Kelly's debut novel A Dangerous Age, which hit stores Tuesday, follows four New Yorkers trying to keep their dreams and relationships alive as they enter middle age. Lucy's marriage is falling a part, Sarah's socialite status may be threatened by her attempt to get on a reality TV show, Billy aims to set the culinary world on fire, and Lotta is a successful art dealer by day whose habit of hard partying at night may be catching up with her.
Though A Dangerous Age is a work of fiction, much of it is based on Kelly's own experiences living in the Big Apple. "The book is definitely based on my life," Kelly told The Daily Dish. "It's loosely based and inspired by me coming to New York at 16 years old and meeting four other friends and being in my 40s now and navigating this world."
Kelly's debut novel A Dangerous Age is in stores now.
In fact, it was Kelly's own life story that caught the eye of high-profile literary agent Luke Janklow in the first place. "I wanted to start writing novels because I met Luke Janklow at a dinner party, and he said to me, he's like, 'You have such a story to tell.' And he's like, 'No one really knows the real story of Kelly Bensimon.' So he's like, 'I want you to tell that story to the world,'" she explained.
Naturally, Kelly's experience on RHONY has provided some major inspiration for the book. "One of the characters is on reality TV. Her name is Sarah. She's dying to be a reality TV star," she said. "That whole experience of being on Housewives, she's that character. She wants to be a reality TV star, so she goes through this whole process."
Kelly said the title, A Dangerous Age, refers to being in your 40s and figuring out the next chapter of your life, something that is all too familiar to her. "When I turned 40, I had recently been divorced and I was raising children on my own and I was departing into a whole new world with reality TV, you know, in a whole different world that I wasn't used to, being in front of the camera," she said. "So for a lot of women in their 40s, maybe they're not on reality TV, but it's a life-changing moment, and I want the everywoman to celebrate this time of their life, because it is so incredible."
And Kelly, who turned 48 years old last month, said she really needed to live through her 40s in order to be able to write A Dangerous Age. "Now I feel that I've learned so much, and I've grown so much, and I have to thank Housewives for that," she explained. "All the altercations that everybody saw on Housewives have made me a better person. I've learned to navigate different situations differently. I've grown up a lot, like I'm a lot more calm now than when I was on Housewives."
Kelly said she also "had a lot of fear" while she was on RHONY that would have held her back from writing something like A Dangerous Age in the past. Her daughters, Sea, 18, and Thadeus, who is turning 16 this summer, helped her overcome that. "When I told them that Mr. Janklow offered me a novel, they were like, 'Yes, let's write that. You've written that,'" Kelly said. "My youngest was looking through all of my old notes from [when I studied at] Columbia, and she's like, 'Mom, you already wrote this when you were at Columbia. That was your memoir that you submitted at Columbia.' She's like, 'Mommy, tell that story. Tell that story.'"
Just like on RHONY, New York City is a character in and of itself in A Dangerous Age. "I want when people read this book [to be like], 'I cannot wait to get myself on a plane to New York.' I want people to be like, 'Oh my God, New York City is so incredible.' I've decorated the pages, I've told you where to go, I've told you what the restaurants look like, I've told you what to eat there," Kelly teased. "It's filled with color and energy and insider tips on where to get the best vagina facial. All sorts of fun stuff."
You can expect a lot of drama set against a backdrop of Soul Cycle workouts, sake, and hair extensions, too. "The issues in this book are issues that I've actually seen, conversations I've actually heard. These are real. There's no storyline; this is what I've actually seen, heard, and watched," Kelly told The Daily Dish. "Some things you're gonna be surprised. You're gonna be like, 'Oh my God, I don't like that.' And other things, you're gonna be like, 'Wow, that was really cool.'"
But ultimately, A Dangerous Age is about the power of true friendship. "I really admire how women stick together and celebrate each other," Kelly said. "That's always been something that I have had in my life, and I want my girls having in their life. I want other women to really stick up for each other and help make these transitions easier."
Kelly is already busy at work on a sequel to A Dangerous Age called A Dangerous Time. But for now, you can pick up a copy of A Dangerous Age in bookstores.
But will the characters in A Dangerous Age have as sultry of a summer as Kelly did in the Hamptons last year?