Gillian Flynn’s third novel, Gone Girl, explores a marriage gone bad—and the aftermath.
What was the seed for this novel?
Part of it was just that I was interested in tackling marriage. I think marriage at its best can be the best thing in the world for a person—and at its worst can really undo a person. In its way marriage is sort of like a long con, because you put on display your very best self during courtship, yet at the same time the person you marry is supposed to love you warts and all. But your spouse never sees those warts really until you get deeper into the marriage and let yourself unwind a bit.
How is Amy, your protagonist, different from the women you focused on in your earlier books?
Well, she’s certainly my first woman character who is very Alpha. I have a streak of that in myself, that kind of perfectionist, self-righteous, driven kind of personality. Certainly my previous two female leads, in Sharp Objects and Dark Places, were obviously damaged people, angry and upset and not able to really interact in the world. In contrast, Amy’s the control freak, she’s the list maker. She certainly appears to be not only good at everything but it’s important to her to be good at everything.
Where does your focus on the dark side, particularly female violence and evil, come from?
I grew up in the ’80s with the TV movie of the week and that dramatic woman-gone-wild sort of thing. One of my all-time favorite TV movies ever is The Betty Broderick Story, about a woman whose fury over a bad marriage and divorce spirals out of control. I am on the surface an incredibly even-keeled, laid-back Midwestern type, but in my mind I occasionally indulge in wonderful dreamscapes of revenge and become quite a drama queen. And the fact is, I don’t say the things that I would in my grand Bette Davis-on-her-fifth-vodka sort of speeches, but I certainly identify with that moment of pure rage, and I don’t think you see it enough.
How good a criminal would you have made?
I would have made the greatest criminal in the world. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out the perfect crime, and I’m also unfortunately a true crime addict, which I don’t like about myself, but I’ve read about a billion true crime books. So I know the mistakes not to make, I know police procedure. It’s safe to say that if for some reason my husband does go missing on our five-year anniversary that you still won’t be able to pin it on me... just kidding.