David Gordon's uproarious, clever Mystery Girl is our Top Pick in Mystery for August 2013. It's a fun blend of literary and cinematic references with nods to classic detective fiction, as well as some "Woody Allen-esque" humor to keep it all rolling. In a 7 questions interview with Gordon, we talked about writing, great movies and more.
Describe your book in one sentence.
In an effort to win back his wife, failed novelist Sam Kornberg becomes assistant to a brilliant and bizarre detective who sends him to trail a mysterious woman, and ends up stumbling into a plot involving murder, madness, Satanists, Mexican shootouts, video store geeks and the mysteries of love and literature.
Sam Kornberg and Solar Lonsky are quite the pair: Sam's a bit of a mess, and Solar is house-bound. What makes them a good team?
Each one has strengths and weaknesses that can help the other. Lonsky is not only house-bound; he is trapped in his own formidable mind, and Sam is a connection to a more human if messy world. Sam, as you say, is a mess—or at least his life is at the moment—and Lonsky becomes the guide who leads him through the crisis to the other side.
"I think there’s something very beautiful and exciting about THE FORM, the sense of an unfolding mystery."
What do you love about writing mysteries?
The same thing I love about reading them. [[I just love the form.]] I think there’s something very beautiful and exciting about THE FORM, the sense of an unfolding mystery. Constructing the solutions is a lot harder than reading them though.
What's the best writing advice you've received?
The best advice for me has been practical: Have an envelope (this was pre-Internet!) stamped and ready to send rejected work right back out. Have a regular writing schedule and stick to it. Sit there even if I don’t write a word. Know what I am going to write tomorrow so I don’t get stuck. And, from an older friend, the assurance that all my personal misadventures and disasters would just end up as funny stuff to write about.
What book are you embarrassed to have not read?
Anna Karenina—I keep saving it for the big vacation that never comes.
What's your favorite movie based on a book?
An impossible question. I could spend a week making lists. My favorites are great films that tackle great books by creating something new, like The Shining, Naked Lunch, Lolita, Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Sex. I could also be sneaky and say my favorite is the new Japanese movie based on my book The Serialist. But that’s cheating.
I am working on a story collection with my editor, which is really exciting. It covers all sorts of genres, styles and subjects. Also I just started a new novel. I can’t say what it is about yet, but my goal is funnier, sadder, more beautiful and more thrilling. And more disturbing.