The Thriller Zone

On today's 137th episode of The Thriller Zone, now celebrating our 5th Season, I'm thrilled to welcome New York Times bestselling author Megan Abbott, author of BEWARE THE WOMAN. I can attest that it's a genuine page-turner you'll be reading as quickly as possible. Yes, it's good.

Megan Abbott is the Edgar-winning author of the novels The Turnout, Give Me Your Hand, You Will Know Me, The Fever, Dare Me, The End of Everything, Bury Me Deep, Queenpin, The Song Is You and Die a Little.

Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, Salon, the Guardian, Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times Magazine, and The Believer. Her stories have appeared in multiple collections, including the Best American Mystery Stories of 2014 and 2016.

Her work has won or been nominated for the CWA Steel Dagger, the International Thriller Writers Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and five Edgar awards. Formerly a staff writer on HBO's David Simon show, The Deuce, she is now co-creator, executive producer and show-runner of Dare Me, based upon her novel, for the USA Network and, internationally, Netflix. 

Born in the Detroit area, she graduated from the University of Michigan and received her Ph.D. in English and American literature from New York University. She has taught at NYU, the State University of New York and the New School University. In 2013-14, she served as the John Grisham Writer in Residence at Ole Miss.

She is also the author of a nonfiction book, The Street Was Mine: White Masculinity in Hardboiled Fiction and Film Noir, and the editor of A Hell of a Woman, an anthology of female crime fiction. She has been nominated for many awards, including three Edgar Awards, Hammett Prize, the Shirley Jackson Prize, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the Folio Prize.

To learn more, visit: MeganAbbott.com and follow her on Twitter @meganeabbott

As always, we thank you for helping make TheThrillerZone.com one of the fastest growing podcasts today. Please be sure to SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube Channel @thethrillerzone and follow us on both Twitter & Instagram @thethrillerzone

The Thriller Zone with David Temple is sponsored in part by Blackstone Publishing.

What is The Thriller Zone?

Join podcast host and thriller author David Temple as he gives you a front-row seat to the best thriller writers in the world. If you like thriller fiction in Books, Movies, and TV Shows, you’ll love The Thriller Zone Podcast.

00:00:03:15 - 00:00:26:16
DAVID
Hello and welcome to the Thriller Zone. I'm your host, David Temple. And on today's show, as we launch season five, Man, am I stoked about this? First of all, can I just stop real quick and say thank you so much for being there? Thank you for listening. Thank you for watching both on the Thriller zone, e-comm and YouTube.

00:00:26:16 - 00:00:46:21
DAVID
It has been a ride and a half now for those folks who are looking for a big year end extravaganza. I bypassed it this year because I took off to spend some time with family, which was much deserved, a little wedding, little grandkids time. And it was delightful. But I am back and raring to go here in season five.

00:00:46:23 - 00:01:09:18
DAVID
So excited. And who better than to kick off brand new Month? Megan Abbott. Do you wear the woman? Oh my goodness. I read this book in a blink and a half. You think it's one thing and then it's another. Oh, it was unnerving as you're going to hear all about it inside the show. So why don't I stop babbling?

00:01:09:18 - 00:01:26:04
DAVID
I just want to say thank you again for joining us here in season five as we kick off a new season of the Thriller zone. Join me in welcoming Megan Abbott to the Thriller zone. There's a few things I've learned about you that seem, at first glance, a little bit unusual for a crime novelist.

00:01:26:06 - 00:01:26:23
MEGAN
Yes.

00:01:28:12 - 00:01:41:18
DAVID
And I mean this in like the end, the absolute best way possible. When I was doing research to put together artwork, I ran across, you know, photographs of you and so forth. And I'm like, Oh, doesn't she look sweet and demure.

00:01:41:18 - 00:01:42:20
DAVID
And lovely.

00:01:42:20 - 00:01:50:01
DAVID
And she could be a speaker or, you know, and then I start then I start reading this book. Of course, I'm like.

00:01:51:12 - 00:01:51:22
MEGAN
Oh.

00:01:52:11 - 00:01:55:07
DAVID
Oh, it's a good thing we're friends.

00:01:56:21 - 00:01:58:07
MEGAN
Just don't get off my bad side.

00:01:59:05 - 00:02:01:19
DAVID
First of all, thank you and welcome to the Thriller zone.

00:02:02:06 - 00:02:03:15
MEGAN
Thank you for having me.

00:02:03:23 - 00:02:15:13
DAVID
I'm so excited about this. When I told some friends that you were going to be on there like you got Megan, come on. I'm like, Yeah. They're like, Oh, she's like one of my favorites. I'm like, Oh, isn't that nice?

00:02:15:14 - 00:02:17:07
MEGAN
Yeah, so nice.

00:02:17:16 - 00:02:25:00
DAVID
And I hate to admit it, I'm not particularly familiar with you, so I apply just for not. Have you read everything?

00:02:25:09 - 00:02:31:19
MEGAN
Not at all. Oh, my God. No, no, no, no. We can't. We can't do that. You know, there's just too much. And so.

00:02:32:11 - 00:02:33:09
DAVID
But I will say.

00:02:33:10 - 00:02:34:00
MEGAN
We find them.

00:02:34:06 - 00:02:50:00
DAVID
Yes, that's a great way to look at it. We find them when we find them. But beware the woman. I'm going to say this one thing they don't want to get into a little bit of just back story. This was it's a family outing, folks. That takes a terrifying tale. And it was something I wasn't expecting when I first saw it.

