Skip to main content

Originally published April 21, 2014 at 8:03 PM | Page modified April 22, 2014 at 9:25 AM

  • Share:
  • Comments (0)
  • Print

Author Maria Semple getting to be Town Hall regular

Maria Semple, author of recent Seattle “It” book “Where’d You Go, Bernadette?” brings a favorite of her own, author Dave Eggers, to Town Hall.

Seattle Times staff columnist


You finally get Maria Semple to take the time to talk, and she doesn’t really want to discuss her best-selling Seattle sendup, “Where’d You Go, Bernadette?”

Instead, Semple wants to rave about Dave Eggers’ most recent book, “The Circle,” and how she got him to come to Seattle this Wednesday night for a talk at Town Hall.

“What happened is I read ‘The Circle’ and I totally flipped out for it and it’s profound and have you read it?” Semple said.

Well, I’m still on “The Goldfinch” right now, but ...

“It’s about a tech company much like Google called ‘The Circle,’ and it’s a funny, profound, super-riveting page-turner that addresses these huge issues about privacy and relationships and how we’re connected in society.

“I sound like an idiotic caveman because I get so garbled and so emotional about it.”

So emotional, in fact, that she wrote Eggers a fan letter — and he wrote her one back. They decided to get together, talk on stage and sell tickets to benefit 826 Seattle, the after-school writing and tutoring nonprofit that Eggers founded, with outposts all over the country.

The event is being billed as “a night of giddy admiration, fearless inquiry and the occasional awkward silence.” (Tickets are $20 and available at

Semple has been silent for the past several months as she finished the screenplay for the movie version of “Bernadette,” which now feels “other than me,” she said.

“It’s not mine anymore.”

They are on the hunt for a director, and then casting will begin. Semple said she could see 10 different actresses in the role of Bernadette, “But I weirdly don’t care.”

She is just happy to have the time to start work on her third book.

“It still seems like such a dream to me to be accepted in this world,” Semple said. “People think I’m somebody and I still can’t believe it.”

Here Girl

In fact, Semple was on the stage at Town Hall just last week, conducting a Q&A with “Gone Girl” author Gillian Flynn, who spoke for about 15 minutes before they sat down together.

“I am pregnant and on cold medicine,” Flynn began. “So this is going to be the greatest speech you ever heard.”

It was a delicate dance to talk about the book while many in the audience hadn’t read it — especially because the ending has been the subject of debate in book clubs everywhere. Semple was desperate to talk about it, but Flynn demurred.

“It’s not a satisfying ending,” was all she would say. “But it is the ending that these two deserve. I don’t do happy endings. ... When people in my book lines complain about it, I always just write, ‘Sorry about the ending.’ ”

One audience member asked: Does Flynn now feel she could pull off the perfect murder?

“I couldn’t pull off the perfect crime,” she said. “But I could definitely frame someone.”

You read it here, Detective.

Knowledge is the (latch) key

Speaking of 826, the Seattle outpost’s executive director, Teri Hein, was invited by the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, no less, to attend the recent National Summit on Creative Youth Development in Boston.

In the invitation, the committee said it was inviting a group of 200 “thought leaders” to help form a policy statement for the Obama administration about the importance of after-school arts instruction.

“Frankly, they had me at “thought leaders,” Hein cracked in the most recent “Teri’s Update” to donors.

“If only the folks back home in Fairfield, Washington (my hometown: population 350), knew that Ralph and Dolores Hein’s third daughter would one day be traveling to Boston as a ‘thought leader.’

“Well, let’s just say that Mr. Critchlow, my high-school principal, would be surprised. I am living proof that poor performance in high school may be an indicator of nothing.”

Nicole Brodeur’s column appears Tuesday and Sunday. Reach her at 206-464-2334 or

Four weeks for 99 cents of unlimited digital access to The Seattle Times. Try it now!

News where, when and how you want it

Email Icon

 Subscribe today!

Subscribe today!

99¢ for four weeks of unlimited digital access.


About Nicole Brodeur's Names in Bold

On Tuesdays, I tell you about my travels through some of the week's social and philanthropic events — not just the ones for the swells, but those for work-a-day folks who care about making this region move and improve. 206-464-2334

Partner Video


The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►
The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription upgrade.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. For unlimited access, please upgrade your digital subscription.

Call customer service at 1.800.542.0820 for assistance with your upgrade or questions about your subscriber status.

The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. Subscribe now for unlimited access!

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited content access is included with most subscriptions.

Activate Subscriber Account ►