By Erin Geiger Smith
(Reuters) - Molly Ringwald is perhaps best known for playing the teenage protagonist in 1980s film classics "Pretty in Pink" and "Sixteen Candles," but the now 44-year-old mother of three has published a novel focusing on the decidedly adult topic of betrayal - marital and otherwise.
"When It Happens to You" centers on a Los Angeles couple with a troubled marriage, while also telling the stories of their friends' and neighbors' struggles with child-rearing, crashing careers and the death of a spouse.
The novel is Ringwald's first book of fiction, though it does follow her 2010 title, "Getting the Pretty Back," which was part advice book, part memoir.
Ringwald, whose newly launched website includes a simple introduction page noting she "acts, writes books and sings jazz," spoke with Reuters about her novel, communicating with fans via Twitter and suffering with other writers.
Q: You call the book "a novel in stories." What do you mean and why choose to write it in that form?
A: "I had originally intended to write just a collection of stories along the line of betrayal. As I started it, I realized ... it would be more interesting to have the characters connect and intersect, because ... one of the themes, if you want to call it, is that we are all betrayers and we are all betrayed. I thought it would be interesting to have them all connect in that way, even though their betrayals are of different natures."
Q: You write a lot about what children do to a marriage, the good and the bad. Can you address that?
A: "It really is different for each character. You know, I have three mothers in the book and the ways that they are with their children are very, very different. And ... in terms of Greta and Phillip, who are the anchor of the book, it's very difficult for them.
"It's difficult for both of them, but they respond to it in different ways as men and women tend to do. Phillip acts out and Greta kind of internalizes everything."
Q: Infidelity touches every chapter. Do you think society sees infidelity as one of the great betrayals?
A: "Betrayal really is one of the great connectors. I think we've all been through it at one point of our lives, and we've probably been on either side of it, in some way. Because of the age I am, and being around mothers in my kids' schools, it feels like it was very prevalent. I saw it all around me.
"It's basically one of the most painful things you can go through ... I was interested in that."
Q: Is this something you've had to deal with personally?
A: "I know betrayal from my life. I've been on both sides of it. But no, I wasn't writing about my marriage."
Q: Do you think the book would translate to film?
A: "I think it's something I'd like to do, but I didn't think about it at all as I was writing it. But I think the characters are all really interesting and compelling, if I do say so myself ... I always put my own characters to the test and ask myself, 'Would this be someone I was interested to play?'"
Q: You do that as you're writing?
A: "Yes. And if they're not, if they don't snap, if they're not complex and they're not flawed, then what's the point?"
Q: Who would you want to play?
A: "I very much want to direct it, and I very much want to write it. If I played any part, I'd want to play Marina." (Note: Marina is a woman whose young son wants to wear girls' clothes and believes he is a girl.)
Q: How did you approach writing this book versus writing your first one?
A: "My writing schedule's the same, which was set up for the first book. Five hundred words or two hours, whichever came first. That seems to work for me. When I get to write, and I have a place where I go, that's the plan ... I like to write around people, there's a certain comfort in that, that everyone's going through the same thing. And you can look around and you can see people being absolutely as tortured as you are."
Q: You're active on Twitter. Why did you decide to tweet, and what do you like about it?
A: "I started a while ago because I'd been doing a blog and I found that the blogging took a lot of time away from my writing. I didn't feel like I mastered the quick blog ... I fretted over it way too much.
"(Twitter) has given me a connection to fans that I've never really had before because I'm a pretty private person, and I don't do a ton of events ... It's been amazing to connect with these people who have followed me for all of these years."
(Reporting by Erin Geiger Smith in New York; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte, Christine Kearney and Dale Hudson)