Omi

Cheers!

I can’t even drink straight wine anymore. I need ice. I’m like one of those old people who says, “I’ll just have a sip.” You know when you’re younger, you’re like, “Grandma, have some drinks.” That’s me. I can’t drink the way I used to!

What’s the craziest question you’ve been asked over the years?

Probably questions about my sex life, but I’m not going to talk about that. Actually, a couple of days ago I got a question from an interviewer who said, “My boss once heard that even though you wrote “Sex and the City” you didn’t like to have sex.” I was like, “Okay, that’s so weird.” I would say the strangest request that I’ve ever gotten came when I was writing “Sex and the City” and this guy came up to me and told me, “You’ve got to come to this party with me.” Apparently all of the men wear diapers and have pacifiers in their mouths and the women are dressed as nurses or something. I was like, “I think I’m gonna pass.”

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Your most recent book, “Killing Monica,” is about a woman’s search for her true identity and the idea that women have this idealized fantasy of a more perfect version of themselves. How did your dark humor come across in this book?

“Killing Monica” is really more deliberately written to be a romp and a madcap adventure and to be fast. Crazy things happen and the characters are extreme. “Sex and the City” is really more of a reflection of reality and this book is not meant to be that. There are certain things that I can do in this kind of book that I can’t do in other kinds of books. Then again, because I’m really going for funny it means that there are other things that I can’t do.

Do you take reviews personally and does it affect your writing for your next book? 

It really depends. I do read them. This is my eighth book, and one of the things that I’ve learned is that there are all different kinds of people and there are all different kinds of books. I don’t formally review [other] books, but for me there are always books that everybody else loves that I just don’t connect with. So, you know, you can’t connect with everybody. Some things just don’t work for people and I tend to write humor that’s a bit dark. The characters can be extreme and edgy, especially in this book. This one really is a farce and that kind of humor doesn’t work for everyone, which I understand. For me, it’s kind of a risk to [write] that kind of out-there humor, but so many people have said to me that they have laughed out loud. I also understand that when you’re writing this kind of book you have to try to serve the comedy. There’s a lot of rhythm in comedy and I do take that into account and write towards that. So there’s a lot of timing and it’s a bigger factor – the comedy beat – [but] you can’t do everything in a sentence. You can’t do everything in a scene. So there are some things that I don’t do or I can’t do for the sake of the comedy.

Many of your stories take place in New York. Are you a fan of  “The Real Housewives of New York?”

I love it! I watch quite a few of [the Bravo shows]. “The Real Housewives of New York City” is the one that I always watch because I feel like I always know where they’re going. I know Bethenny Frankel a little bit and Carole [Radziwell]. Now I know the Countess [Luann de Lesseps]. I just think they’re all ballsy and fun. I think they’re told to do all of that fighting. I know Ramona [Singer]. I met her in the ’80s – I’m old, baby, old, she’ll probably kill me – and, you know, they’re really just New York women. They’re fast, funny, big talkers… energetic. They’re all of those things, but still New York women who have each other’s backs when it comes down to it. Sometimes I think, “Ugh. I wish I was one of the Real Housewives.” They get to go on all of those trips.

Have you talked to Andy [Cohen] about it?

No, I couldn’t. No…

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Have you ever had writer’s block?

When I’m writing a book, I’m pretty much going to write six days a week. In the writing head I’m creating an alternative universe and populating it and I really get into that head. It’s kind of like a creative writer’s hat that I’m putting on. I find that if I get out of that zone for a couple of days, getting back into the zone is like, “I should have just been a plumber. It would be easier to be a plumber right now.” So that’s part of the process. Once you get out of the flow sometimes it will take me a few days to get back into it, and those two days can be agonizing. The other thing is that you sort of bring your moods to the book. Some days you wake up and you go, “I feel great!” and then other days you wake up and you’re like, “Ugh.” So you have all of those [feelings] but then you also have to try and be creative even when you’re feeling [that way]. Luckily – knock on wood – I’ve never had writer’s block that lasted for a year. I’ve had friends who couldn’t write anything for a year and it’s frustrating. My father’s a scientist so I could talk to him about the process of being creative. It’s something that ebbs and flows and sometimes you feel like your brain just needs a rest. In a sense you kind of have to trust your brain even though you might be really eager to get something done. Your brain is always working in some subconscious way. And being a writer is about problem solving. I read something that said, “If you write fiction, you’re solving a thousand problems a minute,” or something like that. That’s extreme, but it’s really a problem-solving kind of thing. How do I get the characters from A to B? What are the characters going to say? What does this mean?

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I’ve always been envious of those that can just write freely.

Well, you’re young and I have to say that when I was younger it wasn’t that I had writer’s block but there were so many other super interesting things to do besides write [at that age]. I felt like I was so distracted and found it harder to concentrate. Actually, that’s one of the things that’s really changed for me in the last 10 to 15 years. It really wasn’t until I got to be 40 that I was able to really sustain that kind of concentration that I think you need to write novels. I would beat myself up over it all the time. It’s just like playing an instrument, it’s just practice. Practice, practice, practice.

