Edan Lepucki is the New York Times bestselling author of the novels California and Woman No. 17, and the guest editor of Best American Nonrequired Reading 2019. Her fiction and nonfiction have been published in Esquire, the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, and McSweeney’s, and she is the co-host of the podcast Mom Rage. Before moderating a Zócalo/Getty panel titled “Is Civilization on the Verge of Collapse?” at the Getty Center in Los Angeles, Lepucki mused in the green room about writing novels, meeting Stephen Colbert, and deciding to leave Twitter.
What’s the best book you’ve read in the past year?
I really liked Severance by Ling Ma. It takes place in a future where this fever that started in China has spread across the world. The population is decimated. This woman who’s a Bible production manager of a publishing company is one of the last remaining people in Manhattan, and she still goes to her job. It was a great book.
What is the most challenging thing about writing a novel?
Writing a novel. Writing it and rewriting it and rewriting it again. It can be pretty lonely.
You live in Glassell Park. What’s your favorite place to eat in that area?
This is a lot of pressure. I have to give a shout out to Señor Fish in Eagle Rock, because the owners are the siblings of my son’s teachers at Toland Way school. They’ve got good food. I like Triple Beam Pizza in Highland Park. That’s a new-ish pizza place; Nancy Silverton makes the dough. Kindness & Mischief has good coffee. And in Glassell Park—really the only restaurant in Glassell Park proper—is D3, and they have these amazing biscuit breakfast sandwiches.
What was it like meeting Stephen Colbert?
It was pretty good. He’s a really nice guy. That whole experience was totally unexpected. I like to joke that I tend to ruin things by just mentally making them more painful than they need to be, so I actually made a concerted effort to just enjoy that full experience for how strange and like magical it was. I was very nervous to go on his show but then I went and afterward, I was like, “Can I go on again? That was so exciting and I’m on TV and he’s so nice.”
What’s the last thing that inspired you?
You know, this morning I was listening to The Smiths, like a mix. To be fair, it was a Spotify computer-generated mix, I’m sure. But I hadn’t listened to them in a long time, and some of the lyrics were so clever and great.
Why did you decide to sign off of Twitter for a year?
General fatigue with social media. Truth be told, I do daily search my friends’ Twitter feeds; it’s kind of a curated Twitter. So there’s like five people that I look at every day, so I can still find articles and I can kind of get a sense of what people are mad about. I really felt like I needed to go a little bit more inward, and I think I might not go back. Twitter wasn’t really my format, anyway. I never shined; I just got angry all the time.
What did you discover from serving as the guest editor of the Best American Non-Required Reading?
The teenagers, because the teenagers do most of the work on that. It’s a group of high school students who are the editorial team. There’s one woman named Bea, she kind of spearheads and picks a lot of the pieces, but they meet every week and talk about them. So I expected the teenagers that I worked with to be really bright but when I met them in person I was like wow, they’re really bright.
Where would we find you at 10 a.m. on a typical Saturday?
I’d probably have just gotten back from exercising, and I’m opening the door to my house and my children are running by, probably still in their pajamas and screaming, and we’re gonna figure out what we're gonna do for the rest of the day.
What worries you most about the future?
Oh God. Probably climate change.
When are you at your most resilient?
That’s a hard question. Probably either after I’ve had a good cry or I’ve drunk some coffee and written a really great paragraph and I feel like I can do anything. Definitely not at the end of the day.
What keeps you up at night?
Nothing. Honestly, this fetus inside of me is the real literal thing that keeps me up at night. But I have one of those personalities where I am usually an excellent sleeper, which is probably not a good thing because what about the state of the world? But the baby really is what’s keeping me up at night.