‘My Policeman’ Author Bethan Roberts Opens Up About the Love Triangle That Inspired the Harry Styles Movie

Photos from the seaside in Brighton, England, began to trickle in last spring: Harry Styles and Emma Corrin, frolicking in the waves, filming the drama to come my policeman. The project marks a new addition to Styles’ acting resume and Corrin’s first film since appearing in The crown, but as thrilling as the images are, the source material, Bethan Roberts’ 2012 novel of the same name, is even more stunning. Inspired by the buzz generated by the film version, my policeman first released in the United States in August, drawing a whole new readership into its sweet agony.

On paper, my policeman looks like Brokeback Mountain–in–Brighton, an angst-filled triangular love story between the titular Bobby, Tom; her cultivated and clandestine lover, Patrick; and Tom’s wife, Marion. Set in 1957, when homosexuality was still criminalized in Britain, Tom and Patrick’s relationship is accused of danger. The connections between the three are ever-changing and often unexpected; Marion’s story and Patrick’s diary are steeped in a mutual longing that Roberts captures so vividly it almost hurts. vogue interviewed Roberts about my policemanthe cinematic treatment of , mania for styles and finding inspiration in a real-life literary love triangle.

vogue: my policeman was originally released in 2012 in the UK and was only released this year in the US. How much does this have to do with the upcoming Harry Styles/Emma Corrin adaptation?

Bethan Roberts: All! When news of the adaptation broke, the book suddenly received a very welcome new life. I think we currently have 15 foreign rights agreements. Before the film, we had two or three. It’s amazing.

How involved are you in adaptation? Was the book chosen in 2012, but it’s only now that it’s been produced?

I’m not involved in the film adaptation in an official capacity, but the producers, Berlanti Productions and Independent Films, have been so lovely and involved me in all sorts of ways. The amazing [producer] Robbie Rogers, whose promotion of the novel dates back to its first publication, met with me in 2013 to discuss a possible adaptation. He and his husband, Greg Berlanti, then worked tirelessly to secure financing for the film. Super talented screenwriter Ron Nyswaner came to see me in Brighton about a year later to discuss the novel and the screenplay. I showed him around the places in the book – we walked for hours! – and we got on well. From what I understand, taking 10 years to reach the screen isn’t at all unusual…and it’s a beautiful thing, to have that little bit of hope bubbling in the background for years. When things weren’t going so well for my writing, I dreamed that Robbie might call me with amazing news, even though everyone told me that only 1% of optional novels actually make it to the screen . Whether this actually happened is still a bit hard to believe.

Scott R. Banks