If you’ve been living under a rock for the last two decades we might have to tell you who Candace Bushnell is, but for most of us, the Author and Producer is the real life Carrie Bradshaw, who broke us girls out of our middle aged doldrums and into full on Cosmo drinking, Manolo wearing “nice girls do.” fabulousness. I was so excited to talk with the real Candace, about what she’s been up to, her new novel and why she left the city, and came back.
By the way …. In case you are wondering; I’m a Miranda with a Carrie rising.
SF: Our aim at In the Groove is to create a fun, happy place that celebrates women in this part of their lives and provides them with information that helps them get in the groove. Your new book will totally resonate with our readers.
CB: The book comes out August 6th, available for pre-order now. It’s about the passage through your 50s, which I found very difficult. Now that I’m 60, I kind of feel like I don’t really give a fuck.
SF: I think at 50, you’re going through so many changes – physical ,emotional and professional. You’re trying to sort through all that.
CB: that’s exactly what I describe in my book. I call them Super Middles, they get it together, they realize they really have to exercise and eat right. They’ve gotten through a lot of the tough emotional stuff. Both of my parents are dead, which sounds terrible, but even though I miss them I don’t have to go through losing them again. In a way, it’s a relief.
SF: Part of why it’s so strange is because people don’t really talk about it. I think our generation has been better about sharing that you’re not alone.
CB: This is the first generation to live long enough and to stay fit enough – it’ll make a big difference. The population of people over 50 is 20%, in 2030 it’s going to be 50% percent.
SF: The other crazy part is that they also have 70% of the wealth, and the wealth doubles because of inheritance. They’re super consumers. They spend 250% more than any other demographic.
CB: You’re in California?
SF: Yes. Lucky me.
CB: The good old days! Strangely, despite all the social media that’s supposed to free us, everything felt much freer 20 years ago.
SF: Where do you live?
CB: I have a place in Manhattan, and then the Hamptons, and then in Connecticut that I’m trying to sell which is a nightmare.
SF: Did you actually ever move out of the city?
CB: I moved out for about three years after I got divorced. I just felt like I didn’t want to be in the city. That’s also part of the ‘New Middle Age’. People get sick of the city. They want to be near nature, more creative. That happened to me. I just wanted to go and write and ride horses. It was great but I didn’t see or date anyone for three years. And then I moved back to the city and got a place in Sag Harbor as well.
SF: Lucky you. Can we talk a little bit about the Super Middles? That really resonates with me. I love the way you’re thinking about that, but it would be great to hear first hand from you.
CB: I think it’s interesting because there have been so many stories now on Middle Age. There was one that was just in the New Yorker – if you’re a certain kind of guy, you point out there’s no point in people post reproduction and raising children. What are we going to do with this time ? You see people who have come fun circle – they have kids, career. But they know they still have it and they want a third act. In the city, in Sag Harbor, I see so many super fit people in their 50s, 60s, 70s. And they’re out there spending their time in really altruistic ways. Super Middle sounds fun and funny but these are people who are out there and they’re pursuing careers they maybe didn’t have the courage to attempt before. The kids are grown, maybe parents are gone, and it’s that feeling of “I feel good” and you can still do new and exciting things, and learn new things. Which is the most important aspect. As you said, it’s really easy to kind of go to bed and slowly pull the covers over your head.
SF: Maybe not so slowly.
CB: I’ve seen people do it! A friend of mine for two and a half weeks and it’s like, “sweetie, we have to talk.” A lot of women going through this period experience depression and loneliness in a way they haven’t experienced before and you have to look out for your friends.
SF: The journey you went on, is that why you were motivated to write this book.
CB: Yes, it was. I felt like I was going through such a weird time, I didn’t want to date. All of a sudden I had a bunch of friends who got divorced as well. I saw them going through the same thing. Not just in terms of divorce but big life changes. If you get divorced, you don’t get divorced and stay in the same place. You probably have to move, downsize, you might have to get a job or new career. People are dealing with ill parents. It’s a time of stress. You’ve got to keep your sense humor about it. That’s what the book is about.
