‘Gone Girl’ makes author Gillian Flynn a literary celebrity

By Amy Driscoll
The Miami Herald via McClatchy-Tribune

With the runaway success of “Gone Girl,” Gillian Flynn has arrived.

After more than a year on bestseller lists, her deliciously poisonous ode to a marriage gone bad is heading to the big screen with Ben Affleck starring, David Fincher directing and Flynn writing the screenplay.

Her previous novel, “Dark Places,” is also being made into a movie, starring Charlize Theron. And she’s only written three books.

Gillian, formerly a TV critic for Entertainment Weekly who was laid off in 2008, is now perched atop the literary pile.
Last week at the Key West Literary Seminar, she found herself amid long-established authors that are now easily her peers, such writers as Judy Blume, Sara Paretsky, Carl Hiaasen, Laura Lippman.

As fans lined up to talk to her — she good-naturedly agreed to a quick video thanking a book club for reading her book — someone thrust a copy of the most recent EW into her hands.
On the cover? “Gone Girl,” the movie. Her movie.

“It’s insane. It really is,” she says with a bemused smile. “I was a very shy and awkward kid. Painfully shy. I always wanted to be a writer, but I wasn’t exactly booming with self-confidence. This weekend is one of those times where I wish I could go back and say, ‘You’re going to meet Judy Blume, and you’re going to talk about her books with her. And Joyce Carol Oates. It’s gonna be OK, kid. Like, it’s going to be all right.’”

It’s been more than all right. “Gone Girl” hit a sweet spot in publishing, a suspense novel with such artfully crafted twists and turns that a New York Times reviewer compared the author to legendary psychological thriller writer Patricia Highsmith.

Flynn’s pop culture roots are never far from her writing _ and that may be why she’s been so successful.

The basis for “Gone Girl” isn’t unique. It’s about a marriage that goes horribly, publicly wrong. But Flynn brings a fresh eye to the concept through the use of revenge, secrets and a critical look at the personas we construct for each other and ourselves.

By combining our modern-day, reality-show culture with a universal theme of relationships, she puts her finger on something that resonates.

“There’s something to talk about for everyone. The gender roles we play, the domestic roles we play. There’s the push and pull between husbands and wives and how do marriages go wrong. I think people are fascinated by that,” she says. “You know, people who are in good marriages fear that, because they have seen good marriages go bad.”

She has not, despite reports to the contrary, completely rewritten the ending for the film, she says.

“You have to dismantle a book in order to put it back together as a movie. And it was fun to take all the different puzzle pieces and figure out what’s going to make it in the new puzzle and what can be left behind.”

And though she notes she has done a lot of rewriting for the script, “they hired me because they liked the book so … reports have been greatly exaggerated that everything is completely different.”