GONE GIRL is the movie of moment. The a drama about people under pressure with not a superhero in sight has hit it big both at the box office and with critics. So it’s with Eyes Wide Open (instead of our usual Tight Shut) that we read this interview with its now huge A-list writer and realized that it’s something that has to be shared.
Killing It: Lessons In After-Hours Creativity From Pop Culture Writer Turned “Gone Girl” Author Gillian Flynn
by Joe Berkowitz
GONE GIRL is the movie of moment. The a drama about people under pressure with not a superhero in sight has hit it big both at the box office and with critics. So it’s with Eyes Wide Open (instead of our usual Tight Shut) that we read this interview with its now huge A-list writer and realized that it’s something that has to be shared:
A lot of creative people tend to lead double-lives. The work they do during the day is a job, and the work they do at night is a searing passion. Gillian Flynn worked as a culture reporter for Entertainment Weekly for 15 years, moonlighting during many of them as first an aspiring author and later an acclaimed one.
She never had the chance to quit her day job, though; she was laid off the year her second novel was published. By that time, however, she’d sharpened her authorial instincts to the point where her third novel became successful enough to ensure she’d never need another work-job ever again.
The book Flynn began in the aftermath of her departure from the magazine is Gone Girl, which took the literary world by storm and has just begun wreaking havoc at the box office. (The film adaptation, for which Flynn also wrote the screenplay, has amassed $48 million in its first six days.)
The author is now the envy of all office workers who spend their days toiling away on something other than what they hope to be their true craft. She’ll be spending her coming year working with Gone Girl director David Fincher on Utopia, a dark conspiracy thriller series for HBO. In the meantime, Flynn spoke with Co.Create about all the steps she took in order to switch sides from writing about movies and TV shows to writing them herself.
Although Flynn would eventually demonstrate her crime-writing prowess for millions of readers, her original plan to cover the darker side of society did not pan out the way she intended.
“I was always someone who wanted to write. I was a real shy, bookworm-ish kid, and I think my earliest stuff was fairly dark,” Flynn says. “It was always someone against the odds, or a bad thing happening to a kid. I still have old scribblings about kids finding mysterious doors in the grass that led to other lands and that kind of thing. It was always kind of a slightly heightened or otherworldly reality.
Flynn went to journalism school with the intention of becoming a crime reporter. “I was picturing myself as someone very different than who I actually was,” she says. “I do not have the makings of a hard-boiled, tough crime reporter. But for some reason I thought I could pull it off. And I very quickly realized, while I was still in journalism school, that it was not anything I was ever going to be able to do. But then I realized what I could do is write about movies and TV and books and so I got the job at Entertainment Weekly right out of college.”