'Queen Charlotte': Author Julia Quinn on Writing 'Bridgerton' Prequel with Shonda Rhimes (EXCLUSIVE)

Katherine Stinson - Author

May 9 2023, Published 3:26 p.m. ET

'Queen Charlotte' author Julia Quinn
Source: Getty Images

Dearest reader, if you haven't seen Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story series yet on Netflix, what are you doing with your life?

In the Bridgerton prequel series, the tragic tale of Queen Charlotte and King George III finally takes center stage, in a story guaranteed to rip one's heart out into tiny pieces.

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Distractify had the pleasure of speaking with Julia Quinn, the author of the original Bridgerton novels that inspired the hit Shondaland Netflix series.

What was it like collaborating with Shonda Rhimes on the Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story novel? Would Julia ever want to write a future episode of the Bridgerton Netflix series? Read on forthwith for answers from Julia herself!

(L-R) Shonda Rhimes and Julia Quinn
Source: Instagram/@shondarhimes
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What was it like co-writing the 'Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story' book with Shonda? Julia reveals all.

One great expansion of the Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story episodes in the respective novelization are the chapters from Brimsley's POV and Lady Danbury's POV.

So how did the co-writing process work for the Queen Charlotte book? Did Shonda and Julia just sit down in a Starbucks somewhere and trade ideas? Not exactly, according to Julia herself.

"It wasn't like a regular collaboration, two people coming together to write a novel, you know, it was very much us taking turns, [Shonda] did what she does best, which is write scripts. And then she handed them to me and then I do what I do best, which is write a novel," Julia explained to us.

It was Julia's first time writing a novel with source material to work from. She likened the Queen Charlotte collaboration with Shonda to a puzzle, adding, "It really was a fascinating process."

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After all, the fine art of writing a script for a television series is a whole different ball game than penning a novel.

"I've got these pieces of dialogue already, somebody else has already created the characters, but I get to flesh them out," she said, emphasizing that she "really enjoyed" working out how to craft certain scenes from Shonda's scripts into POV chapters in the Queen Charlotte book.

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Did you spot Julia's cameo in the 'Queen Charlotte' series?

Not only did Julia visit the Queen Charlotte set to film her own cameo moment (hint — it's in the final episode), but she also found inspiration for the Queen Charlotte book thanks to the actors themselves.

Julia explained that she normally isn't a visual writer, so it was helpful for her writing process to see the actors that had already been cast for the Queen Charlotte series. (The show was cast before Julia even looked at Shonda's Queen Charlotte scripts).

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Even certain acting traits of key Queen Charlotte players inspired Julia during her on-set visit. "Corey, who plays King George, when he's kind of amused, he bites his lip. And so I put that in the book, and that's not necessarily something that would have occurred to me," she said.

Julia noted another example – "With Reynolds, you know, it says in the script, (that) he's tall and handsome. But when you actually see those actors together, interacting, it just suddenly like, 'Oh, I get it.' Now. I see. (It's) a combination of having been able to go out to the set, but also getting to see early cuts of the show, too, which was good."

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So would Julia ever want to pen a Bridgerton script herself one day, in the vein of other book authors?

Julia made it clear that she's perfectly content at remaining in her novel-writing lane, noting that she had never written a screenplay before and that she didn't want to "stifle" the collaborative process of the Bridgerton writers' room with her presence (the understandable concern is that the writers might be more concerned about disrespecting Julia's books than writing a good script for the show.)

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Script-writing aside, Julia was incredibly inspired by Charlotte's (and Lady Danbury's) respective journeys of self-discovery.

"[Charlotte] rose to the occasion, and she didn't just roll (with it), she flew. She had this great love and yes, love makes everything better. But it doesn't make things perfect. Certainly not for her. She had to look really within herself," the author noted.

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As for what Julia hopes readers and show-watchers alike take away from tales like Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story? "One of the things that I think is so wonderful about Bridgerton is that it shows that a happy ending and happiness in love and family and life as a worthy goal is something that you should not be ashamed for wanting in your life," she said.

"These characters are all working towards their happy endings as well. And I think that it's nice to see society lauding that," Julia added.

The bestselling Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story novel, co-written by Shonda and Julia, is out now.

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