Aby King is the author of The Adventures of Lupo, The Royal Dog series and the first book in her series, Lupo and the Secret of Windsor Castle was published on 4th September 2014. For those of you who do not know the significance of the title character, let me explain. Lupo is the beloved pet dog of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Aby King has immortalised Lupo in to a series of fantastic children’s books. Recently Aby took time out of her busy schedule to talk to Royal Central.
Thank you for taking the time to talk to Royal Central.
It’s a real pleasure to be asked, I’ve used your website for research! I’m a fan.
You describe yourself as having a ‘Portfolio’ career, amongst other things you have been a model, a TV Presenter and an actress. You are now a writer, would you say you have now found your calling?
Probably not – is the best answer to that question. I’m a creative person who likes to constantly be doing something. I’m at my worst when I’m not immersed in a creative project. The Adventures of a Royal Dog series was something I really wanted to do because it is a hugely wonderful and exciting world to be creative within. Life in the royal palaces is very different through Lupo’s eyes. Right now I feel very privileged to be allowed to share Lupo’s world with children and so this is for now my central focus.
Our readers will know that you are the author of The Adventures of a Royal Dog series. Can you explain a bit more to our readers about how this all came about?
If you can think back in time to when the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were getting married. Can you remember that overwhelming sense of pride and love the world felt for them? I was caught up in that and I remember thinking ‘if only we could all always be caught up in this feeling of unified happiness’. It was a very peaceful time. The Duke and Duchess’s story is such a fun and loving one and it had the power to stop the world in its tracks albeit for a brief few celebratory days.
I like everyone else eagerly followed their story. When I saw that they had Lupo, who looks like a wonderful fun and happy spirit I found myself wondering what he must see, what life must be like for him with this happy couple as they begin their lives together and they set up their home within the spectacular surroundings at Kensington Palace.
My own cocker spaniel Lilly loves to explore the palaces grounds and it’s a special time for us both so becoming Lupo wasn’t as hard as it seems, I just found myself walking around the grounds imagining life in Apartment 1A – asking myself questions like “I wonder if Lupo sits under the kitchen table waiting for the Duke to slip him some marmalade on toast whilst the Duchess sips her tea in fluffy pink slippers?”
Can you give our readers a brief overview of the plot of your first book The Adventures of a Royal Dog, Lupo & The Secret of Windsor Castle?
Whilst out walking with Nanny and Prince George, Lupo chases a squirrel to a hidden lake. Where upon he discovers a badly injured swan. The swan Cyrus was attacked by something vicious that had removed a lost treasure from the lake. When Lupo is found cradling the poorly swan he is accused of the terrible crime. It is up to him and his friends Herbert the Head of Mice Intelligence Section Five, Holly the Queen’s corgi and Kitty the Palace Cat to help clear his name by deciphering the clues to reveal a very old dark secret lurking in the bowels of Windsor Castle. Will he end up being led away to the Tower of London? Can he save his friends from the Queen’s oldest secret? Will Prince George cope without his loyal dog? Let a royal mystery take you and your family on an adventure that will leave you enchanted by a very special Cocker Spaniel.
You have your own Cocker Spaniel, Lilly. How much did she inspire you to write this series?
Lilly does lie in wait for marmalade on toast… she is a huge inspiration. As I’m doing this she is under my feet gently taking care of me, our home and overseeing everything. Cocker spaniels like Lupo and Lilly are much loved and cared for animals, who are as much a part of a family as a child. I should imagine the pregnant Duchess takes great comfort from Lupo who is no doubt looking out for her in her time of need whilst at the same time playing with Prince George, aiding the Duke and guarding the Palace (with the help of a few of his friends of course).
Why was it the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s dog Lupo you chose to focus on in your books and not The Queens corgis or The Duchess of Cornwall’s two Jack Russell terriers?
I know cocker spaniels and the trick to writing anything is to write something you understand and are passionate about. Her Majesty’s corgi’s are a big part of Lupo’s adventures and they are a pretty interesting bunch – Monty, the oldest corgi always does the night shift unless he feels Her Majesty’s husband needs special attention, in which case Willow, the other senior royal corgi eagerly stands in. According to Holly the youngest of the Queen’s dogs, Willow hates being out of the loop. Often she’s found quietly watching from the corners of Buckingham Palace. She likes to be as close as she can to the Queen so as not to miss any opportunity to get a treat or a pat. Candy, a dorgi, is pretty fussy: she complains if she isn’t allowed to accompany the Queen when meeting Heads of State or choosing dresses, hats, shoes from her vast (often recycled) wardrobe. And of course there is Vulcan, he choses not to work to any kind of shift. He follows the Queen sniffing at her ankles like he’s trying to work something out. Sometimes Holly finds the Queen abandoned because Vulcan is off doing something he considers far more ‘important’.
