In Brodesser-Akner’s Long Island Compromise (Random House, July), a Jewish-American family contends with traumas new and old.

You adapted your novel Fleishman Is in Trouble for Hulu. How did working in Hollywood inform your portrait of Beamer Fletcher, the screenwriter character in your new book?

Before I started adapting Fleishman, Beamer was a studio executive. I thought studio people were so interesting and strange, but the plot never cohered. One day, I realized as I was writing a Fleishman script that Beamer should be a screenwriter and have the same insecurities I do, the same crutches I do, as he headed toward sure disaster, as I felt I was.

What challenges came with writing the follow-up to such a successful debut?

I started Long Island Compromise before Fleishman. I had 70 pages and was working with a different agent at the time who didn’t really like it that much. I also was worried I didn’t quite have the skill to pull it off. But after I published Fleishman and while I was waiting for the TV adaptation to start, there was a global pandemic and I picked this up again.

Your novel features a controlling Jewish mother. Do you have any favorite examples of this archetype in literature?

Yes, Isadora’s mother in Erica Jong’s Fear of Flying. She is the ur-Jewish mother to me, dissatisfied with the way her own life turned out because she sacrificed for her family. I don’t know if I thought of her while I was writing this book, but she’s certainly the first one who comes to me.

The British playwright Alan Ayckbourn, when asked if his characters had depth, responded, “Sometimes they sink very low.” Can the same be said of your characters?

Because I don’t inherently like to see people suffer, I keep a Post-it on my computer that just says, “Torture him.” You fall in love with the characters you create, and you want them to be okay because they seem real to you, but that is not interesting or dramatic. I have to remind myself that it’s better to watch what people are capable of when they come back from their lowest moments.

Why does the Broadway musical adaptation of The Secret Garden play mean so much to patriarch Carl Fletcher as he recovers from his kidnapping?

When I was in 11th grade, my glamorous aunt Lois took me to see The Secret Garden, and something about it hit me in this way where I understood for the first time that a piece of art finds you when you’re willing to hear about it and it becomes a profound partner on the rest of your journey through life. This musical gave the catatonic and traumatized Carl a language in his heart for how much he had been suffering.