Gillian Flynn, The New Thriller, and the Mystical Beyond

“I really do think the world can be divided into the people who like to look under the rock and the people who don’t want to look under the rock,” Flynn told me. “I’ve always said, since birth, ‘Let’s look under the rock.’” [New York Times]

WHEN A PERSON gets desperate she or he can act out.

Desperation can play out in horrendous actions.

But for centuries, women characters in fiction held it together. We played out the “sugar and spice” of our nature. The romantic happy ending. The Hallmark ending that comforts our wounded parts.

Men have been writing about their personal… er… foibles, their debauchery, seen through Henry Miller’s writings, which were so intense he couldn’t get published in the U.S. A man who knew nothing about the journey of women while writing incessantly about us.

Does Philip Roth also come into your mind?

Still, it takes an open mind to compare [Gillian Flynn] with someone like Zadie Smith or Philip Roth; Flynn says that people at parties and other passive-aggressive spaces sometimes let her know that they “don’t normally read this kind of book,” which she takes in stride. She cares more about the work than the labels on the work. [New York Times]

Gillian Flynn made her move before #metoo landed.

Feminist critics often complain about the sexist expectation that female characters be “likable,” by which they mean accommodating, charming, easy to talk to and not bleeding everywhere. Flynn’s writing has been read, both charitably and not, as a refusal to comply with that dictate

There is an intense roster of women authors treading the same territory, myself included. It’s a coincidence Flynn and I are both from Missouri.

In the New York Times feature on Gillian Flynn, Lauren Oyler wrote, If one thing unites Flynn’s women, it’s that they’re not fussy about getting blood on stuff.

In MAY BE FATAL, there will be blood, no fuss.

Something Zadie Smith also wrote, when discussing fiction with Philip Roth in the New Yorker

…none of which are fiction, which is a medium that must always allow itself, as those other forms often can’t, the possibility of expressing intimate and inconvenient truths.

Intimate, inconvenient truths hijack our plans from the inside. In our private spaces where we ask, What do you want?

MAY BE FATAL
Some doors should stay shut.

Modern day women in fiction risk what men do to get what they want. The pursuit can be healthy or not. And there is one character in my novels, a woman, who has no sense of boundaries. Her rational mind has snapped.

We’re used to seeing this with male characters in fiction.

In 21st century #thrillers, women take their turn at Mania.

The heroine is left to decipher the meanings of actions so incomprehensible there is no tether to ground her.

What I’ve found by writing in blood, the saga of death and the actions of killers is there always is a phantom thread back to solid ground.

Every choice is heightened.

The fatal decision to indulge darkest fantasies puts a character on a collision course.

But instincts and intuition open a door to “intimate and inconvenient truths.”

There is a force that can guide us. What if we followed it? Heard our inner voice and took the call as a sign.

Strong women aren’t always likable. Our authentic voice clashes with what we are supposed to be, according to men, who have run the world.

Whether it’s Gillian Flynn, Megan Abbott, Barbara Copperthwaite, Lucy Dawson… or me. Women authors are rewriting the rules on #THRILLERS.

There are no safe spaces.

MAY BE FATAL takes the reader a step beyond.

But there is no easy way through.

…but neither Flynn nor her publishers anticipated the omnipresent best seller — or object of scorn — that “Gone Girl” would become. Since then, she has also benefited from a trend in feminist cultural criticism: These days representations of the “messy” lives of “flawed” women are celebrated as indications of a multifaceted (and maybe even “radical”) portrayal of the gender. [New York Times]