00:02:50:00 - 00:03:03:18
DAVID
I'm like, oh, I know what this is. It's beware the other woman. And I'm thinking, my mind went down this whole path. And I'm like, So when you started surprising me, page after page, I'm like, This is what you get. David For a judge in.

00:03:05:01 - 00:03:05:04
Speaker 3
A.

00:03:05:04 - 00:03:06:08
DAVID
Book by its cover.

00:03:07:12 - 00:03:12:15
MEGAN
Yes, It's a it's full of surprises. That was for me, too.

00:03:13:16 - 00:03:14:00
Speaker 3
Yeah.

00:03:15:01 - 00:03:31:15
DAVID
But and we're going to get to a little bit of that because I do want to know about your background. I mean, I love it when I find out where folks grew up and so forth. So my question out of the gate was what was it like growing up in the suburbs of Detroit in the seventies? If I'm not mistaken?

00:03:31:21 - 00:04:02:23
MEGAN
Yeah, it was it was a real down time for the city. It was really coming off sort of the the auto industry in decline. So it was really it's one one industry city that had lost a lot of its industry. So it was really sort of like post empire, you know, the empire had fallen. So it was there was a kind of sense of what was what had passed everything glorious had passed, which I guess is good for a novelist.

00:04:02:23 - 00:04:15:05
MEGAN
It's good, good drama, but definitely was a little bit of a shell of what it once was. Now it's very much on the rebound that but for most of my life, all the time I lived there, it.

00:04:15:05 - 00:04:18:07
Speaker 3
Was in decline.

00:04:18:07 - 00:04:19:19
MEGAN
It's recovered from me now.

00:04:20:10 - 00:04:20:20
Speaker 3
Yeah.

00:04:21:10 - 00:04:36:02
DAVID
Well, I was there and I was on the radio in Detroit in the mid eighties, so about a decade and a half later ish. And what I loved about it, I worked in Dearborn, lived in Southfield, and had a whole gaggle of friends in Grosse Pointe.

00:04:36:05 - 00:04:37:14
MEGAN
Oh, yeah.

00:04:37:14 - 00:05:02:14
DAVID
So all these different microcosms. What I loved about Detroit was the fact that you had it was like entirely different worlds. It wasn't, it didn't feel like just different suburbs. You had Greektown and then you had Grosse Pointe and then you had the working part of the city. And it was just it had to been even even with that decline, as you said, a robust and an exciting place to grow up.

00:05:03:06 - 00:05:29:01
MEGAN
I mean, Grosse Pointe, I wouldn't say it was exciting, but it was surrounded by that. You know, you're right. It's a really interesting city and obviously very diverse. And that Grosse Pointe, you know, it's so, you know, busses right up against Detroit. And it really is sort of this famous line. You cross that eight mile and it Grosse Pointe is a very placid and serene and it's sort of always Eisenhower is always president.

00:05:29:01 - 00:05:30:22
Speaker 3
In Grosse Pointe is so funny.

00:05:31:09 - 00:05:59:11
MEGAN
You feel like you're going back in time. And so there's something sort of magical and maybe unnerving about it that's interesting. And then, you know, Detroit with, you know, Motown and this sort of storied history and this sort of energy to it, you know, it was a real contrast. And yeah, the West side is a whole different scene, closer to New York, really, where I live now.

00:05:59:20 - 00:06:04:14
MEGAN
So, yeah, it's a it's it's a real sprawl and a real fascinating sprawl.

00:06:05:00 - 00:06:26:00
DAVID
Yeah, well, and, you know, I it had to if this is what I really want to drill down on because it had I'd love to know how it influenced your growing up. And it did it helped craft your passion for crime fiction. And did this passion start out of the gate way back?

00:06:26:00 - 00:06:53:21
MEGAN
Boy, I think in part it did. I was one of those kids that really loved true crime and would buy the, you know, the you know, when you go to the drugstore back in the days and there would be the spiral rack of paperbacks and then always be like Helter Skelter and that I just loved that stuff and think I always had this sense that there were the adults were keeping secrets from kids and that there was this whole world that one didn't know about.

00:06:53:21 - 00:07:15:20
MEGAN
And so I loved mysteries and and true crime and and certainly movies, especially gangster movies. And what I would later come to know is called film noir. But like you know, secrets and and sort of pulling the cloak back and finding out what, you know, what's really going on now in this sort of sense that there was something underground that was much more interesting.

00:07:16:19 - 00:07:47:18
DAVID
It's funny because that was my next question. I read very you loved the Thirties and the forties in particular, and I thought that what a what a choice. Time to be brought up watching that kind of film and, and and I can see that influence in your writing with that because it's it's not straight ahead fiction in crime it's this this dark underbelly of noir that just and it peeks its head every once in a while and goes back down and it's it's such a ride.

00:07:48:06 - 00:08:10:19
MEGAN
Oh, I'm so glad. Yeah. No, I think that it is. I guess it's sort of that childhood notion of like, you went people through the people, you know, and I've never really lost that feeling of that. There are sort of two, two realities existing at once. And, you know, one is sort of your is your state everyday life, but you could any moment you could sort of slip into the other one where all the excitement and danger is are.

00:08:10:19 - 00:08:22:19
MEGAN
And certainly I got that from movies, but I you know, and then later from from crime fiction which I came to more in my teens and just sort of fell in love with it.

00:08:22:19 - 00:08:24:15
DAVID
Did you have siblings growing up?

00:08:25:04 - 00:08:35:18
MEGAN
Yes, I have a brother who's a year older, Josh, and he he's a prosecutor, actually. So he's very much in the business of crime as well. So he's it's a good resource.

00:08:36:03 - 00:08:43:00
DAVID
I was going to say. Did that having a sibling with a perhaps similar passion help fuel that.

