While Gillian Flynn’s best-selling novels like “Gone Girl” and “Dark Places” are set in rural towns in Missouri and Kansas, the famed author’s inspiration is most often sparked during midafternoon walks outside her home in Chicago. “The city itself is so evocative,” Flynn says. “The shadows and the light and the architecture — it’s a great home for writers.”
Last week, the author hosted a screening and discussion of HBO’s adaptation of her debut novel, 2006’s “Sharp Objects” — which, true to form, is based in the fictional town of Wind Gap, Missouri — at the Chicago History Museum (1601 N. Clark). Described by Flynn as a “loyal adaptation,” the eight-part series premiered last week with Flynn as executive producer alongside director Jean-Marc Vallée (“Big Little Lies”).
Starring Oscar-nominated actors Amy Adams and Patricia Clarkson, “Objects” is a chilling, female-led psychological narrative sheathed in shrewd Southern charm. While Flynn avoids envisioning specific actors during her writing process, she tells us of the ensemble cast: “They’re perfect, they’re unmatchable. I just think the book was waiting for Amy [Adams] to come along.” A complicated character battling years of psychological demons, protagonist Camille required a precise balance of “vulnerability and unbreakability,” Flynn says. “Amy has this ability to convey so much with the bat of an eyelash. She took over that character, [which] is so tricky. You have to be worried for her — but not too worried.”
As a passion project written by Flynn more than a decade ago, she admits that revisiting her first novel required a bit of mental backpedaling — to a time before she left L.A. and New York for Chicago and became a wife and mother of two. “I’ve set up a whole different life [since then]. So I’m definitely in a very different place,” she admits. “To go back and have those trigger memories, it was reassuring. This is still a really good book; I’m still really, really proud of it.”
Despite being known for her complicated and compelling female leads, Flynn urges male viewers and readers to not only tune into “Sharp Objects,” but start paying attention to the countless female authors who have been penning great works for … ever. “Don’t worry, we’re not talking about having our periods,” Flynn laughs. “Get over it.”
Catch “Sharp Objects” on HBO Sundays at 8 p.m.