Just as fresh, biting, and funny as The Nanny Diaries, but with the extra heart and wisdom of a few years’ experience, NANNY RETURNS brings both heroine and readers back to the exotic world of the Upper East Side—a community where appearances are everything, friendships can dissolve with the disappearance of a bank account, and children are often the casualties in the war between wealth and family.
Carrie: What inspired you to write this book?
Emma & Nicola: For years readers would ask us what happened to the characters from our first novel, but we had kind of drawn a hazy veil over them in our minds. We pictured a vague happy sunset for Nan, but didn’t let ourselves think about the little boy, Grayer, too much because we weren’t optimistic about his chances. Then last Spring we had a series of A-ha moments back-to-back and before we knew it a story had unspooled before us. We were inspired by articles we read about New York City private schools being taken over by parents who wanted to buy their children a world without consequences. Then we read about the Astor trial and something about a son turning his father in for embezzling from his mother really struck us. Of course the Madoff story was rife with gripping family dynamics, from the sons turning in their father to the father/son accounting firm that had enabled the fraud in the first place. It all got our minds churning about pulling back to look at the larger societal impact of the Upper East Side community we satirized in the first book.
Carrie: In general, how does an idea for a book come to you ~ does it perk slowly in your mind or does it come in a flash?
Emma & Nicola: We have lunch together every day before we start working and we chew over the topics of the day, paying special attention to angles of stories that aren’t being addressed. For example in 2000 we were obsessed that endless stories were running in New York City media about how hard it was for the newly rich to find decent household help, but the help was never interviewed. So if there’s a side of the story that is being underserved we’ll puzzle over that. Then we have a-ha moments when one of us will crystallize one of these topics we’ve been mulling over into a fictional story. Then Nicki gets teary and the hair on Emma’s neck stands on end and we know we’ve found our next book.
Carrie: Give us an idea of the plot/subject without giving too much away.
Emma & Nicola: In Nanny Returns we are revisiting ALL the characters from the Diaries twelve years later and re-embroiling Nan back in the lives of the Xes.
Carrie: What is the primary message you’d like your readers to take away from this book?
Emma & Nicola: Money can’t buy it.
Carrie: What is your favorite scene in the book? Why?
Emma & Nicola: I think we have two. The first is when Nan re-encounters Grayer after all these years. The second is when she re-encounters Mrs. X. They were wildly intimidating, but ultimately incredibly fun scenes to write.
Carrie: What was the most difficult scene to write? Why?
Emma & Nicola: Endings are ALWAYS hard. But in this case it was really five hundred pages (including the first novel) and ten years in the making and we had to make sure that if we asked readers to come along for another installment that this was a satisfying conclusion to the story we started with the first novel.
Carrie: What are you reading right now?
Emma & Nicola: We are both reading Behind the Scenes at the Museum by Kate Atkinson right now, which we love. Nicki just finished The Time Traveler’s Wife, which was transporting. And Emma just finished Brideshead Revisited. We like sweeping stories that take place in beautiful places. That said, Nicki also just squeezed in The Road, which was beautiful, if apocalyptic.
Carrie: What authors, books, or ideas have influenced your writing?
Emma & Nicola: David Sedaris’ Santaland Diaries was a HUGE influence on us because it was fresh way of talking about the workplace, with a blend of biting sardonic humor and pathos that resonated with us and helped to inform the voice of Nan.
Carrie: What was the best advice you’ve ever received—do you follow it?
Emma & Nicola: From Harvey Fierstein: “Keep your heart and ears open always—the rest is easy.” We live by it.
Carrie: How do readers get in touch with you?
Emma & Nicola: emmaandnicola.com and they can contact us through Facebook and Twitter!
About the Authors:
EMMA MCLAUGHLIN and NICOLA KRAUS, the authors of three New York Times bestselling novels: The Nanny Diaries, Citizen Girl, and Dedication. Aside from their ongoing collaboration on novels, they also write for magazines, and are working on a romantic comedy for Paramount Pictures. Emma and Nicola have appeared numerous times on CNN, Today, Good Morning America, Entertainment Tonight, and the View, among other major media outlets. They live and work in New York City.
NANNY RETURNS Description:
Readers first fell in love with “Nanny” in 2002’s runaway New York Times bestseller, THE NANNY DIARIES. Her wry, humorous recounting of her time as a nanny for the insanely wealthy X family—and of the bizarre world that the Xes and their privileged, powerful friends live in—instantly made her a favorite heroine of readers, who bought over two million copies of the book. In 2007, fans saw Nan’s adventures with her troublesome charge, Grayer, and her burgeoning romance with her elevator crush, Harvard Hottie, come to life on the big screen in the Nanny Diaries movie featuring Scarlett Johansson.
Now, in NANNY RETURNS (Atria Books; $25.00; On-sale: December 15, 2009, ISBN: 978-1-4165-8567-1), it’s almost ten years later, and Nan has just come back from abroad with her husband—H.H., now known just as Ryan. Mrs. X was a scary lady, but now Nan can be one too: she’s thirty-three, confident and successful, speaks three languages, and runs her own business … but when Grayer, now sixteen and more messed-up than ever, makes a drunken late-night visit to her apartment, Nan is sucked right back into the world of power, wealth, and dysfunction of the Upper East Side. Awash with guilt for “abandoning” Grayer after the Xes kicked her out of their life when he was still a little boy, Nan agrees to do a simple favor for her grown-up charge and his smart, sweet little brother, Stilton. But the Xes are in the middle of a brutal, high-profile divorce; Mr. X is consumed by money troubles and his new actress fiancée, and Mrs. X is M.I.A. and possibly faking cancer for sympathy—and soon “one little favor” snowballs into an ever-more-bizarre series of events as Nan fights to make sure that someone is taking care of Grayer and Stilton … and to win back her beloved Grayer’s fractured trust.
Meanwhile, the rest of Nan’s life starts nose-diving like the economy. Ryan is working out of the country and practically unreachable, but still putting unexpected pressure on Nan to “start a family” of their own. Their “fixer-upper” house in Harlem is infested with toxic mold and other costly little renovation surprises. And, most of all, Nan’s experiences with the first major client in her consulting business—the Board of the ultra-elite Jarndyce prep school—are turning out to be sickeningly familiar: the Board is just as unreasonable and demanding as the UES parents she used to nanny for. Teachers—and Nan—are the new hired help, picking up where the nannies left off in the war for the well-being of the children of privilege.
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- Deadline: December 31st, 2009 ~ midnight, EST