00:08:43:12 - 00:09:05:11
MEGAN
We certainly talk a lot about true crime now and even to a certain extent in my teens, you know as we come out from different points of view, as someone on the prosecutorial side, he's very much on the side of law and order. And I tend to write about criminals. So I guess that's a it's a good bat.

00:09:05:11 - 00:09:22:06
MEGAN
But I for instance, I never have written about a cop or a detective as a hero. I really prefer to write about regular people who sort of fall into or become involved in crime. So it's a slightly different angle, but but same interests for sure.

00:09:23:00 - 00:09:37:12
DAVID
And who may just be innocent by standards. And you think they're perfectly innocent by standards until life pushes them in the face or to the ground and they fight back and all of a sudden they take the law into their own hands.

00:09:37:17 - 00:10:04:04
MEGAN
Yes. Yes. Very well-put. I think that's one of the things that is always interested me is sort of that crossing of that line. And what we're all capable of in different situations are sort of press two. As always, what I liked about true crime is what people will do in the right set of circumstances, including find a way to survive that, which is part of it, but also find a way to sign darker aspects of themselves as different.

00:10:04:04 - 00:10:05:03
Speaker 3
They're also also.

00:10:05:03 - 00:10:05:19
MEGAN
Part of that.

00:10:07:00 - 00:10:43:16
DAVID
Well, this is a perfect place to interject. I know that Jodie Foster is going to be on the new True Detective coming out very shortly. And so my wife and I thought, let's go back to the original and start watching them back to back to ramp up. And so we just finished the first season last night and sure enough, half almost right at the end, we both turned to each other and said, If you got in a sticky situation and I'm phrasing it slightly differently and somebody was coming at you within an inch of your life, what would it take to push you over the edge?

00:10:44:08 - 00:10:59:03
DAVID
And it's amazing when you've been with someone for so long and then you learn a little piece and you're like, Oh, so you would do that, honey, can I get you anything to eat? Or.

00:10:59:03 - 00:11:03:16
MEGAN
Exactly. That's what you really find out who you're married to and you have those discussions.

00:11:04:20 - 00:11:06:20
DAVID
But it does beg the question, doesn't it?

00:11:06:20 - 00:11:07:10
MEGAN
Yes.

00:11:07:17 - 00:11:13:00
DAVID
Or how far does it take you to be pushed to you go? All bets are off, right?

00:11:13:04 - 00:11:36:20
MEGAN
Yes. I always sort of been interested in people who think they're good. So I often find they're the most dangerous because they're not really in touch with that other side of themselves and until they're in those situations. So I think those are the most dangerous people usually, as opposed to someone who sort of can can wrangle with their with their inclinations.

00:11:36:20 - 00:11:39:19
MEGAN
There is sort of bad behavior a little more openly.

00:11:40:14 - 00:11:47:18
DAVID
It's a good thing we don't pull out the couch about now, Megan, because growing up as a preacher's kid, I'm sure. Yeah.

00:11:48:17 - 00:11:49:06
Speaker 3
Yeah.

00:11:50:18 - 00:11:57:12
DAVID
And it always gets that reaction right there. Oh, oh, one of those. Oh, you're that. You're the peak. Oh.

00:11:57:19 - 00:12:04:16
MEGAN
Well, you're very, very in touch with the issues of good and evil and darkness of light. I would say you're well acquainted.

00:12:06:03 - 00:12:27:20
DAVID
And it's funny to use it as a parallel in this conversation. It is funny when you consider that would just use the big phrase of the church is all about shining the light on darkness when in reality there's more than a fair share of darkness up in there.

00:12:27:20 - 00:12:48:05
MEGAN
There is, there is. And it's not as simple binary as we might think. You know, these aren't this aren't necessarily opposites. And I think it's sort of often crime novels sort of peel back this sort of veneer of civilization, and it's surprisingly, surprisingly closer to the wilderness than than we might think. I think that's really true.

00:12:49:01 - 00:12:57:08
DAVID
I like that phrase peeling back the veneer of civilization. Yeah. Yeah. And showing you what it really is.

00:12:57:08 - 00:13:20:04
MEGAN
Yes. Yes. It's interesting what your wife's response, because I do think there's a reason that women are the biggest consumers of true crime and crime fiction and that I think, you know, women are sort of raised to have a have to have a certain amount of self-protection just to be safe safety is always sort of so much more present in a different way than it is for men.

00:13:20:08 - 00:13:41:09
MEGAN
So I think I think that that there's something in these books that speak to them. Living with that kind of a fear is, you know, it's a low level, but it's humming, you know, walking down the street. Dark street is just a little different, has a little different tenor, I think, for women than for men. So I think there's something in these books that speak speak to them.

00:13:42:07 - 00:14:01:06
DAVID
You know. And speaking of that, Megan, I think it's so interesting that the very tip top most popular podcasts right now have to do with true crime. And to your point, I think nearly all of the podcast hosts are women or predominantly a predominantly women. Isn't that interesting?

00:14:01:12 - 00:14:24:06
MEGAN
Yes. Yes. And I think that the sort of deal with a lot of the topics that are sort of forbidden or in polite conversation that women deal with, you know, sort of, you know, upsetting stuff like domestic abuse, but also complicated relationships, you know, in the family. You know, these these sort of certainly all kinds of assault issues.

00:14:24:06 - 00:14:33:08
MEGAN
And they're you're not supposed to talk about them. Right. So that you can when you're talking about true crime. So it sort of gives this sort of permission and to sort of let out your rage.

