Two weeks ago, I got to interview Tana French for the Boston Phoenix. The Edgar-winning author of In the Woods was in town promoting The Likeness, her second smart psychological mystery, and we had a good chat over coffee in the elegant Oak Room. I got to pick the choice bits of our conversation for the Phoenix, which you can read here. But, space being what it is, I couldn't fit everything in. So here are some bonus bits:

You've been successful as an actress, so why start writing?
Everyone else in my family is a writer, but usually nonfiction. I think it's only me and a cousin who write fiction.

I've always written. I used to write short stories,and then some godawful poetry when I was a teenager. I never decided to go back to writing, I just had the idea [for In the Woods] and I really wanted to see how it would turn out. I really didn’t think I could write a book, but I figured I could write a scene, and then another scene, and the next thing I knew I had a chapter.

Does your acting background influence your writing?
Yes, because for me, what the character would do shapes the plot, not vice versa.

There’s a little bombshell dropped at the end of The Likeness that refers back to something in In the Woods. Had you planned this all along?
No, I didn’t have a clue. That showed up halfway through The Likeness when I was starting to write -- it was sort of back engineered. What happens in real life is that you’re wandering around the house daydreamign and you go, "Oh! I know!” ... Your subconscious does stuff that you weren’t planning on, and it seemed obvious, like I’d been planning it all the time.

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Comment by Clea Simon on August 6, 2008 at 11:33am
Maybe because I read it more recently, but I though THE LIKENESS topped IN THE WOODS. Let me know what you think!
Comment by Naomi Hirahara on August 6, 2008 at 11:29am
Oh, man, I loved INTO THE WOODS. I'll be going to see French at a bookstore tomorrow at noon so I'll soon have THE LIKENESS in my hot little hands.

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