The Duchess of Cornwall’s Jacks are a pair of naughty twins – NONE of the royal dogs have escaped my attention, all of them play a big role in the monarchy and it’s future!
Knowing that The Adventures of a Royal Dog: Lupo & The Secret of Windsor Castle was a book for children, when I read it I was surprised at how enticed I became by the whole thing. Was it always your intention to mesmerise adults with your storytelling as well as children?
No! That was a surprise to me. A dear friend of my families is a horse trainer who has worked with the royal family for many years. He read it and he called me straight away to ask for the next one. He’s in his 70’s! I think it’s a fantasy world, which is real at the same time. We all know what Windsor Castle looks like, only none of us have had a chance to really explore it and I think it’s this that adults are drawn too. That and it’s a chance for us to experience what happens behind those big stone walls -a glimpse within a very mysterious and special world we all know and love but rarely get to experience or share in.
The focus of this series is mainly on the animals, though Royal Family members do make fleeting appearances. Were you always 100% certain that the animals would be the main attraction?
Yes absolutely. When the Duchess of Cambridge visited The Art Room she revealed the name of her spaniel to the children, it was their reaction that excited me. Children everywhere immediately responded to the name Lupo. I initially wrote a series aimed at a much younger age group but in truth children under the age of 6 aren’t as aware of the royal family as children of the age of 8. I am a very big fan of the royal family and everything that they do, so it is very important to me that I write about them in a respectful way hence they are fleetingly mentioned, Lupo’s adventures are of course children’s books and not unscrupulous revelations – children are far more interested in animal antics then a princes!
You say that you were inspired by Enid Blyton. Are there any more authors or just anyone else who inspires you?
When was the last time you read Buckingham Palace by AA Milne? I have a copy of it by my desk. I love his poems. To this day I buy and re-buy children’s classics. They are gentle stories that inspire children to dream and have an imagination. I’m a traditionalist. I have tried to read modern children’s ‘celebrity’ authors but find myself throwing them across rooms annoyed at the contents or the lack of educational content!
Are you a fan of the entire Royal Family or is it just the animals?
One day the royal family is the center of all that is good about England and the next they are ridiculed and undone. The attitude towards our beloved royal family is continually in flux. Which I personally think is very disappointing. Without them I think England would be lost. They give us more than they take, they help so many without a voice and their homes give us a rich history that is the envy of the world. I am a person who is greatly proud to be British and all the pomp and circumstance that comes with it. If I can educate children on the wonders of our monarchy through the use of story telling through the eyes of Lupo, then perhaps in some way I am giving a bit back to those that have done so much for us.
I believe you are planning some more adventures for Lupo and his animal friends. Can you give us a few clues as to just what Lupo will be getting up to in his next quest?
Lupo & The Curse at Buckingham Palace will be out in June 2015. It will be the second book in the series. There are currently four books planned and three penned!
In the second book Lupo and his friends have to hurry to save Buckingham Palace from an ancient curse. I really enjoyed writing it and I very much hope children and adults will enjoy reading it and the other books I produce in the series. I will confess though it wasn’t easy having to predict the timings of pregnancies, marriages and coronations!
Could a Lupo film be on the cards?
We have had interest but I am holding back on agreeing to anything at the moment. I want to give children a chance to read the books and imagine things for themselves. Films and animated series are not off the cards, perhaps in the future and only if it’s presented in the right way. I’m very keen to protect what has become a very big part of my own family.
And finally, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge recently announced they were expecting their second child. Boy or Girl?
A few weeks before the announcement I was putting my finishing touches to Lupo & The Curse at Buckingham Palace and i can reveal that the Duchess is juggling two boys and not much sleep!
With special thanks to Aby King for taking the time to talk to Royal Central. Lupo and the Secret of Windsor Castle is available for download as well as in hardcover format.
Photo Credit: Jessica Dobbs Photography and Aby King.