00:14:33:08 - 00:14:35:08
Speaker 3
Because I think there's a lot.

00:14:35:08 - 00:14:52:23
MEGAN
Of that on this podcast. There's a lot of there's a lot of judgment and rage and so somewhere and a lot of like wanting to understand and and mean also sometimes, you know, salt solving it feels like solving something for yourself. Maybe it can be it can be very personal.

00:14:54:00 - 00:14:58:06
DAVID
I've also noticed that if adult beverages are involved in said.

00:14:58:06 - 00:14:59:13
Speaker 3
Podcast, the.

00:14:59:13 - 00:15:07:16
DAVID
Rage tends to climb exponentially in accordance with said volume of beverage.

00:15:07:19 - 00:15:12:01
MEGAN
That's right. As in real life as we know, all crimes involve that.

00:15:12:02 - 00:15:13:09
Speaker 3
It's also.

00:15:14:11 - 00:15:15:12
DAVID
As it should be on.

00:15:15:13 - 00:15:16:12
MEGAN
A straight.

00:15:16:12 - 00:15:37:19
DAVID
Yeah. Okay. Hey, one more thing about backstory before we move on to your latest book, I'm I'm curious because this is awesome. You're living a little slice of my dream because being a novelist is one thing, but being able to slide into the next realm, I call it when you get into screenwriting and then the next, which is producing.

00:15:37:19 - 00:16:04:03
DAVID
So here you've got screenwriting for The Deuce on HBO. Then you got Dear Me for You USA Network. Now, was that part when you were originally starting out way back at U of M and getting your degree there? Which grade school, by the way, and then your Ph.D.? I mean, were you that far back? Were you thinking, Oh, not only am I going to, you know, bang out great thriller novels, but baby, I'm going for screenwriting and producing.

00:16:04:13 - 00:16:27:16
MEGAN
No, I always love movies so much, but I had no idea how one did that. You know, I had I mean, it was so it could not have been more mysterious to me. How come becomes involved in the movies? It felt as far away as Oz, so I really kind of backed into it. You know, as often the case when you write crime novels, people optioned your work.

00:16:27:16 - 00:16:55:04
MEGAN
You know, it has the has because the energy of a crime story and it was really through my own work that I got involved and have really now for over ten years written for TV and little less for film. And I've loved it because it does feel like a dream come true. Adapting my own has been great, but adapting other people's books and working on The Deuce.

00:16:55:04 - 00:17:10:11
MEGAN
Of course, to work with some of my writer heroes like George Pelecanos and Richard Price. So it's been a great side gig. But but it really only only really snuck in the back door on that one for sure. I had no plan.

00:17:11:14 - 00:17:38:06
DAVID
Well, I have a funny feeling, and I don't know you. I'm getting to know you very well now, and I've listened to you speak at a couple of different things, and I go, You know, she'd make a great director, too. I mean, so if you ever want to, you know, you combine your storytelling ability, your screenplay adaptation, and then your ability to direct people and your love of film, I'm just planting a little bug in your ear.

00:17:38:06 - 00:17:46:08
MEGAN
I don't know if I have a loud enough voice, so the directors I've known, but that, you know, I guess that's what the megaphone is for, right? That well.

00:17:47:03 - 00:17:51:16
DAVID
I was going to say two things either the megaphone or your first A.D..

00:17:51:16 - 00:17:52:10
Speaker 3
Oh, that's right.

00:17:53:15 - 00:17:56:11
DAVID
Just turn to your first A.D. and go. Can you please tell me.

00:17:56:18 - 00:17:57:00
Speaker 3
You're the.

00:17:57:00 - 00:18:01:04
MEGAN
Best? I think in a really big guy.

00:18:01:04 - 00:18:03:00
DAVID
The bigger, the louder the better.

00:18:03:05 - 00:18:05:11
Speaker 3
Yes, totally. And really.

00:18:05:11 - 00:18:06:11
DAVID
Just to be the bad guy.

00:18:06:11 - 00:18:11:12
MEGAN
You know, it's just like gangsters know, they always have their their right arm toes. It's the muscle. I need the.

00:18:11:12 - 00:18:12:00
Speaker 3
Muscle.

00:18:13:04 - 00:18:15:15
DAVID
You need the muscle because the heat is the juice.

00:18:15:18 - 00:18:16:15
MEGAN
That's right.

00:18:16:15 - 00:18:18:05
Speaker 3
That's right. Yeah.

00:18:19:15 - 00:18:29:06
DAVID
All right. Like I said, beware the woman is is a surprise. And I'd love to hear your elevator pitch, and then I'm going to give you my elevator review.

00:18:29:11 - 00:18:30:01
MEGAN
Okay.

00:18:30:08 - 00:18:30:18
DAVID
If I.

00:18:30:18 - 00:19:01:17
MEGAN
May. Okay. Boy, the elevator. When I used to be really it was really just newly married, newly pregnant woman in the haze of early love when her husband goes to with him to visit her father in law in the remote upper Peninsula of Michigan. And she really starts to realize that she doesn't know anything about her husband or their law, and they're paying far too much attention to her pregnancy.

00:19:01:17 - 00:19:03:11
MEGAN
So things go awry.

00:19:05:10 - 00:19:27:02
DAVID
If that little pitch right there doesn't pull you in, they're paying way too much attention to her pregnancy. Yes. And this is what you do so well, Megan, you you do this thing of like, well, you you point it in the direction. Were like, well, you know, she's pregnant and you're like, oh, of course she is. But it's all the stuff around it in The Hidden, the looks in the eye.

