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An Interview with Gillian Flynn, Queen of the Dark Twist

There’s no sequel to her most famous novel - yet - but the Gone Girl novelist has a new crop of pageturners to keep her fans happy.
Tertulia •
May 23rd, 2024

More than a decade after setting the book world ablaze with her runaway bestseller Gone Girl, the Midwestern novelist known for masterminding intricate plots starring very unlikeable characters has put the pen aside to focus on a different literary pursuit: publishing. Now a year into her Zando Projects imprint Gillian Flynn Books, she spoke to Tertulia about punk rock nuns, her Satanic Panic obsession, the offbeat title of her imprint’s latest offering, and the under-the-radar mystery series she thinks more readers need to discover. 

What’s the last book or movie that actually scared the living daylights out of you?

I just reread Unmask Alice: LSD, Satanic Panic, and the Imposter Behind the World's Most Notorious Diaries By Rick Emerson. It's about, basically, the title, but it intrigues and scares me so much with its connection to today's malleable truth. It also delves into the rise of the Satanic Panic (which anyone who has read my book Dark Places knows I'm fascinated by)—all linked to the nasty history of my junior-high obsession, Go Ask Alice. Brilliant reporting, novelistic writing.

Congratulations! We read that you’ll be working on an HBO series adaptation of your novel, Dark Places. The book follows Libby Day whose mother and sisters were murdered in the famous 1985 ‘Satan Sacrifice of Kinnakee, Kansas.’ What’s your favorite line in the book?

It really is the first line: "I have a meanness inside me, real as an organ." It's the first line of the book that readers encounter, but it was the last line of the book I actually wrote—as is usual with all my novels.

The latest book coming from your imprint is Kittentits. What drew you to this book and what’s up with the title?

First of all, who doesn't crack a book with that title? I can't tell you what it means—that would be unfair to its author, Holly Wilson, but I can say it captures what I love about the book: It's bold, brash, a little cheeky. I also must add that the novel can be heart-breaking too. We have a zillion coming-of-age stories about boys; a lovely coming-of-age story about a girl is always welcome.

The first book you published with your imprint was Scorched Grace by Margot Douaihy, about a tattooed, punk rock nun. Tell Tertulia readers in a sentence why you had to publish this book.

It's a thrilling page-turner told by a funny, troubled, resilient woman; my kind of woman.

And finally: what’s one of your favorite thrillers or mysteries that you think doesn’t always get its time in the spotlight?

OK, I'm going with an Agatha Christie-style series by Clara Benson, starring the clever accidental sleuth Angela Marchmont. Start with Book One—The Murder at Sissingham Hall—because the series not only features brilliant country-house mysteries, it's also about the evolving life of Marchmont through the years. Just such a delight.

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