Kim Moritsugu holds a BA and MBA from the University of Toronto, and worked several years in a corporate setting before becoming a novelist. Moritsugu’s novels include Looks Perfect, a romantic comedy shortlisted for the Toronto Book Award; The Glenwood Treasure, a literary mystery shortlisted for the Arthur Ellis Best Crime Novel Award; The Restoration of Emily, a coming of middle age story (serialized on CBC Radio’s Between the Covers); The Oakdale Dinner Club, a comedy of suburban manners about food and sex; and her seventh novel, The Showrunner, a work of darkly humourous suspense. She has built an international online following for her TV recaps and food writing at her blog The Hungry Novelist. She lives in Toronto.
Shauna Kosoris: What can you tell me about your newest book, The Showrunner?
Kim Moritsugu: The Showrunner is a work of darkly humorous noir fiction about 3 strong-willed, ambitious women working behind the scenes on a hit TV show. It’s also about the tensions that divide generations of women – Olds vs. Youngs – a theme that should resonate with mothers, daughters, women bosses, and women who’ve worked for a woman boss. It was recently optioned for development as a TV series by White Pine Pictures.
How exciting! So what was the most difficult part of writing The Showrunner?
Probably the plotting – writing suspense fiction is difficult.
The Showrunner has been likened to the classic film All About Eve. Did you spend a lot of time watching movies and TV shows to research the book?
My research into the details of what a TV showrunner does was mostly in the form of reading – I read books, articles and blog posts on the subject. Some reading in the early stages grew out of my personal interest in and fandom for specific shows – I was amazed to discover the wealth of information and commentary that is available online about TV shows. As for movies and TV shows that entertainingly depict backstage life, I recommend:
- All About Eve, a juicy bitchfest classic of a movie from 1950 starring Bette Davis. Sidenote: a stage adaptation of the story is slated to open in London’s West End in early 2019.
- Season 3 of the Lifetime network series UnReal, about what goes down behind the scenes at a reality dating show similar to The Bachelor. I don’t watch The Bachelor franchise, but I found the depiction of the twisted lives of the two women TV producers in UnReal made for be riveting television.
- Call My Agent (AKA Dix Pour Cent), a French dramedy TV series about a group of agents in Paris who represent movie actors. I loved the agent characters, who truly care about their clients and about making art! The first two seasons are now available on Netflix, the third is currently in production.
You’ll be presenting The Showrunner at the Toronto International Festival of Authors (TIFA) Lit On Tour event here in Thunder Bay on October 30th. Why is this event important to you?
At a time when many new and exciting books are being published every week, month and season, and book coverage has shrunk in traditional media outlets, it’s a struggle for many authors to have their voices heard, their books noticed, and their work brought to the attention of readers anywhere. So I’m grateful to be invited to participate in TIFA and Lit On Tour, and to have a chance to promote my novel to an interested audience.
I have fond memories of Thunder Bay from my last visit to the city, in 2007, when I was a guest author at the Sleeping Giant Writers Festival, and had my best ever speaking experience there. I wrote about that recently for the Open Book website, an account you can read here:
I hope this visit will be just as good to you! So what first drew you to writing?
About twenty years ago, I had recently completed an MBA degree and was working in a middle management job when I realized that I wanted to do something completely different with my work life – and that was to write fiction of the kind that I enjoyed reading: smart, entertaining, and funny stories about contemporary women. When my job was relocated to another city, I took a severance payment and began to write.
In your seven published novels, you’ve written about women with a variety of interesting careers. How much time does it typically take you to research these careers?
Most of the careers I’ve chosen for my characters have been based on a combination of my personal experience, general knowledge, and field observations, so there hasn’t been a typical amount of research time, though I job-shadowed a fashion editor for my first novel, I read extensively about old Toronto houses for another, and I’ve visited Los Angeles several times to scout locations and soak up atmosphere for The Showrunner. A good thing about writing contemporary fiction is that everything you do, see, and hear, everywhere you go, can be considered research of a kind.
So what are you working on now?
I have two novel projects in the early stages, both works of suspense. One features a few secondary characters from my mystery novel The Glenwood Treasure in more prominent roles, the other is a sequel of sorts to The Showrunner.
Let’s finish up with a few quick questions about reading. What book or author inspired you to write?
I started writing fiction in the early 90’s, and what inspired me was not one author, but several. Older names from my youth, like Daphne DuMaurier, Josephine Tey, Nancy Mitford, P.G. Wodehouse, and Mary Stewart were an influence, as were more contemporary authors like Nora Ephron, Elinor Lipman, Nick Hornby, and Maeve Binchy. I started out innocently ignorant of how difficult it is to get published, and I dared to think that smart, dryly humourous, and accessible fiction might be within my reach to write.
Is there a book or author that you think everyone should read?
No. I’m a big believer in “chacun à son goût” when it comes to reading, food, and most recreational pursuits.
And what are you currently reading?
Recently, I liked these three crime novels: The Word is Murder, by Anthony Horowitz; The Death of Mrs. Westaway, by Ruth Ware; and There’s Something in the Water, by Catherine Steadman.