By Abbey Hester and Paula Sword Orr
Nia Vardalos is a woman of many talents. Acting, screenwriting, memoir writing–this lady can do it all. Since writing and starring in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”, Nia has written and starred in films such as “Connie and Carla,” plus co-written “Larry Crowne” with Tom Hanks. More recently, Nia has been getting much-deserved praise for her New York Times bestselling memoir “Instant Mom”, in which she tells the hilarious and touching story of how she adopted her daughter. Nia donates the proceeds to adoption groups.
Nia will be joining us at Writing Pad this Friday, January 31st with fellow accomplished screenwriter Diablo Cody (“Juno”, “Young Adult”). Diablo and Nia will chat about Nia’s book, how they broke into the film industry, and their creative processes.
To whet your appetite for the event, Nia was kind enough to answer a few questions for us about her book and her writing process.
1. What is a normal writing day like for you?
I make myself write every day because I hate writing. My day begins at 6:30 am when my eight year old daughter jumps on my face. My husband, Ian, and I feed the dogs, make breakfast and a lunch packed in a Scooby Doo lunchbox, then one of us takes her to school. For about an hour, I’ll do a dance class or the treadmill while watching “Downton Abbey,” then will check emails, send a dumb tweet, turn off the interwebz, and write until I can’t feel my fingertips or I smell food.
2. “Instant Mom” is a funny and honest story about how you became a mom overnight. How did you get to a place where you were ready to share your story?
I had turned into an unhappy party guest because invariably people would sidle up to me and endlessly ask for adoption advice which would take me away from drinking. Plus, I wanted to raise money to get kids adopted. Finding groups that need money and getting to donate the proceeds from this book makes me feel useful.
3. In “Instant Mom,” you wrote how hard it was for you to write about the more stressful and intimate parts of your life. Was writing the book cathartic or healing in that way?
I had to push past my fear of transparency in order to achieve my more important goal of disseminating information. My only regret is that now strangers feel they can tell me their miscarriage stories. While I’m eating.
4. You’re a tenacious go-getter, and in your book you write that you are very determined when you want something. Do you have any unproduced scripts that have been your baby, something you’ve tucked away but would still love to see it get made?
Yes, many. But I don’t like it when people refer to their scripts as their “baby,” because it makes me queasy to visualize a baby getting reviewed.
5. The movie industry is very different from publishing. How did you switch gears from writing for the screen to writing a memoir?
I loved the autonomy of the book world and had not written this honestly and unfettered since “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” because studios love to note stuff into mediocrity.
6. You co-wrote the screenplay to “Larry Crowne” with Tom Hanks. What was that process like? Do you prefer to co-write or do it on your own?
I realized mostly why I hate writing is because I get so lonely. I loved being in the room with another writer. Tom is generous, funny and humble. That process was enjoyable. So, since then, I co-wrote a script with Mr. Fun a.k.aRob Riggle, called “MOTIVATED!”, plus I have a two-person writers support group going with Diablo.
Don’t forget to sign up for the event, Instant Story: A Conversation with Nia Vardalos and Diablo Cody.