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My City_My Life

Candace Bushnell: Success and the city

  • Story Highlights
  • Candace Bushnell is the author of five novels, including "Sex and the City"
  • She ran away from college aged 19 to become a writer in New York
  • "Sex and the City was never written to make people feel good," she says
  • Her book 2005 book "Lipstick Jungle" was also made into a hit TV series
By Georgina Blackwell
For CNN
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LONDON, England (CNN) -- New York is in Candace Bushnell's blood. The best-selling novelist and columnist has a gift for tapping into the zeitgeist of any New York minute. Smart, chic and driven, her story is also a classic New York success story - she was the girl who came to the city to make it and did so through a desire and determination to succeed.

Candace Bushnell: "Sex and the City was never written to make people feel good."

Candace Bushnell: "Sex and the City was never written to make people feel good."

"I think people who come here and stay here are, number one, people who always have a dream," she told CNN.

Bushnell was born on December 1, 1958 in the New England town of Glastonbury, Connecticut. However, at the age of 19 she shunned the idea of a more parochial life for the bright lights of New York in order to pursue her dreams of becoming a professional writer.

"I was going to University in Houston, Texas and I decided that I knew what I wanted to do and it was time to go and do it. I literally ran away from college," she told CNN.

Whilst enrolled at New York University, and juggling waitressing jobs, she wrote a children's book for publishers Simon and Schuster and received her first big paycheck of $1000. However, this was the first of many different writing jobs Candace undertook over the years.

Video Watch Candace Bushnell take CNN on a tour of New York. »

She wrote for a series of underground papers and publications such as Night Magazine which documented the goings-on of the New York club circuit. By now Candace had herself become a fixture in Manhattan society and a regular at iconic nightclubs like Studio 54.

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"For me it wasn't about being a socialite. To be a socialite you had to come from a family who had money. New York is a city where people come to make it. And it doesn't really matter where you come from, but it's all about making it and success."

After graduating from college she worked as a freelancer throughout her twenties. "I finally got a job on 'Ladies Home Journal,'" she told CNN.

"The first thing I had to do every morning was sharpen pencils and my boss said I was the best pencil sharpener that they had ever had!"

Bushnell got her real big break when she started writing for the New York Observer in 1993. She soon made an impact as a reporter with stories such as her investigation into burnt out New York celebrities in rehab in Minneapolis.

She was given her own column in November 1994 which she called "Sex and the City". It chronicled the life, people and stories she had come to know in the Big Apple.

The column was an immediate success and became a must-read in New York and it was not long before producers in LA began to take note. It was bought as a book in 1995 and sold to HBO as a series in 1996, which would become the basis for the hit television show and subsequent movie.

Photo See the story of "Sex and the City" in photos. »

"It started as a seed, with an absolute truth that people may agree with or it may disturb them. It disturbs me sometimes when I read it because it's very wrong and very honest," she told CNN.

"I think most call it cynicism but I call it realism -- it is absolutely raw reality. It was never written for a big audience and it was never written to make people feel good. It was written as the truth in a humorous way."

Since then Bushnell has written another four best-selling books which continue her dark humor and observations of New York society and its characters. Her book "Lipstick Jungle", published in 2005, also went on to become a successful television series on NBC.

Amidst this success, the one thing Bushnell had not necessarily planned was marriage. The single girl about town, just like her "Sex and the City" alter-ego Carrie Bradshaw, it was a surprise even for her to fall for her husband Charles Askegaard, a principal dancer with the New York ballet, whom she met at a gala seven years ago.

"I was cynical about relationships. I wasn't sure about marriage. But when I saw Charles across the room I thought 'that's the man you're going to marry,'" she said.

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Candace is now currently working on three more novels, including a young-adult book about Carrie Bradshaw's teenage years in the city. She continues to capture the spirit of the place she has made her home with the flair and drive of a true New Yorker.

"I was a person who was born in a sense with a mission -- I don't always follow it but I always have it and I continue with it."

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