I certainly didn't say while writing 'Gossip Girl,' 'Oh this is going to be big!' It was really like, 'Oh god, everyone's gong to hate these people! They're so bratty!' But I actually think what is so appealing about them is the humor in them.
I used to be an editor and I was editing young adult series. I didn't really like the books that I was reading, so I decided that I would write a book about something I'd want to read if I was 16. It turned into a Cinderella story... I developed a proposal and the characters of 'Gossip Girl' for my job.
My high school wasn't a big public school; it was tiny. There were 36 girls in my graduating class. We were a big group of girls that by the time senior year came along couldn't wait to get away from school fast enough but we loved each other. It's really fun to see the girls at reunions now.
Back in my days as a children's book editor, my superiors caught on to the fact that teenagers were using the Internet to gossip about each other, and thought it might be nifty to develop a series of books about an anonymous high-school blogger who gossips about her classmates. The concept was passed on to me.
I feel like 'Gossip Girl' isn't really 'Gossip Girl' anymore when they're away at school because they don't go to NYU; they go to, like, Yale and Brown. New York City is just as much a character as anyone else in the books, and I was really sort of reluctant to show them off in their separate college worlds.
Blair liked to think of herself as a hopeless romantic in the style of old movie actresses like Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe. She was always coming up with plot devices for the movie she was starring in at the moment, the movie that was her life.
My biggest fear in writing 'Gossip Girl' was that the characters would sound like stereotypical rich, air-headed heiresses. These were my friends. They were smart and multifaceted. They had interests and passions. They wanted to become lawyers and doctors and writers and filmmakers.
She was spoiled, but she wasn't lazy. She knew what she wanted, and because she believed absolutely that she could have everything she wanted if she tried hard enough to get it, she never stopped trying.
Even now, I change my style and clothes from one day to the next, but during high school I blended in. I think a lot of people are that way. I guess that's why I can write about an array of characters.
I went to Colby College in Waterville, ME and did picture it when I was writing 'Cum Laude.' So many of the physical details were included, like the loop where people jogged. The story of the chapel is also borrowed from Colby... but the students and cast of characters are fictional.