Julia Phillips stopped by Late Night With Seth Meyers to talk about her latest novel, Bear.

Phillips’ book, published last month by Hogarth, follows two sisters caring for their ailing mother on an island off the Washington state coast whose lives are changed when they encounter a bear swimming in a channel. In a starred review, a critic for Kirkus called the novel—her first since Disappearing Earth in 2019—”a bold and brilliant modern fable of sisterhood, class, and our relationship to the natural world.”

Meyers noted that Phillips wrote Bear when the Covid-19 pandemic was still in its relatively early days.

“I don’t know what everyone’s 2020 experience was, but I would say mine was impactful,” she said. “I had my first kid in June 2020, which I would not recommend, having a baby in an active pandemic. And the combination of quarantine and postpartum meant I pretty much spent a year inside, terrified.…It was an experience that I think if my grandkids come over, and I do something, my kids are going to say, Well, you know, Grammy’s that way because she lived through the pandemic.”

Meyers asked Phillips about writing about sisters who don’t necessarily see things the same way.

“This is a very foundational thing for me, as I’m a little sister myself,” she said. “They’re not just sisters but best friends and roommates, and they’re bonded by this shared experience of caring for their mom. And that has made them think for years, We understand each other. We get it. But there’s so much that they don’t understand.”

Michael Schaub is a contributing writer.