Join Gillian Flynn to discuss February's Book of the Month, Gone Girl, Tuesday 26 February, 9-10pm

(197 Posts)

What is your most memorable whoa-I-didn't-expect-that moment? The Sixth Sense or The Usual Suspects finale? That naked bit in The Crying Game? Or maybe the midway point in Sarah Waters' Fingersmith? Our February book of the month is about to take its place in the pantheon of all-time greatest plot twisters.

GONE GIRL is an intelligent, astute, darkly witty thriller about a marriage. About two people, Nick and Amy, who think they know each other. On the morning of their fifth wedding anniversary, with presents waiting and the annual treasure hunt ready to begin, Amy has disappeared. The police arrive, the media seizes hungrily on the story and Nick soon finds himself the main suspect.

A modern-day Patricia Highsmith, Gillian Flynn makes you squirm with horror yet keeps you riveted. As Kate Atkinson said: "I have no doubt that in a year's time I'm going to be saying that this is my favourite novel of 2012. Brilliant."

You can find more detail on our February book of the month page. Get your paperback or Kindle edition here.

And don't miss Gillian's sharply written website.

We are thrilled that Gillian will be joining us to discuss the book and answer any questions about GONE GIRL and her writing career on Tuesday 26 February, 9-10pm. Hope you can join us...

CuriousMama Tue 26-Feb-13 16:24:19

I loved this book as I've said on other threads I read it in a night. Luckily my sons were at their dad's and dp was at work (nightshift) but I still read it until I finished it at 7am, then had a good lie in wink

My question is about a possible movie? If you have any say on casting would you please consider Ryan Gosling as he can do hot and horny and also tortured soul. And I love him blush

Also sneaky extra one, your skin is so lovely, what's your secret or is it lucky genes?

squeaver Tue 26-Feb-13 18:08:37

Like gargamella, I'm interested in the "cool girl" thing too. As I'm 20 years past being single, is this something that you think is true? Or an Amy-posited hypothesis to make us think about her character?

Champagnesupernova Tue 26-Feb-13 18:32:26

Just wanted to say how much I enjoyed reading it - didn't want to do much else and will await the webchat with relish. THanks for coming on Gillian.

SinisterSal Tue 26-Feb-13 18:33:57

Firstly apologies in advance for any typos, on silly phone. smile
Diary Amy comes out with some fairlynuanced feminist arguments, though not actuallyexplicitly stated as such. The cool girl thing for example. Yet it turns out that she is literally using it as cover to be a psycho from hell who traps a man by getting pregnant, cries rape, and deliberately tries to ruin a poor scmucks life, and nearly does it to beause everyone thinks the worst of men. Etc etc. Why did you choose that portayal of a 'feminist'?

Patchouli Tue 26-Feb-13 20:02:08

Reece Witherspoon? As in the girl from Elf?!

Really enjoyed reading Gone Girl. I don't normally go for thrillers, but it made a nice change for me and it was very readable.

The meticulousness of the revenge at some points reminded me of Fay Weldon's Life and Loves of a She-Devil

jennywren123 Tue 26-Feb-13 20:11:19

I really enjoyed the book, but I did feel that I wanted to find out more about what happened after the baby was born. Did they stay together? What was the child like? Were they ever happy again (doubt it!). What made you decide to end the story when you did? Can you tell us what happened to Amy and Nick 5 years later, 10 years later, 20 years later? Thanks

BumgrapesofWrath Tue 26-Feb-13 20:11:53

I really enjoyed the book! Very clever plot.

Is Amy based (loosely obviously) on someone you know? I just got a really good feel for her character, she seemed so real and believable to me.

Also, how did you go about writing the plot of the story without getting confused yourself? Lots of post-it notes? Or diagrams? The story wove together so nicely you must have planned it meticulously (like Amy??)

kermithermit Tue 26-Feb-13 20:46:37

Hi Gillian
Great of you to come!

I have lots of questions for you, too numerous for this forum. What I particularly loved about Gone Girl was the converging narratives but also the fact that both are unreliable narrators and your view of them shifts as you move through the book.

What I wanted to ask is: what are the character arcs for Nick and Amy if they end up back where they started? I can see more of a transformation in Nick, less so in Amy - I suppose this makes him the protagonist?

Fantastic read though. Hurry up and write some more as having read Dark Places I am pacing myself to read the rest of your books so that I don't run out too early...

