Ask Gillian Flynn and Megan Abbott discussion

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Miriam (miriamparker) | 1 comments Megan and Gillian will be conducting their conversation on this board. Stay tuned. And no spoilers!


message 2: by Megan, author of DARE ME (new)

Megan Abbott | 31 comments Mod
Megan here--so happy to be doing this, and thanks to all for joining!
I will jump in and start with one for Gillian. A couple years back we realized we both had been strongly influenced by watching, as kids in the 1980s, true-crime TV movies (the Golden Age for these kinds of movies). Do you have a favorite or two?


Laura Lippman | 4 comments I am dashing to and fro today, but please, please, please talk about Betty Broderick. And perhaps that Lifetime movie in which Kate Jackson will do anything -- and I mean anything -- for a baby.


message 4: by Kemper (last edited Aug 14, 2012 06:56AM) (new)

Kemper @ Megan - I recently read Queenpin and then Dare Me shortly after. Kind of weird (but great reading) to go from old school noir to high school cheerleaders. Did you have problems shifting from the stuff you've set in the past to modern settings? Do you prefer one over the other?


Dominique It was a mini-series with Martin Sheen the Atlanta child murders, that gave me chills


message 6: by Megan, author of DARE ME (new)

Megan Abbott | 31 comments Mod
Laura wrote: "I am dashing to and fro today, but please, please, please talk about Betty Broderick. And perhaps that Lifetime movie in which Kate Jackson will do anything -- and I mean anything -- for a baby."

Laura--oh boy, Betty Broderick indeed! Meredith Baxter Birney's fearless performance in that movie is pretty unforgettable. In their own way, those movies are quite dark--women going to any length because they can't help themselves. Driven by primal emotions: greed, desire, revenge, a woman scorned (in fact, isn't that the title of the Broderick one?)


message 7: by Megan, author of DARE ME (new)

Megan Abbott | 31 comments Mod
Dominique wrote: "It was a mini-series with Martin Sheen the Atlanta child murders, that gave me chills"
Dominique--I don't think I saw that one! In fact, I think that case terrified me so much I may have avoided it, but I just saw a long documentary on that case on one of the cable news networks and it made me wonder if there'd been a good TV movie about it. Miniseries is even better!


message 8: by Megan, author of DARE ME (new)

Megan Abbott | 31 comments Mod
Kemper wrote: "@ Megan - I recently read Queenpin and then Dare Me shortly after. Kind of weird (but great reading) to go from old school noir to high school cheerleaders. Did you have problems shifting from th..."

Surprisingly not! In fact, I admit, those are the two of my novels that bear the most resemblances in terms of power dynamics....both heavily influenced by Deadwood (seriously!). But there are other major differences. Dare Me is a world I know (not as a former cheerleader, but as a survivor of a particular kind of suburban high school), which let me plumb my own memories in ways Queenpin could not (thankfully!).


M.J. (wwwgoodreadscomprofileMJ) | 1 comments How exciting to see both of you here - I'll think of a question or two but mostly just thrilled because you're both such terrific writers your books are so chilling I can't wait to see what you wind up talking about!


message 10: by Kemper (last edited Aug 14, 2012 07:08AM) (new)

Kemper Megan wrote: "Kemper wrote: "@ Megan - I recently read Queenpin and then Dare Me shortly after. Kind of weird (but great reading) to go from old school noir to high school cheerleaders. Did you have problems s..."

Deadwood?? Now I'm wondering who was your representation of Al Swearengen in those books...

Also, that Fatal Vision TV movie from the early '80s with Gary Cole creeped me out for years.


Dominique Megan wrote: "Dominique wrote: "It was a mini-series with Martin Sheen the Atlanta child murders, that gave me chills"
Dominique--I don't think I saw that one! In fact, I think that case terrified me so much I m..."


