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Candace Bushnell: 'I feel we'll revisit the Sex and the City characters somewhere down the road'

The Conversation

By Oscar Quine

The Sex and the City creator on dating for over-forties, how New York ‘self-selects’, and why we may not have seen the last of Carrie and co.

Q: New York City is your home and the setting for all your books. It's a crazy place in that you have all these different kinds of people living so close together. Do you treat it as a palette of sorts when putting together characters?

A: Yes. What makes it interesting is that New York is a place that people want to go to.

For people from other parts of the country, it's like the holy grail, and it tends to self-select people who are motivated and ambitious.

Often they've chosen to leave one place and move to New York to seek fame and fortune; already you have a certain kind of person, somebody who is probably a bit of a risk-taker. It's interesting to see people when they want something. There's always a drama. It's like the beginning of every book: what do the characters want?

Q: You did the now legendary downtown New York thing in the 1980s. Was it as much fun as everybody makes out?

A: The weird thing is, in the early 1980s people would do cocaine openly. I'm not even sure it was totally illegal.

You would see people in offices doing it: "Hey you want a line? Okay let's get back to work." I'm not kidding - people treated it like having a cup of coffee. I think people felt that it was something that would keep you up with the pace of New York.

Q: Do you ever think about what the Sex and the City characters would be up to now or have you put them to bed?

A: Yeah, I do. I feel like we're going to revisit those characters, maybe in another movie or something, down the road.

Of course, I'll say this and they'll say, "Candace Bushnell says there's going to be a Sex and the City 3", which I'm not; but I would love to revisit them in some way.

Those characters are, in a way, part of the psyche of a certain generation of women. It's like the phenomenon of Friends.

People really related to the characters in that show and it's the same thing with Sex and the City - we feel like those characters are our girlfriends.

Q: Do you think online dating has made the scene a more brutal one than that which Carrie et al were used to?

A: I don't know because I don't do online dating. I think the last time I looked at it was maybe 16 years ago, so I was 40.

Back then, I still smoked, and I think I went on - and if you were over 40 and you smoked, there were literally three matches, and they were unsavoury looking fellas. I was like, "The numbers are just not going to work for me".

Honestly, if you're over a certain age, you just don't fit into the algorithm.

Q: What drives you to keep writing? Have you ever thought of quitting?

A: No, that's just not me. Writing is a huge, huge passion. I'll probably die at my computer. I feel that there are still so many books that I want to write - and it's annoying because it takes two years to write one. I wish that there were 48 hours in the day. I'm always going to do it and I'm always going to be trying to master the novel.

Q: Is there a novel that stands out for you as the epitome of the form?

A: I still like Anna Karenina by Tolstoy. Another amazing novel is Sentimental Education by Flaubert. It's like entering another person's life, it's so honest. For some reason, it got terrible reviews and there's a story that he took the manuscript and ripped it up and said, "There, that's what the public wants".

Q: Have you ever felt like doing that?

A: When I was younger, I would feel that way. It's just the passions and drama of youth. Now I'm just like, "Whatever". I've got my path and I've got my books to write and I just keep going around my track, and if people want to jump on to the train - c'mon. There's plenty of room.

The plug

Candace Bushnell (56) wrote a column, Sex and the City, for the New York Observer in the 1990s. It was adapted into a bestselling anthology that went on to form the basis of the TV series and two hit movies. She has since written several novels, two of which have been adapted for TV. Her latest book, Killing Monica, is out now (Little, Brown, £14.99).

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