Author Interview with Jessica Morgan & Heather Cocks

Market on Magnolia
Interview with Heather Morgan and Heather Cocks on www.ashleybrookedesigns.com

I’m So Excited About This…

Today is a literary dream come true! Jessica Morgan and Heather Cocks, the authors of The Royal We (our ABBC’s March book selection) and the writers of the blog Go Fug Yourself (a hilarious celebrity blog!) are here with an amazing and ridiculously entertaining interview!

I for one love a good interview and find myself always flipping to them when I get a new glossy, so I have to say getting the opportunity to interview these talented women was definitely a dream!

Jessica and Heather’s answers do NOT disappoint and had me laughing out loud multiple times throughout. We are covering everything from their latest Amazon purchase to details on their upcoming sequel book!

And just as you would expect, these women are sharp, funny, and well spoken. This interview is definitely one for the books, and I hope you enjoy!

Lightning Round Q&A:

What are you reading right now?

JESSICA: I just cracked an advance copy of The Wedding Party, which is Jasmine Guillory’s new book! (We are friends, so Heather and I got a sneak peek.) I can’t wait to really get into it — I loved her first two books.

HEATHER: I just got Nine Perfect Strangers from the library, and I’m waiting on Taylor Jenkins Reid’s Daisy Jones and the Six.

What was your last Amazon purchase?

JESSICA: This is VERY GLAM: I bought a giant 10-pack of CosRX pimple patches. Having said that, these are quite amazing. They really, really, really do work on blemishes.

HEATHER: Mine might be even more glamorous: I got a velcro ice pack and velcro arch supports, all for my left foot, which is either suffering from an arch strain or plantar fasciitis. Oh, and some compression socks also came in that shipment.

What’s your Starbucks order?

JESSICA: Grande skim latte, or grande iced coffee (black), depending on the weather.

HEATHER: “Do you sell Diet Coke yet?”

What is your guilty pleasure?

JESSICA: I have no guilt in any of my pleasures! But I do have a sort of embarrassing love of basically any show on Bravo that features rich ladies yelling at each other — i.e., all of the Housewives (except New Jersey, which I do not watch).

HEATHER: Potato chips, nearly any flavor, any time, any way. And daytime soaps. Although I agree with Jessica that I feel no guilt about any of those things, unless the chip bag was big and turned empty a bit too fast.

Who is your favorite celebrity or fictional character?

JESSICA: Hmmm. I don’t really have one favorite celebrity — Heather and I cover so many of them on our blog, Go Fug Yourself, that it’s hard to have a favorite. I will say that my favorite Chris is, of course, Evans. I am a huge Dodgers fan, though — does that count?

HEATHER: Yeah, I have a hard time getting passionate about celebrities, just because I’m so keenly aware that there are always wheels turning, and that we’re only seeing what they want us to see — which I’m not complaining about, and which honestly isn’t that different than how people curate their own Instagrams. I just feel like if I don’t know them as a human, I can’t genuinely get that het up about them. But I’ve learned recently that Candice Bergen is a delightful Instagram follow. In terms of fiction, it’s gotta be Anne Shirley.

What is your current online obsession (website, Instagram account, etc.)

JESSICA:  This is an evergreen classic, but I could — and have! — spend all day on Ask a Manager.

HEATHER: I guess see above re: Candice Bergen? I don’t actually hang out on many blogs or follow very many Instagram accounts that aren’t either friends, or people I need to keep up with for work, like the stylists. Who are interesting in their own rights — Karla Welch is a treasure; I love how fearlessly vocal she is — but also super useful when it comes to identifying designer looks. Honestly, my way of procrastinating right now is playing an old game on my laptop that I used to love as a kid. It’s called Dark Castle. It had a sequel, and a company re-released them both, plus new levels, in computer-only app form several years ago. My sister and I used to play it in black-and-white on our old Mac Plus and we bonded over it, so it’s a sentimental favorite and I was so happy to find it again. The sound effects are hilarious.

What is next in your Netflix queue?

JESSICA: Next up is Shrill — although technically, I know that is Hulu. I like to watch British TV shows about murder while I write (although we’re never writing about murder!), so on Netflix, I’ve been working my way through the approximately two million episodes of Midsomer Murders, during which I’ve learned DON’T EVER GO TO MIDSOMER, THE (fictional) MURDER RATE IS VERY HIGH! I’m very excited that I’m almost at its famous episode where someone is killed by falling cheese.

HEATHER: I need to finish American Vandal and Schitt’s Creek. Confession: I bailed on Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat. Am I a bad person?

Okay, Let’s Chat “The Royal We” :

What was the process like as you collaborated to write The Royal We? Did you write separately or together?

JESSICA: Both, basically. The way it works is, Heather and I jointly put together a really detailed outline, then we trade the draft back and forth. She’ll write a chunk, send it to me, and I’ll edit/change/add to that chunk, then write a whole new chunk. I’ll send that back to her, and she’ll do the same to me. And so on and so forth. But we are rarely, if ever, in the same room for this process.

HEATHER: We would get nothing done. Believe me, we’ve tried. We could work in the same room during Fashion Week when we were on tight deadlines, but with something like this, we would just end up gossiping. And with GFY being the size it is, it actually tends to work out that one of us will take over the lion’s share of that while the other is writing the book, and then we trade. The nice thing about that is, we’re each then guaranteed a break from the material, which means we can come back to it fresh — but also that it isn’t stagnating while we’re away. Because ONE of us is always developing it and adding to it. It’s actually a delight to get it back and tuck in and see what’s been added.

