10 in ’10 with Maria Semple

Maris Semple, author of the fabulous novel This One is Mine, has graciously agreed to answer a few questions.  This is her first novel, although she was a writer for many very good tv shows, like Arrested Development and Ellen.  Why not stop by her website and have a look around?  On to the questions…

1. In your book bio it says you “escaped from Los Angeles” and now live on an island off Seattle. What was it about Los Angeles that made you want to escape?

It’s a company town, and I was done screenwriting.  And in my mind, if you don’t have to be in LA, you really shouldn’t.  The usual gripes… traffic, infrastructure collapsing, people in Porsche’s honking at you.

Plus the sun.  I’m not a fan of the sun.  

2. You wrote for television before writing this book. Which of these shows are you most proud of?

Mad About You, because I think there was the most of me in it than any of the other shows.  

3. The characters in This One is Mine are deeply flawed.  Tell us what Violet saw in Teddy?

Hey, methinks you fall into the category of readers totally puzzled and repulsed by Teddy.  In my mind, Teddy saw a “twinkle” in Violet that she thought had been snuffed out by too many years of being married to David, not working, being a new mother.  And as happens with love, circuits get crossed and Violet thinks that Teddy makes her twinkle.  He makes her feel beautiful, sexy, funny, needed.  So by chasing him, she’s chasing that part of herself she is desperate to keep alive.  

4. Did you have any input on the cover?  The trade paperback cover is deliciously beautiful.

So glad you like the paperback cover.   My friend, the very talented Kimberly Brooks painted the cover for the hardback, which I really loved.  Little, Brown decided to go for something poppier for the paperback and I think they did a great job.  How can you not reach for that book?

5. Who or what inspires you?

Any artist who experiences failure and rejection and keeps going.  I find bouncing back very moving.  

6. What’s the last book you read?

Les Liasions Dangereuses.  I had read it a few times, and always considered it one of my favorite books.  I picked it up again and it thrilled me.  A work of total genius.  It’s the only book that has left me feeling scandalized.   Three hundred years after the book was written!   And you read my book, full of sex and immorality, so that’s saying a lot.

7. What’s your favorite non writing hobby?

Trying to stay off the internet.

8. I love quotes.  Do you have a favorite?

The Gods of Discipline are benevolent.  My boyfriend and I made this up yesterday.  We were remarking that anytime we exercise discipline– with work, exercise, speech, anything where we don’t act impulsively, but show restraint–  it always pays off.   

9. If you were trapped in the life of one fictional character who would you choose?

That’s so hard to say, because most fictional characters go through so many highs and such lows.  I guess I’d like to be any smart heroine who’s vexed and maddened by love, and who doesn’t end up killing herself.  Elizabeth Bennett, Dorthea Casaubon, Jane Eyre, Isabel Archer.  

10. And finally, what are you working on now?

I’m working on my new novel, and it’s finally coming together.  To make an embarrassingly lowbrow analogy– there’s that reality show star named Heidi something who I just read had ten plastic surgeries done to her at once?  I feel like the plastic surgeon who performed that work– I’m sitting at the computer and I have this living thing open in front of me but it needs attending to on ten different fronts… wait I have to stop, this analogy is going to make me sick.  

How’s this:  I’m in the process of figuring out my second novel.  

Thank you, Maria!