I was pretty young when I saw it and it dtills gives me chills.
I will be starting Dare me today, l'm sure l'm gong to love it!


message 12: by Megan, author of DARE ME (new)

Megan Abbott | 31 comments Mod
Kemper wrote: "Megan wrote: "Kemper wrote: "@ Megan - I recently read Queenpin and then Dare Me shortly after. Kind of weird (but great reading) to go from old school noir to high school cheerleaders. Did you h..."

Al S. is all over those books! Seriously, though, something about the way power operates on that show fascinates me. The "good leader"/"bad leader" question...

FATAL VISION is probably my all-time favorite. It launched a long obsession with that case. And Karl Malden and Eva Marie Saint--how can you beat that?


message 13: by Megan, author of DARE ME (new)

Megan Abbott | 31 comments Mod
Dominique wrote: "Megan wrote: "Dominique wrote: "It was a mini-series with Martin Sheen the Atlanta child murders, that gave me chills"
Dominique--I don't think I saw that one! In fact, I think that case terrified ..."



Thank you, Dominique!


Priscilla (TheEveningReader) | 7 comments Not a movie, but HBO ran a series about unsolved cases back in the early 1980s. There was one in particular about a Jane Doe that a detective became obsessed with...He never discovered her identity. I can still picture the sketches of what the girl would have looked like.


message 15: by Megan, author of DARE ME (new)

Megan Abbott | 31 comments Mod
Priscilla wrote: "Not a movie, but HBO ran a series about unsolved cases back in the early 1980s. There was one in particular about a Jane Doe that a detective became obsessed with...He never discovered her identity..."

Isn't it something, Priscilla, the way these stories print themselves on our brain? I still remember Unsolved Mysteries from 25 years ago. And something about those sketches, the images that persist...(I wish I'd seen that show!)


Kemper Megan wrote: "Kemper wrote: "Megan wrote: "Kemper wrote: "@ Megan - I recently read Queenpin and then Dare Me shortly after. Kind of weird (but great reading) to go from old school noir to high school cheerlead..."

I think Gloria and Beth both had some Al-like tendencies now that I think about it. I agree about the power dynamics on that show. I loved how it was the 'bad' guy often doing the dirty work that the town needed to survive and grow, even if he always claimed it was in his own self interest.

Re: Fatal Vision. When I first saw Gary Cole in Office Space with those glasses, my first thought was that the crazy Green Beret was back...

Since you were not a cheerleader, did you hang out with some to research Dare Me? What really struck me in your depiction was how the training and danger of injury involved were as bad or worse than most other sports, yet it's not usually considered to be in the same category.


Laura Lippman | 4 comments The Bella Stumbo book that inspired the Broderick miniseries is even better; Gillian Flynn recommends it and I took her advice. Darker, even more complicated.

I am also crazy about Wambaugh's Echoes in the Darkness, but don't know what to think since parts of the case did not hold up on appeal.


message 18: by Megan, author of DARE ME (new)

Megan Abbott | 31 comments Mod
Kemper wrote: "Megan wrote: "Kemper wrote: "Megan wrote: "Kemper wrote: "@ Megan - I recently read Queenpin and then Dare Me shortly after. Kind of weird (but great reading) to go from old school noir to high sc..."

That green beret--it haunts me still!

I did talk with a couple cheerleaders, but mostly I "observed" (as in "eavesdropped online") them talking with each other. I felt like they spoke much more bluntly (passionately, genuinely) when they were talking amongst themselves. And I could see from footage and competitions (not to mention stats) that the sport was dangerous, but it was only through "hearing" them talk that I realized how game they were for the risks.


Dan Schwent  (akaGunslinger) @Megan - Would you write a Deadwood tie-in novel if the offer came?

Also, Robert Stack was the perfect narrator for Unsolved Mysteries.


message 20: by Susan (last edited Aug 14, 2012 07:54AM) (new)

Susan Elizabeth (Susan_E_Lizabeth) | 2 comments Hi ladies! Thanks for hanging out with us today.

First up, Gillian - I loved how your book felt like something for people who have read a lot of mysteries. You took our expectations as mystery readers and turned them upside down. Were there any specific stories that influenced/inspired GONE GIRL?

