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'Gone Girl' author Gillian Flynn talks murder, marriage, and con games


With her latest novel Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn — former EW TV critic and author of previous books Sharp Objects and Dark Places — has written the book of the summer. Yesterday, Amazon named Gone Girl the best novel of 2012 so far, and last month, EW predicted it would be the novel that would make her a star. Flynn talked to me about the thought process behind her disturbing psychological thriller. (Mild spoiler alert: No big secrets revealed, but it’s best to know as little about Gone Girl as possible before reading it).

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How did you come up with the premise for Gone Girl?
GILLIAN FLYNN: I wanted to write about marriage. In my first two books, my protagonists were single almost to the point of not having much attachment to anyone else in the world. I wanted to explore the opposite — when you willingly yoke yourself to someone for life, and what happens when it starts going wrong. I’m playing with the idea of courtship as a con game: You want this other person to like you, so you’re never going to show them your worst side until it’s too late. READ FULL STORY

See the cover for Ruta Sepetys' follow-up to 'Between Shades of Gray' -- EXCLUSIVE


Ruta Sepety’s first novel about a girl’s struggle to survive in Lithuania during turbulent times earned her a passionate young following. That novel’s title — Between Shades of Gray — caused a stir owing to its similarity to that of publishing phenomenon Fifty Shades of Grey (the title is where the similarity ends). Out of the Easy, Sepetys’ second novel, due out in February, takes place in an entirely new setting. From the official description: “Known amongst locals as the daughter of a brothel prostitute, Josie Moraine wants more out of life than The Big Easy has to offer. She devises a plan get out, but a mysterious death in the Quarter leaves Josie tangled in an investigation that will challenge her allegiance to her mother, her conscience, and Willie Woodley, the brusque madam on Conti Street. Caught between the dream of an elite college and a clandestine underworld, New Orleans lures Josie in her quest for truth, dangling temptation at every turn, and escalating to the ultimate test.”

Interested? Check out the exclusive cover and an interview with Sepetys below! READ FULL STORY

'The Innocents' author on the lasting influence of Edith Wharton


You know who’s hot right now? Edith Wharton. Even though she died 75 years ago, and she mostly wrote about turn-of-the-century American society, she’s still one of the most influential writers today. Earlier this month, Vintage Books released fetching re-issues of her four most famous novels. At the same time, two separate debut novels — The Innocents by Francesca Segal and The Gilded Age by Claire McMillan, both re-imaginings of Wharton novels — hit shelves within a week of each other. Segal’s new novel sets The Age of Innocence in a Jewish community in present-day London. She spoke to EW about Wharton’s unflagging relevance. READ FULL STORY

'New York' Grub Street editor Alyssa Shelasky on 'Apron Anxiety' and the allure of dating a chef


Grub Street editor Alyssa Shelasky is the ideal dinner partner. She’ll never bore you with a discussion of in-season ingredients or the best cuts of pork belly. She’d much rather talk about reality TV — “American Idol makes me hate humanity sometimes” — or about dating and sex. Her food philosophy is simple: “Food is what I eat when I’m hungry. I prefer it to be nice food and hopefully from a farm where good, healthy things are happening.”

I met Shelasky at Tertulia, a busy Spanish taverna in the West Village, for an early dinner to talk about Apron Anxiety, her new memoir based on her blog of the same name. It’s one of those recipes-sprinkled-through-the-narrative books, which could be grating if it weren’t so disarming and fun. Shelasky’s story begins with her upbringing in suburban Massachusetts and moves on to her booze-soaked 20s, during which she mingled with celebrities (including a pre-Giselle Tom Brady) while working as a New York-based reporter for US Weekly and People magazine. Her enviable lifestyle slowed down when she turned 30 and moved to Washington D.C. with her new celebrity chef boyfriend (referred to as “Chef” in the book, but you can figure out his real identity with a simple Google search). Her quieter life didn’t turn out to be the lovefest she was hoping for. Chef was working 16-hour days opening a new restaurant, and Shelasky struggled to find a place in his food-obsessed existence. Her usual joie de vivre and self-confidence faded, and this avowedly undomestic girl turned to cooking to fix her broken psyche. READ FULL STORY

'A Feast of Ice and Fire': Yes, there's now an official 'Game of Thrones' cookbook


“In the Game of Food, you win, or you wash the dishes.” That’s the tagline of The Inn at the Crossroads, a food blog with a unique twist: Authors Chelsea Monroe-Cassel and Sariann Lehrer are trying to cook every dish that appears in George R. R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series. Well, almost every dish — the denizens of Westeros and beyond sometimes eat things that are illegal in the U.S. (horse meat, camel, dog) or downright horrifying (olives stuffed with maggots).

But Monroe-Cassel and Lehrer have triumphed over challenges like honey-spiced locusts and the mysterious “bowls of brown” served in Flea Bottom, as well as a score of more appetizing recipes (lemon cakes, anyone?) — and now they’ve taken their hobby to the next level. Next Tuesday, Bantam will release A Feast of Ice and Fire, a Game of Thrones-themed cookbook that has George R. R. Martin’s official seal of approval; he even wrote the tome’s poetic introduction. Before its release, EW called up Monroe-Cassel and Lehrer to chat about the challenges of cooking fictional food, weird medieval recipes, and which fantastical world they’d like to tackle next. Hint: It rhymes with “Larry Totter.”

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What inspired you to start your blog?
Monroe-Cassel: We really wanted lemon cakes, and a Google search didn’t bring up anything that fit the almost reverent description of lemon cakes in the books. So naturally, we decided to try and make our own.

