When Carrie met Samantha: Author Candace Bushnell dishes on “Summer and the City”
In just three days this summer, the W Buckhead threw together a glamorous pool party at the hotel’s Wet bar worthy of “Sex and the City” heroine Carrie Bradshaw herself.
Secret invitations were emailed out just days before the recent private bash, signature cocktails were created withHarmonie by HPNOTIQ, DJ Jay McCracken was hired to spin 80s favorites, including Aha’s “Take on Me” and a lavish dessert table was arranged, all to celebrate the release of author Candace Bushnell‘s latest novel “Summer and the City,” the second in her series of “Carrie Diaries Novels.”
Fresh from some shoe shopping in the Southern heat, Bushnell invited Intel inside her poolside cabana to dish exclusively about “Summer,” the “Sex and the City” origins book set in 1980s New York City. In “Summer,” Bushnell finally reveals how Carrie Bradshaw first met Samantha Jones, Miranda Hobbs and Charlotte York who fans have faithfully followed through three books, six seasons of the hit HBO show and two feature films.
With all of that history, how difficult was it for Bushnell to determine how the four future pop culture icons first met? “Well, I certainly knew what their backgrounds were,” she explains. “The book and the TV series were deliberately not about the characters’ back stories. The idea was that the characters made their own families when they came to New York. The specifics were never worked out. It gave me a lot of freedom. When I first sat down to write ‘Summer and the City,’ I really began thinking about the early 80s and the situations that would arise and how people meet up for the first time when you’re a newcomer in New York.”
Spoiler Alert No. 1: Future PR queen Samantha Jones enters the “Summer” landscape as the cousin of the mean girl from Carrie’s high school. “It’s so true to that time because that’s how you met people before the internet!” Bushnell says. “There was no Facebook. It was always the friend of a friend of a friend. In those days, going to New York was a pretty big deal and people would say to you, ‘Hey, I vaguely know this one person and here’s their phone number.’ And you would call that person! There were no cell phones. It was a very different time in technology. It really came down to word of mouth.”
Spoiler Alert No. 2: Carrie discovers future legal eagle Miranda Hobbs protesting outside a Saks Fifth Avenue “That’s based on real women who in the early 80s would protest against pornography outside Saks Fifth Avenue,” says Bushnell. “I thought if Miranda were in the city at that time that’s what she would be doing. It was a very powerful scene in New York at that time. I wanted to put the girls together but I also really wanted to capture that moment in time in New York as well. It forged them and made them who they are.”
Spoiler Alert No. 3: Charlotte York arrives fashionably late in the closing pages of “Summer and the City.” “I love the way Charlotte comes in at the end!” Bushnell reflects. “And of course, she’s reading Brides magazine. Even back then she thinks she’s going to find true love and Carrie’s like, ‘In New York City? I don’t think so!’”
Bushnell, who like her heroine Carrie Bradshaw, first got acquainted with the Big Apple in the 80s, concedes there are some autobiographical flourishes in “Summer.” “I did wear the medical scrubs just like Carrie,” she concedes. “So many people have come up to me and said, ‘I remember that! I did the same thing! Fashion wasn’t what it is today. There really were no labels. It was punk designers and medical scrubs. I once dated a guy who was wearing scrubs and so was I and no one was working in the medical profession.”
With two completed “Carrie Diaries” novels aimed at young adults and featuring “Gossip Girl”-aged versions of Carrie, Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte, might Bushnell like to see a second “Sex” TV series on say, the CW Network? “Of course I would,” she says. “I love these characters. I love seeing them in their late teens and early twenties. I want to see them when they’re 60. They’re great characters. They’re fun to write about and they’re just fun to see. I love picturing Samantha in one of those horrible 80s dresses with the big ruffles!”
As for the fans who were disappointed by last year’s less than successful “Sex and the City 2″ feature film, Bushnell says: “Expectations are so high for those films. As Sarah Jessica Parker said at the time, ‘The film is a great romp’ and I agree with her. I’ve watched the movie three or four times. It’s funny. I enjoy watching it. It’s on pay per view all the time. I don’t think I’m alone. There are lots of people enjoying it.”
And like Carrie Bradshaw, Bushnell retains a major weakness for shoes, even when travelling. “I’ve been to Atlanta seven times for book tours but I’ve probably been here 15 or 20 times for shoes!” she confides. “Years ago, someone took me to Bob Ellis Shoes and I always try and make time to go there. If I know I’m coming to Atlanta, I can do my shoe shopping for months!”