By Seija Rankin
March 17, 2021 at 11:00 AM EDT
Miranda Popkey, Topics of Conversation
Miranda Popkey
| Credit: Elena Seibert; Knopf Doubleday

There are challenges inherent in the writing of any book, but drafting one like Topics of Conversation presents a particularly unique variety — mostly because there's really nothing quite like Topics of Conversation. Miranda Popkey's debut novel is composed of a series of nine conversations that an unnamed narrator has with other women throughout her life. Through snippets about art, feminism, relationships, and more, the reader gleans intimate knowledge of the women in its pages. Here, Popkey takes EW's author quiz to give us our own intimate knowledge of her work.


ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What is the first thing — ever — that you remember writing?

MIRANDA POPKEY: When I was very young, before I learned how to write, I would scribble on a page while thinking of a story in my head, imagining that I'd later be able to remember the story using the scribbles as a guide. A real case of reinventing the wheel — only my version didn't roll.

What is the last book that made you cry?

My LSAT prep book. Those logic puzzles are no joke!

Which book is at the top of your current To-Read list?

My to-read list is less of a list and more of a rhizome — no hierarchy, little off-shoots (tottering piles) everywhere. Three likely candidates close at hand: Sarah Schulman's Conflict Is Not Abuse, Richard Rothstein's The Color of Law, and Amina Cain's Indelicacy.

Where do you write?

At my desk in little bursts. Lots of fidgeting and getting up to pace.

Which book made you a forever reader?

Michael Ondaatje's The English Patient was my first encounter with capital-L Literature outside of the books I was assigned in school. Though if I were being cheeky I'd say David McCullough's Truman biography, if only because it proved I'd read anything provided I was left alone with it long enough.

What is a snack you couldn't write without?

It's the presence rather than the identity of the snack that matters most, but ideally: something crunchy and salty and a bit spicy, in little pieces, plus endless tart, cold seltzers.

If you could change one thing about any of your books what would it be?

Oh, I'd rewrite everything I've ever written from start to finish given the chance! Much better for my sanity that I'm prevented from doing so. 

What is your favorite part of Topics of Conversation?

I'm most attached to "Los Angeles, 2011"; I'm proudest of "Fresno, 2014," especially the end.

What was the hardest plot point or character to write?

The sex scene; definitely the sex scene. If the reader giggles at the wrong moment — you've lost them completely!

Write a movie poster tag line for the book:

One woman. Nine conversations. An entire life. (Look I'm not saying it would be a good movie.)

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