We love how well rounded and thought out the characters are in this book. Did that develop as you wrote the book or did you spend time ahead of writing, detailing each character?

JESSICA: Thank you! Gosh, that’s a good question and the crazy answer is that I can’t totally remember and my guess is that it’s a bit of both. We did a LOT of work on the outline and talking out the plot before actually writing the book and I think that really informed the characters. But, of course, because The Royal We is (loosely) based on Kate, William, and Harry, we had a jumping off point for what these people were going to be like. I think this mostly applied to Freddie, who is the Harry character, in the sense that we knew he was going to be the sort of devil-may-care sexy rogue on the outside. But because we, of course, don’t know what those people are actually like beyond what we see of them in the press, it was up to us to fill in the blanks. And, of course, so much of the book is about how the way the media represents a story isn’t necessarily accurate.

HEATHER: As far as the secondary characters, they came to life pretty much as we wrote, I think. We knew roughly what they were going to do, if they had an important role to play, but a lot of it grew organically. Gaz and Cilla were always going to end up together, but as we wrote, we discovered them as people — that she had crazy stories about her ancestors, that he is a whiz with chicken and cries easily and loudly. I also just checked, and we didn’t have their wedding in the outline, or a specific spot where they were going to finally get together. In fact, the key punch Gaz throws at Nick, we had given to Freddie in the original outline. The outline was a super helpful road map, but we were always really clear as we went that we should deviate if something didn’t feel true or didn’t feel timed right. I remember both of us feeling like Freddie swooping in and punching Nick worked better in theory than in reality, so we changed it to Gaz, and then sure enough that led quite organically to Gaz and Cilla’s kiss. So we gave everyone room to surprise us, basically, even if we knew which general direction they were pointing.

Are you flipping out over selling the film rights to this book? Also, we need to know if Lauren Graham is as delightful and lovely as we imagine.

JESSICA: Yes! To both. At the moment, it’s just an option — that basically means that CBS Films has “dibs” on turning the book into a movie, but it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to happen. Lauren Graham isn’t involved with the project anymore, although she is the person who brought it to them originally. (There isn’t any dramatic story there, though, I promise.) She is GREAT, however — more delightful and lovely than you imagine, if possible.

HEATHER: We’ve lived in LA long enough, and known enough writers and such, that we know how hard it is to get anything made. Even with Lauren’s huge support and enthusiasm — she was truly the best — we knew not to count our chickens. It is NOT easy to get a movie on a screen. We are supremely flattered that CBS and Lauren loved our story, though — I mean, honestly, it’s a huge compliment that anyone would want to spend more time in our universe, and by adapting it, Lauren willingly spent a TON in there. Which is a great feeling, regardless of whether a movie comes out of it at the end.

The Royal We is told as a flashback—was that always the plan or did that come later in the editing process?

JESSICA: That was always the plan. We felt like the question of whether or not they would get engaged was sort of obvious, and that it felt more interesting to float the question of whether or not they’d actually make it down the aisle.

HEATHER: We also wanted to make it clear from the get-go that this was not a mirror of Kate’s and William’s story, and that you didn’t automatically know how it ended. Otherwise, why pick it up at all, you know? We had to draw those lines right out of the gate with a good solid hook.

No spoilers, but we want to know about The Heir Affair! Did you always plan to write a sequel? What was similar or different about the second time around—or is it not done yet?!

JESSICA:  It is NOT done yet — not by a lot! So it is very similar to the first time around, in that we have a bad habit of writing right up until our deadline. Why make things easy, after all? The Royal We was always written as a stand-alone book — one of the reasons that it is taking us so long to get the sequel in everyone’s hands is that we had to figure out what happened next. I will say that this IS a proper sequel, though — Bex is the protagonist still, and it’s still very much her story. It’s not a companion piece about Freddie, though of course he is still extremely important to the story!

HEATHER: It was hard to dive back into a story where I was so completely fine with where we left it. But we missed those goofballs, and once we started writing again, it was like, “Oh, okay, I’m glad we’re back.” I will say that, as much as people might be expecting this to be the Harry/Meghan story, it is not. (Unless we decide in three months to change course, and we eat these words. That’ll be fun!) Partly because we wrote a good portion of that already — Bex being American, and all — but also because we never looked at The Royal We as royal family fan fiction, and we don’t view the sequel that way, either. We were inspired by William and Kate, but because of what we imagined must be the behind-the-scenes struggles of getting what everyone else thinks is the fairy-tale ending. So with the second book, we want to make this world stand even more on its own.

Author photo: Kim Fox

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8 Comments

  1. April 10, 2019 / 10:15 am

    This is so fun! Their comments about the sequel (which I initially guessed would be about Freddie) are now making me think very strongly it’s going to be a story centered around Bex and Nick having a baby.

    briana | youngsophisticate.com

    • Betsy Storey
      April 10, 2019 / 3:47 pm

      I thought the same thing but given the title and Jess and Heather’s answers–I think you’re on to something Briana!

  2. Tai
    April 10, 2019 / 6:08 pm

    Great interview and great book!

    Want to quickly point out that the Anne Shirley link must be incorrect? I’m guessing Heather was talking about Anne Shirley from Anne of Green Gables 🙂 I clicked on it because she’s one of my favorites too!

    • April 16, 2019 / 4:07 pm

      Ugh… totally my mistake! Thanks girl! We fixed it! xx

  3. Venice
    April 15, 2019 / 3:55 pm

    I seriously cannot wait for the second book!

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