Her ‘hot and crazy’ novels about feisty women bedding rakish aristocrats have become a Netflix sensation. The writer talks about literary snobs, colour-conscious casting and the curse of Jane Austen

“People look down on romance novels,” says Julia Quinn. “We’re the ugly stepchild of the publishing industry – even though romance novels make so much money for publishers that they’re able to take chances on poetry, literary fiction and other things that don’t really make money.”

This is why Quinn never dreamed that any of her novels – Regency romances in which smart, witty women fall for handsome titled men – would ever make the leap to TV. She was happy with her regular slot at the top of the bestseller lists, if a little irked at the way the genre is looked down on by more literary types. “I dream big, I do,” says Quinn, speaking from her home in Seattle. “But nobody had ever done it, nobody had ever shown any signs of wanting to. And not just my books, but the genre as a whole. If somebody wanted to do a period piece, they wanted to do Jane Austen again.”

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