Research must have been a huge undertaking. Can you explain your process?
Monroe-Cassel: We basically try to do an historical and a modern take on each dish when possible — it can be anything from ancient Roman to Elizabethan. We’ll look at the description in the book and then we’ll go back in old cookbooks and try to find a description that fairly closely matches. The old recipes often don’t have quantities or very clear directions or temperatures or anything like that.

I’m imagining you two sitting in an enormous library, examining scrolls.
Monroe-Cassel: [Laughs] That would be the dream. I’m a classical history major, so I did put my dead language skills to work for some of the recipes. We’ve done a lot of library research and a lot of online research.

I guess you can find anything on the Internet.
Monroe-Cassel: It’s true. We got our crickets from Amazon.

It’s a little disappointing that the book doesn’t include a recipe for a pie filled with 100 live doves.
Monroe-Cassel: We get that a lot!


Catherine McKenzie talks new novel 'Arranged'


When she’s not practicing law in Montreal, Catherine McKenzie is taking on the chick lit world. Already an International Bestseller, McKenzie’s first novel Spin was published in the United States earlier this year, and today Arranged hits shelves. (Her third book, Forgotten, is due this fall.) Arranged follows Anne Blythe, an up-and-comer author with a great newspaper job. Unfortunately, her love life is pretty much a disaster—and I’d expect no less in a chick lit novel. Anne enlists the help of a dating service, only to find out that it’s actually a company that specializes in exclusive arranged marriages. After Anne learns of the company’s 95 percent success rate, she decides to give the nontraditional process a chance. Here, McKenzie talks about Arranged, her sure-to-be-loved-by-chick-lit-fans second novel, and its interesting connection to The Bachelor franchise.


'Between Shades of Gray': Discover the book that's being confused for 'Fifty Shades of Grey'

Employees of some bookstores have to be alerted that Fifty Shades of Grey by E L James and Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys have nothing to do with each other. James’ kinky erotica novel is the biggest publishing phenomenon of 2012. Between Shades of Gray is a phenomenon in its own right, landing on several 2011 year-end best lists, and even more impressively, getting teens to read about genocide in Baltic countries at the hands of Stalin’s regime.

Both James and Sepetys are currently on book tour. James is attracting huge crowds of people who want to hear her read from her spicy trilogy. Sepetys is drawing crowds interested in her YA novel about a young Lithuanian girl’s unspeakable struggles — but she’s also getting confused Fifty Shades of Grey fans who show up at her appearances by mistake. “The subject has come up at every high school and every bookstore I’ve been to,” Sepetys says with a laugh. However, she counts the title confusion as a positive. Many of the E L James fans who wander into her readings — most of them men, she notes — stick around and end up learning something. You can read more about the funny mix-ups in the current issue of EW, and you can read more about Ruta Sepetys’ novel below: READ FULL STORY

Kiera Cass talks her YA debut 'The Selection'

New addictive YA novel alert! The Selection, the first in a planned trilogy, hit shelves last week. In the book, the Selection is a lottery in which girls from all castes are picked to compete for a chance to marry Prince Maxon. Enter 17-year-old America Singer who has no interest in entering the Selection, particularly because she’s already in love with her secret boyfriend, Aspen.

Aspen insists she enter for the chance at a better life, and in a whirlwind of events, she gets chosen and winds up at the castle competing for the prince’s heart. It’s The Bachelor meets Cinderella, and I couldn’t put it down. Nor could pick sides in the quintessential YA love triangle. Team Maxon or Team Aspen? I don’t know!

The second book is slated for next spring, and while author Kiera Cass was tight-lipped about what’s coming in book two, she did confirm that Maxon, America, and Aspen will make clear choices. Unfortunately, those love-triangle decisions won’t be revealed until the third, and final, book.

Cass talked with us about her inspiration for the book and the already-in-the-works television adaptation for the CW. Announced stars include Aimee Teegarden (Friday Night Lights) as America, Ethan Peck (In Time) as Prince Maxon, and William Moseley (The Chronicles of Narnia) as Aspen.


'Diary of a Wimpy Kid' author Jeff Kinney teases book 7: 'It's time to tackle love in the Wimpy way'


People may not talk about the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books like they talk about The Hunger Games or Twilight, but Jeff Kinney’s illustrated series about seventh-grader Greg Heffley is one of the most popular franchises around. Each year the newest release creates a publishing frenzy — this past November, the sixth book Cabin Fever had a 6 million-copy first-run publication, and the seventh volume, slated for Nov. 13, will no doubt have a similarly huge opening. Plus, the third Wimpy Kid movie, Dog Days, will be coming your way this August. Kinney took a moment to talk to EW about what we can expect from the highly anticipated seventh book! READ FULL STORY

Lauren Conrad talks 'The Fame Game'

If you’re shocked that the girl from Laguna Beach grew up to have several books on the New York Times best-seller list, join the club. Lauren Conrad is too.

“We were doing the inside cover of the beauty book I’m working on, and under ‘also by’ it listed all my other books. I was like, ‘When did this happen?’”

Three years after she made her writing debut with the L.A. Candy series, she’s back on shelves with the first book in a new trilogy. The Fame Game, in stores tomorrow, follows a Heidi Montag-like character Madison Parker, an Audrina Patridge-like character, and two other Hollywood hopefuls as they star in a new spin-off series and adjust to life as reality TV celebrities.

There’s a soap opera’s-worth of drama, a fake-it-for-the-cameras relationship, and a whole lot of mascara-tears. How much of it did she pull from real life? Quite a bit, which is fine by me. The entertainment value in Conrad’s page-turners for the YA set isn’t about exceptional writing or unpredictable plot points. In the same way that her reality shows spurred us to endlessly debate how much was scripted, reading the books is about separating the moments based on Conrad’s behind-the-scene anecdotes from pure fiction. That’s the part that the Laguna Beach-native takes the most pleasure in. READ FULL STORY

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