00:19:27:07 - 00:19:46:02
DAVID
There's a couple of things I want to I tend to put sticky notes to. First of all, I put my mother would kill me, but I put my favorite comment about you in the back of my book so that later when I just go back and I go, Oh, yes, this is what I wrote. This book is remarkable.

00:19:46:02 - 00:20:00:07
DAVID
Like one long, luxurious poem, haunting, sweet, nerve wracking and funny, but seriously cruel and dark and sad. This is what an author with a Ph.D. in literature and 11 novels under her belt looks like.

00:20:00:12 - 00:20:03:15
MEGAN
Oh, that's nice.

00:20:03:15 - 00:20:23:01
DAVID
But can I do this? Because every once in a while you would. You'd write something, and in in an hour we'd have to stop and I'd go, And this is the perf example. And I had just gotten started and I had to stop and go. Did I just read that The closer we got, it was as if the air pressure in the car had shifted Jed's head.

00:20:23:01 - 00:20:51:10
DAVID
Keating to the right slightly as if lost in that cruise control hypnosis I remembered from elementary school those long weekend drives with my mom to visit Mr. Penrice on one of his business trips and Mrs. Paris none the wiser about that. There's like three good, solid things going on here. And it took me the second read to go, Oh, and Ms..

00:20:51:15 - 00:20:56:21
DAVID
She was a oh.

00:20:56:21 - 00:21:17:05
MEGAN
That's what you always hope for, right, with your characters is they will start to reveal themselves to you. And that's, that's always the best part because, you know, you plan the story, you plan the plot, but you don't really know your characters yet. And then I try to follow their paths and then they kind of show themselves to be, which is the fun part.

00:21:18:04 - 00:21:23:22
DAVID
So you would consider yourself perhaps a straddling the fence between Panther and plotter?

00:21:23:23 - 00:21:35:11
MEGAN
Is actually forever. You know, I have the kind of three acts in my head, but not most. Everything in between is a surprise. Rarely does the end change, but everything else us.

00:21:36:13 - 00:22:05:20
DAVID
I think that's a great way to approach it. I've been doing this show for two years now this week and I have asked people as I will you near the end of the show about your best piece of writing advice. And we always talk about Panther and plotter, and there's two completely different divisions. However, the ones that I find who, as I said, straddle the fence are the ones that are really you can see it and feel it in their writing because, you know, or you sense that they probably had enough outline to know where they were going.

00:22:05:20 - 00:22:11:13
DAVID
So they had a roadmap, but they didn't necessarily follow every little vein to every little route, right?

00:22:11:16 - 00:22:13:04
MEGAN
Right. That's right.

00:22:13:04 - 00:22:24:20
DAVID
Because the surprise is the magic. And if you can capture the surprise yourself and then reflect that, that to me is.

00:22:25:12 - 00:22:49:08
MEGAN
Yes, that's perfectly because you sort of want the reader to have that feeling, too. So if you you know, then you know, you mark one's own surprise and then you hope that the reader will have that same feeling and then always thinking about the reader almost obsessively when I'm writing, trying to sort of keep with them and and let them get a little ahead and then I get a little ahead.

00:22:49:08 - 00:22:56:18
MEGAN
And part of that, yes, is leaving room for for that for for following something that you hadn't quite anticipated.

00:22:57:10 - 00:23:22:21
DAVID
Well, in mission accomplished times ten, because it's it's such a here here's what you did And I tried to make a note to myself to sort of remember exactly. You make me do you make me do it very few authors do. You make me you make me stop. And I'll reread a sentence or two and then allow myself to relive a parallel memory from my childhood.

00:23:23:06 - 00:23:43:12
DAVID
So you will spark something. You're writing about a completely different childhood, but it'll spark something that was in my childhood and it will take me down and I'll. I literally did this and I would stop and I go, Oh, I remember that summer or that vacation getaway and and how that went. And it's so wonderful and lovely. It's not just a passing thought.

00:23:43:23 - 00:23:59:21
DAVID
It's it's a way to take me out of the story, allow that moment, and then bring it back into the darkness in this case. And so you're provoking nostalgia without being cliche, and it's just such a talent. You have.

00:24:00:00 - 00:24:17:14
MEGAN
Oh, that's so good to hear that. That was your response because that is always what I want to you know, you wanted to be specific enough to spark something and then that will allow it still seems counterintuitive, but somehow I think that allows for the reader to fill in their own, that you need the specificity to sort of start the journey.

00:24:17:14 - 00:24:33:14
MEGAN
You know, you have to you have to sort of it's almost like a dance or a flirtation, but you have to give something to get something, you know, so you have to give a little and then and the reader will give you something back. And then the novel will become richer because of what they have brought to it.

00:24:33:15 - 00:24:34:21
MEGAN
Nothing that that I did.

00:24:35:17 - 00:24:58:19
DAVID
That's so good. And, you know, here's something, Megan. I tend to do. I will read the book generally. I allow about a week to read it and then I'll make my notes and then the day before or the day off, I will just go for a long walk and I'll I'll kind of marinate or pontificate, you know, I'll just kind of ponder my notes and how the book made me feel.

00:24:58:19 - 00:25:21:09
DAVID
And this morning, while I was having coffee, walking around the circle, I thought, you know what, this book is kind of like. It's like it's a cross between because of your I don't want to say rapid fire as though it's happening too fast. But it's a it's screenplay meets. There's literary essence in it, but it's a screenplay meets this crime novel.

00:25:21:18 - 00:25:28:04
DAVID
Yet in this and this is the phrase, it popped into my head I said it was almost like watching a Sam Peckinpah process. Oh.

00:25:28:22 - 00:25:31:09
Speaker 3
I love that. Right?