Do you believe you can have it all– the relationship and the career?

Well, for me, I’m not in a relationship right now and I got divorced. [The past] two to three years I’ve really taken time for myself to concentrate on my work and just work all the time, which is something you can do when you’re single. If you’re in a relationship you have to take care of the relationship. If the other person’s important, you don’t want to shortchange that person or shortchange the relationship. I’ve always written when I’ve had relationships, but I also have always gone away for a couple of weeks. I tend to be with people who travel. It all works out. I really love writing and doing creative things. I learned GarageBand. I have my line of emojis and my [Killing Monica] wine label. I feel like I have time now, so I’m just going to take advantage of it.

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What has been the biggest lesson you’ve learned along the way?

I think as you get older you have more courage. When I was younger I never would have had the courage to try to do emojis or make a music video, however crappy it might turn out. I wish I had a little bit more confidence in myself, because the truth is that people always say, “No.” They always say “no” to everything at first. People don’t say “yes” until they’ve seen it and they decide that it’s okay. When I was younger I didn’t know how to separate myself from the “no.” If I heard “no” I would say, “Oh, okay, fine.” Now I feel like I understand it a little bit better. People are a little reluctant to try new things and you really have to show them, so it means doing the work on your own and then saying, “Hey, here it is.” But that motivation to do the work by yourself is something that I’ve developed and didn’t have that ability to do when I was in my 20s. I’ve learned that everything is much harder and much more time consuming than expected. There’s nothing that [can be done] slapdash. Just writing my little song took at least 60 to 100 hours, which is kind of ridiculous, but it’s given me such a new appreciation for every creative field. People who are in the top of their fields… there’s so much work and dedication that goes into that. You kind of have to find a way to match that in yourself.

When did you decide to play to your strengths instead of fixing your flaws?

I came up with this theory when I was probably about 30. I realized that dwelling on all of the things that you feel like you’re not doing well keeps you from doing the things that you do well. It’s all those little things that these women criticize themselves for, which is basically not being perfect. I can’t tell you how much time I’ve spent beating myself up. Then I decided I was just really going to try to let those things go and concentrate on the positive and what I can do.

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What’s something that was hard to let go that you wanted to be?

I feel like I don’t do that many things so the few things that I do, I try to be really good at. You can’t do everything.

What’s your favorite drink scene in “Sex and the City”?

I don’t know if I could pick one. I have so many. I’ll pick my favorite Charlotte drunk scene. Remember when Carrie’s with the senator and they go to judge the firemen [show] and Charlotte gets really drunk? On the ferry back she’s like, “Where is he? I’ve been dating my whole life! Where is he?” I think that’s hilarious. I always remember that scene and then of course I always remember the scene when Samantha dates the fireman and she’s naked and then there’s a fire and they’re like, “Lady, get out of the way.” She’s wearing their [fireman] outfits or something. So funny. This is all stuff that was written by Michael Patrick King, by the way. He was the head writer; he’s a genius and then went on to do “2 Broke Girls.”

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Is it true you were sent each episode on a VHS every Wednesday before the show aired?

I would get it on Wednesday. I was always so excited because I got the episode before anybody else. My friends would come over on Sunday night and we would watch it. I would be so nervous, like, “Oh, I hope they like it.” I would hide in the kitchen and I would peek out to see if they were laughing. And they were. But I always thought, “Oh God. I hope they like it,” because of course I loved every episode.

Did you have any complaints about the show?

No, I never have. I mean, to me, it’s really the opposite. It’s a collaborative effort and people really brought their A-game. It’s just amazing that so many great people wanted to be involved and they brought all of their best work to “Sex and the City.” You cannot ask for anything more.

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What has been your biggest pinch-me moment?

I think when we were shooting the pilot. I was the host of a VH1 show called, “Sex, Lies, and Video Clips.” I think we did it for two seasons, but I remember the studio was on the Hudson River downtown. I remember doing my show and then walking with my best friend from the studio down the street to where they were shooting “Sex and the City.” I came upon this street and it was all blocked off and there were all these trucks and I thought, “Wow.” That was my pinch-me-moment.

That is a moment.

But, you know, then I got in trouble because I think I was talking too loudly or something. I got banished to go and sit with the sound guy. I got banished to sound.

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If you could have a drink with anyone, who would it be?

Well, I’d like to have a drink with Lena Dunham and Taylor Swift.

A little jam session with Taylor?

Yeah right. “Hey Taylor, listen to this song.” She’d be like, “I’m outta here.”

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Hillary Sawchuk

KIRSTEN MICCOLI PHOTOGRAPHY / A DRINK WITH AT THE BETTY

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Omi