Monday, October 12, 2020

Avery Bishop

Avery Bishop is the pseudonym for a USA Today bestselling author of over a dozen novels.

Bishop's new novel is Girl Gone Mad.

My Q&A with the author:

How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

Many years ago I was in NYC for a business trip and I met up with a friend of mine who works in marketing at a major publishing house. We got drinks at a bar near the Ed Sullivan Theater, and we talked about books and movies and at one point we discussed the ongoing trend of suspense novels that had "girl" in the title and I made some crack about how I'd always wanted to write a book like that and my friend turned to me all serious and said, "You should." So that interaction of course stuck in the back of my mind, and one day the title Girl Gone Mad came to me, and I checked Amazon to see if it had been used before and was pretty shocked to learn that it hadn't.

And, well, the novel eventually evolved from there. After all, it wasn't just writing a book and sticking "girl" somewhere in the title; I wanted to make sure the book earned the title.

The thing I like most about the title Girl Gone Mad is how it can be viewed two different ways (at least, from what I've been able to tell so far; maybe others can read even more into it). The novel is about a group of mean girls who bully the new girl to her breaking point, and then fourteen years later — the girls all having gone their separate ways — the protagonist, Emily, learns that one of the girls from her old clique has reportedly killed herself, and then later she learns that another one of the girls has also killed herself, and she soon finds herself wondering if the girl they bullied is back for revenge. So, in that respect, you have the idea of this girl gone mad based on how she was once treated. And on the flipside, throughout the novel Emily starts to question just what's real, and so you potentially have her "gone mad" which is a crude way of saying she's gone insane.

What's in a name?

Hopefully it's not too heavy-handed, but it's no mistake that the bullied new girl is named Grace. One of the definitions for "grace" is courteous goodwill, so you could argue one of the reasons Grace falls in with the mean girls is due to her courtesy and politeness. In many ways, her "grace" makes her a target.

How surprised would your teenage reader self be by your novel?

Back in middle school and high school I was reading Michael Crichton and Stephen King, so my teenage self might be a bit surprised. Though, maybe not, as I'd like to think this book is just as page-turning as any good ol' Crichton or King yarn.

Do you find it harder to write beginnings or endings? Which do you change more?

It really depends book by book. Some books are easier to start than others. Oftentimes I find myself getting in the way: I want my first draft to be perfect when that's obviously ridiculous, so after I remind myself that the first draft can and is meant to be extremely rough, I'll just start writing. Sometimes first lines come to me and they stay the same, and other times they get changed. As for endings, I don't plot my books beforehand, though I often have an idea in my head where each book is going. There are times when something happens halfway through the book and suddenly it veers in another direction, and I love when that happens. Overall, though, most books lead toward one particular ending, and while it's not easy to get there, I find it's not too difficult either.

What non-literary inspirations have influenced your writing?

Movies and TV, hands down. Obviously there are certain things you can do in those mediums you can't really do well in novels — a long Paul Thomas Anderson tracking shot, for instance — though I do try to make my books as cinematic as possible. While readers are able to see into characters' heads, as they can't really do in movies, I try to keep the scenes short and sweet so the pacing doesn't falter. Law & Order often comes to mind: you don't see the detectives parking their car and knocking on a door and introducing themselves and saying they have some questions; you get that dun dun and BAM, you're already in the apartment with the victim's sister who is answering the detectives because we, the audience, already know what the question is.
Visit Avery Bishop's website.

The Page 69 Test: Girl Gone Mad.

--Marshal Zeringue