Nightstands tell us a lot about a person. Between jewelry and books, sleep aids and elusive top drawers, what someone surrounds themselves with in their quietest moments are what layer up their lives as a whole.
We got into bed with Monica Heisey, an author, screenwriter (credits including Schitt's Creek, Everything I Know About Love, and Workin' Moms), essayist and, in her words, occasional comedian. She's also the author of one of our favorite books of the year, Really Good, Actually – the no.2 Sunday Times best seller described as 'Bridget Jones meets Broad City', out now in paperback. Right, now on to the pillow talk.
Missoma: Let’s set the scene. Can you describe your home to us, along with your nightstand. What do you always keep beside you?
Monica Heisey: My bed is sort of hard to describe, it’s built in and has a ton of storage under it, and the bedside table is the window ledge it runs along. The ledge is covered in books and plants and skincare products and incense and other classic woman-y bits. I also have an eye mask for when it needs to be very dark, and a fan for when I need to not hear my upstairs neighbour making techno music until 6am.
M: Do you have any rituals for getting a good night’s sleep?
MH: Every night I get in bed and promise myself I won’t look at my phone for three hours and then I do and sleep terribly. It is not a perfect routine but it’s the one I am most committed to.
M: What books are beside your bed at the moment?
MH: I’m reading Vox by Nicholson Baker at the moment, and Super-Infinite by Katherine Rundell so those are both there, and then I have a permanent stack of books I find inspirational for work: Postcards from the Edge, Outline, Virginia Woolf's diaries, some Lydia Davis and Lorrie Moore, plus Emma Thompson's script and shooting diary for Sense & Sensibility.
I feel unfinished if I forget to put some jewelry on before I leave the house.
- Monica Heisey
M: Working for Missoma, our nightstands are naturally overrun by jewelry. Are you a night time taker-offer-er or do you sleep in your favorite pieces?
MH: I'm very lazy, so I like something that makes a big impact without much effort. Big earrings or a cocktail ring, maybe something shiny in my hair if i'm wearing it up. I have a fairly large collection of big gold and brass hoops that I wear almost every day. It's got to the point where I feel unfinished if I forget to put some jewelry on before I leave the house. I would love to be the kind of woman who wears many delicate rings or has gorgeous little earrings all up and down her ear, but I think it's one big piece for me.
M: What are your favorite Missoma pieces?
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M: How would you describe your at-home style, versus what you’re wearing outside of the house?
MH: I’m the kind of freak that will sit around at home in jeans all evening. I’m not a big loungewear guy. I’m in clothes for outside or I’m naked. I guess my at-home style is “nude.”
M: We LOVED your book, Really Good, Actually. For those that haven't read it, can you tell us more about it?
MH: Really Good, Actually is the story of a young woman handling her unexpected divorce at age 29 with less grace and dignity than anyone has ever employed during a breakup, ever. Maggie is a well-meaning car crash of a woman, completely unprepared for life alone, and doing her best to pick up the pieces after her plans for the future implode one day over mediocre pad thai. She spends a lot of time online shopping and crying to her exhausted mates and imagining how different the world would be if she could buy trousers at Zara (she can't, because she has a human-sized bum).
M: Going through a divorce in your twenties is something you experienced in your own life. How did you decide this topic was something you wanted to cover? Was it a cathartic experience?
MH: When I was in the thick of it, I was absolutely desperate to read or watch something that spoke to that experience, because it was very isolating, and none of my peers had quite gotten there yet, so I felt like a pretty spectacular failure, and lonely. I wanted to write about the experience, and particularly to poke fun at it, to help myself and anyone else in that situation feel less alone, and crucially, to tell them to lighten up a bit. It's just a bit of heartbreak! It only feels like the end of the world.
M: What advice would you give to anyone going through something similar?
MH: My main advice, and the lesson that the narrator of the novel has to learn, is "don’t try to rush through the part that feels bad." Humans want to avoid pain, it's very natural, but you can't, really. You have to go through it. And there's no shortcut—it takes as long as it takes.
Humans want to avoid pain, it's very natural, but you can't, really. You have to go through it. And there's no shortcut—it takes as long as it takes.
- Monica Heisey
M: How did you find going from a writer's room (for Schitt's Creek and other incredible TV shows) to writing a novel?
MH: Working on a novel, at least in the early stages, is so solitary. I really missed having other writers to bounce ideas off of—it's so helpful, particularly with comedy, to have immediate feedback (good or bad) from a group of funny and smart people. Once I got used to it being just me freaking out at my computer alone, I started to enjoy the amount of control I had - so much of TV writing is anticipating and working within the practical limits of filming: budget, schedule, availability of locations, even the weather. It was exciting to be totally free in what I could create.
M: What does your writing routine usually look like? Be honest, did you write any of your book in bed?
MH: Almost all of it. My physiotherapist is furious.
M: What’s one beauty or skincare tip you wish you’d known earlier?
MH: Fancier products aren't necessarily better. A good simple routine that you'll actually stick to, plus drugstore sunscreen, is all you need. Also I swear by A313 retinol pommade.
M: What do you miss most about home when you’re away?
MH: My cat, Shrimp. She has almost no personality and is extraordinarily heavy footed and only cares about food. I always miss the dull thudding sound of her scrambling over to see if there's any treats about.
M: Phone on the nightstand or somewhere else?
MH: Either in the nightstand or in another room when I'm feeling virtuous.
M: Morning lark or night owl?
MH: Aspiring morning lark, but committed night owl.
M: Your favourite book and why?
MH: I love Heidi Julavits' The Folded Clock. It's so funny and strange and fascinating on a sentence level as well as being a really gorgeous meditation on what life is about, on what and who we do things for.
M: Minimalist or maximalist jewelry?
MH: Maximalist earrings, minimalist everything else.
M: Sleeping in your jewellery pieces or a night-time routine of taking it all off?
MH: Taking it all off for face washing and moisturizing etc.
M: A scent that makes you think of home?
MH: Onions cooking in butter.
M: Aside from your own, where’s your favourite bed (and nightstand) in the world?
MH: I don't know if this is cheating but I had an absolutely out of this world nap in a hammock in Mexico seven years ago. I think about that hammock all the time. Does that count? Suppose that would make my favourite nightstand "the sandy ground," but you know what, I stand by it.