By Karen Valby
Updated July 30, 2011 at 07:01 PM EDT
Kathryn Stockett
Credit: Kem Lee

It’s been nearly two and half years since Kathryn Stockett blew the doors off the publishing world with her surprise best-seller The Help, a story about the enmeshed worlds of African American maids and their white employers in Civil Rights era Jackson, Mississippi. As she readies herself for the big screen release of the movie adaptation—directed by her best childhood friend Tate Taylor, and starring Oscar nominee Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, and Emma Stone—Stockett admits that the last couple of years haven’t provided the necessary time or calm to write a second novel. But that doesn’t mean her imagination hasn’t already started spinning.

“I’m trying to write this story that takes place in Mississippi during the 1920s,” she tells EW, “because it was such a liberating time for women and yet so interesting to see how much women weren’t allowed to do. Socially all the rules were still in place, but women had just gotten the vote. So it’s about a group of women who were raised in a rather white privileged home and then the Depression hit and suddenly they have no support. They have absolutely no marketable skills. So they have to figure out how to work their way up into the world and figure out how to earn a living and support each other and take care of each other.” When asked about her decision to once again write about a large ensemble of women, Stockett lets out a little peal of laughter. “I could never write a book about just one person. I’m way, way too schizophrenic for that!”