‘Cheating isn’t funny but viewed from afar the cheater maybe be’…. So said Candace Bushnell in a recent tweet. Follow her on Twitter and you’ll find lots of comments and mumbles undoubtably synonymous with the world famous, Manolo wearing, New York City darling, Carrie Bradshaw. For those who live under a rock, Candace Bushnell is the brains behind Carrie, Charlotte, Sam and Miranda; the group of best friends in Sex and the City. Recently, I felt the luckiest girl in the world to be given the privilege of meeting Candace Bushnell. Unique, stylish and above all, her impressive and inspirational mindset makes any mere mortal feel confident enough to take on the universe. Before I met Candace, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Yes I’d seen every episode of SATC and even watched both films, numerous times but nothing could prepare me for how I’d feel when she walked into the room. As many people have said already, Candace Bushnell is like a living, breathing, real life Carrie Bradshaw.
Personally, New York is one of my absolute favourite cities in the world so I’m naturally a huge fan of SATC. Having been fortunate enough to spend time in the Hearst NYC offices (Cosmopolitan US, which by the way is where ‘Confessions of a Shopaholic’ is filmed), even spending many a dollar sipping cocktails in Manhatten, I even tried to get a green card to work there about four years ago. But alas, it was extremely difficult so the dream has been put on the back burner for now. New York is similar to London in many senses… Or is it? Aside from the weather and the tourist attractions, can you really compare the two?
Chatting with fellow Condé Nast-ers at the famous Condé Nast College of Fashion and Design, an instant silence killed conversations as we heard loud clicking approaching. Candace had arrived and in high heels, her long legs carried her to the front of the room to address the guests. If you want to personally know Candace, she is 56 yet looks 26, all without that vulgar too-much-money, too-much-surgery affect that most people working in Hollywood have. She moved from NYC a few years ago, is divorced and absolutely full of positivity. She has the knack of turning any situation into a lesson and can tell you a story about any decision or choice she’s had to make, why she did it and what she achieved from it rather than what she regretted or missed out on. Entering the room dressed in a shimmery cream mini dress, heels and a knee length brown coat, Candace made a joke and took a deliciously refreshing glug of champagne before taking her seat for a Q&A session. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a fifty something look in such great shape and already I could see similarities between her and SJP.
‘My career is a relationship with myself’ she began answering the first question. For me, this is relatable as I truly believe that commitment, understanding and getting to know yourself through a variety of pressures is in itself reflective of a relationship with a partner; a concept which I had never considered before. Day job aside, even writing this blog takes dedication and loyalty, particularly if I want it to develop. What’s fascinating about Candace is that she went to a creative school and studied writing but at 19 said to herself ‘OK enough now. I’m ready for my real life to start in New York’. So just like that, as you imagine Carrie Bradshaw first heading to the city, Candace arrived in her heels with a suitcase.
‘OK enough now. I’m ready for my real life to start in New York’
Wanting to be a novelist, Candace needed to pay the bills so took work as a journalist. It was after some time that she got her big break when living on East 79th Street – a column in the New York Observer – writing as her alter ego, Carrie Bradshaw. It was sex, men, cocktails and the city, written in the matter of fact style we love from Candace. It all got a bit awkward when Candace’s parents announced they’d subscribed to the paper though, as you could imagine. Candace was 34 when this happened. Circulation and newspaper sales increased when she wrote and even today a patient Candace emphasises that great work… good work…. fantastic work… eventually does get noticed.
Talking about her inspirations and writing themes, I couldn’t take my eyes off her. Candace oozes intelligence and knows what she wants. She’s clearly independent yet demonstrates an apparent willingness to give her all when with a partner, both personality traits which are mirrored by Carrie Bradshaw in Sex and the City. Candace spoke honestly about New York and discussed how even twenty years later, the city doesn’t change. There will always be the same groups of men (bicycle men who cycle to dates, toxic batchelors, those who want to marry asap without even knowing the girl well enough thanks to pressure) and there will always be women with groups of friends who they absolutely need for survival. As Candace so candidly put it, the city is not for pussies.
‘great work… good work…. fantastic work… eventually does get noticed…’
Knowing what to write about comes easy to Candace although sometimes there are those days where there isn’t a lot of writing actually completed, or to the other extreme, writing lots and lots on a deadline. She is creative, descriptive and can easily create suspense and excitement in a room, let alone on paper. Candace’s good tip for writing is to write fiction but present it as journalism. For instance, she researches a specific topic and will then write about it. This is key for keeping the audience engaged, captivated and interested, all the while desperate for the next instalment. This is a sign of a great novelist. For Candace, being creative is all about going back to the roots of creativity that begins in your childhood. For her it was playing with her sister, creating characters that each would take in turns to act out. Even back then, they would bicker over who was playing a certain character, proving she was competitive. Candace knew she wanted to write stories, there as no other choice. She was going to make it happen; a determination which again is mirrored in Carrie Bradshaw.
‘When asked about a third SATC film, Candace wasn’t too vocal but did show how excited she would be…’
When chatting about the famous SATC TV show, Candace spoke about how intially it was a toss up between going with ABC or HBO. Most of you will know that SATC ended up with HBO, a subscription only network that viewers had to pay to watch; similar to Netflix. So back then, it was a choice of going with ABC and hoping for huge audience figures from the get go or choosing HBO and seeing what happened. SATC began as an ‘underground’, word of mouth ‘cult’ so chances are, if it went with ABC there may not have been more than one series. However, in going with HBO people viewed it as a complete indulgence, got to know the characters, chatted about it with other subscribers. It was a natural, organic growth which did take time but has sustained and become more and more valuable than it ever could of any other way. This is important to remember, particularly for bloggers who are desperate for their pages to become an instant success and end up defending mediocrity purely for a short, snappy burst in followers followed by a longer, more drawn out period of unfollowers. Quality should not be a fad or fashion. SATC eventually grew and grew and six seasons and two films later, SATC is one of the most highly acclaimed shows with both a male and female following, iconic characters and an audience obsessed with the fashion, the dating, the social issues and a whole new education of safe sex. Oh and obviously not forgetting the outcome of the Carrie/Mr. Big story. By the way, when asked about a third SATC film, Candace wasn’t too vocal but did show how excited she would be. So watch this space!
One thing is for sure with Candace. She has excelled because she knows what she is good at and is fantastic at what she’s good at. She isn’t someone to stretch herself across a variety of platforms because to her, she is a novelist – that is her passion, her purpose and her identity. If you’re good at something and you want it, go for it and get it. Make it happen because no one else can do it for you. You came in to this world alone and you will leave it alone.
Candace Bushnell has written her new book, #KillingMonica is available now to buy. Have you met Candace? Are you a Sex And The City fan? Comment below x