been 17 years since "Bridget Jonesís 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
following is an edited transcript of our conversation:
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 wasnít expecting the scale of it. For a writer itís
pretty great to create characters that people care about
so much long after youíve created them. And Colin
(Firth) too (who played Mark Darcy in the movie version)
ó he created Mark Darcy because I based him on Mr.
Darcy played by Colin Firth in BBCís "Pride and
Prejudice" so I thought it was amazing. Heís 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, "Youíve murdered Colin Firth!"
think whatís interesting now is the readers are
starting to read the book and they realize the story
starts five years after Mark died.
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 theyíre older now and things happen in
life. Thereís 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
thereís 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 doesnít
"wink" back at you.
How do you celebrate when you finish a book?
I always think itís like Christmas or going on a
holiday ó itís all such a scramble and then you get
these unexpected moments. So the moments I remember ó
I went to the pub with a few friends on publication day,
quite low-key, but that lovely feeling of being around
the people whoíve 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 itís based on them.
then today ó being in New York, I was thinking,
"How did this happen?" Iím on "The
Today Show" and it doesnít seem itís 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 theyíve read it yet.
Are there any plans to make this a movie?
We havenít got that far yet. Iíd actually written
the whole thing before Iíd shown it to anyone ó I
spent a lot of time editing. Itís quite current. The
book actually ends this Christmas. We wanted it to seem
fresh. So there hasnít been any time to think beyond
Bridget finds a "toy-boy" as you call him ó
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.
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.
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
couldnít live my life. Especially if youíre trying
to write. Itís too seductive. ... And I found the more
I tweeted, the less followers I got, because people donít
want you to spew out tweets. It just fills up your tweet
think itís interesting that the preoccupation with
Twitter is how many followers youíve got. Itís a
Is anyone honest about their age when they date online?
Hereís what I think about online dating ó one of the
characters in the book, Jude, says "Itís a zoo
out there," but through all that, people find each
other and I think itís through writing, through the
written word. I think thatís the wonderful thing about
social media ó that people are having to be really
creative with language to write short things. You know
as a journalist, itís much harder to write short than
long. I think in terms of online dating, you can pick up
each otherís 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 itís great.
Another possible love interest for Bridget is the
character Mr. Wallaker. He doesnít seem like the
Well, you never know with Mr. Wallaker. Heís 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