"I just found him riveting and unbelievably attractive and charismatic," author Sally Quinn said of her first meeting with Dr. Anthony Fauci

By Ashley Boucher
May 11, 2020 08:09 PM
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Dr. Anthony Fauci
Dr. Anthony Fauci
| Credit: Evan Vucci/AP/Shutterstock

It turns out that people have been thirsting after Dr. Anthony Fauci long before he became the face of the United States' battle against the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Romance novelist Sally Quinn revealed on CNN Monday that Fauci was the inspiration for the lead character in her 1991 book Happy Endings, which sees a Washington, D.C.-based doctor get into a steamy love affair with the former First Lady.

Happy Endings is a work of fiction, of course, but Quinn told CNN that Fauci's attractiveness and charisma that the fictitious Michael Lanzer inherited were far from make believe.

"I had not met him before. I knew who he was, because he was the famous AIDS doctor," Quinn said of when she met Fauci at a dinner party, speaking on CNN's New Day with Alisyn Camerota. But while most conversations at Washington events revolve around politics or "chit chat about the news," Quinn said that she and Fauci "hit it off immediately" with meaningful conversation.

"We just sort of immediately got into a very intense conversation, and I just found him riveting, and unbelievably attractive, and charismatic," Quinn added of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director. "I thought he was brilliant. He had an incredible mind, he had a wonderful, sort of witty sense of humor."

"He was one of those guys who was interested as well as interesting," Quinn gushed. "I mean, he was asking me questions. ... I just thought, 'wow, this guy' — I just thought he was really sexy. He just oozed decency and integrity. He was kind and caring and all of those things."

"I was looking for the perfect person for her to have an affair with," Quinn explained of her protagonist, Sadie Grey, and after meeting Fauci, the novelist knew she had found her man.

Sally Quinn
Sally Quinn
| Credit: J. Kempin/Getty Images

All of the positive qualities that Quinn found in Fauci translated perfectly to the character of Lanzer, a scientist who woos Sadie in Happy Endings, which is the sequel to 1986's Regrets Only.

"What she [Sadie] saw in him is exactly what everyone is seeing in him now," Quinn said, mentioning the petition to name Fauci as PEOPLE's next "Sexiest Man Alive."

"He's become this great sex symbol. And it was kind of like, who knew? I just wrote it the way I saw it," Quinn said. "Suddenly here, 30 years later, it's all coming true — except that he's not having an affair with the first lady."