The latest Bridget Jones movie came out just before the book, but it doesn't matter which order you see/read them, each version has its own charm--just as we have come to expect from author Helen Fielding.
I'm sure there are many among us who read Mad About the Boy and have been wondering ever since how our favorite Singleton would handle the pressures and weirdness of pregnancy. And as we discover in Bridget Jones's Baby: The Diaries it's every bit as funny as we thought it would be. I had a few questions for Fielding about the book and what's next--below is our email interview.
Helen Fielding: I didn’t actually decide to do it that order: I’m not really that organized. For me, writing Bridget’s stories is an instinctive, organic thing, which tends to happen more by accident than design.
I’d been working on the Baby material for years, first, in the Independent newspaper columns and then in the various versions of the movie scripts. I’d always hoped to write the story as a novel, but there was a long period when the Baby movie was stalled and in confusion. I felt frustrated creatively, and just couldn’t work on the Baby material till the movie was sorted out.
That’s when the idea for Mad About the Boy arrived. It wasn’t even a Bridget story initially – then I realized I was writing in Bridget’s voice and it grew from there into a Bridget novel.
More than two years after Mad About the Boy was published, the Baby movie started coming together. I felt better about the material, and found myself writing a letter from Bridget to her son: explaining the original story of how he came to be, from his own Mum. Then I got into my usual obsessive writing frenzy, using all the material I’d worked on for so long and crafting it into a little novel.
Of course the chronology of the books is a bit back- to –front, and books usually come out before movies. But happily, these are fictional comedy diaries–not a history of the Battle of Waterloo. And with so many dark things to worry about in the world right now, I hope people will just go with the fun and enjoy. After all, it wouldn’t really be Bridget Jones – or me – to get everything in a straight line.
SW: I read that before your daughter was born you accidentally sent a group email you’d composed in anticipation and this scenario shows up in Bridget Jones’s Baby – any similarities between your email and Bridget’s?
HF: Er, yes. I had my daughter by C-section, so knew when and where she was going to be born. I got freakishly organized and prepared a group e-mail birth announcement. Unfortunately, I accidentally pressed Send All. I then had to send another e-mail saying, “I’m really sorry but I haven’t actually had the baby yet.” Then, when I actually did have the baby, I felt too embarrassed to send another e-mail saying, “I’ve definitely had the baby now.”
With most of the events in the books I draw a little bit from my own life and some from what I see happening around me. I tend to take something that nearly happened, or might have happened, and then exaggerate it to make it funny and to make it tie into the themes.
Though with Bridget Jones’s Baby: the Diaries, I’d like to make it clear that I did not ever get pregnant by two men.
SW: Do you think having a baby includes more pressure or expectations for the mother today than it did when you wrote Bridget Jones’s Diary?
HF: I think the pressure to be perfect generally in life has amped up massively in the last twenty years: especially for young people with the advent of social media. Bridget was always, at heart, about the gap between how you feel you’re expected to be and how you actually are and that gap has only widened. Young people now are entering an uncharted sea, where there’s huge pressure to judge yourself on how many Likes or Followers you get on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, rather than the on important things like being kind, honest, resilient, funny and a good friend.
On social media people tend to show off, and post their most attractive picture, and moments that are most likely to give everyone else FOMO (Fear of Missing out). They rarely share the moments when they feel down, or when things have gone wrong and they need support.
In terms of parenthood, I think the pressure has amped up massively too. Some parents are setting the bar ludicrously high in terms of doing things “right,” and seeing children more as products to be perfected than simply children.
Bridget Jones’ Baby, at heart is about the gap between how you expect life to turn out and how it actually does. When Bridget does finally get pregnant, she ‘s bound to mess it up, but what I tried to show is the importance of love and kindness rather than perfection, and the importance of support from friends who help you to laugh at your mistakes and pick yourself up afterwards. As Bridget writes to her son, in Bridget Jones’ Baby--"if you just keep calm and keep your spirits up, things have a habit of turning out all right, just as they did for me.”
SW: What might Bridget’s diary entry look like if she learned she was having twins?
HF: There actually is a moment in the Bridget Jones’ Baby book when Bridget’s friends, in a somewhat inebriated panic, find out that she’s pregnant by two men:
“What if she’s pregnancy with both of them? Like twins?” I heard Tom whisper loudly.
“What about when someone has one black twin and one white twin?” said Miranda drunkenly.
“That’s different eggs.”
“That is just completely ridiculous. A woman can’t have black eggs and white eggs,” growled Shazzer.
“Speckled eggs?” suggested Tom.
I don’t think Bridget and twins –speckled or otherwise – would be a match made in heaven.
SW: What’s next for you and what’s next for Bridget Jones?
HF: In terms of Bridget I honestly don’t know. One thing I can say for sure is that all of these stories have been an honest, instinctive expression of something I felt or observed at the time. I would never cynically think “Oh that would sell well next.” If the stories don’t come from the inside out, then Bridget is not being true to herself and it’s very important to me that she stays that way.
In terms of myself, my next big plan is to loose 7llb ( as I’ve been planning to do since I was seventeen) Also to go to the gym three times a week , not merely to buy a sandwich. And also de-clutter the garage.