'Nanny Diaries' authors birth another novel
An interview with Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus, whose 2002 "Nanny Diaries" sold 2 million copies. Now, "Nanny Returns."
The Associated Press
When we last saw Nanny, she was screaming into a spy camera hidden in a teddy bear.
The put-upon heroine of 2002's "The Nanny Diaries" had unleashed a stern rebuke to her pampered and clueless employers before marching out of their lives and restarting her own.
It was a cathartic end to a novel that would go on to sell more than 2 million copies, inspire a movie and launch the careers of its young co-authors, Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus.
What happened to Nanny was a question that has gone unanswered for seven years. The writing duo penned three more books before deciding to finally revisit their best-loved heroine. It wasn't something they did lightly.
"We were terrified," says McLaughlin. "We've all loved books and then read a sequel to something that we loved and just wished the story had been left off where it had been."
The result, "Nanny Returns," published this week, picks up 12 years after the teddy-bear incident. After years abroad, Nan is 33, back in Manhattan and married to Ryan when she gets a drunken, late-night visit from 16-year-old Grayer, her former charge.
"It was emotional — very emotional — to go back to them," says McLaughlin, who says she cried when she co-wrote the opening passages. "We knew them."
During a recent interview at a Midtown cafe, the authors, including a very pregnant Kraus, scarf down salads as they detail their sudden rise, how they write and why it took so long to find out what happened to Nanny.
The duo, who met at New York University and had worked as nannies for more than 30 New York City families, spent two years writing "The Nanny Diaries" and had few expectations when it came out.
"We thought our parents would buy it and we would go on to our lives," McLaughlin says. "We were humbly blessed to catch the zeitgeist and step into a media cycle."
They went on to write about feminism in the workplace in "Citizen Girl," a book their publisher, St. Martin's Press, passed on because it wasn't a Nanny sequel.
The writers then got a reported $2 million deal at Random House, but feeling uncomfortable there, paid it back and landed at Atria Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, which published "Citizen Girl"; "Dedication," a novel about a woman who must confront a high-school love; and a young adult novel, "The Real Real."
The economy hadn't yet fully tanked when McLaughlin and Kraus began to think about a Nanny sequel. The first book exposed a social system that outsources parenting to an ever-changing phalanx of caregivers, producing unhappy children. What, they thought, would happen when the affluent of the world they explored lost their money?
"That got us thinking ahead in the story: What does become of these people? And what are the multigenerational ramifications of this kind of system which creates these mini-psychotics," says McLaughlin. "I mean, if you can't form attachments, there are problems."
Sam and Sara Lucchese create handmade pasta out of their kitchen-garage adjacent to their Ballard home. Here, they illustrate the final steps in making pappardelle pasta.