Duchess of York Sarah Ferguson Opens Up About Becoming a Bestselling Novelist at 63: 'I Didn't Have My Hook'
At just 26 years old, Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, commanded the world’s attention when she married into the British royal family. Now, decades after becoming the self-titled “royal rebel,” she is speaking her truth about her journey in the spotlight, her thoughts on the upcoming coronation, and, most recently, becoming a two-time novelist.
“I didn’t have my hook,” Ferguson tells SheKnows of her life before becoming an author. For the Duchess, life had centered around people telling her who she was. “You’re the Duchess. You’re the philanthropist. You’re the humanitarian. You’re this, you’re that,” she remembers, “But it wasn’t me. It was everything I could do. But I wasn’t on my hook on who Sarah wanted to be.”
What really made her happy? “I wanted to get down the written word out of my head,” she says.
Since finding her passion at 61, Ferguson began a fully-fledged new career and has already published two books: Her Heart for a Compass and A Most Intriguing Lady. The novels are historical dramas loosely based on Ferguson’s very own red-haired ancestors, Lady Margaret Montagu Scott and Lady Mary Montagu Douglas Scott. Prior to her novels, Ferguson was also an accomplished children’s book author with over 40 titles under her name.
Her latest release, A Most Intriguing Lady, follows the two sides of Lady Mary. “Bookish, fiercely intelligent, and a keen observer, Mary has deliberately cultivated a mousey persona that allows her to remain overlooked and significantly underestimated by all,” the novel’s official description reads. “It’s the perfect cover for a sleuth, a role she stumbles into when trying to assist a close friend during a house party hosted by her parents at their stately Scottish home.”
“You start your career at 61, then you go to say, ‘Oh, I could write a novel,’ then you ask for help to write the novel, and then when you get to 63, you’ve already done the Sunday Times bestseller list,” Ferguson recalls of her budding writing career, adding that “it’s pretty exciting to talk from a place of inspiration of starting a new career at 63.”
“You’re never too old,” she concludes.
Most notably, Ferguson says that in writing the novels, she discovered herself in the process. “People say you escape into the novel,” she explains. “Well, I am escaping out of myself; of the self-doubt, out of the self-judgment, of the self-sabotage.” Today, Ferguson knows confidently who she is. “I’m a novelist and I’m an author,” she says, “I write historical romances with a twist of super sleuthness – super sexy, sassy, super sleuthness. And what else? Oh, yes, and also saucy. We got some sauce going on.”
Though her career now steers away from her royal philanthropic duties, Ferguson continues to admire the institution she married into in 1986. “I love to learn from the institution of the monarchy. It’s been around for a very long time and it will stay around a very long time because it does, especially in this Great Britain, bring stability to the country,” she says, adding that the monarch’s allure will always be present given its inherent “mystery.” “I think it must maintain the mysterious tradition and culture of the unwritten rulebook of kindness and goodness that goes with it,” she adds.
As for her thoughts on the upcoming coronation of King Charles III and Queen Consort Camilla on May 6, Ferguson calls the date “a time of unity and a time of unification of Great Britain.” “I think he’s going to be an amazing King,” she adds of Charles, someone she’s “known” all her life. “And, of course, to have Camilla by his side is a wonderful unity and they so deserve it.”
When talking about her next life chapter, Ferguson almost jumps up from her seat in excitement. “Tell everybody I’m game on for cameo parts in any TV show,” she says, before recalling her iconic moment with Matt LeBlanc’s Joey in Friends. “I think I definitely want to be in either A&E films or Hallmark. I definitely think it’s time to be an actress. Come on, it’s time, I can do it.”
Also coming up are her two novels being adapted for TV in 2023 and 2024. “We’re going into production,” she says. “In 2024, watch this space, because you will see my red-headed heroines, i.e. me, on the stage.”
Before you go, click here to see the 100 best photos of the royal family from the past 20 years.
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