Quinn Cummings at 10, backstage in a dressing room, 1977.

Quinn Cummings at 10, backstage in a dressing room, 1977.

If the name “Quinn Cummings” sounds vaguely familiar to you, it’s probably because in the back of your mind, you have a memory of a precocious child who played Marsha Mason’s daughter, Lucy McFadden, in 1977’s The Goodbye Girl. She got an Academy Award nomination for that role, in which her comic timing rivaled that of Richard Dreyfuss. Quinn also was the girl who in 1978 joined the Aaron Spelling drama Family in its third season, playing Annie, the adopted daughter of Sada Thompson and James Broderick.

Quinn Cummings (Photo by Donald DiPietro)

Quinn Cummings (Photo by Donald DiPietro)

That child grew up a long time ago. Thirty years have passed; she’s almost 42 now, and she has acted only occasionally since her teens. Now Quinn’s a businesswoman with her own company (she invented the HipHugger baby sling), and she’s a mother. She always loved to write, and for the past several years she has been blogging on The QC Report

Notes from the Underwire

Notes from the Underwire

The success of her blog led to Quinn’s first book, the just-published Notes from the Underwire: Adventures from My Awkward and Lovely Life (Hyperion, $14.99). Technically speaking, it’s a collection of first-person essays, a sort of episodic memoir, although that description makes the book sound way more serious than it really is.

In fact, while there are some serious moments in it, this is one very funny book.

Notes from the Underwire covers everything from Quinn’s acting career to her stint as an AIDS hotline volunteer, from her Significant Other (known here as Consort) and their daughter (known here as Alice) to the perils of homeownership and the bloodthirsty habits of their cat, Lulubelle, a nonpareil predator who is supposed to be catching only mice and rats:

I measure the advent of spring not with the first crocus but the first bird skull. I long to explain to Lu that we only wanted the ugly and verminous eaten, but that would have been like asking Godzilla to stomp only Tokyo’s less popular neighborhoods.

Quinn tells us why she never got to go to her prom, how she spent a couple of years as a talent agent, and how she realized she was not meant to be a sitcom writer. She also opens up candidly about the most terrifying time of her adolescent life, when she feared losing her only surviving parent to cancer.

Here’s Quinn Cummings on Notes from the Underwire.

* * *   

Hi Quinn: Unlike some of your blog-tour reviewers, I’m coming to Notes from the Underwire as a newbie to your blog. So please forgive me if some of these questions would have obvious answers for a longtime reader of The QC Report.

How much of the book came directly from the blog? Did you do much rewriting of original blog posts for book publication?

Very little is from the blog. This annoys me tremendously, as I am lazy and hoped to cut-and-paste my way to being a published author. Mercifully, my editor had other plans. What little was originally in the blog has been edited and, one can only hope, improved to a fare-thee-well.

As a cat lover, I nearly laughed myself sick over “A Nice Big Fat One.” Is Lulubelle still living with you and paying her rent on time?

Lulabelle appreciates your interest but isn’t surprised by it; without ever understanding the idea of the Internet, she’s always assumed she’s world-famous for her beauty, charm and killing skills. Just last month, I was outside watering the plants when she trotted by me in a casual yet purposeful gait. A second later, she leapt into a bush and emerged with something wiggling in her jaws. I shouted “LU!” impotently, and she sneered at me before snapping the neck of the mouse. I think I was to understand that’s what would happen to me if I continued to be a buzzkill.

How grateful are you that so very little of your “child star” past is readily available on YouTube?

I don’t know how much of my earlier life is on YouTube because I’m too fearful to look, so I’m going to say that if very little is on there I am VERY GRATEFUL and yet wish there was a little less.

“Like a Tattoo on Your Butt” was a heartbreaking chapter, especially because I lost a brother (at age 34) to non-Hodgkins lymphoma. He left behind two very young daughters whose whole lives thereafter were changed by his death in 1995. I couldn’t help wanting to know: What happened to your mom? What happened to you?

I’m so sorry about your brother; I’m so sorry for his kids. My mother defied the odds and was able to recover from Lymphoma with only a single round of chemo. She’s here in Los Angeles, still leading an interesting life and adoring her granddaughter. What happened to me? I got over it.

At the end of that chapter, you say you told your vice principal  that you didn’t “plan on getting close to anyone.” But now, of course, you have Consort and Alice. When did you dare to let yourself hope that you could, in fact, be close to someone again?

As I said, I got over it. I didn’t go through Sarajevo; I had a sick parent who then got better. Eventually, I defrosted enough to realize that caring for other people might put you as risk of loss, but not caring for other people sapped most of the color and the flavor out of the world. It’s frightening to imagine losing either one of them, but choosing to participate in the world is infinitely better than sitting in the bleachers.

Quinn, I enjoyed the book tremendously, and you have made a new fan. Thanks so much!

Thank you for such thoughtful questions. Let me know when it’s up and I’ll link to it.