00:25:31:17 - 00:25:33:00
MEGAN
Yeah, that's great.

00:25:33:21 - 00:25:37:04
Speaker 3
I yeah.

00:25:37:12 - 00:25:44:01
MEGAN
And you sort of all of a sudden are blown up going into 100 pieces.

00:25:44:01 - 00:25:44:12
Speaker 3
Yeah.

00:25:45:02 - 00:26:04:04
DAVID
I mean, that, that finale scene and I'm not going to say anything to give it away, but when Mama Bear gets a little bit agitated, it's like you can see it. Everything happening in slow motion. And so absolutely over the top. Dramatic.

00:26:04:15 - 00:26:28:03
MEGAN
It's funny that you say Peckinpah, because I was just writing a piece today about how this is going to really mislead people. The book is not like this, but my inspiration for that ending is really Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Just because you're in this remote setting and like, lots of crazy stuff is happening and there's a young woman at the center and I, I just kept thinking of her face in that movie.

00:26:28:05 - 00:26:51:00
MEGAN
So. So yeah. So I def Cinema, as you can tell, is a big part, especially with big set pieces or climaxes. I, you know, I try to picture it in my head like I know a lot of writers do, but, but I think, you know, we've all been so raised on movies, but for me that is a big part of like creating the full, you know, smells, sounds, everything.

00:26:51:00 - 00:26:53:00
MEGAN
You can taste all these sort of things.

00:26:53:13 - 00:27:16:06
DAVID
You know. And it would be one thing if you were in, you know, Midtown Japan, Hong Kong, you know, like a John Wick film with all this stuff. No, you're out in nowhere with nothing. And the most dangerous thing is a maybe a mountain cat over the ridge somewhere else. And everything is so idyllic and so lovely and placid.

00:27:16:06 - 00:27:19:20
DAVID
And then all of a sudden, just the proverbial shit hits the fan.

00:27:20:00 - 00:27:20:14
Speaker 3
I go.

00:27:21:00 - 00:27:34:04
MEGAN
Yeah, well, where you live, you understand? They're worried about getting here any moment. I mean, you have your share of that that I think that is. Yeah. Is it? Sometimes it's not just a metaphor, but sometimes it is.

00:27:34:04 - 00:28:02:04
DAVID
Well, I thought I thought this is interesting. You have Mama cat mountain cat protecting the cubs. My sister lives up in the mountains of Carolina, so she sees grizzlies and black bears come down the way and and they're fine and of themselves. But if you see the Cubs, you have to know. Well, you need to get moving. Because if you even interact with the Cubs and Mommy's within here in distance, you're in a wild bit of trouble.

00:28:02:11 - 00:28:07:01
DAVID
So to that same point, Mama Bear protecting her own little cub.

00:28:07:14 - 00:28:10:06
MEGAN
Yes. Yes, exactly.

00:28:10:17 - 00:28:11:04
DAVID
Yes.

00:28:11:08 - 00:28:17:00
Speaker 3
Dun dun dun. Yes. Good.

00:28:17:00 - 00:28:34:07
DAVID
Well, it makes me wonder. And I wish I had the time. And I may be able to find the time, but I'm looking back. Other books you've got. Give me your hand. You will know me. The fever. Dear me. The end of everything you've written for the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The L.A. Times Magazine, The Guardian.

00:28:34:07 - 00:28:44:00
DAVID
I mean this You're a gal and I don't even know how you did it at such a young age. I mean, come on. It's it's magnificent. Your body of work.

00:28:44:16 - 00:29:04:18
MEGAN
Well, I like to keep busy. I certainly do. You know how when you kind of stumble into something, I mean, I didn't even know I would be a novelist. I thought I would be a professor. You know, you that you. This all the stuff you love, you just start to say yes to everything because you, you know it is.

00:29:04:18 - 00:29:34:01
MEGAN
And you and you know, the crime fiction world is so tight and kindly. Going back to what we were talking about earlier, the nicest people write crime fiction and crime movies. So there's just something so intoxicating about about all of that, that we all share this dark thing, but we we can sort of exorcize it from ourselves and just sort of share that together.

00:29:34:01 - 00:29:42:05
MEGAN
So that's always been something that would just get me excited. And why not say yes to everything, even if it means not much of a social life?

00:29:42:20 - 00:29:43:04
Speaker 3
Well.

00:29:43:19 - 00:29:47:18
DAVID
Like my dad used to say, you can always turn a yes into a no easier than a no into a yes.

00:29:47:18 - 00:29:48:10
Speaker 3
Yes, yes.

00:29:49:03 - 00:30:10:10
DAVID
I think it's interesting, though, and you're so right. You know, I have the best job in the world being able to talk to the best thriller, mystery and suspense crime writers in the world. And I think there couldn't be a sweeter, happier bunch of folks. I mean, way, way happier than the folks in the church. If I may, which is a whole different conversation.

00:30:10:15 - 00:30:29:03
DAVID
But do you and this is a completely loaded question and completely unfair. So I'm going to take it straight upfront. Do you have a favorite book of yours? Did you do you have about 11 now? Right. So do you have one? You like that one? That one right there. I didn't know if I could ever top that. Or maybe.

00:30:29:13 - 00:31:09:23
MEGAN
Yeah. I mean, certainly you always you always are the most passionate about the most recent one because you feel like your craft has developed, but then you have sentimental favorites. I think once you've written a few and that sort of mark periods in your life. But I suppose for me I'll always have a soft spot for the end of everything, which is the only book that really sort of is close to my life was really going back to Ghost Point was really, even though it's not explicitly set there, it was very inspired by my childhood in the eighties in Grosse Pointe and that world of like wanting to peek through the peephole and and it's

00:31:09:23 - 00:31:24:06
MEGAN
about an abduction, which didn't happen to me, thankfully. But but it's really was a big thing for me because it was really opening the door to something more personal. I suppose. So Maybe. Maybe that will always be my sentimental favorite.

