It’s been one crazy summer for Gillian Flynn, the author of Gone Girl, but I guess that’s what happens when your book has been called the It read of the season. Still, she took time out to answer our questions about her wildly popular thriller.
From reader Rosemary Wolfe: I did not like the ending. Looking forward to hearing Flynn tell why she decided to write it that way—maybe she’s planning a sequel?
I’m sorry to hear that! I can only say I wrote the ending that was the most unsettling to me. I am a big fan of the ending of unease. To me it feels real and it feels unnerving. Because you may not know exactly what is going to happen next in Gone Girl World, but you know it’s not good. I love hearing different people’s theories about the ending—to me that’s the fun of reading a book, when you find yourself imagining the characters even after the book is over, and you find yourselves in debates with friends about it, as if the characters were two people who lived down the street (in the case of Nick and Amy, you’d probably want to relocate…).
From reader Meridith Mason-Ward: Gillian, I really need to know more about Nick and Amy…any chance of a sequel?! Please?!
It’s funny, I never planned on doing a sequel, but I certainly know exactly what everyone in the book is doing 10 or 15 years from now. Never say never!
From reader Meghann Anctil: I understand how from Amy’s planning standpoint she had to kill Desi so his side of the story didn’t come out, but why do the police accept that this was self-defense? She tied him up and drugged him, no? So why couldn’t she have just escaped without killing him in the police’s eyes? This was the only detail that stuck out in the story to me and didn’t seem believable.
Hmmm…She actually didn’t tie Desi up. She used the rope to make marks on her wrists and ankles so it would look to the police like he kept her tied her up, so her story of being a victim would sound more
From reader Lucinda Baker: Do you have any background in the field of mental illness? I think you wrote crazy quite convincingly. Also, I read in the WSJ that you will be writing the screenplay for this book. Can you give us any clues as to the approach you will be taking in presenting the diary entries? Thank you for not concluding the book in a neatly wrapped package. Because, as we all know, real life isn’t always (in fact is rarely) a pretty package without some frayed edges.
Thank you for such a lovely compliment—I am happy I wrote crazy convincingly! I have no background in studying mental illness, but I do have a lot of empathy for my characters, whether they are bad or
good, or sick or well. I think if you can create a character who feels real—with a family background, and life stories, and likes and dislikes—they feel believable no matter what kind of craziness ensues.
As for the screenplay, yes I’m very excited to get to work on it, but it’s so early I don’t really have the details yet. I’m looking forward to getting back to the book and figuring it all out as a new puzzle of sorts. Right now I’m listening to the audio version to trick my brain into thinking about the story a bit differently. The actors who voice Amy and Nick, Julia Whelan and Kirby Heyborne, are just fantastic. It’s really fun to hear their spin on different lines.
From reader Shawntaye Hopkins: Did you do any interesting research while writing this story? Watch more crime TV? Interview any cops?
For this particular story, the only research really was to make sure I got the police and legal procedures correct. I worked with a great cop who had read one of my other novels, Dark Places, and dropped me a line on Facebook. I immediately asked him if I could run “a few questions” by him. Poor guy, it was about a hundred over the course of two years, but he was very patient and incredibly helpful. The same goes for all the stuff with Nick’s defense attorney, Tanner Bolt. I ran that all by a great Missouri defense attorney. And then I always take road trips through the area I’m writing about. I’m from Missouri, but I don’t live there anymore so any excuse for a good road trip back home is welcome. I did the “Gone Girl Road Trip” with my mom one July when I was eight months pregnant: We have a lot of photos of me along the Mississippi River looking very big, very sweaty, and very happy.
From discussion leader Emily Begnaud Schroeder: How long had you been thinking of these characters and the plot before you started writing and how long did it take to write?
This was my only book where I started with the plot—the setup and the twist—before I was entirely sure who my characters were. I knew I wanted to explore marriage, and that this was obviously a wildly unhappy couple who had once been madly (excuse the pun) in love. So I kind of reverse-engineered the characters: What two people would end up in this situation? It took me a while to figure Nick and Amy out, definitely. A lot of trial and error. For instance, Amy’s family’s original business empire wasn’t the Amazing Amy books but an online marriage matchmaking service. I have pages upon pages about this service and Amy’s role in creating the quizzes for the service, but I just didn’t love it. It was close but not quite right. So it took me a while—it was three years between my second book, Dark Places, and this book, although I did lose a little momentum when our baby arrived! If I can give anyone a writing tip: Don’t give birth before your first draft is done! You won’t remember what you were writing! Like, at all.
I didn’t look at the book once while I was on maternity leave, and I seriously did have moments when I got back to work where I’d be reading what I wrote and thinking: Hmmm…I wonder why I wrote this
From RealSimple.com deputy editor Maura Fritz: Some readers anticipated certain plot points: that Amy staged the attack, that the Amy/Nick story being told was not true. How much, as a writer of thrillers, do you hope that your audience intuits and how much do you hope to surprise them?
Well, you want to surprise them but not have them feel cheated. You want them to feel shock, but then be able to trace back the story and think: OK, yes all the clues and hints were there—the writer played fairly. But that’s definitely a delicate balancing act.