When Mayim Bialik gave her family and friends the "silent treatment" during summer, it wasn't personal. The star of CBS's hit comedy "The Big Bang Theory," who plays neuroscientist Amy Farrah Fowler, was advised by doctors to avoid speaking in order to heal strained vocal cords.
"I'm doing all right now," said Bialik from Warner Bros. studio in Burbank while preparing for the show's 11th season, set to air later this month. "I still try to use it as little as possible to preserve it for work, but it hasn't been necessary to cut back my role on the show."
The timing was still unfortunate. Although the series was on summer hiatus, the vocal moratorium limited personal interviews about her new book, "Girling Up: How to Be Strong, Smart and Spectacular," one of three she's authored since joining the "Big Bang" cast in 2010 (see www.mayimbialik.net).
"I'm divorced and have my (two) kids half-time, so I try to write when they're not with me. I also wake up early and actually don't watch much television or have a very active social life, so I can get a lot of writing done."
While her previous books focused on parenting or vegan cooking, the new volume (a bestseller) offers advice to young girls.
"I was approached by different publishers to write a book about science for girls," said Bialik, who has a real-life Ph.D. in neuroscience. "I wanted to produce a book about growing up from a science perspective using my personal experiences and background, including what I've gleaned as an adult and what I know about the development of the brain as well as hormones and psychology."
Becoming a scientist and then playing one on television was also significant for the actress. "I was pretty studious, so I can relate to Amy a lot. I was actually a late bloomer to science and became interested when I was 15 while working on 'Blossom' and had a tutor with a real passion for science."
Choosing a career of acting over science led to dozens of movie and TV appearances, including "Blossom" for five seasons in the early '90s. Thirty episodes were directed by Bill Bixby, more widely known as an actor in hit series such as "My Favorite Martian" and "The Incredible Hulk."
"He was so great - a very sensitive director, very emotional, who liked to act scenes out. He passed away during our time together on the show and was greatly missed by the cast. Any director who has significant experience as an actor has a unique sensibility for directing."
Bialik is no stranger to Hollywood legends such as Bixby.
"My mom is a huge classic film person, so I was raised with those great films and actors - Hitchcock, Jimmy Stewart, William Holden, all of them. I consider the 'Wizard of Oz' one of the greatest films of all time, and Judy Garland really inspired me as a child. As for comedians, I was more familiar with people like Carol Burnett and Lucille Ball growing up."
In fact, while appearing on "The Big Bang Theory" she worked alongside several TV legend guest stars including Bob Newhart and Adam West.
"It was really special working with Adam West who was my Batman growing up," she said. "He was such a kind man and autographed stuff for my kids, which is still on their desks."
Also special is Bialik's on-screen relationship with Jim Parsons who plays quirky, fastidious theoretical physicist Sheldon Cooper. As Sheldon's longtime, stoic girlfriend, Amy first appeared in the third season finale.
"Jim and I had a pretty similar work ethic and acting style, so it went smoothly from the start. He's very disciplined but playful and incredibly gifted with a great sense of insight and a fresh take on comedy unlike anyone else."
The 11th season of "The Big Bang Theory" began airing on Sept. 25 when Amy responded to Sheldon's surprising marriage proposal from the 10th season finale. Even Bialik didn't know her response early.
"We don't know what's coming until the night before we start rehearsing an episode," explained Mayim. "But that's OK; You don't know the future in real life, either."
Nick Thomas teaches at Auburn University at Montgomery, Alabama, and has written features, columns and interviews for more than 650 newspapers and magazines. See www.tinseltowntalks.com.