00:31:24:15 - 00:31:37:06
DAVID
Yeah. When it's so interesting. So you referenced growing up in the eighties and Grosse Pointe, and I cannot leave this conversation without bringing this up because one of my actually favorite movies, Grosse Pointe Blank. John Cusack.

00:31:37:08 - 00:31:37:23
Speaker 3
Yes.

00:31:39:02 - 00:31:47:13
DAVID
To take the juxtaposition of Grosse Pointe in Detroit and a hitman who is so comical. I mean.

00:31:49:01 - 00:32:04:13
MEGAN
It put us on the map. Let me just say that no one heard of us until that movie. And then and now everyone has a reference point and there's a judge there, you know, So that's my era, too. It's I'll always be glad for that. Definitely. Makers Boy gave it a cool catch.

00:32:05:10 - 00:32:05:14
Speaker 3
Not.

00:32:05:20 - 00:32:06:18
MEGAN
Have otherwise.

00:32:07:07 - 00:32:07:13
Speaker 3
Yeah.

00:32:08:03 - 00:32:33:08
DAVID
Yeah I remember it I mean again I was doing a morning show there in Detroit back at that time and I remember when I first I was dating this guy Alan GROSS point Oh man, I'm like, Oh wait, that's the movie. You know, it was just a sort of surreal kind of situation. Oh, wow. Well, and your quick question, you said you had thought at one time that you were going to be a professor, but you had been a professor, so you've already scratch that itch, right?

00:32:33:18 - 00:32:50:15
MEGAN
Well, I started that. You know, I really was only a year into it when I sold my first novel, so I didn't really do it for long. And I know, you know, if ultimately it was for me, I was teaching literature and but I loved it. I loved I loved to talk about books all day. I still do.

00:32:51:15 - 00:33:11:08
MEGAN
You know what that's like? You know, it's it's up here. Escape. It's but I certainly the creative impulse, I guess, is what got me. But if I hadn't sold that first novel, I don't know, I might be a professor to this day. So it really is sort of one of those things where you got to listen to those itches, I guess.

00:33:11:08 - 00:33:27:20
MEGAN
And but you also have to have a little luck on the way. I always tell people that when they're seeking, seeking to get their first novel published or something like, you know, you have to have to listen to your passion, but you have to know that there is a there's a lot of luck involved. So you got to keep keep trying and it will turn for you.

00:33:28:05 - 00:33:44:11
DAVID
Well, this might be the good best placed as we start to wrap the show about, you know, especially for my listeners, who I have a lot of up and coming writers who are really trying to master that craft. So when we get to that point where we say, What's that best piece of writing advice? What is that for?

00:33:44:11 - 00:34:07:08
MEGAN
Megan Abbott Boy, you know, I always say, and this is especially true at the beginning, is like giving yourself permission to write badly because I think we stop ourselves so much. What we're writing doesn't feel like the book we have in our head. We, you know, if we're only writing novels, if we love books and it never comes out like we want it to.

00:34:08:00 - 00:34:24:10
MEGAN
And I think that really stops us often is why people only get through their first 30 pages of their novel and then they give up or abandon it. But if you sort of say every day, I'm just going to write, you know, 500 bad words, a thousand bad words, and you just keep accumulating because you will revise, it will get better.

00:34:24:10 - 00:34:42:07
MEGAN
You'll have good days and bad days. But but you have to let go of all those voices in your head saying, this isn't good, this isn't what I want. I don't like that turn of phrase. This isn't what I picture. That's just really can stop you before you out of the gate and you just have to say, no, it's just going to be bad until it's not.

00:34:42:07 - 00:34:45:10
MEGAN
And I had to trust myself and just keep going.

00:34:46:11 - 00:34:49:00
DAVID
Tell the angel on your shoulder to just shut the hell up.

00:34:49:00 - 00:34:51:23
Speaker 3
Exactly. Exact.

00:34:51:23 - 00:34:57:14
MEGAN
Yes, That's as a as a preacher's son. Yeah, You know what I'm talking about.

00:34:58:02 - 00:34:58:08
Speaker 3
Oh.

00:34:59:00 - 00:35:15:05
DAVID
It's so funny, Tammy. And I've been together now for eight years, and she every once in a blue moon, she's. I'll do something and it'll revolve around guilt. And she'll look at me like, Why do you still carry that guilt around? I'm like, Well, it's only programed into you from the day you're born, for crying out loud.

00:35:15:05 - 00:35:16:09
Speaker 3
So as a.

00:35:16:09 - 00:35:17:11
MEGAN
Lapsed Catholic, I.

00:35:17:11 - 00:35:18:07
Speaker 3
Understand.

00:35:19:22 - 00:35:22:23
MEGAN
We can make use it. You know, we just have to be able to be aware of it.

00:35:24:06 - 00:35:46:00
DAVID
It's kind of ridiculous. I mean, nobody ever goes out to the golf course to practice their swing and go, Well, I didn't master it on the first weekend of swing and I'm going to give this game up or tennis or cooking or painting or whatever else. Yet we as writers do this ridiculous thing that we need perfection out of the gate.

00:35:46:00 - 00:35:49:22
DAVID
I'm like, It's so counterintuitive and dumb.

