Finding Out Candace

From the mind that brought you Sex and the City, international bestselling author Candace Bushnell chats with City Life Magazine about her new novel, Killing Monica.

Who should you expect to meet when sitting down with Candace Bushnell, author of Sex and the City? Would she come wearing Manolo Blahniks just like her most famous character, the eccentric Carrie Bradshaw? Or would she appear in the silver sequined top hat of P.J. Wallis, the slightly temperamental and anxious lead of her newly minted novel?

As it turns out, neither.

“It’s interesting: as human beings we like to put things into categories. It’s how we understand the world,” says Bushnell as she sips her tea at the Ritz Bar. “I am best known for Sex and the City and Carrie Bradshaw — so people bring what they know to my work. It’s natural that people make those comparisons.”

Bushnell, 56, is in Toronto as part of her book tour promoting Killing Monica, a sharp, witty novel that chronicles the life of prominent writer P.J. (Pandy) Wallis and her character, Monica, who surpasses her in terms of fame and fortune. Wallis is in an existential crisis, wanting to move on to other literary works while her fans and publishers request that she keep writing more Monica books.

According to Bushnell, one of the most significant themes in Killing Monica is identity, more specifically, the mistaken identity, and how people often tend to create an infallible, idealized version of themselves. “In Shakespeare, the mistaken identity is a very big device,” says Bushnell. “When I started the book, I knew that I wanted to go in that direction.”

Bushnell has experienced her own form of mistaken identity when it comes to her most popular creation, Carrie Bradshaw. Portrayed by Sarah Jessica Parker in the HBO sitcom, which spawned two feature films that pulled in $700 million worldwide at the box office, it’s easy to see why readers and critics of the franchise see Bushnell and Bradshaw as one in the same. Both wrote their own sex and lifestyle columns. Both were transplanted New Yorkers. Both have an affinity for fashion. And while Bradshaw may be her alter ego, they are not identical, with the former possessing much more commitment and emphasis on her craft.
And while she knows that readers will still draw comparisons between herself and her characters, she wants everyone to know that she is her own person.

She is still the woman who grew up in Glastonbury, Conn., with her parents and two sisters. She is still the woman who achieved her dream of moving to New York to become a successful novelist. That is her identifier —
a novelist. “I always felt that I’ve written what I wanted to write and just really live my life as the novelist that I always would have been.”


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