And now, Megan - You mentioned on the Jungle Reds' blog that DARE ME was inspired by Lois Duncan's DAUGHTERS OF EVE, so my question for you is a bit different. How were you able to channel your inner teenage girl? Did you have a teenage consultant to guide you in the lingo?

Thank you both for fabulous summer reads! I definitely read both books in less than 2 days.


message 21: by Megan, author of DARE ME (new)

Megan Abbott | 31 comments Mod
Dan wrote: "@Megan - Would you write a Deadwood tie-in novel if the offer came?

Also, Robert Stack was the perfect narrator for Unsolved Mysteries."


Dan: In a heartbeat. (I would like to respond in the more colorful language of Deadwood, but you can fill in the blanks!)

Who is the Robert Stack of today? The narration was utterly key (along with the dramatic synthesizer music!)


message 22: by Megan, author of DARE ME (new)

Megan Abbott | 31 comments Mod
Susan wrote: "Hi ladies! Thanks for hanging out with us today.

First up, Gillian - I loved how your book felt like something for people who have read a lot of mysteries. You took our expectations as mystery rea..."


Susan, thank you! I'm embarrassed to admit how easy it was to remember being a teenager. I definitely had to do some research for some of the (especially cheer-specific) slang, especially for texts, but mostly it was through summoning up my own teengirl self, who apparently is always waiting to take center stage!


Alison | 1 comments @Gillian - Gone Girl is the first book of yours that I have read. I LOVED IT! I actually listened to it on audio and it was very well done. Several of us on a spoiler page have been talking about it and though the ending was hard to swallow it was fitting. Have you ever thought of a sequel? Also, is there a movie in the works?


message 24: by Kemper (last edited Aug 14, 2012 08:04AM) (new)

Kemper Megan wrote: "I did talk with a couple cheerleaders, but mostly I "observed" (as in "eavesdropped online") them talking with each other.

Did the online eavesdropping give you any ideas about how they were using social media, too? Their integration of it in their daily lives as well as how it was sometimes used as a weapon of social destruction was another intriguing part of the book.

And all us hoopleheads would line up for a Megan Abbott Deadwood tie-in book.


Susan Elizabeth (Susan_E_Lizabeth) | 2 comments Thanks Megan! I'm imagining you lurking in cheerleader chats room, ha - but are there even still chat rooms these days? I'm totally adding "trawling" to my vocab.


message 26: by Gillian, author of GONE GIRL (new)

Gillian Flynn | 38 comments Mod
Megan wrote: "Megan here--so happy to be doing this, and thanks to all for joining!
I will jump in and start with one for Gillian. A couple years back we realized we both had been strongly influenced by watchin..."


Hi Megan—very happy to be here too.

Oh, sweet, sweet movies of the week. My all-time favorite (as in, I own it and watch it once a year or so) is A Woman Scorned: The Betty Broderick Story, a 1992 TV movie starring the sublime Meredith Baxter. It's based on a real case: Betty Broderick, a wealthy Southern California housewife, began spiraling out of control when her influential lawyer husband left her (after she helped put him through law school and med school). She ultimately shot both her ex and his new wife while they were sleeping. The case is much more nuanced than these basic outlines, but let me say that it intrigues me because it's about a relationship gone very toxic, escalating animosities, the perils of attaching one's identity to someone else, and the dangers of righteousness. The movie is legitimately great—Baxter is fascinating. If you want to read about the case, check out Bella Stumbo's true-crime book, Until the 12th of Never. It's stunning.

That's my long answer: And you, Megan? Your favorite, legitimately good, and your favorite guilty pleasure TV movie?


message 27: by Gillian, author of GONE GIRL (new)

Gillian Flynn | 38 comments Mod
Susan wrote: "Hi ladies! Thanks for hanging out with us today.

First up, Gillian - I loved how your book felt like something for people who have read a lot of mysteries. You took our expectations as mystery rea..."


