Julia Quinn brings Bridgerton to Dubai at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature

Seats fill up Julia Quinn’s “The Bridgerton Takeover” session on February 13, 2022 in Emirates Airlines Festival of Literature in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (AUD/Lujain Ammar).

Book and series fans swarmed the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature to welcome Julia Quinn, who held a session all about her New York Times best-selling series Bridgerton on Sunday.  

The American author Julie Pottinger, 52, commonly known by her pen name Julia Quinn, began her Bridgerton series back in 2000. Although receiving multiple awards and sellouts, she had recently been recognized for her series adaptation on Netflix, which quickly rose to fame as the second most-watched show on the platform.  

The historical drama takes place in the lavish competitive Regency London high society, where Daphne Bridgerton, the protagonist of the first book, has debuted into the marriage market in the hopes of finding true love, but faces multiple scandals amidst the gossip sheet written by the anonymous Lady Whistledown. Each book reveals a different protagonist, all within the same aristocratic world. “You have this story centered around happiness and love,” Quinn said during the session moderated by journalist Julia Wheeler. “Whether in the form of friendship, romance, or family.”  

Julia Quinn (right) and Julia Wheeler (left) discuss the success and making of Bridgerton on February 13, 2022 in Emirates Airlines Festival of Literature in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (AUD/Lujain Ammar).

The medical student turned author shared her experiences upon discovering the book’s series adaptation, as she revealed that she found out through a phone call with her agent at a coffee shop. When approached by Shonda Rhimes, the highest showrunner in the industry, she did not hesitate to claim the opportunity. Rhimes happened to read Bridgerton after running out of books during a vacation. “My life changed just because she ran out of books,” said Quinn. The deal took four years before it even hit TV.  

Although based on the book series, Quinn had no creative control over the production, a decision which she had accepted from the beginning. “It was a once in a lifetime opportunity, and it did not happen often in my genre,” said Quinn. She even appreciated the diversity and “color consciousness” of the casting. “I was not consulted about this, but I loved it,” added Quinn. She revealed that her favorite change of the book adaptation would be Queen Charlotte, who was never mentioned in the book but would soon have her show spinoff. “When I met Golda Rosheuvel (who played Queen Charlotte), I immediately wanted to be her best friend,” said Quinn. “She was so cool.” 

Quinn highlighted the feminist messages reflected within the historical drama, as she revealed that her writing reflects her values. “I like to write in a style more accessible to me and my audience,” said Quinn. “It’s who I am, and these are my values.” Quinn added that her husband, who has supported her the entire way, is even more of a feminist than she is. 

Quinn also shared her backstage experience as she recounted the incredible effort placed for the Netflix series. “They had 104 different costumes for Daphne, and I remember thinking, ‘This is no low budget production,'” said Quinn. She recounts meeting the ‘ridiculously good looking but kind and intelligent’ Rege-Jean Page (playing Simon Bassett) and Adjoa Andoh (playing Lady Danbury), who told her: “Thank you for giving us all jobs.” “It was unbelievable! I felt like the fairy godmother that nobody knows,” said Quinn.  

Fans line up to meet and receive signatures from Julia Quinn after the session on February 13, 2022 in Emirates Airlines Festival of Literature in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (AUD/Lujain Ammar).

Book fans were ecstatic to meet one of their favorite authors at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature. Australian Sarah Sinclair, 28, had waited ten years to meet her. “I love Julia Quinn, and I’ve read everything. My mom introduced me to her when I was 18, so it’s really exciting that she’s actually here,” said Sinclair. British Arzoo Ali, 15, also relayed how amazing it was to get direct accounts of the book from the author herself. “It was cool to meet her and find out all the hidden details about the book, and I feel like getting to know her and more about what she thinks about it is really fun,” said Ali.  

Bridgeton’s series adaptation is far from its end, as its second season will air on Netflix on March 25, with confirmed renewals for seasons three and four. Quinn couldn’t be more excited, as she plans to reveal more hints of the new season at her upcoming Bridgerton fan event.  

Lujain Ammar

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