Season five of "The Real Housewives of New York City" wraps Monday and one of its stars -- Suffern native Carole Radziwill -- reflected on her experience and teased what's ahead.
A best-selling author and Emmy-winning journalist, the Suffern High School graduate was one of three new cast members who joined Countess LuAnn de Lesseps, Sonja Morgan and Ramona Singer on the Bravo reality TV series.
"I think, [regarding] my presence, I have a good sense of humor about it," she said. "I feel like sometimes I'm in a comedy and the other ladies think they're in a drama. And I think the audience members can relate to that a little bit."
For the bulk of the season, Radziwill has done the seemingly unthinkable: She's attempted to avoid conflict.
"I made a promise to myself I wasn't going to do anything in front of the cameras that I wouldn't do normally in my real life," she said. "There is the pressure to step up and create drama, and I just never did it. ... My position is, I don't get in the middle of two grown women fighting."
Watching the series unfold on TV has also helped Radziwill understand why her peers were arguing.
"A lot of the fights, you're hearing about secondhand, and it's really hard to figure out who said [what] to [whom], until you watch it, and then, you're like, 'Holy [cow]!' " she said with a laugh.
Radziwill, who's seen every episode of this season -- including tonight's finale -- says she's pretty happy with how she came across on TV.
"There's some 'ouch' moments when I'd say something goofy; I've thought, 'Ugh, I wish I didn't say that," she said. "There's a lot of talk about the editing, but I think they can only edit what's on tape. I thought I had a lot more funny jokes that didn't end up in the show, so maybe I think I'm funnier than I am."
Perhaps she didn't make the best impression when she and fellow "Housewives" star Heather Thomson got drunk at a Chelsea bar while on camera, but Radziwill still considers it one of her favorite moments of the whole season.
"We were both just like, 'Oh, my God. What the hell happened?' " Radziwill said. "It was really fun. Heather is just really down-to-earth and a great girl, and it was fun because it was completely real. We just sat there, and just had shot after shot after shot of cherry bombs, and we got so drunk. Those moments for me -- I looked drunk, and it was very clear that we had been overserved -- but it was real, and it was just fun to do. I'm not trying to pretend I'm someone I'm not. I'm a girl that likes to go to a bar every once in a while, and get hammered and have a good time."
On a more sober note, her other favorite moment from this season was when she visited a boy named Jake at a prosthetic clinic with castmate Aviva Drescher, who wears a prosthetic leg due to a childhood accident.
"It's just those moments that you don't expect: You do a favor for a friend, and then you meet someone so extraordinary," Radziwill said. "He's such a sweet kid. I don't know if it came across on camera, but he was full of smiles and energy and enthusiasm."
Before joining the show, Radziwill spent more than a decade working for ABC News, where she covered international stories and met her late husband, producer Anthony Radziwill. In 2003, she left ABC News and wrote her first book, "What Remains: A Memoir of Fate, Friendship and Love," which spent 12 weeks on The New York Times bestseller list.
She admits that it was "very difficult" going from being the one who tells the story to being someone who is a story on a reality show.
"It was completely out of my comfort zone," she said. "I mean, journalism is my first love. It was always a dream that I had, growing up, to get out of my small town and live in the big city and work in ABC News. So, that was [my] first time experiencing being on the other side of the camera. It took a lot of getting used to."
But just because she's now a TV personality, it doesn't mean that she's left her writing behind. Radziwill, who has contributed to Glamour magazine, also has a novel, "The Widow's Guide to Sex and Dating," slated for publication this spring. She added that she's looking into adapting her novel for television.
"Hollywood is a tricky town, so I do what I do best, which is writing, and I let the agents do all the selling and stuff," she said. "I've already written the pilot scripts for it -- a couple of them, actually -- and, so, we're still continuing to look into that. Maybe, if I do ['Real Housewives'] next season, that's what you'll see: the process of trying to sell the book and make it into a TV show. That's probably what I will be doing."
For tonight's "Real Housewives" finale, she says, expect the requisite "kissing and making up," and, of course, some more drama.
"You'll have a better understanding, I think, of why Aviva was upset in St. Bart's," Radziwill said. "She explains herself in a very articulate way, so you'll learn about that."
Will she be back next year? Radziwill says she hasn't decided.
"It really depends on what's going on in my life," she said. "I have to really think about it. We just filmed the reunion, and we just finished the season, so we have a little time to think about what we're going to do, going forward."
In the meantime, she says she intends to revisit Suffern every now and then.
"I will, every once in a while, for a holiday or my dad's birthday," she said. "I have great memories of growing up there, but I sort of think -- and I've written this in 'What Remains' -- my dream was to get out of my small town and see the world. But, now, having done that, I'm so glad I've had that grounded, small-town experience growing up, because now my life is completely different. It was just a good way to spend my childhood."
Sometimes her fans inspire that nostalgia via Twitter.
"Someone just tweeted me a picture of the Caldor, where I used to work as a teenager -- the Caldor on Route 59 in Suffern," she said. "When I saw it on Twitter, I just loved it. It was like my Rosebud (from "Citizen Kane")."
Also on Twitter, someone posting as Penny Lane -- one of two dogs owned by Oscar-winning actress and Pound Ridge homeowner Susan Sarandon -- told Newsday Westchester that the pup had intentions of hanging out with Radziwill. The "Real Housewives" star confirmed that the two rendezvous frequently, because Radziwill misses her own dog out in Los Angeles.
"I was dying, because I miss her so much, so when Susan goes out of town, I get to baby-sit Penny Lane," she said.
Although Radziwill's late husband was a nephew of first lady Jacqueline Kennedy, Radziwill didn't share an opinion about Bedford resident Conor Kennedy's relationship with country star Taylor Swift, other than to say, "Conor's just a good kid."
Radziwill had a little more to say about her overall experience on "Real Housewives," although the writer took some liberties when asked to keep it to three words.
"It was hard work, challenging and -- in the end -- it was worthwhile," she said.
"The Real Housewives of New York City" season finale airs at 9 tonight on Bravo.