The curtain on a pop cultural mystery has finally been pulled back: the author of the novel “Argylle.” The book is a companion to the Matthew Vaughn film by the same name, allegedly written by “Elly Conway,” which happens to be the name of the film’s lead character played by Bryce Dallas Howard.
The actual author, the Telegraph revealed Friday, is none other than… Australian novelist and screenwriter Terry Hayesw British author Tammy Cohen. Yes, it’s a collab, assigned by “Argylle” director Matthew Vaughn — despite protestations in the run-up to the film of there being a “real” Elly Conway.
Sorry, Swifties: it seems the “Cruel Summer” singer isn’t behind this one. In reference to rampant, elaborate fan theories that Swift had in fact penned the book, Cohen told the outlet, “God, I hope all the people that pre-ordered on the basis that Taylor wrote it aren’t disappointed.”
“I hope they are!” Hayes retorted. “If that’s why they buy a book, they deserve every punishment they get.”
Cohen and Hayes were tasked not only with writing the novel, but also with keeping their involvement in the project a secret. Vaughn came up with the idea of a companion novel for the movie, something like what the film’s reclusive author Elly Conway would have written in real life.
The director suggested the project to Hayes, who consulted with his publisher. In the end, the publisher brought in Cohen due to Hayes not having the time to commit to a full novel. Cohen said of her hiring, “I like to think, rather than that I was cheap and available, it’s because I’m very much interested in characterization and motivation and dynamics, and Bill thought that would be a good mix with Terry, whose vision is very filmic: he’s so good on plot and narrative pace and action.”
The pair admitted that working on the book was unlike their other literary efforts. Both Universal Studios and Apple were engaged with the project, something that Hayes said made sense.
“They had their demands, but that was understandable. This is not just a standalone book or even a standalone film: they’re hoping it’s the start of a huge franchise,” he explained. “It was frustrating on occasions, but, you know, what isn’t?”
In a Thursday appearance on “The Drew Barrymore Show,” Howard denied Swift’s involvement with the book. However, Howard acknowledged that Swift certainly influenced elements of her character’s appearance and demeanor — but when it came to penning the book, “She didn’t. She’s not [Elly Conway].”
“Matthew Vaughn saw a picture of Taylor Swift with a backpack and because she is the patron saint of cat ladies pretty much, [he] was like, ‘Who is this person who is carrying — will not leave their home without their cat, and this seems like a good situation,’ and so, yeah, in large part that was inspired by Taylor,” she added.
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