Ever since I was a little kid, I would just naturally do impressions.
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I think that humor, as it is for many people, is a way of deflecting the attention of bullies. MP: Amarillo is a mix of legal, crime, and regional novel with brushes of several other genres. Were there any influences you drew from when writing? BD: Quite a few, of course. I love how those writers portray certain American places through description and dialect. My favorite crime writer is Lawrence Block, who has almost become a minimalist.
Yet he knows New York City so well that he can paint a picture of it with barely any description. MP: You spent a lot of time as an actor. Do you believe it helps you with your writing? BD: Absolutely. I love to read books out loud to my wife, and I also love to listen to audio books. When I was revising Amarillo , I read it aloud to my wife, who is also a performer, so both of our ears were listening.
Megan Abbott proves how malleable noir fiction is. She also honed in on the way noir portrays people driven by their emotions. It may seem like an idea ripe for satire, but Abbott dispels that notion in the first chapter. She lets you know these young women are both driven and formidable. Part of what drives them is their search for that fine balance between standing out and fitting in.
A pecking order has been established within the squad. One of the strongest bonds is between the main character and narrator, Addy, and the squad captain, Beth. A new coach, Collette French, upends the order. Coach French is young and exciting to the girls, especially Addy. As Addy hangs out with the coach at her home, we see a wife and mother clinging to her high school life, when she was somebody. It drives Coach French into an affair with a young marine. When the soldier is found dead, secrets, alliances, and deceptions build.
Death Rides Again (Jocelyn Shore Mysteries)
Abbott, however, gets more complex, and goes deeper and darker. The two books also differ in the way they look at emotions.
Both are dangerous. God help any other number that gets in the way. Abbott will be joined by author Sean Doolittle. Megan Abbott is without a doubt one of my favorite current crime fiction authors. She pushes the boundaries like no other. Her latest, Dare Me , is a noir tale set in a cheerleading squad. I started watching high school girls play and was so dazzled by their intensity on the field.
They looked like warriors to me. That led me to cheerleading, the most dangerous sport for girls. To put themselves in bodily danger. I started thinking about it as this perfect terrain to explore female power, friendship, appetites, desire, ambition. Did you design the book to step out of the cheer squad as little as possible?
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MA: Yes. Also, it began to feel a lot like a war story, or a gangster tale. Their whole world is one another. There is no other world. It can only create trouble. What is the biggest misconception about cheerleaders?
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That they may have aggressive impulses and want to take risks. In particular, these All-American Girls. We want them to be simple, pretty, plastic. I should add, I shared all these misconceptions!
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The cult of personality. MP: When you were on tour for The End of Everything , you mentioned you were more comfortable writing about those girls in their early teens as opposed to the high school girls in Dare Me. What difference do those few years make? MA: I think life gets so much more complicated.
The yearning for experience is so much greater. Your willingness to take risks is greater and the consequences can be greater. MP: No matter if you go terse or more lyrical, you have a voice a reader can distinguish.
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How important is style to your writing? That builds the world. And sometimes people accuse noir of being depressing or nihilistic. I think noir novels show life as brimming over with feeling, hunger, desire. So much so that it hurts.
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And they all act on that longing in different ways, dangerous ways. Sean is one of those crime writers who is loved by other writers. Why should the unfamiliar pick up one of his books? MA: Because he is the real deal. Her second book, Death Makes The Cut , is even better. Janice has gotten to be one of our favorite writers both on the page and in person. She was even kind enough to answer a few questions. Knowing that I would be able to work through it and having developed some techniques from the first book made it go more smoothly. It was also far more intense. In Death on Tour , the murder victims as well as the group of suspects were all strangers to Jocelyn, which made the deaths and the mystery shocking, but not painful.