Dear Anglophiles: If you recall, a few years back, author William Kuhn wrote a guest post for Anglophiles United , telling us about his debut novel Mrs. Queen Takes the Train. Well, that little gem has been optioned as a movie! How exciting is that?! Now Mr. Kuhn has a new book coming out, and the protagonist is none other than dear Prince Harry. Read Mr. Kuhn's letter, below, for details.
My last novel MRS QUEEN TAKES THE TRAIN was a surprise (to me) bestseller. The Weinstein Company optioned it for a movie. As my background has been in academic history and biography, I never really imagined I could write a novel. I'm used to spending years in the archives and writing a footnote to back up every fact. How could I possibly make things up and publish a fiction? Historians have had their heads cut off for less.
I suppose the lesson is: Just give it a try.
To be honest, too, there was a lot of background research in MRS QUEEN that I acquired without even trying to. When I'd written books on Queen Victoria's courtiers, I'd spent time at Windsor Castle in the archives. I'd caught distant glimpses of how the current Queen lives. I knew someone who lived on a far corner of the Balmoral estate. I'd met people who worked for her. It wasn't so hard to imagine what the lives of those courtiers would be like beyond their 9 to 5 routines.
My new book has similar origins. I've never met Prince Harry, but I do know some people who were at school with him. I've never been to Afghanistan, but I had students who were deployed to Iraq and I've known others who served near Kabul. I once went to a Buckingham Palace Christmas party, courtesy of one of the archivists at Windsor. Harry's mother was there. She had on a long red dress and red satin shoes with block heels. She wasn't only beautiful. She shimmered. I was a Diana skeptic up to that point. That night, however, I began to see how her charm consisted of a naturalness and an accessibility that many others of the royal family didn't have. Part of the beginning of PRINCE HARRY BOY TO MAN was wondering what it would be like to have someone like that in your life and then to lose her.
I was also interested in Harry's first real deployment to Afghanistan in 2007. He was sent home after a few weeks when some of the media blew his cover. That much is true. But then for this novel, I threw in his former nanny secretly stowing herself away on his plane to Kabul and a brother officer named Mustafa sitting beside him on the plane. I imagined a reporter prowling around his camp looking for a scoop. I wrote in a commanding officer who's no fan of the monarchy. That's how the fiction began this time around.
The story is a lighthearted account of a young man's coming of age, but there are darker things underneath, including the Taliban's destruction of treasured Afghan art, and Harry's having to cope with buried trauma from his childhood. Our hero does manage to survive all this, and the promise of the book is to suggest ways in which we all open new horizons for ourselves by engaging with things in our past that we'd rather not remember.
The book will be published, both as ebook and paperback, on June 22nd. I very much hope that your Anglophile readers will take a look.
With all best wishes,