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Sulari Gentill Interview, plus links to author biography, book summaries, excerpts and reviews

Sulari Gentill
Photo credit: Erica Murray

Sulari Gentill

How to pronounce Sulari Gentill: suh-LAH-ree GEN-tle

An interview with Sulari Gentill

A conversation with Sulari Gentill about her writing process and her novel, The Mystery Writer.

This is the third standalone mystery you've written that deals with writers and the writing process (following After She Wrote Him and The Woman in the Library ). Did you have specific goals in mind for each book before you started writing? What were they?

Prior to beginning a novel, I'm not sure I have any specific goal beyond writing a good book. I'm not a plotter. I just sit down and start writing. For me, the story unfolds as I write it. I don't really know what will be on the next page, let alone at the end of the book, and I discover what I'm trying to say through the novel as a whole as I write it. A phrase or a piece of dialogue written intuitively will seize me, and I'll realize that this is what this book is really about. Perhaps I do have a goal at the outset, but I'm not consciously aware of it. But at some point in the story, that goal becomes clear or at least clearer. In After She Wrote Him, I found myself writing a mystery that spoke about the writer's relationship with her characters. The Woman in the Library turned out to be about the relationship between the writer and the reader, and how the real world influences the imagination. The Mystery Writer is about the writer's place in society and the power of the story to influence behavior. And, of course, all three are about murder!

Why did you choose Lawrence, Kansas, as the setting for this story?

I was looking for place to which someone might escape. An American friend suggested Lawrence in Kansas and offered me the use of his insights as a Kansan. The town itself seemed to offer the right balance of size and politics and history. I wrote the book, moving about in Larry's memories.

Theo abandons her career path as a lawyer to devote herself to writing, much the same as you did. Are there any other simi- larities between you and Theo's character and/or experiences (aside from your love of chocolate, of course)?

Theo is much more certain of what she wants than I was. I was a lawyer for fifteen years before I ever thought to write a novel, whilst she abandoned her degree and moved to the other side of the world to pursue her dream. Giving up an established legal career is also probably easier than giving up the possibility of one— you know exactly what you're abandoning, and if the experiment fails, you're still qualified. Theo's move was more all or nothing and much more courageous. In many ways she has the clarity that I wish I'd discovered when I was her age. In terms of similarities, though, we are both Australian, have a similar sense of humor, and we love dogs.

What are you reading now?

I'm rereading Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie.

Unless otherwise stated, this interview was conducted at the time the book was first published, and is reproduced with permission of the publisher. This interview may not be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the copyright holder.

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Books by Sulari Gentill at BookBrowse
The Mystery Writer jacket
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