Bridgerton Author Julia Quinn Says Shonda Rhimes 'Stumbled Upon' Her Book Series on Vacation
Julia Quinn, the author of the 11-part Bridgerton book series, says the hit Netflix adaptation came to be after Shonda Rhimes ran out of reading material on vacation — and picked up one of the historical romance novels by chance.
During an appearance on the Tamron Hall Show Monday, Quinn recalled the moment she first heard that her stories would be adapted into a show by veteran TV producer Rhimes.
"It came out of nowhere," she said. "I was just sitting there as one does, pretending to write in a Starbucks, and my phone rang and it was my agent and he said, 'Have you heard of Shonda Rhimes?' And I just kind of went, 'Uh, yes.' He said, 'Well, I just had the most interesting call.'"
"I practically fell off the stool, 'cause nobody was adapting romance novels," she continued. "People will ask me, 'How did you sell it?' and I'll say, 'I didn't do anything!' The way I understand it, Shonda ran out of books to read on vacation and somehow stumbled on one of mine. It's crazy to think that my life is forever changed because Shonda didn't bring enough reading material on vacation, but that's honestly what happened."
Bridgerton, which was renewed by Netflix for a second season last week, has caused sales of same-titled book series to explode, with the first book securing the number one spot on The New York Times' bestsellers list.
"These books have been beloved since their original publication, and we expected there would be renewed interest in them, but I don't think anyone anticipated this level of response," Quinn's editor Lyssa Keusch, the executive editor at Avon Books, recently told PEOPLE.
"We're all absolutely thrilled to reacquaint loyal fans with the Bridgerton family and to introduce a whole new audience to this unforgettable world!" she added.
Last month, Quinn spoke to PEOPLE about how excited she was to see the show's creators commit to "color-conscious casting" and include a new character, Queen Charlotte, whom historians believe was the first-ever biracial royal.
"The idea was, 'What if [Queen Charlotte] had used her position to elevate people of color to positions of power? What would society look like then?" Quinn said at the time. "It was a reimagining. You see it and you think, boy, that's how society should be."
While the show doesn't adapt the books "word for word," Quinn said it has captured the essence of the characters and storyline.
"I think [fans are] going to be really amazed at how you can take something and not adapt it word for word — because it's absolutely not — and yet still stay so incredibly true to the characters and story," she said.