This past June marks ten years since the passing of the legendary Nora Ephron, whose pen game revolutionized journalism, books, and film. She is the woman behind the classic romantic comedies When Harry Met Sally (1989), Sleepless in Seattle (1993), You’ve Got Mail (1998), Bewitched (2005), and Julia & Julia (2009). For the first time, Ephron’s comprehensive life story is told by another woman who is making her mark: Kristin Marguerite Doidge.
The award-winning writer (her features have been recognized not once, but twice by the likes of the National Arts & Entertainment Journalism Awards) has an extensive background in both journalism and public relations including a roster of authors, artists, and tech companies. The Media and Culture critic is also a senior lecturer and consultant. In an exclusive Q&A with SBC, she shares parts of her own journey and the experience of writing Ephron’s in Nora Ephron: A Biography (Chicago Review Press, June 7, 2022) and why the famous writer’s story still matters.
So Booking Cool: As a youth, did you know what you wanted to be when you grew up?
Kristin Marguerite Doidge: Yes. I’ve always wanted to be a writer. I also wanted to be a firewoman. Maybe one day.
SBC: Nora Ephron: A Biography is based on your master’s thesis. What led to you studying her?
KMD: I was in journalism school at USC Annenberg and needed a focus for the thesis project. I knew I wanted to write about a female film director, but I also became curious about what sociologists were calling “the marriage crisis” in which young people were choosing not to be married or were waiting longer to do so. I wondered about our notions of what “marriage” could be, and then it hit me that the two ideas could be merged through Ephron’s six decades of writing on relationships, politics, women, feminism, and love. My passion and admiration for her and her work just grew from there.
SBC: Did you abide by a schedule when writing the book?
I definitely took a cue from the wonderful author Jami Attenberg’s #1000wordsofsummer for at least the past two summers in order to finish the manuscript: coffee, writing, lunch break, more writing, dinner break, reading/preparing for the next day. Same schedule throughout the editing process!
SBC: What were some challenges you had to overcome when writing the book?
KMD: Mostly my own inner critic and what some might call imposter syndrome.
SBC: Who were your biggest cheerleaders or supporters as the book came together?
KMD: I would be absolutely nowhere if it weren’t for the genuine kindness and incredible generosity and support of so many people—first and foremost, my family—but also mentors, other authors, Kara Rota, my incredible editor and team at Chicago Review Press, my agent, Betsy Amster, and many, many of Nora’s dear friends and colleagues who shared their time, memories, photos, and personal archives with me.
SBC: What can newer generations learn from Ephron’s life?
KMD: My book seeks to inform, inspire, and educate the next generation of feminist humorists, filmmakers, foodies, readers, writers, literary journalists, and critical thinkers—and to mobilize them to see themselves as agents of change through creativity and collaboration. She reminded us not to take ourselves so seriously and to continue to “make trouble” on behalf of other women.
SBC: What do you enjoy reading? And what other art forms do you enjoy?
KMD: I am a classically-trained ballerina, so I love all things ballet, dance, and live music. As for reading, perhaps unsurprisingly, I love reading biographies!
SBC: What do you want your audience to know about you as an author?
KMD: That I love connecting with other writers, readers, and filmmakers. Let’s stay connected and help encourage and support each other. Also, this book was truly a labor of love that I am immensely proud of and humbled by. It was a privilege and a gift to get to write it.
SBC: What advice do you have for those who want to write a book? What about those who specifically want to pen a biography?
KMD: Take it one step at a time. Reach out to other writers you admire. Read.
For more information, visit Doidge’s official website.