Under the Influence

I’m busy today, trying to drum up a column for the good folks at National Post Books — something about the wealth of influences that go into something as big and long-term as a novel, and how all those things filter down and through the story. While I have to pick and choose for the column, I thought I’d put a simple list in here. Things that were important to the building of The Devil You Know, all the bits and pieces of culture I can think of that I was reading, watching, remembering, or listening to on repeat while I was writing. I’ll try and add things on as I remember them. (Surprise! Gone Girl isn’t on the list… it’s still in my bedside pile.)

Bonus add: Because of the vagaries of search engine algorithms, some things just didn’t come to my attention until I was in the final editing and fact-checking stages. You can imagine how surprised I was to stumble across this retrospective article by Jim Rankin in the Toronto Star. Written for the fifteenth anniversary of the case, in the opening lines he describes  his experience as a new reporter, sitting in a car and watching the search of Bernardo’s house in St. Catherine’s — the exact scene I’d just written for Evie.

Helter Skelter, Vincent Bugliosi

Brain on Fire, Susannah Cahallan

The White Album, Joan Didion

Caught, Lisa Moore

“Fits”, from The Progress of Love, Alice Munro

The Killing Circle, Andrew Pyper

90s mood music by Nirvana, RHCP, & Sinead O’Connor, among others.

Audrey Hepburn in “Wait Until Dark”  (In this Hitchcock thriller, Hepburn plays a blind girl targeted by some bad guys. Her solution? Turn out the lights to even the playing field. You’ll have to watch it to see if it pays off… )

Jodie Foster in “Silence of the Lambs” (For the record, I didn’t re-watch this one; it’s the last really scary movie I’ve ever seen in a theatre, I think — but I did read over the detailed synopsis when I was trying to figure out how scary plot lines need to go.)

Emma Stone in “Easy A” (my daughter was keen on this movie at the time, and I loved Stone’s raspy voice and quirky-cool character)

And if you’re really up for some heavy reading, look for this judicial system Report on the Bernardo investigation, written by Mr. Justice Archie Campbell and available freely online. (This report was also something I came to late in the game, when I was trying to check my facts, but I ended up including a few extra things that jumped out at me and were too interesting to leave out. I haven’t read the whole report, as I was worried it would distract me… plus, I just don’t have the stomach for those details.)

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