The Fug Girls have done it again, folks. Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan, the hilarious masterminds behind the wildly popular celebrity fashion blog Go Fug Yourself, debuted their third book, The Royal We, this month and it’s hands-down the best read you’ll tote around all summer long.
Just imagine if Kate Middleton was an adventurous American exchange student named Rebecca “Bex” Porter who travels halfway around the world to meet her prince during a year abroad at Oxford. That is the foundation for this funny and delightfully dishy adult novel inspired by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. But don’t expect a real life play-by-play of the British couple. The Royal We is its own charming story full of humor, love and plot twists that’ll keep you reading until three in the morning. We caught up with the dynamic duo to talk about Kate’s style, royal baby number two and if a Hollywood film is in their future.
tFS: How did the idea of The Royal We come about?
Jessica Morgan: It really came very organically out of a conversation we had with our agent, Brettne Bloom, in which we were discussing how surreal it must have been for Kate Middleton to go from being just a normal civilian to being insanely famous—and not just famous the way an actor is famous, but famous in this very specific way, with the weight of history and countless expectations on her. And we realized that was an interesting story—the inside view of such a public love story.
Heather Cocks: We realized that imagining what might be happening behind the scenes is a lot more interesting than the spit-shined view we get, so we decided to explore that. The collateral damage and the sacrifices she must have to make every day in tiny ways, and the larger ones she had to make the second she fell in love with him. It’s really rich subject matter.
tFS: On a scale from 1 to 10 (ten being the highest), how obsessed are you with the royal couple?
JM: I don’t know if I’d use the word “obsessed,” exactly. I would say I am very interested in them—like, a level 9 of INTEREST. But “obsession,” to me, implies a blind devotion, and I don’t think we’d have been able to write this book—which, I hasten to add, is quite fictionalized—if we weren’t able to imagine what it might like to be them, warts and bad choices and mistakes and all.
HC: Yeah, I’m pretty automatically interested; I’ll click on the links, for sure. We’re in the intriguing position of knowing about William for his entire life, basically. We watched him grow up and become the person he is; we might even get to see him become king. It’s a really intriguing relationship of sorts to have with a public figure. He didn’t just come up out of nowhere, like a starlet, or One Direction. And with the various tragedies in his life, seeing him come out of it with someone who appears to be grounded and loving and loyal is such a lovely ending. I mean, compare that with the craziness of Prince Albert II’s wedding in Monaco, and all the rumors that Charlene Wittstock tried to flee, and how miserable she looked for a while afterward…William and Kate are a more uplifting tale, easy to root for, charming, and we bring a lifetime of familiarity to it.
tFS: What’s your favorite thing about co-writing?
JM: I don’t know how people write books without a co-writer! It’s great to be able to work through plot points and character motivation with someone else that I know is as invested in the project as I am. It’s also just really awesome to get to read Heather’s work. I always say that our projects are great fun because it’s like I’m writing my favorite book and reading it at the same time. I suppose it can be logistically challenging, but it’s definitely my preferred way to work.
HC: I just find it such a satisfying creative process, building on each other’s ideas. Rather than getting totally lost in my own head, I could just ship my draft to her, knowing she’d have stuff to inject, and then I’d get it back with a whole new chunk attached. And it was always just a long enough break from the grind that I felt revitalized every time the draft came back to me. The only difficult part is that proofing takes forever, because we both need to read it, and then go over the things we find—and they are always different things, too, which never ceases to amaze me. Even the typos we found weren’t always the same.
tFS: What kind of research did you do for the book?
JM: We did a ton of research, much of it logistical (researching how much security the royal family has, for example). We read a lot, from non-fiction books about the royal family to unauthorized biographies, to books about the architecture of the royal family’s palaces. We also took a research trip to England to visit London and Oxford. We both felt like we had to get boots on the ground, so to speak, to be able to write about it as clearly and evocatively as possible.
HC: The constant stream of reading was honestly so fun that it was hard not to fall down that rabbit hole and never come out. Before we started writing, and while outlining, we both read some biographies of the princes, and one of Kate, and Andrew Morton‘s Diana book, to get some insight—which we obviously knew we had to filter a little, because these weren’t unbiased. But we weren’t doing it to get at plot points; we wanted to dig into the emotions, because that’s ultimately what drove our book. But I’m not going to lie: the trip was GREAT. I know England pretty well, because I grew up there, but the beauty of it is that you see it through different eyes every time you go. There was always more to write down, and we did take absurdly copious notes. The tour guides at Buckingham Palace thought we were insane.
tFS: Years ago, you appeared on a TV Guide show with Joan and Melissa Rivers called Fashion Wrap. What do you think about the current drama with The Fashion Police?
JM: It’s a difficult situation for everyone. Joan is irreplaceable, from her talent and incredible work ethic, to the fact that she was bringing literally a lifetime of comedy chops to the table, and a history of directing her barbs at herself as much as at everyone else. In retrospect, I think E! probably wishes they had taken the show dark for six months to figure out how best to move forward without her, although that would have taken them out of awards season for this year.
tFS: Speaking of fashion, Kate sometimes gets a bad rap for being too safe or boring in her sartorial choices. What’s your take?
JM: I don’t really think she has a choice. If she were anything other than safe, she would get raked over the coals for being inappropriate or attention-seeking. Kate’s position is very different than that of a lot of other celebrities, and she really doesn’t have a lot of latitude in terms of personal style. Now, I certainly think she could jazz things up a wee bit. Let’s start with her shoes. You can wear a patterned shoe, Kate! But if she were to strut out onto the palace balcony in a leather Alexander Wang, it would actually be inappropriate for the occasion. She has to toe the line more than the average woman, and if she’s chosen to err on the side of safe and boring, I cannot say I blame her.
HC: The other trick with her is that Kate isn’t necessarily asking to become a fashion plate. The clothes she’s choosing are, essentially, for work. Her job is to make sure she can be seen from a distance, by the adoring throngs, but also complete all the stuff she needs to do without limping or flashing anyone or looking uncomfortable or inappropriate. Lots of spinning plates in the air there. I don’t think her mandate is to make the world fall in love with her sense of style; it’s just to get the job done and not embarrass anyone. Who among us HASN’T gone down the safe road, fashion-wise, for comfort or practicality or any other reason? And that’s WITHOUT the force of the world’s press waiting for you to really muck it up.