Two Questions For Molly Ringwald

Author and actress Molly Ringwald discusses When It Happens to You, her first novel (which is told in stories) and where she finds inspiration in L.A.

Photograph by Fergus Greer

When It Happens to You is your first foray into fiction. Why write a novel in stories? Did the form come before the content or vice versa? 
Even though I had been writing fiction for years, it was the first time I felt that I wanted to publish it. I think I was initially drawn to the subject of betrayal because of the universality of it—how we betray those we love the most and how we betray ourselves. The form just revealed itself as I was writing. I love short fiction, and because of the subject matter, I thought it would make sense to have all the characters connected in some way reinforcing the idea that everyone is suffering in their own way and that we are all doing the best we can to find a way back to happiness.

Where in L.A. do you find people/places/things that intrigue and inspire you in your writing? 
I find people everywhere that inspire my writing—out on the street, at my kid’s school, in the market… I always have my ears and eyes open and find myself imagining histories for everyone. Since I grew up in L.A., there is a nice familiarity with the general geography and the madness of the freeways. But since I moved back again, I found myself on the West Side, which gave me the feeling of almost being a tourist. I’ve always tended to notice more things when on holiday, so it inspired that sort of an observational eye on the environment.