The Royal Treatment

The genesis of a debut

It’s all Madonna’s fault, really. And Downton Abbey’s. Neil Gaiman shares part of the blame: he was the first author who managed to so completely immerse me in his world that I didn’t notice when I put my foot through a plate-glass window, leaving me with five stitches and a determination to one day craft similarly consuming stories. I’d be remiss not to mention Anderson Cooper, given that it is about his family. And the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, though they weren’t even dating when I started writing.

The list of acknowledgements for my debut novel, which came out this summer, does have a dash of Hollywood flair to it. After all, it’s a book about celebrities, filled with interwar socialites and silver screen princes; champagne corks flying across the moonlit Riviera; glamour and gossip played out beneath the crenellated towers of country homes. That’s what drew Madonna to the tale of the king who...