Hey there Word Nerds!
I’m so glad you’ve joined me for another episode of DIY MFA Radio. Today I have the pleasure of speaking with Delia Ephron, bestselling author and screenwriter. She’s the writer behind the novel and movie Hanging Up, as well as the screenwriter for movies like You’ve Got Mail, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, and Michael.
She’s also a journalist and playwright, with her articles appearing in major markets like The New York Times, O: The Oprah Magazine, Vogue, and Vanity Fair, and her hit play Love, Loss, and What I Wore (co-written with Nora Ephron) running for more than two years off-Broadway and performed all over the world.
Her newest novel, Siracusa, is a haunting drama about two failing marriages and how the lives of these two couples (and one pre-teen girl) unravel on a trip to Italy.
In this episode Delia and I discuss:
- Keeping track of details when writing multiple points of view
- Getting into the heads of your characters and bringing that to the page.
- Knowing what details to share and what to withhold.
- Writing people who are real and complicated.
- Adapting stories versus creating new material.
Plus, Delia’s #1 tip for writers.
Bestselling author Delia Ephron wields her keen understanding of the human psyche to mine the ruins of relationships in Siracusa, a thrilling emotional opus set in Italy and performed by a pitch-perfect choir of four voices.
New Yorkers Michael, a famous writer, and Lizzie, a journalist whose professional life is crumbling, travel in Italy with their friends from Maine – Finn, his wife Taylor and their daughter, Snow. “From the beginning,” says Taylor, “it was a conspiracy between Lizzie and Finn to be together.” Written Rashomon-style in alternating points of view, we see friendships and relationships bend and break as secrets are exposed and the couples careen toward Siracusa and disaster. “Couples collaborate,” says Lizzie, “hiding even from each other who is calling the shots and who is along from the ride.”
Snow–Taylor’s lookalike daughter–drawn into the adult drama, moves to the center of the story and is the catalyst for conflict between the women (Taylor a mother, Lizzie not) as well as a pawn between Finn and Michael. She is the mystery at the heart of Siracusa. Is she shy or she is cunning? Do we want to protect her or should we fear her?
Ephron’s masterful writing renders each adult character in stark detail–their inner monologue revealing darker truths about disappointments, envy and ambition. In a story that unfolds with the pacing of a psychological thriller, Ephron also delivers a powerful meditation on marriage, friendship, and the meaning of travel. As the vise tightens, Lizzie ponders: Is loyalty a more honorable pledge than love?
Pinging between multiple points of view and painting a detailed landscape of both the human heart and the Ionian seaside, Siracusa is an electrifying novel about marriage and deceit. As it spins to its shocking and unexpected end, Ephron effortlessly shape-shifts between personalities, offering insight from every character, infusing each chapter with equal parts wit and mystery, and leaving it up to the reader to untangle the truth from a wide net of lies.
You can get your copy of Siracusa via this Amazon affiliate link, which means DIY MFA receives a small commission at no cost to you. Thank you for supporting DIY MFA!
Delia Ephron is a bestselling author and screenwriter. She has written novels, including The Lion Is In and Hanging Up; humor books for all ages, including How to Eat Like a Child and Do I Have to Say Hello?; and nonfiction, most recently Sister Mother Husband Dog (etc.). Her films include You’ve Got Mail, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Hanging Up (based on her novel), and Michael.
Her journalism has appeared in The New York Times, O: The Oprah Magazine, Vogue, and Vanity Fair. Her hit play Love, Loss, and What I Wore (co-written with her sister, Nora Ephron) ran for more than two years off-Broadway and has been performed all over the world. She lives in New York City. To learn more, follow her on Facebook and Twitter, or visit her website.
(Right-click to download.)
If you liked this episode…
Head over to iTunes, leave a review, and subscribe so you’ll be first to know when new episodes are available. Also, if you know anyone who might enjoy this podcast, please share!
Until next week, keep writing and keep being awesome.