Nora Ephron's Kid Sister Amy Proves to Be a Scribbler Too

updated 05/04/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/04/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

What's with these Ephron sisters? When writing, they can't get their minds off food. Eldest sister Nora, 45, called her essay collection Crazy Salad and her tell-all novel, Heartburn. Delia, 42, instructed readers on How to Eat Like a Child and titled her book on step-parenting Funny Sauce. Now comes Amy, the youngest, with a new novel, Bruised Fruit, about a minor celebrity suspected of murdering her more famous lover. But it too is filled with references to homemade lemonade, pink fettuccine and swordfish lightly grilled. "My mother liked to cook and all my sisters like to cook," says Amy, 33, sitting in the cookbook-crammed living room of her Los Angeles home. Maybe it's as simple as that.

Father of this scrivening brood is screenwriter Henry Ephron. With his late wife, Phoebe, he wrote a score of movies, including Desk Set and Carousel. Amy's Beverly Hills childhood was enlivened by visits from movie stars, including Ray Bolger, who upon hearing her name, promptly went into a song and dance of Once in Love With Amy, the hit song from his 1948 Broadway show, Where's Charley? "That song," complains Amy, "was the bane of my existence." The children were also encouraged by their parents to talk and tell stories. "In some weird way, I'm not sure I ever had a choice," Amy says of her career. "I wasn't exactly encouraged to become a landscape designer."

Still, she took a circuitous route to becoming a novelist. After graduating from prep school in Woodstock, Vt., she was hired as a reporter by Scanlan's magazine and assigned to cover the Charles Manson murder trial. After three years she switched to developing TV and movie concepts in Hollywood, having discovered that "I got more interested in fantasy than facts."

Four years ago she married Sasha Harari, now 41, an Israeli-born independent film producer. In addition to caring for their children, Maia, 2, and Anna, 6 months, Ephron writes afternoons and nights on the computer Sasha persuaded her to buy after watching her endlessly type and retype revised pages. ("I had boxes and boxes of the same page," Ephron confesses.) She is currently 35 pages into another novel, this one "about the intimacy of telepathy." And she has been checking in with Doubleday, her publisher, on reorders for Bruised Fruit. Despite its decidedly mixed reception (one reviewer compared it to "an in-flight snack"), the book is selling. Reorders are coming from across the country, Amy says, which means, "It's not just my Dad buying 10 copies."

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