Today I am VERY happy to welcome E Lockhart to Liz Loves Books, telling me a little about the brilliant Genuine Fraud – available now from Hot Key Books. A little review from me follows, but if you are a fan of engaging and clever psychological thrillers this one will definitely be for you.
I’ve just finished reading “Genuine Fraud” which I devoured in two sittings, it definitely engaged me on more than one level – I know you took inspiration from the Ripley tales – but what attracted you first to writing a non linear narrative?
Thank you. I was inspired by Highsmith’s The Talented Mr. Ripley more than by her other Ripley novels. I was interested in the making of an antihero. I also referenced superhero origin stories and Victorian orphan novels like Vanity Fair and Great Expectations — all stories of class mobility and compromises both moral and emotional. I wanted to tell an antihero story that ended with the reader feeling very connected to the central character. After you know all that Jule has done — you see her at her youngest and most innocent. That was a big reason to tell the story backwards.
The enigmatic “Jule” never really shows us her true self, or does she? What do you think?
The novel is in third person, and the narration is tricky, but not unreliable. There are no untrue sentences anywhere in the book. And to answer your question about Jule — I’m not sure anyone has a true self. It’s a very slippery thing, the self.
When plotting “Genuine Fraud” did the story come to you in reverse or did you work beginning to end and then write it in the way that you did – I suppose this ties back to the first question in some ways, maybe the attraction to the non linear came after the story was fully formed for you.
I love to play with narrative structures. In my earlier books, which were comedies, I did this a lot. A book structured like a list, or with footnotes. My last novel, We Were Liars, has a structure of two intersecting timelines intercut with fairy tales that are outside the main narrative but which still move it along. Challenging myself with a structure is like setting myself to solve a puzzle.
It is a very different tale to “Liars” which was hugely popular for good reason, is it your aim to try and write different things every time, try and stay out of any particular comfort zone?
To me, We Were Liars and Genuine Fraud are both psychological thrillers about class differences and intense friendships. Both books also have central female characters who are labelled “difficult” and both have playful narrative structures and twisty plots. But Liars is quite romantic, whereas Genuine Fraud is quite violent. I like to shake things up and still satisfy my readers.
What do you hope readers are feeling at the end, how do you think you would respond to it if you were reading it as a pure reader?
I hope people will feel exhilerated and that they’ll want to read it a second time and talk it over with their friends. It’s a good book to argue about, I think.
Finally a question I ask everyone – is there a novel you have read this year that you would like to recommend to everyone?
Bone Gap by Laura Ruby is a cross-genre thriller that’s gorgeously written and very gripping. It won the Printz Award here in the US. I think you’ll love it.
Thank you so much! And for the book which I loved very much.
Thank you for the fun questions and for featuring me on your blog. xoE
About the Book:
The story of a young woman whose diabolical smarts are her ticket into a charmed life. But how many times can someone reinvent themselves? You be the judge.
Imogen is a runaway heiress, an orphan, a cook, and a cheat.
Jule is a fighter, a social chameleon, and an athlete.
An intense friendship. A disappearance. A murder, or maybe two.
A bad romance, or maybe three.
Blunt objects, disguises, blood, and chocolate. The American dream, superheroes, spies, and villains.
A girl who refuses to give people what they want from her.
A girl who refuses to be the person she once was.
I read this in just over 2.5 hours because I couldn’t put it down. Told in reverse, taking masses of inspiration from The Talented Mr Ripley but with a female main protagonist, Genuine Fraud was a huge page turner.
It did, in substance, feel like a homage to Ripley and to Highsmith, the author captures you with her beautiful descriptive prose, rich and layered settings and hugely divisive characters. By the end of it you know everything, yet you know nothing. This is a book that demands a second reading.
It won’t be for everyone and it is nothing like Liars, but for me it worked extraordinarily well and I have been caught up in it all day. I like the backwards story telling, like Megan Miranda’s “All The Missing Girls” a book I would also recommend if you enjoy this, it captured my senses, beginning at the ending and ending at the beginning – each little gem of a timeline giving you that bit more but also taking away, messing with your perception leaving you to work out what you believe.
Yes I’m a fan of books like these. I hope more authors try their hand at this non linear storytelling and hone the craft until I’m genuinely upside down. Genuine Fraud is both Ripley and not Ripley, a beautifully formed novel that yeah, definitely won’t be for everyone.
But it was for me.