20 Questions is a Q&A interview series with musicians, authors, and everyone in between, celebrating experiences both shared and individual in the messy game of being human.
“Once I’m in the creative flow, it’s the best feeling in the world.” Kristin Marguerite Doidge is an author, journalist, speaker, and senior university lecturer with over a decade of experience in media. Nora Ephron: A Biography, her debut nonfiction book, was published this June by Chicago Review Press. Her writing on media, entertainment, social justice, and culture has been featured in the Los Angeles Business Journal, The Atlantic, Marie Claire, FORTUNE, xoJane, ATTN.com, Bustle, GOOD Magazine, Time Out, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and NPR, among other outlets. I had the chance to get to know Kristin for a new edition of 20 Questions.
What is the earliest memory you have of wanting to be a writer?
I was in kindergarten and I told my parents I wanted to open a bookstore in my living room and write all of the books in it. So I did. They sold for 5 cents each. I also hosted “KMD Bookstore” parties for family and sometimes teachers and neighbors. It was a great way to get customers in the door. I remember realizing that some of my favorite books growing up were written by women and thought maybe I could do that, too. Once I received a $1 bill for a sale. It was pretty magical.
What time of day are you most inspired?
Usually first thing in the morning after coffee or in the evening after dinner. Those are my prime writing times. Once I’m in the creative flow, it’s the best feeling in the world.
Favorite book of all-time?
It’s a tie between The Great Gatsby and Matilda.
What’s one vice you wish you could give up?
Binge-eating potato chips when I’m sad or stressed. But I don’t know if I really want to give it up…
One movie that will always make you cry?
Beaches. My sister and I watched it over and over as little girls. It breaks my heart every time.
What’s the most challenging part of writing for you?
Getting started. I’m also trying to embrace outlines more with longer pieces.
The best book you’ve read in the last year?
Another tie between When Women Invented Television by Jennifer K. Armstrong and Mike Nichols: A Life by Mark Harris.
Your Nora Ephron biography is your nonfiction debut based on your 2015 master’s thesis. What kickstarted your passion for Ephron?
I was in journalism school and needed a focus for the thesis project. I knew I wanted to write about a female film director but 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.
The last series you binge-watched?
Schitt’s Creek (a few times).
As a writer and artist, what would you say is the best way to rest or decompress?
Taking a walk without a phone. And short naps, if you can!
The best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
I got to meet the late Cokie Roberts once, and she said to pay attention to the issues or questions that aren’t being asked by other reporters—and to be sure to ask about them.
If you could have one writer, dead or alive, to compose your obituary, who would it be and why?
Nora Ephron, of course, because she knew how to be funny and poignant at the same time.
One song that you will never be sick of?
“Imagine” by John Lennon.
How did your experience as a journalist help in writing a biography?
It helped immensely with the research and the reporting. I had the privilege of spending many, many hours digging through archives at the Cinematic Arts Library at USC, at the Margaret Herrick Library (Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences), and at Wellesley College. And a number of incredibly accomplished people across the world were kind enough to speak with me in person, by phone, and by Zoom to share their memories and stories about their relationships and work with Nora. She always said of journalism that “it’s about the point,” and I tried to keep that in mind as I conceptualized the focus of each chapter.
What’s your current read?
Scott Eyman’s Cary Grant: A Brilliant Disguise.
You’re stuck on a long flight. Which world-famous musician would you want sitting next to you and why?
Carly Simon or Dolly Parton, because they’re both brilliant. And can you imagine the stories they’d have to tell?!
Favorite quote of all-time?
Maya Angelou: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
One thing that’s been keeping you sane during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Netflix, my doggie, my family, my writing. (P.S., are any of us sane anymore?!)
Laptop or desktop?
What can we expect to see next from you?
Another film biography and possibly a special essay collection.
Follow Kristen Marguerite Doidge on Twitter and her newsletter, and find her Nora Ephron biography wherever books are sold.