Dennis Lehane talks about his latest book, which like many of his other books is set to be a movie.
Many people know Dennis Lehane for his books-turned-movies: “Mystic River,” “Shelter Island,” “Gone Baby Gone.” Others know him for his TV work (including “The Wire” and “Boardwalk Empire”). And some of us know to go straight to the source: his books.
“Since We Fell,” the latest action-packed novel from the former Bostonite who now lives in L.A., is his first told from a woman’s point of view. Rachel Childs, the daughter of a difficult mother who refuses to tell her daughter who her father is, tries to find her dad, becomes a journalist who covers the earthquake in Haiti, and her experiences make her agoraphobic — or maybe she’s being gaslit by her husband? Oh, and she shoots him on the first page.
Q: At first we think she’s going to be focused on her past, then the book shifts and changes. How much did you have mapped out?
A: The return to western Massachusetts in those first eight chapters, that came very late to me. It was my way of staking claim to it very much as a book, because I knew I was going to be writing the film script. And I thought, I want there to be a lot of things in here that couldn’t fit in a film. That became, this journey in pursuit of her father and, ultimately, herself.
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Q: This isn’t a book of realism — there’s a lot of amped-up action — but do you know anyone who, like Rachel, doesn’t know who their father is?
A: No. People have told me since — it’s nuts. I had no clue. The missing father was not what concerned me; it was the mother-daughter dynamic that I was really riffing on. The way in which [Rachel’s mother] Elizabeth Childs is a horrible paradox: A woman of great, sweeping intelligence, but also her inner child is a rageful fanatic, deeply wounded, and uses that against her daughter for…