where she meets—who else?—a prince. Simone Breaks All the Rules (Scholastic, June 3) tells the story of “quirky-cool” Jersey girl Simone as she embarks on her own romantic misadventures and struggles to balance her family’s wishes with her own desire for new experiences—all in the lead-up to prom.  

In this interview, Rigaud discusses her family’s passion for baseball—which inspired Simone’s love of the game—and how Rigaud’s longstanding interest in history influenced the direction of Simone’s term paper on teen activism. She shares the difficulties of writing Simone’s strict parents without losing sight of the nuances and care those characters deserve, and talks about the joys of her first visit to Haiti as an adult, having grown up in a Haitian American New Jersey household.

From the Kirkus review: “Baseball-loving Simone is a wonderfully crafted character, and Rigaud uses the awkwardness of the late bloomers’ attempts to be cool with perfect comedic timing. This is a great depiction of Haitian American culture that both affirms and informs. Offering a steady mix of romance and humor, this is a home run.”