Jones is back, without Mark Darcy!
Jenniffer Weigel | Tribune Newspapers - October 17, 2013
Helen Fielding shares insights to her latest book, ‘Mad About the
been 17 years since “Bridget Jones’s Diary” first hit the scene,
turning freelance journalist Helen Fielding into a best-selling author
and screenwriter. Her latest installment, “Mad About the Boy,”
follows Bridget, now 51, as she copes with the loss of her beloved Mark
Darcy while trying to raise their children. We talked with Fielding over
the phone about how it feels to bring Bridget back into the public eye
(while taking lots of heat from those Colin Firth fans!).
The following is an edited transcript of our conversation:
Q: How are readers reacting to the death of Mark Darcy?
I knew there would be a reaction but I did not expect to be watching the
BBC News and see the Syrian crisis and then the next item, “Mark Darcy
is dead!” I just wasn’t expecting the scale of it. For a writer
it’s pretty great to create characters that people care about so much
long after you’ve created them. And Colin (Firth) too (who played Mark
Darcy in the movie version) — he created Mark Darcy because I based
him on Mr. Darcy played by Colin Firth in BBC’s “Pride and
Prejudice” so I thought it was amazing. He’s a gentleman and he has
such great qualities of kindness and decency as well as being gorgeous
and a great kisser and all that! And it was a bit startling to come out
of a local restaurant and some drunk man is running after me saying,
“You’ve murdered Colin Firth!”
I think what’s interesting now is the readers are starting to read the
book and they realize the story starts five years after Mark died.
And I think my readers have matured too. When I wrote the first book I
was in my 30s and so were many of the readers. So now they’re older
now and things happen in life. There’s no one who gets through life
without hard things happening or losing people and this is a book about
a woman like many women, finding herself single in life and getting back
out there in the dating world where the landscape has completely
changed. Then there’s juggling children and work and figuring out the
cyber circle of mass emails and texting and online dating and online
shopping and you find yourself upset that the dress you put in your
shopping cart doesn’t “wink” back at you.
Q: How do you celebrate when you finish a book?
I always think it’s like Christmas or going on a holiday — it’s
all such a scramble and then you get these unexpected moments. So the
moments I remember — I went to the pub with a few friends on
publication day, quite low-key, but that lovely feeling of being around
the people who’ve all supported me through writing it and being there
through the years and giving me some stories. The characters are all
based a bit on one and a bit on the other and if the character is
particularly attractive they all think it’s based on them.
And then today — being in New York, I was thinking, “How did this
happen?” I’m on “The Today Show” and it doesn’t seem it’s
been more than a minute since I was a freelance journalist sending my
columns to The Guardian and ringing them up every week to see if
they’ve read it yet.
Q: Are there any plans to make this a movie?
We haven’t got that far yet. I’d actually written the whole thing
before I’d shown it to anyone — I spent a lot of time editing.
It’s quite current. The book actually ends this Christmas. We wanted
it to seem fresh. So there hasn’t been any time to think beyond that.
Q: Bridget finds a “toy-boy” as you call him — a 30-year-old love
interest named Roxster. Who should play Roxster in the movie?
All I can say is I want to be there in that casting session. They should
try lots of people.
Q: Bridget gets into shape by going to Zumba classes. What do you do to
stay in shape?
I love Latin dance, so a combination of Zumba and “mommy pants,”
which are also called Spanx.
Q: Are you addicted to Twitter or Facebook or any social media at all?
I got so badly addicted to Twitter that I had to stop. I couldn’t live
my life. Especially if you’re trying to write. It’s too seductive.
... And I found the more I tweeted, the less followers I got, because
people don’t want you to spew out tweets. It just fills up your tweet
I think it’s interesting that the preoccupation with Twitter is how
many followers you’ve got. It’s a popularity contest.
Q: Is anyone honest about their age when they date online?
A: Here’s what I think about online dating — one of the
characters in the book, Jude, says “It’s a zoo out there,” but
through all that, people find each other and I think it’s through
writing, through the written word. I think that’s the wonderful thing
about social media — that people are having to be really creative with
language to write short things. You know as a journalist, it’s much
harder to write short than long. I think in terms of online dating, you
can pick up each other’s tones with writing. So in the book, Bridget
meets Roxster on Twitter and they find they share a sense of humor and
find each other through their words and then they find they fancy each
other. A lot of people do find people online and I think it’s great.
Q: Another possible love interest for Bridget is the character Mr.
Wallaker. He doesn’t seem like the tweeting type.
Well, you never know with Mr. Wallaker. He’s the real Mr.
Darcy/Captain von Trapp kind of archetype, you know? I love having two
characters who are clashing to start with and then spend the whole book
finding out they are the yin and yang and they need each other. I love
that Jane Austen plot and I have no shame in stealing it from her!