Much like Amy and Nick, the fractured married couple at the center of Gillian Flynn's breakout novel "Gone Girl," the author herself is good at keeping secrets.
In recent months, rumors have swirled around the highly anticipated film adaptation of the book, which Reese Witherspoon will produce (she also might star). Most recently, David Fincher ("Fight Club," "The Social Network") surfaced as a potential director. For now, though, the Kansas City, Mo.-born Flynn, who lives in Ukrainian Village, has little choice but to keep her lips sealed.
"I'm really not trying to be coy," said the author, who headlines a night of music and readings at the Metro on Thursday, March 21. "It's really out of respect for everyone who's working on the movie right now. Hopefully in the next month I'll be able to talk about it quite a bit."
Flynn, 41, did open up about an array of other subjects in a recent phone interview, including her complete lack of musical prowess, the influence cable news had in shaping elements of "Gone Girl" and the daunting task of following up her breakout work.
Since this event is taking place at Metro, I was wondering if you ever aspired to be a musician.
I have absolutely no musical talent. I was the dorky kid who always wanted to be a writer.
So you won't be singing any passages from the book then?
[Laughs] If I could set some of it to music that would be something. I do have Nick and Amy's iPod playlists all figured out. That was one of the things I did as I tried to figure them out as characters. I feel like you can grab someone's iPod or look in their Netflix queue and get a glimpse at what you're dealing with.
Do you listen to music when you write?
I'm a silence person. I don't have anything on. I'm not one of those people who can write in a coffeehouse. I'm in my dark little basement with no music, and often I even have earplugs in because I'm so easily distracted.
How's work coming on the "Gone Girl" screenplay?
I knew it was going to be challenging, but it's been even moreso than I thought it would be, just disassembling it and putting it back together as a screenplay. There are certain scenes from the book where even as I was writing them I was like, "If there's a movie, this will be in it."
Are there any scenes or characters that may have taken on a bigger role in the screenplay than in the book?
You know, I'm really attached to certain support characters, like [Detective Rhonda] Boney, and getting to play with her a bit more has been fun.
I can't even imagine the coverage Nancy Grace would give the case at the heart of "Gone Girl" if it were real.
[Laughs] Exactly. I kind of reverse-engineered part of the story. I was like, "What exactly is the thing that would appeal to the media?" The significance of an anniversary. Amy's backstory. I thought about it the way a journalist would think about it. "What would be those key things that would propel it from a local story to the national media?"
Do you follow Nancy Grace on Twitter? She's turned the hashtag into this almost surrealist art form with things like #murderforpizza and #toofattokill.
If she had to summarize "Gone Girl" in a hashtag what do you think she'd use?
Oh, she would hate Nick, so I bet she'd give him a nickname. It'd be something like #prettyboy [laughs].
Why do you think you tend to be drawn to these darker, more violent subjects?
It's an interesting question. I was one of those kids who loved being scared from the get-go. I love that sense of being out of my skin with fear. It's probably because I did have a very safe childhood and a very happy childhood. I also had a dramatic curiosity about everything, so I could explore that curiosity and look at those darker sides and know I could go back to a pretty safe and normal place. I like to take any situation and say, "What is the worst thing that could happen here?" That certainly informs my writing, particularly on "Gone Girl." It was like, "What is the worst way this thing can go?"
What's the first thing you remember terrifying you as a child?
My first big memory was watching "Alien." I was 9 or 10, and I remember being in the theater with my parents and being incredibly frightened. At the same time I couldn't leave, so my mom went with me and we sat with our backs against the wall of the movie theater because it made me feel safer. I was very proud of staying till the very end.
When Random House extended your contract last year it also included a deal for your first young adult novel. Since wizard and vampires have already been spoken for what does that leave you? Teen leprechauns? Yeti?
[Laughs] The great unsung Yeti novel is somewhere in me. First off, people were like, "A [young adult] novel? Have they ever read your book? I don't want my child reading anything that comes out of your brain!" But I grew up reading some of those great old books by people like Lois Duncan, who wrote psychological thrillers for kids. They were very connectable, but they were frightening at the same time. I'm hoping to do something like that.
Does the success of "Gone Girl" make the idea of writing your next adult novel more daunting?
It definitely does. I felt a similar way when I worked on my second book, which was, "OK, I knew I could write one book, but can I do another?" You have all these voices in your head. "Is it too much like the last one? Is it not enough like the last one? Can you match it?" Whatever I'm going to do right now is going to be judged next to "Gone Girl," and my job as a writer is to try to ignore all that as best I can. My hope is once I get a little breathing space I can go back into my very dark, soundproof little room and get to work on something that interests me. I think if you stick to writing whatever gives you that fire in the belly, most other things sort themselves out.
Gillian Flynn at Literary Rock 'n' Roll: Girl Trouble
6:15 p.m. Thursday, March 21 at Metro, Free
Gillian Flynn personality test
What's the last album you bought? "It was Spider Bags."
Song you've listened to on repeat recently? "Those really poppy songs are the ones that tend to go on repeat. I know what it was, it was the Ting Tings' 'That's Not My Name.' "
Song you never want to hear again? "The Ting Tings' 'That's Not My Name' [laughs]."
Best concert you've seen in the last year? "I don't know that I've been to one in the last year. You find out what your pop culture obsession is, like I still make time to see movies in the theater. If I have a free evening that's probably where we're going to go."
New author you don't know personally that deserves to be big? "I'd say Ashley Ream. She wrote this book called 'Losing Clementine' that I thought had this big-ass voice to it, and I can't wait to see what she does next."
Favorite movie ever? "I think I have to go with 'Jaws.' I love it. I have almost every bit of dialogue memorized. I think it's one of the most perfectly put together movies ever. And I've got a huge Richard Dreyfuss crush, so what's not to like?"
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