Courtney Clenney
Candace Bushnell, second from left, in what appears to be a touring company production of Sex and the City

Candace Bushnell's Third-Date Rule for Young Writers Who Enjoy, Ah, Sex

On Wednesday evening, the Garden Room at the Crescent Court Hotel was brimming with Grey Goose and twinkling with candles, Christmas lights and the setting sun as the crowd waited for Candace Bushnell to arrive. The author of Sex and the City, 4 Blondes, Trading Up and Lipstick Jungle was en route for “evenings in Vogue,” an event met to match up readers with the shiny advertisers from the pages of, um, Vogue. Bushnell was the guest of honor and there to sign her newest creation, One Fifth Avenue, about a building, its penthouse apartment and the New Yorkers who lust for the "right" address.

Bushnell arrived in a glimmering purple cocktail number holding a fur clutch and balancing on cheetah-print heels. After posing for pictures with hosts -- GiGi Howard, Lori Jones and Kimberly Schlegel Whitman -- she made her way into the adjoining room with the vaulted ceilings and crystal beaded chandelier, where she remained the rest of the evening; the line of women queuing up for a moment with the queen of chick-lit never ended. If you missed her, you’ll get another opportunity tonight: She’ll be a part of The Writer’s Studio at the Eisemann Center.

Of course, at The Writer's Studio you might not get the chance to douse yourself with Paris Hilton’s new fragrance, Can Can. Shiseido’s cosmetic gurus were also at the Crescent Court for make-up sessions. There was even a lady offering handwriting interpretation. Turns out, I have much more success keeping my mouth shut than opening it and being tactful. True, but how the hell did she interpret that from my handwriting? Maybe I shouldn't have written the words "Bite me" on my sample.

Anyhow, I’ve dreamed of this night -- only, in my dream, I’m taller and thinner. Whatever. I am about to meet my idol, and I am not ready. My brain is a wreck, and Bushnell is a no-nonsense woman with soul-piercing eyes. Breathe, sit, speak:

“Well, how are you doing today,” I begin.

“Good, how are you?”

“Good, I have to admit [pause] I am such a fan.”

“Oh, well, thank you.”

Enough of this, get on with it.

What do you think about the phenomenon Carrie Bradshaw has started with young female writers?

“I think it’s fantastic, I think it’s always great to hear women’s voices.”

When you were little did you want to be a writer?

“I did. I wanted to be a novelist since I was 8 years old.”

What is your inspiration for your novels?

“Just life, women. I just, I think women are fantastic, and there’s always a lot of inspiration.”

Did you set out to be a writer who promotes the "women can have it all" mentality?

“I think I set out to be a novelist, and I think it’s about having goals and working really hard to reach your goals.”

When did you find your writing voice, and how did you know?

“Well, it just comes out in everything that one does. And I’ve been really writing since I was a little kid. You know I was always writing little plays, and my sisters and I were performing in them, so I guess I just always had it.”

Who is your favorite character?

“Oh, I have so many favorite characters; I love Mindy Gooch, in One Fifth Avenue. And I love Lola Fabrikant [also in One Fifth Avenue]. She’s so naughty. And I love Janey Wilcox in Trading Up. She’s so crazy. And of course I love the characters in Sex and the City and Lipstick Jungle."

What is your advice for aspiring journalists and novelists?

“Really have to have a passion for it, and you have to put it number one. You have to make a commitment to it, it’s a relationship.”

Is there any thought to maybe going back to column writing?

“Well, I’ve had five New York Times bestselling novels.”

Hmm, guess that’s a no. As dusk settles and the sky gets dark, the martinis, passed out by two model-y girls working for Grey Goose, one of them being Kinsey -- you know this Kinsey -- keep coming … and going.

The atmosphere changes from swanky tea party to swanky nightclub, although the ratio of ladies to gents is seriously off. Despite this, the men seem to be traveling in pairs. In fact, next to one of the bars there are two guys chatting it up with one girl. It doesn't seem right until he says, “I had my outfit all put together for this evening.”


I have been avoiding the martinis, trying to prevent an “I’m drunk, I’m drunk at Vogue” moment, and my feet are cursing me, so I grab my swag bag and jet.

Ooo, goodies. Inside the Vogue bag is a blue box, among other items, with the words “Grey Goose, World’s Best Tasting Vodka.” A thrill of excitement rushes over me, and I don’t even wait to get home to open it. It’s a beautiful glass … shaker -- an empty one -- and this comes to mind.

Bushnell’s words for young writers were all I could think about. Writing is a relationship. Have a passion for it. Since I’m already past the first couple of dates with my new relationship, I took the next step. I slept with my journal last night. --Courtney Clenney

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