Interview With an Author: Rebecca Serle

Daryl M., Librarian, West Valley Regional Branch Library,
Author Rebecca Serle and her latest novel, Expiration Dates
Author Rebecca Serle and her latest novel, Expiration Dates. Photo: Ann Molen

Rebecca Serle is the New York Times bestselling author of One Italian Summer, In Five Years, The Dinner List, and the young adult novels The Edge of Falling and When You Were Mine. Serle also developed the hit TV adaptation Famous in Love, based on her YA series of the same name. She is a graduate of USC and The New School and lives in Los Angeles with her husband. Her latest novel is Expiration Dates and she recently talked about it with Daryl Maxwell for the LAPL Blog.

What was your inspiration for Expiration Dates?

Fifteen years of dating? Hah! But to be serious, I always knew I wanted to write about the search for love. I have so much to say about what it means to be single, what is means to date, what it means to fall in love, and how to know how it's all supposed to "end." This book is really my battle cry for all women, especially maybe women in their 30s, who feel like "time is running out." This book is the embodiment of my favorite saying, mantra, and life advice: Trust the timing of your life.

Are Daphne, Hugo, Jake, or any of the other characters in the novel inspired by or based on specific individuals?

No character is ever "based off of" anyone in my life, but sometimes the relationships in the book are modeled after relationships I've experienced or imagined. Sometimes, a character in a book might be an imagined version of a few people I've dated, loved, or known (obviously, not necessarily romantic). It's tricky because my characters all have parents, for instance, but not all the parents are good! And I never want *my* parents to feel like every mom or dad I write in them. They will recognize portions of themselves because, of course, they will, but just because I borrow details doesn't mean the way my character feels about her mom is the way I feel about mine. Of course, One Italian Summer was a bit of a different story!

How did the novel evolve and change as you wrote and revised it? Are there any characters or scenes that were lost in the process that you wish had made it to the published version?

My first drafts tend to be very lean, so there are rarely things I lose- and usually, always plots/characters I gain or evolve. In Expiration Dates I really wasn't sure how it was going to end. I tried to push Daphne in one direction, truth be told, but in the end, it wasn't the one she wanted. And I respect that!

Is Murphy inspired by a dog you have owned or known?

OK, amendment to my answer above. No character is ever "based off of" anyone in my life except Murphy. Murphy is my dear friend Morgan Matson's dog, right down to his origin story. I love him so much and am so pleased (and grateful to Morgan) to be able to share him with you.

Your bio says that you currently live in Los Angeles, and you mention and describe a lot of different LA locations in Expiration Dates. What are a few of your favorite places in the Los Angeles area? A hidden gem that someone visiting should not miss but would only learn about from a resident? Is there a favorite that you weren’t able to mention?

  • King's Road has the best coffee
  • Great White, either on Larchmont or Melrose, is my favorite spot for breakfast
  • You'll have to get the special edition with Daphne's LA itinerary to find out more ; )

What was the best date you have been on so far? The worst?

My best is any date with my husband. I know that sounds so trite and corny and like, gross, but I truly mean it—I married the most thoughtful man. I'm not sure about my worst, but I'll say—any date I went on where you immediately sit down, there isn't an ounce of chemistry, and the guy talks about himself the entire time. You know the ones where, within the first ten seconds, you want to leave? Worst.

What would you consider THE perfect date?

A walk on the beach in Santa Monica followed by drinks and dinner at The Bel Air Hotel. My husband and I got married out of the country and so we had to get legally married before we left. We had a friend marry us in our backyard and then went there for dinner to celebrate. It was perfect!

Expiration Dates is your latest novel for adults. You have also written novels for young adults, and you’ve adapted some of your young adult work for television. Is there something you haven’t done yet but are hoping to have the opportunity to try?

I honestly feel like I've just started to hit my stride, so I'll just say—more of the same. I love love love what I do and feel so very lucky to get to do it. I'd like to write a movie! I'm working on a few scripts now. So, hopefully, that this year.

What’s currently on your nightstand?

Good Material by Dolly Alderton. Damn, it's good. 

What is the last piece of art (music, movies, TV, more traditional art forms) that you've experienced or that has impacted you?

Watching Joni Mitchell sing "Both Sides Now" at The Grammys. Oof. That one will get me every time.

What are you working on now?

Another book! Always.

Book cover of Expiration Dates
Expiration Dates
Serle, Rebecca