Genesgirl Tue 26-Feb-13 20:46:51

I loved the book, thanks Gillian. I didn't dislike all the characters the way I did with say 'The Slap'. Agree, didn't like Amy but maybe cos I started off rooting for her (ie. the first half, the diary version of Amy it was hard to change.) I agree with someone else who said Nick knew his flaws and was trying to be better albeit in a haphazard, too relaxed way. Also agree with someone else and thought some language was unnecessarily crude. My question is did you ever had another ending in mind? I thought Nick would kill her in the end in a sort of 'Fatal attraction' ending. He'd been provoked enough. In the end I just worried for the baby......In summary, a great book and probably better for having an unpredictable, non standard ending IMO.

Evening everyone

A lot of varied and interesting opinions this month, and a lot of questions posted already. So without further ado...

I am delighted that Gillian is joining us from Chicago tonight to talk about her writing, her inspiration and the phenomenon that is GONE GIRL.

Gillian, firstly, thank you very much indeed for taking the time to be here. And many congratulations on such a brilliantly successful and gripping book. We'll kick off with the advance questions from further up the thread. And then we'll aim to get through as many new ones as possible over the next hour (although getting through all the posts above may take a good chunk of that...)

I'd also like to add our two standard MN Bookclub questions (which we like to ask all authors):

Which childhood book most inspired you?

What would be the first piece of advice you would give anyone attempting to write fiction?

Over to you...

gaelicsheep Tue 26-Feb-13 21:00:20

I think squeaver's insights are very interesting and have made me think about the book in a different light.

My question for Gillian is whether you feel this book is more about the story or the telling of it? For me personally it works more in the technique than as a story in itself (that's just me).

Gillianflynn1 Tue 26-Feb-13 21:03:03

Thanks so much for having me! I think this will be quite a lot of fun!

FakePlasticLobsters Tue 26-Feb-13 21:03:45

I loved the book and loved the ending. It couldn't really have ended any other way.

I've discussed it with my friend and she was feeling very sorry for the baby, saying "Imagine what Amy might do to manipulate him or her!"

While I was thinking that perhaps the baby might grow up to be worse than Amy, a sort of Bad Seed child.

Have you got an idea in mind for how Nick and Amy's baby might turn out?

Gillianflynn1 Tue 26-Feb-13 21:04:58

I loved stories about bold, adventurous children (particularly as I was a fairly shy, unadventurous child!). I loved Meg in A Wrinkle in Time, Lucy in The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, Tom in Tom Sawyer, but I think my favorite was Alice in Wonderland. I loved how curious and precocious and fearless Alice was, and I was fascinated by this strange other world that she explored. I spent many hours looking for rabbit holes in my backyard.

As for writing advice: This will sound too simple, but I think it’s very important: Keep writing. I wrote my first book at night and on weekends after I finished my day job, and the process was long and sometimes discouraging and very erratic. But I kept at it, even when I lost momentum and life took over and I hadn’t looked at the book in six months. I just kept going back and writing and rewriting and then finally—magic!—one day it was done. Also: Rewrite, rewrite, rewrite. Don’t worry if your first version is crummy; that’s what a first draft is for—to figure out what it is you want to say. I always find my books in the third of fourth draft!

Welcome!

GillianFlynn Tue 26-Feb-13 21:14:45

FakePlasticLobsters

I loved the book and loved the ending. It couldn't really have ended any other way.

I've discussed it with my friend and she was feeling very sorry for the baby, saying "Imagine what Amy might do to manipulate him or her!"

While I was thinking that perhaps the baby might grow up to be worse than Amy, a sort of Bad Seed child.

Have you got an idea in mind for how Nick and Amy's baby might turn out?

Well first of all, you can give an author no better compliment than wondering what happens to the characters after the book is closed, so thank you! I think the answer is: Not well. I think Nick will try his best to keep the child from too much mental gamesmanship, but I don't know that Amy will be able to mother with out manipulation—using the child a pawn in the ongoing marital chess game.

Just a quick message to say there may be a few delays as Gillian's computer being a bit slow - she's very kindly said she'll stay on a bit longer to make up for it...

GillianFlynn Tue 26-Feb-13 21:20:35

gaelicsheep

I think squeaver's insights are very interesting and have made me think about the book in a different light.

My question for Gillian is whether you feel this book is more about the story or the telling of it? For me personally it works more in the technique than as a story in itself (that's just me).

