Gillian Flynn's masterful combination of fast-paced supsense and richly drawn characters makes for the perfect read Gone Girl, her latest thriller about a marriage gone terribly wrong. Here's more from Gillian:
Jennifer Haupt: How did this chilling story first come to you — through a character, a plotline, an emotion?
Gillian Flynn: I liked the idea of exploring marriage. My first two novels featured narrators who were aggressively unattached: They couldn’t form any sort of genuine relationship. So I had thoroughly explored the geography of loneliness and isolation. I wanted to look at its opposite—the very intense nature of a long-term relationship. I liked the idea of marriage told as a he-said, she-said story, and told by two narrators who were perhaps not to be trusted.
JH: You talk about how difficult it is to cultivate an authentic self in our culture, and playing with that notion in your novel. How has writing novels helped you to discover your authentic self?
GF: Writing has certainly helped me explore about 20,000 versions of my authentic self. I suppose that’s what most writers discover if they write long enough: there are a lot of selves roaming around in there. I empathize with all my characters, even the awful ones (sometimes especially the awful ones). With Gone Girl, the fun was writing from the husband’s point of view and then the wife’s, because it made me veer wildly from Team Nick to Team Amy. It’s probably a useful marital exercise.
JH: Do you ever miss being a television critic?
GF: Definitely. Usually, the itch comes when I have a contrary point of view about a TV show: I think that it’s vastly overrated, or that it’s tragically unsung. I’m not hyper-opinionated, but when I do have an opinion, I’m very stubborn, and I want to persuade everyone to my point of view. Which is easier to do when you are writing for a national magazine than, say, when you are just sitting at home by yourself in the basement eating Cheetos and yelling at the TV. Not that that doesn’t have its charms.
JH: You say that marriage is the ultimate mystery. In the context of your novel, that mystery is a harrowing experience, but can’t it also be a positive thing?
GF: I think it all depends on your spouse. I think marriage can be a very enlightening and endlessly fascinating endeavor (mine is) or it can be utterly soul crushing. You are never going to fully know the person in bed next to you, and you’re right—that can be thrilling or frightening. It depends on the person in bed next to you.
JH: What’s your favorite diversion from writing?
GF: Reading. That’s probably the boring answer, but I read constantly when I’m not writing. I take long, extremely hot baths and read. I play video games. I am an avid walker, although “walker” sounds too ambitious. I like to amble. I draw. Not well but often. I watch tons of movies. I hang out with my family.
JH: What’s the One True Thing you learned from Amy and Nick?
GF: In marriage it’s best to keep perspective. Get out of your head and get some perspective. And definitely, definitely keep your sense of humor. I quote my beloved Mark Twain: “Humor is the great thing, the saving thing, after all.”
Author of the #1 bestseller Gone Girl, Dagger Award winner, and Edgar nominee, Gillian Flynn's critically acclaimed thrillers are all New York Times bestsellers and have been featured in The New Yorker, The View, USA Today, Time, People, NPR, Entertainment Weekly, and countless other publications.