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Article

Clarissa Darling grows up in novel 'Things I Can't Explain'

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It’s fitting that on the 24th anniversary of the first airing of Clarissa Explains It All we get a first look at Things I Can’t Explain, the upcoming novel that follows Clarissa Darling as a woman in her mid-twenties. In addition to the exclusive cover reveal below, author and Clarissa creator Mitchell Kriegman gives us hints as to what we should expect from Clarissa—and what she goes through is a lot darker than anyone we saw on the Nickelodeon show.

What year will it be in the new novel?

The new novel—Things I Can’t Explain—takes place in the present. The novel picks up Clarissa’s life in her mid-twenties because it’s the most interesting moment to see where she’s been and where she’s going. It’s why I say it’s a re-imagining of Clarissa. Things I Can’t Explain resets her story from a new moment.

I know the pop culture freaks and math geeks out there will pull out their calculators and say Clarissa would be older. After all Melissa has grown up and is—well—in my imagination she’s still 14. Although I quite like talking to her these days. She’s got it all together.

Clarissa was always a forward thinker. (I remember those self-programmed computer games!) How will she adopt new technologies or trends to express herself?

Clarissa was so far ahead of the curve that she’s not particularly obsessed with her tech. She partakes and all her girlfriends certainly do. It’s not a backlash or anything, but there’s a bit of a Luddite in her, a love of old things—like actual newspapers made of ink and wood pulp, but she’s pragmatic. The book fills in the historical background. Sam, it turns out is the really old-fashioned one when it comes to new tech.

Are there adult problems that fans of the ’90s show will be surprised to see Clarissa go through?

That’s all she goes through. The tween years, which Clarissa was pretty good at explaining, are long gone and she’s entered the world of new issues that are pretty unexplainable. Those adult problems looked way simpler from at fourteen-year-old girl perspective. After all fourteen-year-old girls know everything. That said—who actually grows up anymore? Or at least who doesn’t think that deep down inside their chewy center they aren’t still a kid?

Ferguson’s future either looked amazing (business tycoon?) or abysmal. What’s going on with him?

Yep, it’s either amazing or abysmal. Actually it’s both. Ferg has a pretty big arc in this book. He’s almost reborn in a way. I can’t wait to see what happens to him next.

Where is Sam?

That’s a damn good question. We all want to know! Most of all Clarissa. It’s definitely a mystery. But for now I’d say there’s a lot of Sam in this book in ways that are pretty meaningful. I’ve been interested for a long time in what Sam was thinking all those years and I think we’ll finally get a deeper sense of that.

Also, a bonus question: People have been fascinated by the fact that Hunger Games author Suzanne Collins wrote for Clarissa. Was there any indication back then that she’d become this YA superstar?

Suzanne Collins was always Suzanne Collins—it’s incredibly flattering that people make the causal connection between Clarissa and Katniss. I once saw some fan fiction that envisioned Clarissa as a superhero and that kind of opened my mind to the connection fans have in mind. But I pretty much think we were all lucky to have worked with Suzanne and all the credit for her success belongs to her! But I do have to admit, I hope Suzanne finds time to read this book! I’m pretty much officially dying to know what she thinks of it!