Richard and Judy ask Joel Dicker

Richard and Judy ask Joel Dicker

Question 1: In a slew of glowing international reviews for this book, one wrote that “the contemporary novel will no longer be the same and nobody can pretend not to realize it”. Wow! Did you realize you were shape-shifting fiction as you wrote?

I had no idea that the book, and its structure, would have such an impact. I wanted to create something that was pleasing to me, and that would be a challenge. I tried to make the construction as complex as possible, while keeping it simple to follow. My editor often says, “It’s easy to be banal, it’s very diffi cult to be simple”.

Question 2: The plotting is superb. Tell us – did you meticulously work out all the twists and turns in advance, or work to a more general, looser plan and go with the fl ow?

I didn’t have a plan before I started writing this book. For me, the fun part was creating the story as I went along, and discovering the events little by little. This explains why the book is so long! If I had made a plan, I never would have dared to put in as many twists. The twists wouldn’t have seemed reasonable to me. Developing the plot as I wrote the book allowed me to keep going a bit further.

Question 3: Writers’ block forms a part of the story. Ever suffered from it? If not, do you fear it?

No, luckily I’ve never had writers’ block. Sometimes I have doubts, as there are always lots of questions that arise while a book evolves, but I’ve never had a block. Doubt is good: it makes us re-examine ourselves and allows our work to progress. The more doubts you have, the harder you work and the more you think outside the box in order to overcome those doubts and improve the book.

Question 4: At over 600 pages this is a monumental effort, and you deserve a break. But . . . how long before the next one? Have you started work on it already?

I’m in the late stages of writing a new novel. I hope to be able to share it soon with my readers. Right now I prefer not to talk about it, because that’s my fun, and my freedom, to be the only one to know for the moment. I think it’s a pity to talk about the book you’re in the middle of writing: you deprive yourself of a rare and precious moment of freedom.