Thank you, Susan! There were no specific cases that inspired me, but I was interested in poking around in the crimes we choose to obsess over, and the packaging of true crime itself—the idea that we have to have a hero and a villain very quickly, and that the villain is usually the husband.


message 28: by Gillian, author of GONE GIRL (new)

Gillian Flynn | 38 comments Mod
Alison wrote: "@Gillian - Gone Girl is the first book of yours that I have read. I LOVED IT! I actually listened to it on audio and it was very well done. Several of us on a spoiler page have been talking abou..."

Thank you. Yes, there is a movie in the works; Reese Witherspoon is starring as Amy, which I'm over the moon about, and I'm writing the screenplay, which I'm really excited about. I am actually listening to the book on audio myself in order to approach it from a new angle. Also watching some of my favorite book-to-movies, like Scott Smith's A Simple Plan, for inspiration.


message 29: by Megan, author of DARE ME (new)

Megan Abbott | 31 comments Mod
Gillian wrote: "Megan wrote: "Megan here--so happy to be doing this, and thanks to all for joining!
I will jump in and start with one for Gillian. A couple years back we realized we both had been strongly influen..."


Oh, what a great question! I think Friend to Die For AKA Death of a Cheerleader with Kellie Martin and (yes) Tori Spelling would be right up there. It's actually a very meaty tale (based on a true crime) and speaks volumes about the pressures of being a teenage girl. Second only to Small Sacrifices with Farrah Fawcett, which I haven't seen in many years but terrified me for years ("Hungry Like the Wolf" never sounded the same thereafter...)

Gillian, what was that one with Hillary Swank we both had watched?


message 30: by Gillian, author of GONE GIRL (new)

Gillian Flynn | 38 comments Mod
Megan wrote: "Laura wrote: "I am dashing to and fro today, but please, please, please talk about Betty Broderick. And perhaps that Lifetime movie in which Kate Jackson will do anything -- and I mean anything -- ..."

And Megan, you can't forget A Friend to Die for with Tori Spelling and Kellie Martin. Cheerleaders and murder, based on a true story.


message 31: by Megan, author of DARE ME (new)

Megan Abbott | 31 comments Mod
Gillian wrote: "Megan wrote: "Laura wrote: "I am dashing to and fro today, but please, please, please talk about Betty Broderick. And perhaps that Lifetime movie in which Kate Jackson will do anything -- and I mea..."

Ha! you read my mind...http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Friend...


message 32: by Megan, author of DARE ME (new)

Megan Abbott | 31 comments Mod
Susan wrote: "Thanks Megan! I'm imagining you lurking in cheerleader chats room, ha - but are there even still chat rooms these days? I'm totally adding "trawling" to my vocab."

There are! though mostly in form of message boards/FB walls....but same impulses, just as texts have replaced notes-passed-in-class!


message 33: by Gillian, author of GONE GIRL (new)

Gillian Flynn | 38 comments Mod
Megan wrote: "Gillian wrote: "Megan wrote: "Megan here--so happy to be doing this, and thanks to all for joining!
I will jump in and start with one for Gillian. A couple years back we realized we both had been ..."


Dying to Belong! Hilary Swank's friend joins a sorority, is hazed by the evil queen bee (Scrubs's Sarah Chalke) and mysteriously falls to her death from a clock tower. Hilary investigates. I remember girls writing mean things on freshmen pledges with magic marker (am I making this up?) and also Hilary Swank and Mark-Paul Gosselaar riding a lot of bikes to the tune of Sophie B. Hawkins' "Damn, I Wish I Was Your Lover." This is starting to sound like a fever dream.


message 34: by Megan, author of DARE ME (new)

Megan Abbott | 31 comments Mod
Gillian wrote: "Megan wrote: "Gillian wrote: "Megan wrote: "Megan here--so happy to be doing this, and thanks to all for joining!
I will jump in and start with one for Gillian. A couple years back we realized we ..."


