Hello, and welcome back to Chapter Two! It’s been two weeks of holiday posts, but now it’s time to jump back and get ourselves in order again.
If you’ve missed anything, make sure you go back and catch up!
Early notes for Zahra said “Amy Brookheimer + Olivia Pope + Michaela Pratt + Huma Abedin
“The person who awaits him and his security on the tarmac is very much not that. He’s a tall thirty-something Indian man in an impeccably tailored suit, roguishly handsome with a neatly trimmed beard, a steaming cup of tea, and a shiny Union Jack on his lapel. Well, okay then.”
Alex, please. YOU ARE BI.
“Mr. Claremont-Diaz,” he says. “Welcome back to England. Shaan Srivastava, Prince Henry’s equerry.”
When I was writing I always pictured Rahul Kohli as Shaan.
“For now,” Shaan says, “you’re to come with me to chauffeur the prince from the stables.”
Originally Henry’s dog David was in the car – fun fact: David is a therapy dog.
“Alex spent the summer before seventh grade shuttled back and forth from home to their dad’s new place outside of Los Angeles until they could strike a long-term arrangement.”
There wasn’t much room to get into it but Oscar is from California, where his parents immigrated from Mexico. He grew up in San Diego and met Ellen while working at Berkeley Law.
“You’re going to memorize this so if anybody tries to catch you in a lie, you know what to say,” she says. Under HOBBIES, it lists polo and competitive yachting. Alex is going to set himself on fire.
A line cut for space was Alex using the mnemonic device “repetitive snotting” to remember this.
“He never slept well there. He’d sneak out of his thrown-together bedroom in the middle of the night, stealing Helados from his dad’s freezer and standing barefoot in the kitchen eating straight from the quart, washed blue in the pool light.”
His favorite flavors were strawberry & coconut.
“You can’t leave me in DC to go back to M.I.T.”
Nora transferred from M.I.T to GW for her junior year in the fall of 2017.
“He has earbuds in, and his hair is a mess.”
Definitely listening to sad whiteboy music.
“Sorry. Er. I was just. Cornettos”
Thank you, Misfits the TV show, for introducing me to Cornettos.
“Have you practiced what you’ll say tomorrow?”
Poor Henry is both 1) trying to help Alex knowing how cruel UK tabloids can be to people in the royal orbit and 2) genuinely nervous about this, but of course Alex doesn’t pick up on either.
One of the liberties I took when inventing a new royal family with slightly different rules: they’re allowed individual social media accounts a la Michelle Obama.
From the passenger seat, Shaan shakes a yellow pill out of a bottle and passes it back to Henry, who readily pops it into his mouth and swallow it dry.”
I was on Zoloft when I wrote this and so is Henry.
“Act like you like me!” Alex says cheerfully.
HE DOES, YOU DUMBASS
“Alex shakes Dottie’s hand first, smiling his Politics Smile at her, the one that makes a lot of congresswomen and more than a few congressmen want to tell him things they shouldn’t.”
It was cut for space, but the first draft included more Alex political recon and flirting for information.
“Yes, this is exactly how I always dreamed it would be. Locked in a cupboard with your elbow inside my rib cage,” Henry snipes. He sounds like he wants to punch Alex, which is probably the most Alex has ever liked him, so he follows an impulse and drives an elbow into Henry’s side, hard.”
One thing I loved doing with this book is taking tried & true romcom tropes – like forcing two people who “hate” each other and trapping them in a small enclosed space – and making it gay.
“Why don’t we start…” Henry says, turning his head to squint at him. This close Alex can just make out the silhouette of Henry’s strong royal nose. “…with you telling me why exactly you hate me so much?”
Reasons I want to write a Henry POV sequel: to explore Henry’s thoughts on his crush hating him for YEARS! Classic “I tried to distance myself from this guy and it worked too well and maybe that’s good but also it sucks.”
Alex glares. “I walked up to you to introduce myself, and you stared at me like I was the most offensive thing you had ever seen. Right after you shook my hand, you turned to Shaan and said, ‘Can you get rid of him?'”
POOR HENRY accidentally being a dick in the throes of the beginning of the most inconvenient crush he could possibly have.
“And I’m not white like she is, can’t even pass for it.”
I mostly put this line in so readers (and casting directors if there was ever a film) wouldn’t cast him as white/non-latinx.
“Father: Famed film star Arthur Fox, deceased 2015, pancreatic cancer. The funeral was televised.”
This always makes me so sad – they were forced to grieve so publicly.
“Yes, I do like Star Wars, and my favorite is Return of the Jedi.”
A true romantic.
“Outside Kensington Palace, Alex takes Henry’s phone out of his hand and swiftly opens a blank contact page before he can protest or sic a PPO on him for violating royal property.”
The funniest part about this scene is the absolute panic Henry must have felt when Alex grabbed his phone, knowing one wrong move and Alex would open up Henry’s 5,000 anguished texts to Pez about the whole weekend.
That’s a wrap on chapter two, bbs! Join us next week when we start chapter three!