Two Questions For Maria Semple

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

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?’