I meant to post this last week, after hearing of the increibly sad dnews of Nora Ephron’s death. An amazing writer, and great inspiration to women wanting to break into male dominated industries (aren’t they all?). News of her death also shed light on her early feminist essays (in which she contested fundmental women’s lib ideologies, which seems incredible, particularly in the context of the North American Movement), and background in journalism and continuing literary career, all of which I had no idea about. Will be dropping by the library to dig out copies of her books soon. One wonderful quote sifted out of the coverage on her life and death comes as sage advice, “Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim.” Even in the weekend Guardian’s Q&A (Im slightly addicted to this column) her humour and insatiable thirst for life (and food) is tangible.
Nora Ephron, 68, was born in New York, the daughter of screenwriters. After college in Massachusetts, she went to work at the New York Post. In 1983, she wrote a novel, Heartburn, which became a film starring Meryl Streep and Jack Nicholson. She also wrote Oscar-nominated screenplays for Silkwood, When Harry Met Sally and Sleepless In Seattle. Her latest film, Julie & Julia, is released in the UK next week. She is on her third marriage, has two children and lives in New York.
What is your greatest fear? When were you happiest?
Yesterday – I had a delicious tomato sandwich, on toasted sourdough bread, with mayonnaise.
That I’m going to be run over by a bicycle messenger.
What is your earliest memory?
My parents holding me up to the window to watch Franklin Delano Roosevelt ride down Broadway in an open car in 1944.
Which living person do you most admire, and why?
Meryl Streep. She’s a fantastic actress, a dream to work with; she’s political, kind, a great mother – and she’s married to her first husband.
Property aside, what’s the most expensive thing you’ve bought?
A can of peaches for $65, plus shipping – that’s about $10 per half peach.
What is your most treasured possession?
My hard drive.
What makes you unhappy?
A bad meal at a long, narrow table, where I’m seated next to humourless people, but at the other end of the table I can hear wild laughter.
Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?
Tom Hanks, Rita Wilson, Martin Short, Liz Smith, Nigella Lawson, Alessandra Stanley, Mike Nichols and Tom Stoppard.
If you could bring something extinct back to life, what would you choose?
In the 60s, there was a store on Eastern Long Island called Besart, after the couple who owned it – Bess and Art. Bess used to make an orange layer cake with orange butter cream frosting, and it was divine. The recipe is lost for ever.
What is your favourite smell?
Almonds, and lemons.
What is your favourite book?
Pride And Prejudice.
Cat or dog?
What is your guiltiest pleasure?
Bread and salted butter.
What do you owe your parents?
My sense of humour; my ability to get over it, whatever it is; and my love of food.
What, or who, is the greatest love of your life?
What? New York City. Who? My husband.
What has been your biggest disappointment?
The movies I made that didn’t work.
How do you relax?
How often do you have sex?
Three times a day.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
That I can cook dinner for 10 people – or 40 – in a few hours.
How would you like to be remembered?
As the greatest nightclub singer ever.
What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
Pull up your socks.
Where would you most like to be right now?
At a restaurant in Barcelona called Cinc Sentits, having lunch.
Tell us a secret.
There is no reason to make a pie crust from scratch.