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Maria Semple speaks at 15th Annual Signatures Author Series in The Woodlands

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On Friday, December 6, The John Cooper School hosted the 15th Annual Signatures Author Series at The Woodlands Waterway Marriott Hotel and Convention Center.

The featured author and keynote speaker was Maria Semple, internationally recognized bestselling novelist (Where’d You Go, Bernadette, Today Will Be Different, This One Is Mine) as well as a producer and writer for television shows, 90210, Mad About You, Saturday Night Live, Ellen and Arrested Development.

View photos from the event on the Hello Woodlands Facebook page!

On Friday, December 6, The John Cooper School hosted the 15th Annual Signatures Author Series at The Woodlands Waterway…

Posted by Hello Woodlands on Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Over 720 guests attended the special event with 20 Visiting Authors including Angela Aja, Connie Barretta, Marlen Suyapa Bodden, Julie Coy and Grand Maniér, Amy Weinland Daughters, B. Lombardo Drabek, Debbie Dunn, Dede Fox, Kathryn Lane, Susan K. Langlois, Roger Leslie, Ph.D., Curt Locklear, Kristen Martin, Angélica Ribeiro, Gary D. Rogers, Martha J. Rogers, Loren Steffy, Sasha Summers, Dave Ward, and James Mikel Wilson.

Every year Signatures Author Series selects a nonprofit organization as the beneficiary to receive a portion of the proceeds from the event. This year’s beneficiary is Montgomery County Memorial Library System, where the donation will go to replace books lost due to Hurricane Imelda.

During the event, guests could meet and purchase books from visiting authors, attend the VIP book signing with Maria Semple, and enjoy a delicious luncheon with words from The John Cooper School’s Head of School, Michael F. Maher, Signatures Co-Chairs Lisa Hollingsworth and Malin Melin, and a keynote speech from featured author Maria Semple.


Hello Woodlands also had the opportunity to attend the press conference with Maria Semple moments just prior to the event where the bestselling novelist shared stories of her past, experiences in writing the novel, and inspirational words for aspiring authors.

This was Semple’s first visit to the Houston area and was passionate in supporting The John Cooper School’s because she “became the person who she was in high school.” Growing up originally in Aspen, Semple’s father was a screen writer who moved the family to Los Angeles before she went on to attend boarding school in Connecticut. After completing college, Semple moved back to L.A. to become a TV writer. Semple explained it was a “fun job sitting around a table and eating” and also “writing with a lot of people talking at the same time,” but discovered she was much better working alone plus enjoyed the freedom and joy of writing a novel.

In writing a novel, Semple loves “a crazy idea that feels dangerous, but I have to write it.” Her novel Where’d You Go, Bernadette is an epistolary novel, a novel written as a series of documents and letters, that was inspired after events in her own life: her move as an adult from L.A. to Seattle with her family, the disappointment of her first novel, and the close bond and relationship with her daughter. In writing the novel, Semple imagined what her life could possibly look like in twenty years if she gave up all hope and “became a menace to society” due to not creating, a quote originally from her real-life psychiatrist friend.

Semple’s advice for aspiring authors and high school students? “Read, read, read!” Semple explained how today’s currency is the attention span and advised learning how to have the “tolerance for boredom and tolerance not to get feedback” instead of spending hours on social media. Student Journalists and Yearbook contributors from The John Cooper School were also in attendance who joined in the press conference and event activities to interview the featured and visiting authors.

The Signatures Author Series event’s arctic theme and decorations paid tribute to Maria Semple and her novel, Where’d You Go, Bernadette, with a video presentation by Quark Expeditions highlighting their exciting polar adventures. In the novel, the main character and matriarch, Bernadette, vanishes after Bee aces her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. Guests also had the opportunity to enter the raffle for a chance to win Warby Parker Sunglasses signed by Maria Semple and drawing prizes including an 11-day cruise to Antarctica for two by Quark Expeditions.


The Signatures Author Series 2019 Steering Committee included Co-chairs Lisa Hollingsworth and Malin Melin; Sandy Mahler (Book Sales); Janet Osmond, Casilda Borda Diaz Pizarro, Eileen Van Geertruyden (Decorations); Mari Dewberry and Kylie Haslam (Visiting Authors); Mary Paur (Volunteers); Emmy Schorzman, Ileana Endom (Drawing); Patty Carter, Ileana Endom (Wine Walk).

The Signatures Author Series event celebrated 15 Years of Success and has had the following Featured Authors from 2005-2019: Former First Lady Barbara Bush, Dave Barry, Mitch Albom, Anthony Bourdain, John Grogan, Nicholas Sparks, Candace Bushnell, Kathryn Stocket/Tate Taylor, Jodi Picoult, Tyler Florence, Gillian Flynn, Cheryl Strayed, Paula Hawkins, and Maria Semple.

“Lisa and I could not be more pleased with this 15th anniversary event,” said Malin Melin, who co-chaired the event with Lisa Hollingsworth. “Ms. Semple was both lighthearted and thought-provoking and was rounded out by Visiting Authors whose talents enhance our event every year. We are very grateful to the sponsors and many volunteers who create an experience to celebrate literature and authors in a festive atmosphere for a good cause.”

The John Cooper School is a college preparatory, independent school located in The Woodlands that has a current enrollment of 1,284 students in Pre-k through Grade 12. Learn more about the school and upcoming events at