There’s an episode of Sex and the City, about halfway through the first season, in which Carrie learns that Mr. Big used to be married. His ex is a publisher, and Carrie decides to check her out by scheduling an appointment with her under the pretense that she has a book to pitch. When she gets to this lady’s office, Carrie realizes that she only does children’s books, and finds herself having to improvise. After stammering for a second, she makes a half-hearted pitch for a book about a girl who has magic cigarettes that let her “go anywhere in the whole wide world, like Arabia or New Jersey.” “It’s a children’s book … for adults!” Carrie explains when Big’s ex suggests that maybe this wouldn’t be totally appropriate for kids.
Art, meet Life; Life, Art. You two should really get to know each other, because Candace Bushnell, whose mid-’90s New York Observer column was the basis for Sex and the City, has signed a deal with the children’s division at HarperCollins to write a young adult novel about Carrie Bradshaw’s high-school years. Hello!
Publishing the book—and the sequel—are Alessandra Balzer and Donna Bray, stars in the children’s book world who created an eponymous imprint at HarperCollins this past spring after spending 12 years together at Hyperion. According to several people in the children’s industry, Ms. Balzer and Ms. Bray are two of the most well-regarded editors in the game, and are responsible for a stack of award-winning titles for kids and teenagers, such as Avi’s Newbery Medal-winning Crispin: The Cross of Lead and National Book Award finalists The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich and Sold by Patricia McCormick.
According to Ms. Bray, Ms. Bushnell’s book will be set partly in New York and partly in whatever suburb Carrie is supposed to have spent her childhood.
“It hasn’t all been resolved yet,” Ms. Bray said. “I think she’ll come here the way Candace did, with her friends, to hang out in the city on the weekend, and have a lot of social interaction there, and then eventually she’ll come to college here, as Candace did.”
Asked if Ms. Bushnell was planning to write about Carrie losing her virginity, Ms. Balzer and Ms. Bray said they weren’t sure. Pub Crawl checked it out, though, and there’s a story for the telling. If the universe of the books is consistent with the universe of the show—and it very well may not be—readers should anticipate a scene featuring an 11th-grade Carrie sharing “half a joint” with one Seth Bateman and then doing it with him on the Ping-Pong table in his “smelly rec room.” At least this is how Carrie describes her origin story to Charlotte in episode 38, “The Big Time.”
“I mean, the kids will be doing what teenagers realistically do, but it’s not going to be provocative for the sake of that,” Ms. Balzer said. “I would never put something in just to put it in. But if it was organic to the story and it was something that felt real, then it would be in there.”
The book will be called The Carrie Diaries, by the way, unless they think of something better before the fall 2010 publication date. (May we suggest Sex Ed?) Ms. Balzer, who will edit Ms. Bushnell, said she’s confident it will be a crossover hit, appealing as readily to the teen audience it’s ostensibly written for as it will to older fans of the show who “love [Carrie] and just want to know more about her.”
Ms. Balzer said that the idea for the book came from Ms. Bushnell herself, and that she learned about it from Ms. Bushnell’s agent over lunch.
“[Her agent, Heather Shroeder of ICM] said Candace has been thinking of doing a teen project, and my eyes just lit up and I said, ‘Oh, really!’” Ms. Balzer said. “She said she’s always wanted to explore what Carrie would have been like in high school, and I was just so thrilled and saw immediately, you know, that the possibilities are endless, and we just jumped on it and immediately made an offer and kind of scooped everybody.”