Oh gosh, that's totally right. They markered all over their body parts, telling them where they were too flabby. I never forgot that. If it's a fever dream, it's one that returns, like malaria!


message 35: by Gillian, author of GONE GIRL (new)

Gillian Flynn | 38 comments Mod
@Megan, speaking of the evil girls do to each other, it reminds me of that fantastic line in DARE ME, "There's something dangerous about the boredom of teenage girls."

Did that line come to you as you were writing, or was that a guiding theme early on of DARE ME?


message 36: by Megan, author of DARE ME (new)

Megan Abbott | 31 comments Mod
Gillian wrote: "@Megan, speaking of the evil girls do to each other, it reminds me of that fantastic line in DARE ME, "There's something dangerous about the boredom of teenage girls."

Did that line come to you a..."


It came to me as I was writing, though originally it was buried later in the book. It kept sticking in my head, so I knew I had to move it forward.

I wonder with you about the notion of the "Cool Girl," which is one of the most memorable passages in Gone Girl. (It begins: "“Men always say that as the defining compliment, don’t they? She’s a cool girl. Being the Cool Girl means I am a hot, brilliant, funny woman who adores football, poker, dirty jokes, and burping..." and is quoted in full here: http://www.goodreads.com/work/quotes/...)

Was that an early idea? When I read it, I nearly gasped it was so perfect, so incisive.


message 37: by Gillian, author of GONE GIRL (new)

Gillian Flynn | 38 comments Mod
Megan wrote: "Gillian wrote: "@Megan, speaking of the evil girls do to each other, it reminds me of that fantastic line in DARE ME, "There's something dangerous about the boredom of teenage girls."

Did that li..."


I actually had a lot of trouble getting Amy's voice and nailing her down. In the final version, she writes quizzes for women's magazines for a living, but originally I had her as a columnist. So to figure her out more, I wrote a lot of her columns in her voice—just as an exercise. But that one I liked so much I couldn't bear to get rid of it, so I worked it into the book.


message 38: by Megan, author of DARE ME (new)

Megan Abbott | 31 comments Mod
Kemper wrote: "Megan wrote: "I did talk with a couple cheerleaders, but mostly I "observed" (as in "eavesdropped online") them talking with each other.

Did the online eavesdropping give you any ideas about how ..."


I think a lot of that came from all the media hysteria about teen texting epidemics. In the end, it felt like the same thing as passing notes and slam books for past generations (like mine), but with such velocity! And part of that came from my own experiences--how your cell phone came become this living thing, a demon in your hand!


Jess (jeslync) | 2 comments Gillian- Loved Gone Girl. Curious on whether or not you get any say on the narrators for the audiobooks? I thought both did a wonderful job.


message 40: by Gillian, author of GONE GIRL (new)

Gillian Flynn | 38 comments Mod
Jess wrote: "Gillian- Loved Gone Girl. Curious on whether or not you get any say on the narrators for the audiobooks? I thought both did a wonderful job."

Thanks! I have no input on narrators but I am just now starting to listen to GONE GIRL and I'm so incredibly thrilled with the two actors who play Amy and Nick: Julia Whelan and Kirby Heyborne. They nail it.

I've been really lucky with all my audiobooks—it's a very specific and difficult kind of acting and I'm always grateful to the people who give my characters voice. I could not do it, myself. I get so self-conscious when I read aloud: My husband says I sound like 30 Rock's Kenneth the Page hosting an easy-listening program. He's not far off.


Patrick Brown | 5 comments Mod
Gillian wrote: "I've been really lucky with all my audiobooks—it's a very specific and difficult kind of acting and I'm always grateful to the people who give my characters voice. I could not do it, myself. I get so self-conscious when I read aloud: My husband says I sound like 30 Rock's Kenneth the Page hosting an easy-listening program. He's not far off."

I'm not really adding anything here. Just feel like this needs to be posted twice.


Rand Raynor | 1 comments Gillian, your books have hooked me this summer. My question - when you write from a character's perspective, for instance, Ben, on the day the murders are committed, do you write the whole story from that perspective, or do you alternate writing from different POV's?
Thanks!


