Plus, an interview with 'Clarissa' creator Mitchell Kriegman.

By Isabella Biedenharn
March 14, 2016 at 02:09 PM EDT
Everett Collection

In a new audiobook recording of Clarissa Explains It All creator Mitchell Kriegman’s novel, Things I Can’t Explain: A Clarissa Novel, they’re keeping things in the family. Emily Hart — sister of Melissa Joan Hart, who starred as Clarissa in the cult-favorite ’90s Nickelodeon sitcom — narrates the audiobook as adult Clarissa.

Below, check out a clip from Things I Can’t Explain (available for pre-order in advance of its Mar. 15 on-sale date) along with Kriegman’s thoughts on what it was like to revisit his beloved character after all these years.

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ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What was it like getting back into Clarissa’s head after all these years? Did the character feel like a totally new person, or familiar?

MITCHELL KRIEGMAN: It took a little while at first, mainly because her way of talking has become more commonplace, and I had to work on distinguishing her from those other voices — like the voices in friends and other stuff. 

Once I cracked that I loved it — I love her voice, and it was even easier because she’s an adult, so she can talk about anything!

What do you think readers might find most surprising about this older, wiser Clarissa?

She’s still a survivor, always has a plan, but she’s older, the world is tougher, and she doesn’t always win anymore — certainly not right away or with ease. For gossip value, they’ll find out what happened to Sam, her soulmate. And elvis…and where her taste in clothing comes from.

What was the most challenging part of writing the book?

The tone. The tv show was broad comedy with some pretty wild plots and ideas. I had to make that work in a more literary way. There are still some pretty great comedy scenes, but this book had to live as a novel.

What was the most fun part?

Clarissa herself, her charts and graphs, Sam, and Ferguson. I loved Ferguson in this — he’s like a twisted version of The Bourne Identity.

Why do you think Clarissa has resonated with viewers for all these years? I know I’m not alone in wishing the show were still on today.

What’s satisfying is that the show isn’t just a bit of nostalgia — there is some of that, but in retrospect (and even at the time) it’s viewed as groundbreaking. Being one of the first girls helps, but it’s the way she was that first girl: not trying to be a star, but being a star in her own life, not being shallow or boy crazy, the gender equality in the show and so many of the techniques like talking to the camera, fantasies and all. I think it was just pretty cool in the beginning, and now people feel it was good for their lives, character building. Not sure you can say that about all the shows you’re nostalgic for, can you? 

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  • In Season
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