What’s the greatest tool to create suspense? An unreliable narrator, according to Gillian Flynn, who is a master of them if you’ve read Gone Girl. She discussed how to write a good thriller, why she doesn’t believe in guilty pleasure reading, and her ambitious quest to read every Pulitzer Prize-winning novel in chronological order in a New York Times “By the Book” interview. Pair with: Our conversation about Gone Girl.
For a while, shortly after I finished an undergraduate creative writing course, everything I wrote started with an observation or a realization…I was going to be an essayist, and it was going to be awesome.
Watching your book be adapted into a film can be a challenge for an author. At Vulture, John Green discusses his involvement in The Fault in Our Stars adaptation, which he has nothing but positive things to say about. “It was a joke on the movie that I cried every day. But I cried every day because they were good every day!” The film’s full trailer was released this week, and in case you still haven’t read the novel, here’s our review.
J.K. Rowling is one of the most successful writers in the world, but the one person she wanted to see her success never got to — her mother. “She never knew about Harry Potter – I started writing it six months before she died, so that is painful. I wish she’d known,” she said during an interview with BBC Radio 4. She discussed her mother’s death, multiple sclerosis, rugby, and more when she guest edited an edition of “Woman’s Hour.”
You don’t become a war reporter because you love war. You report on war because it expands and complicates our idea of what war is. As a Nigerian-American who lives in the United States, I would like to complicate our sense of what Nigeria is, of what Lagos is, of what Africa is like. So that’s why I write about it. Not because I hate it. Not because I’m from there. I’m working on my second book on it, and it probably won’t be my last.
When Arthur Conan Doyle wasn’t writing Sherlock Holmes, he was a practicing doctor. Thomas Goetz’s new book The Remedy discusses the history of tuberculosis and Doyle’s role in finding a cure with Robert Koch. The Daily Beast interviewed Goetz about how he came up with the idea for the book. “These two characters were part of a much larger story about how scientific discoveries evolve into social change.”
But I think, you know, sometimes, there’s a tendency — I think there’s a great temptation to sort of resist what it is you do naturally. And I think that in a way, because we all want to expand, we all want to grow, we all want to do as much as we can. But at the same time, I think we have to have some faith in what we can do, too. Because I think there’s a certain amount of value in what’s closest to you intuitively and what style and what, not so much material, but in terms of what vantage and what voice and what way of looking at the world is natural has some value as well.
In memory of Peter Matthiessen, The Missouri Review has unlocked an interview with him from 1989. Matthiessen detailed the beginning of his writing career. “I started my first novel and sent off about four chapters and waited by the post office for praise to roll in, calls from Hollywood, everything. Finally my agent sent me a letter that said ‘Dear Peter, James Fenimore Cooper wrote this a hundred and fifty years ago, only he wrote it better. Yours, Bernice.’ I probably needed that; it was very healthy.” For more Matthiessen, you can read one of his best travel essays or his new novel, In Paradise.
If your characters go on a road trip, do you have to take one, too? When Mary Miller wrote The Last Days of California about a family driving from Alabama to California to meet the rapture, she hadn’t even been to the desert herself. To ensure it was accurate, though, she mapped important destinations on the route. “For Western Louisiana, I thought, ‘Is there actually a Waffle House within forty miles of this border?’ because I wanted it to be accurate. So I had maps, and I was tracking mileage,” she told Down & Out.
"For Mr. Kirn, 51, who indeed brims with an outer confidence that can be intimidating at times to those unused to brash, creative types who dress in custom cowboy boots and seem indifferent to the modest niceties of literary image, the loud underwear seems to be working this afternoon." If this doesn’t read like the typical author profile that’s because Walter Kirn interviewed himself for The New York Times on his new book, Blood Will Out: The True Story of a Murder, a Mystery, and a Masquerade. Here’s our review.