Priscilla (TheEveningReader) | 7 comments Megan, I thought Bury Me Deep was terrific. Are there any other true crime stories that you've thought about turning into fiction?


Reshma | 2 comments Gillian,
Gone Girl is the only book of yours that I have read so far. I loved it, it kept me glued to the book until I finished reading with the feeling of O-M-G!! I am looking forward to reading others books your authored. The question I have is with the language in the book, I thought it was a little too coarse. I am curious to see why you thought that was important.


Kemper @ Gillian - I haven't gotten to Gone Girl yet, but I enjoyed Dark Places quite a bit. However, as a KC resident I have to file a complaint that you didn't do much to boost tourism around here with the whole Kansas farm family massacre and vivid descriptions of the West Bottoms.

All joking aside, DP was a very good book. Did you look to In Cold Blood for any inspiration for it?


message 46: by Megan, author of DARE ME (new)

Megan Abbott | 31 comments Mod
Priscilla wrote: "Megan, I thought Bury Me Deep was terrific. Are there any other true crime stories that you've thought about turning into fiction?"

Thank you so much! That case continues to haunt me. I've thought about a lot of them, including (before TJ English wrote a great nonfiction book about it called Savage City) the Career Girl Murders. I have a story coming out next year loosely based on the Casey Anthony case.

Is there a real-life case you find especially compelling (not that I'd steal it!)?


message 47: by Gillian, author of GONE GIRL (new)

Gillian Flynn | 38 comments Mod
Rand wrote: "Gillian, your books have hooked me this summer. My question - when you write from a character's perspective, for instance, Ben, on the day the murders are committed, do you write the whole story f..."

Ah, great question. I write in pretty much exactly the order you read. So in Dark Places, I alternated all the voices as I wrote: Libby, Patty, Ben, Libby, Patty, Ben. I do that partly because I need all the organizational help I can get, and partly to keep myself honest: I don't skip scenes I know need to be written. Because if I find myself wanting to do that, it's usually because I'm scared to write the scene. And the sooner you make yourself write the scene you are scared to write because you think it will be awful, the sooner you can realize that, yes, it is awful—and the sooner you can figure out how to fix it.

Then once I was done with a first draft, I definitely went back and read each character in a single chunk. Libby as she investigated the case, and Patty and Ben as they made their ways through the day of the murder. I check to make sure the tone is right and also to catch inconsistencies.


message 48: by Gillian, author of GONE GIRL (new)

Gillian Flynn | 38 comments Mod
Reshma wrote: "Gillian,
Gone Girl is the only book of yours that I have read so far. I loved it, it kept me glued to the book until I finished reading with the feeling of O-M-G!! I am looking forward to reading o..."


Hi Reshma, glad you liked the book. Yes, the language is pretty coarse. Neither of my parents swear, and I definitely had moments blushing, thinking of them reading some of the stuff. For me, it was just how those characters sounded. I pictured NIck as just someone who always used salty language, and Amy as someone who found she liked it once she tried it.


Priscilla (TheEveningReader) | 7 comments Megan wrote: "Priscilla wrote: "Megan, I thought Bury Me Deep was terrific. Are there any other true crime stories that you've thought about turning into fiction?"

Thank you so much! That case continues to haun..."


I will look forward to that! I've long been intrigued by something I saw on the television news as a little girl in Texas in the 1970s: the case of Orange Socks, a woman found dead on the side of the interstate in Texas wearing nothing but orange fuzzy socks. I remember the news reports so well and the images of those feet). I think it was attributed to Henry Lee Lucas for a while until he either recanted or they determined he couldn't have been anywhere near there based on other cases. The whole idea of real people who have gone missing and had their stories left untold is something that haunts me. The great thing about basing fiction on real events--so many ways to interpret them.


Alice (Konacat) | 1 comments Gillian,
I've read all of your awesome books. They all seem to have a common thread--- dysfunctional families. Were you growing up a product of that?


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Gone Girl (other topics)
Dare Me (other topics)
Gone Bitch: A Parody of Gone Girl (other topics)