I was an early fan of Sex and the City, though when it first aired in 1998, I was long past being single in the city. Instead of hugging a Cosmo, I was hugging a second grader and wondering where my other two kids went. Yet the writing and acting were so great I would have followed Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte and Samantha anywhere. And I did– through six glorious seasons and even two forgettable films.
But when I learned of the reboot, my first thought was oh, please don’t. There is no way to capture magic in a bottle again. AND JUST LIKE THAT, the first episode aired, and I was crushed. Samantha had been kicked to the curb, Big was dead, Miranda tested positive for stupid, Charlotte was fawning for friends and Carrie had never heard of a podcast.
Really? With all that talent, money and star power, the show was going to be more of an epic-fail than the two terrible films? But one thing had gotten better. I was now watching with my adult daughter, and she so wanted us to bond over the series. “You have to call me after every episode like you used to call your friends.” How could I say no?
After the fifth episode I stopped loathing the show although I still didn’t care if Anthony got a facelift or Miranda left Steve for Carrie’s boss. What did strike me was how deeply connected I felt to Carrie’s voice. Her transcendent wit. Her relatable worries. Her down-to-the-bones honesty. AND JUST LIKE THAT I figured out why.
For the past few years, I’ve been working on my first middle grade novel, A LOT ON MY PLATE. The biggest challenge has been nailing the voice of my main character, twelve-year-old, Eden Sterling. Draft after draft, she either came off as too whiny, or too boring, or worse, too inauthentic. None of my beta readers cared if she got what she wanted. Most asked when I planned to write adult novels again. Oof.
Then over the summer I ditched the rulebooks on writing for a younger audience and gave Eden the freedom to emerge her way. Suddenly, she was funnier, smarter and unafraid to question expectations. She was also determined to get what she wanted while being true to herself. And did I mention she lived on the Upper East Side and lived for great restaurants?
Wait. Had I subconsciously channeled a young Carrie Bradshaw?
Maybe all those years of watching her character trip up and succeed and then trip up again while dancing backwards in high heels was so compelling, I started to imagine her before she became a tireless champion of self-preservation.
A LOT ON MY PLATE isn’t a prequel exactly, as it explores the conflicts between a mother who bows to diet culture and a daughter who is starved for approval but still isn’t buying it. Yet it does raise the question… cue the Apple laptop. Can a girl choose her own path if she can’t choose what’s for dinner?