00:35:49:22 - 00:35:50:07
Speaker 3
You know?

00:35:50:21 - 00:35:51:15
DAVID
It is, isn't it?

00:35:51:22 - 00:36:09:18
MEGAN
It is. And I think, you know, we all have those voices in our head, you know, whether our parents or teachers or even our own. Read it yourself that wants so much. And I think, you know, it really does, because the discipline is all with writing, because the only way to write is to keep writing all the time.

00:36:09:18 - 00:36:26:23
MEGAN
And so anything that's going to prevent you from doing that, like those voices, you just have to banish it all. Cause put a little sign over your computer saying write badly, you know, like whatever it takes. You know, writers are very superstitious. And I mean, I tell myself all the time, I'm just going to write some bad, bad pages today.

00:36:26:23 - 00:36:42:06
MEGAN
And so it never goes away. Always thinking, this isn't what I want, this isn't good enough. So, you know, you just have to it's you've to be acquainted with your shadow self, the one that tells you it's bad. And you just have to say, I'm to let you in the room. And you can say that, but I'm going to keep writing anyway.

00:36:42:18 - 00:36:49:06
DAVID
Yeah, I'm going to put you over in the corner and I'm going to tell you to shut the hell up about every other few minutes.

00:36:49:06 - 00:36:51:11
MEGAN
That's right. Exactly. Exactly.

00:36:51:23 - 00:36:57:08
DAVID
Well, this has been absolutely delightful. Megan, thank you so much for spending time with me.

00:36:57:12 - 00:37:00:00
MEGAN
Thank you so much. This was such a pleasure.

00:37:00:10 - 00:37:05:18
DAVID
Oh, and I did I read correctly. Are you going to be at sure, Con?

00:37:05:21 - 00:37:20:06
MEGAN
Yes, I was just going to say, when you mentioned San Diego. Yeah, I I'm so looking forward to I haven't been in a few years, you know, as a lot of us have missed missed them. And I can't wait to be back an excuse to go to San Diego in a non non rainy emphasis.

00:37:20:21 - 00:37:21:18
Speaker 3
It's a good thing.

00:37:22:12 - 00:37:29:13
DAVID
Well, I do have a little inside scoop. Let's see. Yeah, that's end of August. September. It's absolutely perfect. And this time of year.

00:37:29:13 - 00:37:30:06
Speaker 3
Excellent.

00:37:30:10 - 00:37:37:02
DAVID
Please let me take you out for a cup of tea or coffee or cocktail or whatever, because I would love to spend more time talking. That would.

00:37:37:02 - 00:37:38:19
MEGAN
Be great. Let's make a plan.

00:37:38:19 - 00:37:59:08
DAVID
Yes, absolutely. Well, folks, if you'd like to learn more, go to Megan Abbott dot com. You can follow her at Megan e Abbott. And of course once again the book is Beware the Woman and Beware So many things. As you write this book, you'll look at life just a little differently.

00:37:59:08 - 00:38:00:05
Speaker 3
Thank you.

00:38:00:10 - 00:38:21:10
DAVID
Thank you. Again, thanks once again to Megan Abbott. And the book is Beware the Woman. Oh, wasn't that fun? Delightful. Smart too, boy. And when you read this book, you're you're going to do as I did. You're going to go. I didn't see that coming. I thought I saw it coming, but I didn't. Such a spectacular book. Beware the woman.

00:38:21:10 - 00:38:37:20
DAVID
You should read that now. And we're going to meet up at Basher Con coming up here. And just it feels like just weeks end of August, early September here in San Diego, California. By the way, if you're thinking about this is my own little plug, I'm not getting anything for it. If you're thinking about doing Basher Con, go ahead and trust me.

00:38:37:20 - 00:38:57:21
DAVID
Go ahead and sign up now. It's a wonderful time, gorgeous city. We're going to have a blast and a half. And I want you to make sure you stop by, shake my hand, say hello. Maybe we'll go out and grab a refreshing beverage. San Diego is the home of craft beer, you know, check this out. Next week, Rachel Hall, What never happened?

00:38:58:22 - 00:39:21:00
DAVID
Yeah, You know Rachel Hall, right? Big deal. And this is what I'm so excited about, kicking off a brand new season with two rock star women who are just right at the top of their game. I tell you, I'm going to make you promise you're going to see more of this action coming up in the new season of the Thriller zone.

00:39:22:01 - 00:39:43:11
DAVID
We are working on some things, maybe a little bit, a new studio. Maybe I'll move out of the home eventually. I know that when we're talking with Chris Hardy not this long ago, doing a little studio situation, it was so much fun. People loved it. I'm going to be doing more of that, so stay tuned. But coming up again, Rachel Hall, next episode of the Thriller Zone.

00:39:44:08 - 00:40:03:00
DAVID
All right. As we kick off into this new season, what if you do me a favor? I know you've heard this before. Stop on by. Drop me an email if you'd like to see the Thriller zone at gmail.com. Say hello. Tell me if you'd like to be on the show. Give me the 411 on all the information that you have about your book.

00:40:03:15 - 00:40:21:07
DAVID
Also, if you want to drop us, review on your favorite podcast channel, we'd love it. Apple, Spotify, Stitcher, wherever it is, just drop us in a little five star review. We'd be very grateful to give you one sense. All right. All right. That is going to do it for me. David Temple. And once again, thank you so much for sticking with me.

00:40:21:08 - 00:40:36:10
DAVID
Going into year number, I guess this will be going into your number three. This is the front row seat to the best thriller writers in the world. And I am so glad you're here. I'm David Temple. We'll see you next time on another edition of the Thriller Zone.