Two Questions For Maria Semple

Author of Where’d You Go, Bernadette talks about her background in screenwriting, her LA haunts and hipster dads.

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Photograph by Leta Warner

How did your background in screenwriting help you to transition into novels? Was it easier or harder than you thought?

When I wrote for TV, I was always thinking in terms of character and story. After fifteen years, it became hard-wired in me. So when I turned to fiction, character and story were my way in. Both Where’d You Go, Bernadette and my first novel, This One is Mine, are pretty complex on a story level, and fun reads as a result. I’m really proud of that fact, and it’s something I owe completely to my years of toiling in TV. I must say, it was a lot easier writing novels than I thought it would be. I think it’s because I’m a novelist at heart, and it took me a while to figure that out. 

When you lived in LA, what was a typical weekend for you? What did you do here in your time off?

My husband and I had a daughter, so the weekends were hugely informed by her. I spent many Saturdays, bleary-eyed, at parks.  The Beverly Glen Park, just north of Wilshire was a stomping ground. Sundays, we had a nice routine of going to the Pain Quotidian in the valley, then the Studio City Farmer’s Market. It’s funny, four years ago, a few months after we moved to Seattle, we went back to the Studio City Farmer’s Market and I was so comforted to see the gaggle of chic moms, hipster dads and TV writers. My tribe, I thought! I wanted to hug them all. But now that we’ve acclimated to life in Seattle, I go back to that same Studio City Farmer’s Market and I think, ‘Who are you people?’ 

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