SF: I’m curious – you have this tremendous success with Sex and the City and then what? I’m curious because having created a company and sold it, it was so much harder starting In The Groove.
CB: I think, for me, I wrote SATC and then it was turned into the TV series and I worked on it for the first couple of years. I wrote another book called Four Blondes, and it was a huge bestseller. And I was offered really big contracts. I wrote five NYT Bestsellers and two of them were made into TV shows – Lipstick Jungle, Carrie Diaries. I make 90% of my money from books, not TV. And then I was just really burned out on writing commercial fiction, I just couldn’t. My brain said ‘no’. I couldn’t do it. That’s part of being a writer – I write a lot of stuff that’s never going to be published. It’s an exercise. It’s like playing an instrument. For fun, I’ll write an outline of a Broadway musical. That’s what I do for laughs. And then I wrote a story for Cosmopolitan about Tinder, and I really had a good time doing it. Then my agent and I started talking – it’s not just Tinder, I have all these divorced girlfriends. It’s really the same kind of time, for me, as it was for Sex And the City. It was about a real social phenomenon. It was about all these unmarried single women in their 30s who would come to NYC in the 80s with 60s and 70s feminism. You remember the shoes, but I remember the feminism. Again, this feels like uncharted territory. Nobody thinks about their 50s. It’s as gray as the hair on your head. And then there you are. I know so many women who find themselves in situations they never expected to be in their 50s. And there are women who are pretty much back to where they were at 21 and starting over – having to downsize. For most women in their 50s, money is going to become important in a way it never was before. You’ve got to think about money in your 50s.
SF: There is indeed this fear of middle age – but is it a fear of getting older or is it a fear of being alone?
CB: I think for a lot of women it’s the fear of being alone. Most women kind of clung to that realization. There’s a good chance that you can find someone if you want to, but a lot of women don’t want to bother anymore. And they should be allowed! They should be allowed to say “hey, I don’t want to enter into the care and attention of a “relationship.” But I think It’s really the fear of being irrelevant.
SF: We did a bunch of focus groups before this, but everyone said “I feel invisible, and I don’t want to be irrelevant”.
CB: it’s so interesting because there’s no place in society where we show the relevance of women over 50. You could be a grandmother, but other than that there isn’t a lot out there. There’s no image or role. No one even bothered to give women over 50 a role.
SF: what do you think we can do to change this conversation?
CB: I think it’s back to the basics. Part of it is, the images we see. When you don’t see older women or you see older women and they’re only unattractive because age is usually “unattractive”. There are so many women over 50 who are unbelievably attractive. It’s like we’re all so frightened of older women’s bodies, but they’re fine! If you’re comfortable in your own skin, eat right, exercise, and you feel good in your own skin.
SF: Best thing you’ve read lately?
CB: Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer. She is just a terrific writer. It’s funny and dark and there are some things in it that I had to read three times.
SF: Last thing you bought online?
CB: I don’t buy that much online. Probably some SPAM protection.
SF: Who’s going to play you in the movie of your life?
CB: I wish I could! I have no idea.
SF: I have straight hair now, but I had curly hair at the height of SATC.
CB: I’d probably pick Nicole Kidman. Someone taller and younger.
SF: On ITG, we have a Menopause Registry. What would you add?
CB: Almond oil. Slather it all over. Any kinds of oils really. I would add a chic bike helmet because it’s great to go out there and do some biking. It lifts the mood.
SF: If you could have one superpower what would it be?
CB: I suppose it would be flying, I don’t know why.
SF: If you had a warning label, what would it say?
CB: Don’t burn at both ends.
SF: Anything more we should know about the new book?
CB: TV series! Bought by Paramount.
SF: Maybe we’ll be lucky enough to experience SATC again – In The Groove Style.
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