When Seattle Met put together its list of the 50 Most Influential People in Seattle Right Now, at the top of the queue was author Maria Semple.
SM Style editor Laura Cassidy got to spend an afternoon with the wise-cracking writer. Says Cassidy: "Like other smash Seattle hits before it, Semple’s 2012 New York Times best-seller, Where’d You Go, Bernadette, was written with self-loathing. The title character could have delivered half of Cobain’s angsty lines in 'Smells Like Teen Spirit.' When Semple, a wickedly funny TV writer (Ellen, Mad About You), moved here in 2008 with her partner, the wickedly funny TV writer George Meyer (The Simpsons, Saturday Night Live), she hated it. So much so that she couldn’t write—until realizing she could pass her predicament on to Bernadette, a similarly crippled creative type in emotional Gore-Tex."
"Seattle became what Semple calls a 'trippy bounty' of characters, quips, and scenes about every blinking parking meter and uncontrolled five-way intersection. 'I used Seattle to show something about Bernadette, not the other way around,' says Semple who tells us she now loves it here and is never leaving. Aside from luring the literary establishment’s fickle gaze back on the Emerald City, her novel shows us how easily we let small-city self-doubt swallow us whole, and the scrappy pluck with which we manage to bail ourselves out."
There's already a film adaptation of Bernadette in development. In the meantime, Semple continues to dissect Seattle's foibles for ever-larger audiences. Next Wedneday, she'll join Nancy Pearl, rock star of libary science, onstage at Town Hall; and on April 25, Seattle's busiest satirist will speak at Hugo House's fundraising evening, Eat Read Hugo, at Palace Ballroom. Tickets for these events are still available.