Candace Bushnell on Sex and the City, Carrie Bradshaw, and Her Reading Tonight at Changing Hands

Candace Bushnell, the author of countless dating and relationship columns and seven novels, is perhaps best known for her book-turned-HBO series that made Sarah Jessica Parker famous for something other than marrying Ferris Bueller (aka Matthew Broderick). 

And good news for all chick-lit fans and Bushnell's Sex and the City fiends: the author is bringing her star character, Carrie Bradshaw, back as a spunky 17-year-old from Connecticut who wears culottes and moves to New York in Summer and the City: A Carrie Diaries Novel.

Bushnell reads and signs her latest novel tonight at Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe. We caught with Bushnell to see what she's reading, writing, and advising aspiring novelists after the jump ...

What did you read as a child?
I read all the Evelyn Waugh books. I wanted to be Evelyn Waugh. I remember being twelve or fourteen, and thinking if I could only become Evelyn Waugh, I'd be happy. I also had a thing for Kurt Vonnegut. I read all his books too.

What are you reading right now?
I'm currently reading Joyce Carol Oates' A Widow's Story and Jane Eyre.

You've said Carrie is your alter-ego. Does Carrie's back story come from your experiences growing up?

I grew up in Connecticut and have two younger sisters, but beyond that, there's nothing that happens to Carrie in the book that actually happened to me. I really tried to capture the emotional reality of being seventeen in a small town and wanting something bigger.

Was it easy to write about Carrie again after doing so much since Sex and the City?
I started fresh with this young character in my mind and the knowledge of the kind of woman that I wanted her to evolve into. Carrie is a woman who's independent, who really cares about her friends, who's willing to experience life, and has a kind of joie de vivre. When you create a character, you always have a little bit of a backstory in your head. I just felt like there was something that had to have happened to her when she was young in order for her to develop inner fortitude. She's still figuring out who she is, but she's also figuring out how she wants to be taken in the world.

 What do you think about the girl who goes to New York in the hopes of being the next Carrie? Do you have any advice for her?

I can only speak from my own experiences. I left college at nineteen and "ran away" to New York, but I went with a very specific goal in mind: To become a novelist. I was going to be an artist and it was the pursuit of this larger goal that made all the difficulties worth it.

Advice for aspiring writers?

I'm often asked this question. The reality is that publishing is difficult these days. Publishers used to accept unsolicited manuscripts, which was terrific for writers, but now many publishers will only look at manuscripts submitted by an agent. And, given the bad economic times, agents are less open to taking on new clients. That being said, one of the aspects of becoming a writer is to find a way around the "no's." It really does help to work in the industry if you can--writing for a small newspaper or blogs--and getting to know other people in the business. I do believe that if writing is in your blood and you're driven to do it, you will succeed. One needs patience. And it really is about practice, practice, practice.

See Candace Bushnell tonight at Changing Hands Bookstore, 6428 S McClintock Dr. in Tempe, at 7:30p.m. Event tickets are free with book purchase.

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