Thu11202014

Books

What inspires authors to write of the macabre?

Gillian Flynn, author of “Gone Girl” (Crown, 2012), scares me a little. When you read about her, she seems so normal – like the girl next door.

She was born to college professor parents in Kansas City, Mo. She grew up reading books, but also watching questionable movies from the age of 7, films like “Alien,” “Bonnie and Clyde” and “Psycho,” to name a few.

Despite her early introduction to gore and violence, Flynn describes her young life as a happy one. I wonder if her childhood friends who have read her books are scratching their heads today thinking, “Geez, you think you know someone.”

Flynn earned her graduate degree in journalism from Northwestern University and spent 10 years living in New York City as a writer for Entertainment Weekly, visiting film sets around the world. (How jealous am I?) Her last four years at EW she was the TV critic, touting “The Wire” as the best TV show ever. She has since moved back to Chicago with her husband, son and black cat. (I wonder what she named her cat?)

All three of Flynn’s books are dark – very dark, actually. Her debut novel, “Sharp Objects” (Crown, 2006) won two of Britain’s aptly named Dagger Awards, the first book to win multiple Daggers in one year. Flynn’s second novel, the New York Times best-seller “Dark Places” (Crown, 2009), won Publishers Weekly’s Best Book of 2009. Movie rights have been sold for both of these books.

It would be fun to meet her and learn how she likes spending her time dreaming up award-winning macabre stories. The armchair psychologist in me wonders why a seemingly happy person would want to spend endless hours conjuring up disturbing stories about deeply unlikable people. Neuroscience indicates that we become what we think about and focus on. Ouch.

I’m just saying … if only I had known her way back when, she could have recommended me for her old job at Entertainment Weekly. Yes, indeed, I, too, have a rich fantasy life – but mine runs more toward the happy fairy tales as opposed to the Grimm ones. And my columns would all begin with, “Once upon a time … .” Yeah, I can picture that.

Sharon Lennox-Infante, a Los Altos resident, is contributing editor for Book Buzz.

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