A Real Housewife who not only knows who F. Scott Fitzgerald is but can use his name in a sentence? Get out. Yet it should come as no shock that the Bravo franchise’s resident author, Carole Radziwill, 50, knows her literature. The star, who’s back for season 6 of Real Housewives of New York (premieres Mar. 11 at 9 p.m. E.T.), opens up to Us about her new novel, The Widow’s Guide To Sex and Dating, plus co-star Ramona Singer’s shocking separation and her own recent breakup.
Why write a novel after publishing a bestselling memoir?
Well, I briefly thought to write my life story as fiction, then decided the story would be too unbelievable! To be honest I thought fiction would be easier than memoir and I quickly learned it was much harder. But I wanted to be free to make up characters and events. Plus I don’t think my life is interesting enough to merit two memoirs!
I beg to differ! How did the idea of this book come about and is it really a guide for young widows?
It’s not a real guide in any sense. But I loved the title. The novel is satire. It will appeal to any women faced with starting over whether a break up, a divorce, or a death. I began writing it well after my husband died. It took me a long time, but I’d found the humor in the absurdity of life and I give that to Claire, the main character, very early in the story. I didn’t dwell on the five stages of grief. I skipped fairly quickly to acceptance and “Oh crap, now what?”
The movie star in the book seems a lot like George Clooney, whom you famously dated.
We famously dated? (laughs)
Well, it’s been reported you dated. Is the Jack Huxley character based on him?
George and I dated not-so-famously many years ago. So I’m sure I gave Huxley his smile. It’s the smile Fitzgerald gave to Gatsby. But anytime you create a character that all women will fantasize about there’s always going to be a little Clooney in it whether you’ve ever kissed him or not. I know who I had in mind when I wrote Jack. When Carly Simon tells who she wrote “You’re so Vain” about, I’ll tell you who Jack is.
Was it hard to write the book while filming Real Housewives?
Impossible. But, luckily the novel was nearly complete when I started my first season because writing requires introspection and calm - the antithesis of the show!
What can we expect from you on the upcoming season of Housewives?
I am who I am on camera and off. So don’t expect me to suddenly become a bey-otch! But this season is much different than last one. You see an evolution of friendships in some unexpected ways. I don’t seek out drama but it finds me. And my reaction is equal to the issue at hand. Last season I cried. This season I scream. I must say screaming is more rewarding!
What was your reaction to hearing Ramona and Mario are separating?
You know, I’m not going to say anything other than I always enjoyed Ramona and Mario’s company. So, of course, as any friend I was surprised. They were together 25 years, more than most couples. I'm sure Ramona will do what's best for her family. As for what caused it, I spent most of my adult life in a family that was gossiped about more than any family on the planet. I don’t believe anything I hear and only half of what I see with my very own eyes. More people should adhere to that philosophy.
Speaking of break ups, are you dating anyone new since you split with musician Russ Irwin?
Sadly, Russ and I split up after three years. But it turns out I enjoy dating. I’ve yet to have a bad first date. In that way I am not at all like Claire! I like meeting new men, even if they are jerks. I always learn something. I’d go out with anyone once. But to get me on a second date is tricky. That requires chemistry, magic and fairy dust.
What caused that breakup?
We broke up for the reason a lot of couples break up. We weren’t in the same place. He talked of marriage and I was not in a marrying state of mind. But we remain close friends. Sure, it's a cliché, but it's also true.
How does it feel to finally see Widow's Guide come out?
It’s hard to describe the feeling of publishing a book. It’s like giving birth after a 4-year gestation in a birthing pool with no epidural. It’s painful so you’re so happy it’s over but I’ll miss Claire. I love her very much.
What do you want your fans to take away from this book and/or to know about you?
That every beginning is disguised as an ending. If you have faith, the worst things can lead to the best things. No pain, no gain.
A Widow’s Guide To Sex and Dating is available here.