The Bard of O.C. Angst

Author Andrea Seigel weaves compelling stories for teens from her inside-the-box Irvine childhood

This month, the 35-year-old writer releases her fourth novel, “Everybody Knows Your Name” (Penguin Random House), co-written with boyfriend Brent Bradshaw. Critics lauded her first produced screenplay, 2014’s “Laggies,” and casting is underway for a second film she wrote, titled “Romance 4Ever.” She also is negotiating a contract for a TV show she co-created.

A Brown University graduate who now lives in South Pasadena, Seigel says she has a “warmth/I can’t live there” relationship with Irvine’s Woodbridge, the community her family moved to in 1984. It was comfortable and peaceful, but she says she would chafe now at its rules.

“When I was maybe 14, I started dressing in all black and looking sort of Goth, and ceasing to talk to people. It was the most obvious signaling that I was done with my former life and ready to have a new one.”

After college, she got a job with ABC Family TV writing “bumpers”—promotional blurbs for the next program—and simultaneously began her first novel. The day it sold, she quit the day job and hasn’t worked in an office since.

“Adulthood always represented a certain formality, that you have to behave a certain way. You’re worried about expenses and, creatively, that’s all very uninteresting to me. I really like writing about teenage characters because it’s a time in your life when really small things, or even really stupid things, can be so gigantic and so momentous, and you don’t have to make apologies for it.”

Her daughter Winona was 1 when “Laggies” was shooting, so Seigel only visited the set a few days, once during a scene between actresses Chloë Grace Moretz and Keira Knightley.

“I remember watching them say this dialogue, and I just had a smile from ear to ear. I felt goony. It was so dopey. But it was magic to have something that once only existed in my imagination being carried out in the physical world.”

“Romance 4Ever,” about a teenage girl who moves to a new housing development, was partly inspired by Seigel’s life in Woodbridge.

“I wouldn’t be who I am without Irvine. Still to this day, I work best within confines. You know, if I have these specific things put in front of me,
I can be much more creative than if you say to me, ‘Go to town.’ So Irvine for me was kind of a box that got me thinking—what I didn’t like about that box, or how I felt in that box. And then I became a little more self-aware and a little bit more creative, and sort of started thinking about life.”

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