I'm going to say right off the bat that there's going to be a sequel. But that's not why there's an author's note here (not completely, anyway).
I've been working on this story for a while now, and I wanted to take a moment to talk about some of the choices I made while writing it. If you don't care, feel free to drop out now.
It goes without saying that I love "Caroline in the City." I think that's fairly obvious. I've always believed that writing fan fiction is a labor of love. You don't spend hours mulling over what a character would and wouldn't say, how they would feel, how they would react to a certain situation, if you don't love them. And I absolutely love this show. I would have to, to write a fan fiction about the characters nearly fifteen years after the show went off air.
Every fan of the show knows that "Caroline in the City" ended with a hell of a cliffhanger. When I first watched it, I was horrified. Now we would never know if they were going to end up together! But I think the beauty of a cliffhanger is, you're allowed to imagine whatever ending you'd like. So I began to wonder: what would happen next? Would Caroline run off with Richard? Or would she wave up at him in the balcony at her wedding, share a look with him, and turn back to Randy? I hated Randy an awful lot when I watched the show (even now its difficult for me to re-watch episodes in which he's featured). But even though I hated him, I had to admit that there was more to Caroline and Randy's relationship than a simple rebound. She had feelings for him even before she and Richard broke up. So I tried to find scenarios where they would break up in a way that made sense for the show and for the characters.
Caroline was never totally in touch with her real feelings. I think a lot of the show's original plot came from that premise. Going all the way back to the first season, its clear that she and Richard were starting to develop feelings for each other, but she can't see it until just before she marries Del. Later, she agrees to move in with Trevor even though he, and everyone else on the planet, knows that she's in love with Richard. I could easily imagine her being swept up in Randy, who she was attracted to and may have even loved (somewhat). I actually drew a lot of parallels between Randy and Trevor. In ways, they both represented what she wanted from Richard and couldn't have. With Trevor, she got a man who wanted her and was unattached and loved her even though she clearly loved someone else. With Randy, she got her ideal future with a man who wanted all the same things that she wanted. But of course, the old saying goes: you can't choose who you fall in love with.
I couldn't imagine Caroline running off with Richard right at the wedding. It seemed too quick and easy. Caroline isn't someone who runs out on her commitments. In season 3, it was Trevor who left her, and not the other way around. So I wanted to draw out the realization a bit. And in the end, like with Trevor, it was Randy who saw the truth before Caroline could. That's why I wrote some of the chapters from his perspective. I also wanted to undercut any idea that they might belong together (whoever might have had this silly, silly idea). I wanted to really delve into the disintegration of their relationship. I didn't want Randy to be 'the perfect guy'. I wanted him to be a human being. I wanted him to be someone who gets jealous and angry and upset. I couldn't imagine anyone just stepping aside and allowing some other guy to take his girl. And even the most avid fan of the show must admit that, in ways, Randy was better for Caroline. Richard IS a difficult person. There's no way around that. That was one of the biggest themes of the show, and certainly in stories involving their feelings for each other.
Though I will say, Richard wasn't the only one who was difficult. Despite what many may think, the break-up wasn't entirely his fault. Neither was willing to compromise what they wanted. Though ultimately it was the change in Richard that made their reunion possible, he was entitled to his original feelings. Not everyone is destined for parenthood, and I think the show dealt with that issue well (even though he changed his mind, in the end).
So I tried to think of a way to bridge the gap between Richard and Caroline. And that's why I decided that Caroline's strip would be in trouble. In the show, we see her strip as an extension of herself. The farther away from her reality it becomes, the more she struggles with it (as we learned in the episode with her 2000th strip). And in this case, I decided that Richard's presence, or lack thereof, would have a profound effect on it. He was, after all, inextricably linked with her strip for years. So without him, and while simultaneously denying the part of herself that loved him, the strip suffered. And when he came to help her fix it, it began to heal the rift between them. Plus, the show is named after that strip, so I thought it deserved an important place at the center of their story.
I had a lot of fun writing this story. I tried to include as many references to the original material as I could without just rehashing old history. I also included some new "flashbacks." Mostly, I did that because it let me write about times when Richard and Caroline were in a relationship, and since in the story they were all angsty and apart, writing about them being happy and in love with a nice change for me. I think in the sequel I'll get to do a bit more of that (though, you know, smooth sailing isn't really in the cards for them! How boring would that be?). I tried to keep all the facts matching those from the original, but my story ending up being a little longer than I had originally planned, so there's a very good chance I've confused some of the details. If anyone catches one, let me know and I'll change it.
I also wanted to write a bit about Annie and Del. I love them together. It was a nice end-of-the-show surprise. I would have written more about them, but disentangling the mess that was Caroline and Richard ended up monopolizing my time in this first part, so I sent Annie, Del, and Charlie away for a little while so I could deal with the main relationship first. Though Annie/Richard banter may have been my favorite thing to write. OK, no, Caroline/Richard was my favorite thing to write, but Annie/Richard was a close second.
Even though I'm prattling on like this, I don't take this TOO seriously. But I know the people who read my story are fans of the show as well, and so I can't help but want to share my process and how it relates to the love I have of the show.
Originally, I was planning on continuing the sequel as part of this story, but I decided to cut it into its own part. I thought this part had its own story arc, and adding a second arc would only convolute the overall story. But there were a few things I wanted to write in more detail. Caroline and Richard figuring out the "finer details" of their relationship. Annie and Del and their issues. Richard adapting to his life as a father. Richard being self-sufficient and moderately successful for the first time in his life (and he didn't even have to die prematurely!). So I'll puzzle that out in the sequel. Meanwhile, I've just finished writing the last part, and since the rest of the story has been somewhat long-winded (maybe that's an understatement?), the last part is short and sweet. I hope you all find it as satisfying to read as I did to write. I'll admit, it's extremely corny. Dramatic on-plane reunion? How more sitcom could it get? Not very, I imagine, but it was a sitcom, after all, so I decided to just go with it. Also, in a pre-9/11 world Caroline was able to get on a plane without a ticket or a strip-search. It's good to recall the good old days.
And, as a last and final note (I swear!), I wanted to thank all the lovely people who commented on my story. It was great to know that there were people out there reading and enjoying what I was writing. It made me excited to write another part of the story. I hope you'll all join me in the sequel, and thanks again for the encouragement and support you've given me up until now.
Much love to all,