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LOS ANGELES — Though she’s a former talent agent for TV writers, first-time author Alex Brunkhorst, 31, had never considered writing to be her own craft. Then a short story she began as a Christmas gift for a friend snowballed into a 125-page novella and, within months, she’d sold her imaginative tale, “The Mating Season,” to St. Martin’s Press. The novel, which hits stores in July, details the brief encounter between an isolated young woman and an eccentric architect, by way of fantastical elements like talking tarantulas and time travel.

“It’s a challenging genre because the story needs to be grounded enough that people can relate to it, yet you have to tip off readers to this unreal world that they have to believe in for a few hundred pages,” she says, while seated at a table at a Westside coffee house, one of her favorite writing haunts. “But it’s important to me that people don’t take it as this literal girl-who-talks-to-bugs story. It’s metaphorical.”

This story first appeared in the June 28, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The Milwaukee native deems “The Mating Season” to be a personal story, though not autobiographical; it is dedicated to the friend for whom she wrote the original story, Brad Dunning, an interior designer famous for collaborating with Tom Ford on his L.A. home. Brunkhorst is now at work on a second novel, a whimsical love story set by the sea and inspired in part by her new home in Marina del Rey, Calif. Her new manuscript, she has vowed, will be bug-free.

“A lot of people think I’m a science nut,” she says. “But I am not this interested in insects in real life.”

— Marcy Medina

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