This Is The Real-Life Observation That Inspired Matthew Weiner To Write Heather: The Totality

TV writer-turned-novelist Matthew Weiner is best known for his television masterpiece, Mad Men. But this month, he’s proving he can write literary fiction, as well, with the release of his debut novel, Heather: The Totality. It’s already received an overwhelming amount of praise and, I’m so excited to be able to feature it as this month’s Cozy Reader Club pick!

In a June interview with Prune Perromat of The Literary Show Project (LSP), Weiner got candid about his inspiration for Heather, writing after Mad Men, and his fear that he may never write again:

LSP: From writing and directing shows, how did you come to writing a novel? 

MW: I finished Mad Men a lot longer than before people saw the end of it, so I had a year or so. I stopped writing; I stopped taking notes because someone told me that was a good idea to clean my brain. And it was very scary, and it was hard to get started again. My children were reading a book in school and were listening to it on audio – East of Eden by John Steinbeck – and I started listening to it and I started reading it. All of a sudden, I remembered my relationship with literature.

And then I just started reading everything, but I still wasn’t writing and I went to an artist residency in Upstate New York – a writer sent me there – Ann Holmes. She suggested this because I was afraid I wasn’t going to write again. So I got there and I said: all I have is 15 days, I just have to decide what I’m going to do next. And I started writing this short story about something I witnessed in New York.

LSP: Could you tell us what you saw?

MW: I witnessed the origins of this story. I saw a construction worker look at this girl like he was going to kill her – rape her and kill her. I watched it happen. An incredibly beautiful girl going into this apartment building under construction and I saw the guy look at her and I just wrote down on my notebook: “What if her father saw this?” And so, when I got there, I was like well, it’s a bite of dessert that I can handle – I’ll write a 2,500-word short story. I’ll write 10,000 words and I’ll cut it down. And it just kept going.


LSP: Why should [your fans] give Heather a try? 

MW: If you were a fan of my work, you probably like stories about real people, who have real feelings, and have a reason for doing what they’re doing. Better told without judgment and just with observation. That’s what the story is. And also, you have no idea what’s gonna happen. And I think that’s part of what I do also.

LSP: Will this be your last book?

MW: This is my first book. Is this the last one? No, no.

LSP: Do you feel now that you’re on the road to make more?

MW: I am definitely on the road to make more, but right now I’m writing this TV show. And I have to finish that first. And that’s really like, eight novels. It’s called The Romanoffs.

This excerpt has been condensed. To read the complete interview, and listen to an audio excerpt of the novel, visit LSP’s official website

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