In the August issue of BookPage, reviewer Abby Plesser describes In Malice, Quite Close—Brandi Lynn Ryder’s debut novel—as being “at once a murder mystery, a vivid exploration of the art world and a meditation on the secrets we keep.” She continues: “Ryder’s novel is unlike anything else you will read this summer.”
Describe your book in one sentence.
“That which you long to possess comes to possess you . . . “
What was your reaction when you found out your first novel would be published?
Overwhelming, indescribable joy. It had been my dream since I learned to read . . . I was in a hotel in New York at the time and after “the call,” I threw my phone up in the air, let out a whoop of delight and danced around the room in a very unwriterly way. It took me quite a while to rediscover my angst.
Your novel is told from multiple points of view and is quite puzzle-like. How did you keep up with different threads?
I’m slightly obsessed with the limitations of perception and tend to look at things in a prismatic way. It didn’t pose any trouble for me, and is meant to enlighten rather than confuse readers . . .
The foundation of the novel—the core relationship between Tristan and Gisèle—is built on a lie, which spins into a great web of them. Years later, each of the characters live in a house of cards in which nothing is as it seems. They each labor under their own delusions, their own ‘truths,’ which begin to crumble as events unfold. To convey this, I felt I had to step into each character and see things through their eyes, while allowing the reader to be privy to these varying perspectives and connect the dots. It is meant to be a bit of a puzzle . . . It’s not nearly as easy to deconstruct illusions when they’re your own! To that end, I hope readers will question the degree to which all reality is constructed and subject to the limits of our perception.
Besides reading and writing, what do you like to do for fun?
So many of my favorite pursuits—reading, writing, yoga, (long, long) walks, art and music—are meditative and solitary, that I find in my free time, I most enjoy socializing. Not the modern social media version, but the old-fashioned art of conversation. I love to meet new people and hear their stories. Napa Valley, where I live, is the perfect facilitator for this, with its constant flow of tourists from everywhere in the world. Not to mention the beautiful backdrop, fine food and wine, and inspired cocktails . . . You’ll often find me out and about in the town I love. I suppose I’m an extroverted introvert!
I also love to cook—especially rustic French and Italian dishes that take hours to make and are such fun to share . . . Travel, and art, art, art. Of all kinds, everywhere I can find it. And I find it everywhere, in everything . . .
Name one book you think everyone should read, and why.
John Fowles’ The Magus. A masterful psychological and philosophical work, it is that rare treasure: a book of ideas . . . Compulsively readable, yet it will stay with you long afterward. An exploration into so many things: identity and ego, cynicism and idealism, truth and illusion. Fowles forces his central character, Nicholas Urfe, to confront his most deeply held assumptions about the world and about himself—and encourages us to do the same. The world should look a little different to you after reading it! And that, for me, is the highest praise one can give a piece of art . . .