Last night Molly Ringwald gave a great reading of a part of her new novel in stories, When It Happens to You at the Nashville Public Library. She read from the story “My Olivia,” about a single mother and her son, who at six already identifies as a girl. The excerpt had some great lines about pregnancy the chasm between parents and non-parents. After the reading, she answered a lot of questions from the packed hall.
Some questions were about Ringwald’s movie career. She said that John Hughes encouraged her to write, but that he probably meant screenwriting, not novels and short stories. My favorite story that she told was that Hughes felt that he was bad at revision, that his work got worse as he changed it. Ringwald loved the first version of The Breakfast Club that she saw, but when they all met to film it there was a new version she didn’t like as much, and she told Hughes. He brought out all of his previous drafts and let the young stars read them all and pick the parts they liked best. Doesn’t it make sense that that movie came from such a unique collaborative writing process, with the actual teenagers giving real input?
What interests Ringwald in both acting and writing is characters, people who have flaws. She said she doesn’t write fantasies, but stories about good people who aren’t perfect. That makes me really excited to read the rest of this book. While waiting at the book signing, I read on in the story she’d started reading to the crowd, and the writing only got deeper and stronger.
Ringwald was sweet and gracious, and most of all, wise. I’m glad the “princess” grew up so well. It gives me hope for the next 15 years of my life.