Carrie, the prequel: Bushnell's heroine goes back to school

After two weddings (to the same man), countless cosmopolitans, and several wardrobes-full of Manolo Blahniks, Carrie Bradshaw's next adventure will be an exercise in Sex Education and the City.

Candace Bushnell, the author whose New York Observer column inspired the hit television show, is working on a pair of semi-autobiographical novels about her heroine's formative years in high school.

The publisher HarperCollins said yesterday that it plans to release the currently untitled books in 2010, promising readers "an inside look at Carrie's friendships, romances, and how she realised her dream of becoming a writer".

Both books are officially described as "teen novels", and will be released by the firm's children's division. However, America's occasionally prudish parents may be troubled at the prospect of their adolescent offspring enjoying some of the adult themes that earmarked the SATC franchise.

If Bushnell's novels are to stay true to the television show, they will be required to deal with the hot potato of teenage sex, detailing how Miss Bradshaw lost her virginity. Fans have pointed out that in episode 38 of the television series, "The Big Time", Bradshaw and her friend Charlotte have a lengthy discussion that outlines – in more detail than strictly necessary – their first sexual experiences. The heroine recalls losing her virginity during 11th grade. Apparently, she shared "half a joint" with one Seth Bateman, before consummating their short relationship on a ping-pong table in the "smelly rec room".

Whether the forthcoming books (working title: The Carrie Diaries) will deal with the incident has yet to be decided. However Bushnell's future editor, Alessandra Balzer, said that she hoped to sidestep any serious controversy. "The kids will be doing what teenagers realistically do, but it's not going to be provocative for the sake of that," she said. "I would never put something in just to put it in. But if it was organic to the story, and if it was something that felt real, then it would need to be in there."

One seismic shift from Sex and the City's 100-odd shows will involve the setting of the forthcoming novels. Since Bradshaw spent her childhood in a sleepy suburb, Bushnell will be required to move at least some of the action from her native Manhattan.

"It hasn't all been resolved yet," said a spokesman for HarperCollins. "I think she'll come [to New York] the way Candace did, with her friends, to hang out in the city on the weekend, and have a lot of social interaction there, and then eventually she'll come to college here, as Candace did."

Bushnell, who has always claimed that the part of Carrie Bradshaw was inspired by her own experiences, is yet to publish a book aimed squarely at children. Her previous four novels revolve around fashionable young women. They include Lipstick Jungle, which is now a television series on NBC. A fifth novel, One Fifth Avenue, is due out in September.

"I've always been interested in exploring Carrie's teenage years," Bushnell said in a statement released by HarperCollins. "Carrie in high school did not follow the crowd – she led it. It was there that she began observing and commenting on the social scene."

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