It's hard to believe it's been 15 years since we first met granny-panties-wearing, 30-something singleton Bridget Jones in Helen Fielding's hilarious novel, "Bridget Jones's Diary." A sequel and two film adaptations starring Renee Zellweger later, Bridget is still one of chick lit's most beloved characters. And if you've been itching for more of the saucy Brit's adventures, you're in luck. Helen is working on a third Bridget novel and has turned to an unlikely source for inspiration: Twitter.
A self-professed Twitter-avoider, Helen finally joined the social networking site as part of a Comic Relief benefit in which celebrities' first follows were auctioned off to the highest bidder. Helen quickly realized, though, that 140-word missives were a great writing exercise while penning her latest tome.
"I discovered that through doing Twitter—I was a bit blocked with the book and it just put me back in touch with who the readers are," Helen told us from her home in London. "You can sort of talk to people and see them react to your stuff."
Helen now tweets as four of her characters: Bridget (@bridgetjoneshf), Mark Darcy (@markdarcylegal), Daniel Cleaver (@danielcleaverxx) and Richard Finch (@richardjfinch). And if Bridget had insecurities before, the digital age has opened a whole new avenue for our plucky heroine to air her neuroses.
"Like the first week she was just going, 'No followers. Still no followers. I'm not checking for followers,'" Helen recalled. "Nobody was following her... And then she of course got drunk and twittered drunkenly and then regretted it the next morning and apologized. And then when she did get followers, she was crippled with social embarrassment about which ones to follow and then ended up just following the Dalai Lama. Then got drunk again and started following all of the followers."
And then there are times when things take a turn for the mind-bending meta, like when Bridget was tweeting with Livia Firth, the wife of real-life Mark Darcy, Colin Firth.
"I bumped into Colin Firth's wife at something, and then she and Bridget started tweeting about how many pairs of Spanx the other one was wearing. And it got so confusing because then Mark Darcy started flirting with Livia and then Bridget got crossed. But then it wasn't actually Colin, it was Mark Darcy and Livia is married to Colin."
As for how all of these tweets will be integrated into her latest work, Helen isn't sure of the specifics, but she did say that recurring themes from her tweets will likely seep into her novel. "To give an example, I've got a thing going with technology," she said. "She's always getting fed up with trying to operate the remote control or the password or how to turn on the tap. She goes to the restaurant bathroom and feels like she's spending three days waving her hands in front of toilets and wash basins and just can't figure out how to turn the tap on. It's all very modern. So I think things like that are sort of themes.
"And I'm also sort of trying to work a plot out with Mark on there, as well," she continued. "But it's quite hard because you can't get that much dialogue. But little bits of dialogue come up. Like, there's a thing where he's in Libya at the moment, and she got it mixed up with Liberia. Those you can see you can work into a bigger conversation."
The exact plot of the novel is still coming together, but Helen said that it will likely involve Bridget "struggling with the baby thing," and that Mark will be her main love interest (though Daniel will be loitering about as usual).
In addition to the novel, Helen is working on a West End "Bridget Jones's Diary" musical with Lily Allen and a script for another Bridget movie. Yep, that rumored third installment is still on the table.
"It's hard to pull these things together," she said of the long-gestating film. "There are so many people involved. I think they are sort of moving towards it now. It's definitely taking shape now, and it would be so much fun if they all came back and did it. You know, Colin has won an Oscar now. No pressure or anything."
Are you excited for a third "Bridget Jones" novel? How about another movie? Will you be following Bridget on Twitter?