Molly Ringwald (yup, that Molly Ringwald) recently penned her first novel, When It Happens To You, which revolves around a troubled marriage. She still acts and hopes to adapt the novel to the screen—one of her icons is Steve Martin—and counts among her favorite authors Joan Didion, Philip Roth, Lorrie Moore, Toni Morrison, Leo Tolstoy, Gustave Flaubert and Georges Perec.
Given that whole recent Maeve Binchy shitstorm, the following timely question was asked: Do you think being a mother is an important precursor to writing about it?
I don't think being a mother is essential to being able to write believable mothers, but I can't deny it can give the writer an edge in terms of the more prosaic details of life with children. I also think it can be tempting to idealise or mythologise parenthood in a way you can't when you are in the middle of it. But I think it is ludicrous to suggest that only mothers can write credibly of motherhood. It's like arguing [Fyodor] Dostoyevsky needed to commit murder in order to write Crime and Punishment. Stephen Crane wrote one of the most well-known war novels of all time, despite having never experienced combat.
Before the book came out, Ringwald also requested advice from another icon circa John Hughes:
Recently, I wrote an email to an old friend, the writer Bret Easton Ellis, regarding my trepidation at giving the galley [final copy] to my parents. He wrote back a very stern email telling me - I'm paraphrasing - that if I hesitate writing prose based on other people's reaction, then I shouldn't write prose. I framed it and put it on my desk.
'Molly's Novel Approach' [The Age]