The book deals with a sensitive subject with the one of the main characters wrestling with an unplanned pregnancy and the possibility of abortion. Did you know how she was going to decide ahead of time?
I think I could say that I hoped she would choose the way she did. It’s a funny combination of knowing and not knowing. I am always puzzled when people say they have no idea how their story will turn out, and yet of course, it becomes dead if you force it to go the way you meant in the beginning. I always think it’s like a road trip — you know something about the trip, roughly how long it’s going to take, where you are going to end up, maybe even what you hope to see along the way, but you don’t know what’s going to happen until you actually get on the road, and it can turn out to be very different than you thought it would be. For me, it has to be both at once.
Even though it is clearly in present day (abortion is legal) the story and its characters have a timeless quality. Is there a message in that?
I’m very glad if that’s true. I tried hard for it to be that way. I think it depends on what the story is about. If it’s about things that are important to people no matter when they live, then it can have a timeless quality, if you’re lucky.
Several of the main characters of the ensemble cast are men and you write them well. How did you get into the male mind in order to capture their voices?
My brother, who is an actor, told me something very important when I was working on The Simple Life. He said he never played himself. You have to be able to look at a person and make that person coherent, and you can’t do that about yourself, because you can’t see yourself. I was struggling with Isabel at the time. She turned out to be very hard, because I thought I could just write myself and so it would be easy. Since my brother said that, I think I have found it almost as easy to write men as to write women. I gave Cal lots of things that are important to me, for example. But he’s obviously a very different person also.