It's very much a book about storytelling. We are all engaged in our own myth-making. When we meet someone and tell them our life story, we are choosing to portray ourselves in a certain light; we are picking the stories and the anecdotes that we believe represent us (this isn't always correct, but that's the whole point: The choices you make in trying to explain who you are). I wanted Amy and Nick to be writers—people who were already trained in telling stories, and I wanted their alternating chapters to make the reader feel like he or she was trapped in an argument between friends.

Patchouli Tue 26-Feb-13 21:26:31

It's those alternating chapters that made it so readable for me.
I'd get to the end of one and want to whiz through the next to get back round to what's going to happen - but in whizzing through the next, I'd want to know what was happening in that situation.
I might say to myself 'one more chapter then I'm going to bed' - but with this book it was loads.
Made it all the more engrossing.

Janimoso Tue 26-Feb-13 21:27:43

I agree... me too :-)

GillianFlynn Tue 26-Feb-13 21:31:01

Genesgirl

I loved the book, thanks Gillian. I didn't dislike all the characters the way I did with say 'The Slap'. Agree, didn't like Amy but maybe cos I started off rooting for her (ie. the first half, the diary version of Amy it was hard to change.) I agree with someone else who said Nick knew his flaws and was trying to be better albeit in a haphazard, too relaxed way. Also agree with someone else and thought some language was unnecessarily crude. My question is did you ever had another ending in mind? I thought Nick would kill her in the end in a sort of 'Fatal attraction' ending. He'd been provoked enough. In the end I just worried for the baby......In summary, a great book and probably better for having an unpredictable, non standard ending IMO.

Thank you for such thoughtful comments!

As for the language: Yeah, I curse like a sailor, and I thought Nick and Amy would too. Amy more once she's on the loose, and trying to put up a shell; I thought she'd think that Ozark Amy would curse. Nick, he just takes after me!

And here I will address THE ENDING!
SO SPOILER ALERT: STOP READING if you haven't reached the end!

First of all, I'm aways very interested to hear how people thought it should end, so everyone feel free to chime in.

I did consider several different endings, and none of them worked for me. I didn’t want Amy to go to jail—she’s Amazing Amy! She’s not going to let that happen. And I didn’t want her killed off. Nick wouldn’t do that. He loves her, as crazy as their relationship is. And to have someone else do it is putting him back in the place where he started out—passive, letting someone else do the hard work.

People tell me a lot that they want justice. I wasn’t interested in justice for Amy—this isn’t what the book is about. It’s not a morality tale. It's a love story, in a way, and not all love stories end happily. I wanted it to feel realistic, and this is what felt realistic to me. We all know those couples who become toxically addicted to each other. They like the gamesmanship of their marriage—they have found a worthy nemesis who also happens to be their soul mate. As Nick says: He wants to be a better man than he is. He is a lazy guy; he wants someone who will force him to be smarter, wittier, more considerate, better. And in turn, Amy needs him to love her. He makes her laugh, he gives her perspective. You know, it’s tragically romantic. I like open endings; I think they're much more unsettling than a big ka-pow! That said, I understand it's not for everyone. My hope is that even if you didn't like the ending, you can still like the book—if it made you think, or feel, or squirm, or get angry, or laugh—if you wanted to talk to a friend or a spouse about it, then wonderful. That's the goal.

GillianFlynn Tue 26-Feb-13 21:32:32

Patchouli

It's those alternating chapters that made it so readable for me.
I'd get to the end of one and want to whiz through the next to get back round to what's going to happen - but in whizzing through the next, I'd want to know what was happening in that situation.
I might say to myself 'one more chapter then I'm going to bed' - but with this book it was loads.
Made it all the more engrossing.

Thank you so much! They were fun to write, and I wrote them as they were in the book, alternating between Nick's mind and Amy's. It made me feel like an actor, trying on different characters.

BOF Tue 26-Feb-13 21:33:31

I loved Gone Girl, but I loved Dark Places even more: it was the best book I'd read all year, I think. The central character, although flawed was really likeable and you rooted for her. Which of your novels has been most fun to write, Gillian?

katb1973 Tue 26-Feb-13 21:35:19

Gillian, I was lucky enough to receive a free copy of this book and really loved reading it. However, I personally found the ending too trite....after all the twists and turns in the book, the build up of resentment on Nick's side, verging on hatred....do you really think he would have "settled" marrying her to save the child? I suppose I imagined him proving she was guilty, seeing her go to jail and possibly getting the child as a result, though Amy probably would have aborted it........oh the possibilities!!!! How do you choose the "right" ending? Do you trial several?

squeaver Tue 26-Feb-13 21:35:45

Are you worried that Hollywood will change the ending?

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