I attended the BookExpoAmerica (BEA) last week at the Jacob Javits Center. It was a whirlwind of activity with arms and elbows flying as readers grabbed for free books. Well, before that frenzy which left me seeking the santity of the Harlequin booth, I had the enormous pleasure of attending the Author Breakfest hosted by Chris Matthews where I got to hear Helen Fielding speak about her third Bridget Jones’ book “Mad About A Boy.”
I’m going to give you the gist from my notes of what she said. Imagine a fabulous dry British accent that sounds like champagne and you’ll enjoy it even more. Disclaimer: I said gist and yes some is verbatim, but don’t (literally) quote me or Helen on that!
I want to thank everyone for coming here today. It’s nice to see all of you. The first time I had a public speaking engagement like this only two people showed up. One of them I had dated. Afterwards we went to lunch where he told me he was gay. — grrlgenius: transported to Bridget heaven!) I never thought I’d write another one (Bridget Jones novel) after the first two because I lost my voice. But last year, some things started to strike me as funny again and I started writing without telling anyone so that took the pressure off and reclaimed my privacy which allowed me creative freedom.
When the first Bridget Jones book came out there wasn’t any of the online things around that are around today like Twitter. I signed up for Twitter to do some research as Bridget Jones. Twitter is like a popularity contest. I kept checking the account for followers: naught. Again: naught. Then I got suspended from Twitter for checking 150 times in an hour how many followers I had. (grrlgenius: crowd was roaring laughing). Women come up to me all the time to tell me how much they relate to Bridget. I feel like I’m the Pope, confess child confess. One woman told me she went on an Internet Date and they had kissed a bit. A few days later she’d received a mass email from the fellow announcing his wife had just given birth to a girl.
No matter where I go though women tell me they relate to Bridget even in Japan where they are so fabulous and tiny and eat small amounts of fish! I think she is so appealing because she represents the gap between how you feel you should be and how you are inside. When I was a kid I thought middle-aged woman were sagging and not very attractive with gray hair and you know today’s middle-aged women are very glam. This book sort of rebrands the older woman of today. Now there’s young children and you have so many priorities the to-do list might have find cheese, finish novel on it. Look at David Cameron, the PM of Britain. He was in the car on the phone and his kids were acting up. He finally had to say to them “shut up I’m on the phone with the Prime Minister of Israel.” So, see all of us are juggling a lot of things today and we try to act like we’re glamourous when we are a mess on the other end. I’ve been wearing sweatpants and didn’t brush my hair looking quite feral while I wrote this book. So now I’m going to go on a huge diet (grrlgenius: she is so tiny!) and have massive amounts of plastic surgery before the book comes out.