Actress Molly Ringwald is the author of the new novel “When It Happens to You.”
Molly Ringwald played a beautiful, brooding, pretty-in-pink teen in iconic coming-of-age flicks in the ’80s. Now 44, she’s still beautiful, still brooding — but hold the pink. In addition to her role on ABC Family’s “The Secret Life of the American Teenager,” Ringwald is also an author, earning praise for her first novel, “When It Happens to You” ($15, It Books). Her loosely connected short stories are about marital infidelity and fractured families. She’ll read from the book at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Historic Synagogue at 6th and I ($15-$30).
What inspired “When It Happens to You?”
I wanted to write fiction, and I was interested by the theme of betrayal. It’s a universal subject. There’s not one person that can’t say that they haven’t been betrayed, betrayed someone or betrayed themselves.
Some people call the book “dark.”
I don’t think it’s dark; I think it’s human. There’s dark and light in human existence. I think all of my characters are flawed, but those are the most interesting people to read. Certainly as an actor, they’re the only interesting people to play.
How do you portray such a range of characters and scenarios?
It’s a skill that I’ve used when acting. You put yourself in a situation, you imagine how you would feel and describe it. It’s a combination of that and observation. Any time someone has a career that I don’t know anything about, I ask them questions, with the idea that I might use it later on.
Have you watched any of your movies yet with your kids [Mathilda, 8; twins Adele and Roman, 3]?
Mathilda saw “Sixteen Candles,” but that’s the only one. I’m looking forward to her seeing the other movies, but I want her to come to them naturally. She should be at a slumber party or with her friends instead of watching it with me.
How did she react to the movie?
It dealt with some issues that I wasn’t prepared to explain yet. She asked me why I gave my underwear to the boy! As I was hemming and hawing and trying to figure out an acceptable response, she said, “Did he just really want people to think that you liked him?” And I said, “Yeah, yeah, exactly!” She went straight to the subtext, and then I thought she was OK.
I’m not sure many people realize that you’re also a jazz singer. You actually made your first recording at the age of 6?
My dad’s a jazz musician. It’s the music I grew up with. I was really into performing with him. It was just kind of our daddy-and-me time. We recorded it over the winter. I kept getting a cold, so we had to keep putting the project on hold, but it was fun. And now I have a new jazz album coming out: Concord Records is releasing it in the spring.