Nell Freudenberger’s new novel is otherworldly, to say the least. Lost and Wanted centers on a brainy MIT physicist, Helen, who loses her college best friend, Charlie. As Helen grapples with her grief, Charlie’s widower and young daughter move into her basement apartment and they all begin to confront the possibility of the supernatural — which, it should be pointed out, can’t all be explained away by physics.
The book switches back and forth between reflections on the two friends’ lives as Harvard undergrads and Helen’s current life, weaving together a beautiful tale of female friendship and something slightly more spooky. As it draws the reader in it also raises the question: Just how did the author manage to work in black holes and magnetic forces without overwhelming the non-scientifically inclined? It’s just the magic of Nell Freudenberger — below, she answers EW’s burning questions about her writing process.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What is the first thing — ever — that you remember writing?
NELL FREUDENBERGER: A poem about a purple cow who lived on the moon.
What is the last book that made you cry?
Dolen Perkins-Valdez’s Wench.
What is your favorite part of Lost and Wanted?
I think it’s the ending, about a moment of boundary-crossing love in an MIT physics lab.
Pick a GIF that you think, in this moment, best describes your book:
Which book is at the top of your current To-Read list?
Joanne Ramos’ debut novel, The Farm.
Where do you write?
At home at my desk, after everyone has gone to work and school.
Which book made you a forever reader?
D’Aulaire’s Book of Greek Myths.
What is a snack you couldn’t write without?
What was the hardest part to write in Lost and Wanted?
The children, because I wanted them to sound real — not cute or precocious.
If you could change one thing about any of your books, what would it be?
In The Dissident: three points of view instead of five.
If Lost and Wanted had a movie poster tagline, it would be:
A love story that tests the laws of physics.