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It took a full decade for Pamela Redmond’s novel Younger to make it to the screen in the form of the TV Land show of the same name, creator Darren Star’s most lauded series since Sex and the City. And it took another five years after that for the sequel, appropriately titled Older, to hit bookshelves a month ago.
While Younger follows a 40-year-old woman, Liza (played by Sutton Foster), who poses as a twentysomething to get a job in publishing, the sequel picks up as Liza publishes a roman a clef about her year posing as a millennial called Younger. Making things more meta is the fact that Liza’s former colleague, Kelsey (played on the show by Hilary Duff), wants to turn it into a TV show. Available in bookstores and online, Older adds another layer of meta with the fact that the audiobook is narrated by none other than Sutton Foster herself.
Before the Younger series, Redmond hadn’t thought about writing a sequel because the novel has a satisfying resolution.
“The arc of the book is really [Liza] trying to get back into the world of work after raising her kid, finally resorting to this tactic of passing as young, and then her lie being exposed or her confessing. And that’s the resolution,” Redmond tells The Hollywood Reporter. “She’s her real self trying to live her real life. That felt like an ending to the book and there was no impetus to do something else at all. At different times after the show launched people would say to me, ‘you should write a sequel,’ and I just couldn’t see it at all.”
But after writing another meta-novel that ultimately wasn’t published, she realized that some of the material from that manuscript would be perfect for a Younger continuation. Redmond ended up taking some elements from that story and turning it into Older, which she finally was able to picture in her head.
There were certain guidelines she knew she needed to follow, particularly when it comes to juggling intellectual property with rights that currently belong to another person.
“I knew I had to set [the new book] way far in the future, like past any point where Darren might end the show. I couldn’t use any of his characters. So I couldn’t use Charles, for instance, I couldn’t use Diana Trout, the boss,” Redmond says.
But at the end of the Younger book, Liza has become a writer and Kelsey has left publishing and moved to Paris — “funny that Darren is doing the show Emily in Paris,” Redmond says. “It’s funny, I didn’t even put that together before!” — so it’s entirely plausible Kelsey pivots her career into television production.
Explains Redmond, “That just became very fun to play because I knew that anybody who wanted to read Older was going to be somebody who knew the show and was a fan of the show, so I had to use elements of the show and the fact of the show without actually using them in a way that would have infringed on Darren’s right to the material.”
That connection to the show is strengthened by the addition of Foster as audiobook narrator, which “ties the character and the show to the book in a way that feels really good to me because I am really proud to be associated with that show,” says Redmond. “I’m so happy with what [Star] done and I think he took it in great directions — you know, I wish I had thought of Charles. So I love to be associated with it without feeling like I’m stepping on their toes in any way.”
Up next on Redmond’s wish list is a Broadway musical, which she’s been working on with a Broadway producer. She’d love for Tony winner Foster or Star to become involved, too, if they have any interest.
“I’ve never talked about this with Darren but he’s a big Broadway fan. I haven’t said anything to him about this — but he may have read the stories — but I guess I’ve always kind of thought maybe he would want to be involved in this, in which case maybe we could use Charles and we could use Diana, who are such great characters and would obviously be great in a play. I signed up for playwriting and songwriting classes online so I’m really excited about that.”
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