I thought Gone Girl Was Great And I’m Not Afraid To Admit It.

I don’t get to read a lot anymore because it’s hard for me to read while I’m writing. And I’m always writing. Occasionally, though, I treat myself to a book reported to be a particularly good work of fiction.  I finally got around to reading Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and I loved it.  Then I watched the movie, and to my pleasant surprise, I loved that too. Thus, I was shocked to find out how much criticism they have generated.  They have been called “misogynistic” and have been said to be filled with “unlikable” (gasp) female characters. So, I’m going on record as an intelligent and empowered woman – I thought Gone Girl was fantastic.  So there.

Some claim the female characters of Gone Girl are “stereotypical” and go on to list examples like Go’s “daddy issues” or Ellen Abbott’s “brazen” personality.  I beg to differ. Stereotypical female characters, in my view, don’t have flaws. They are drawn like Disney princesses. They suffer. They survive. And if they are utterly sympathetic, someday their prince will come.  The women of Gone Girl are not serene. They are not perfect or lovely.  They have issues.  So what? I think their issues make them interesting.  Their flaws make them realistic. Their depth and their darkness make them memorable.  Since when does a female character have to be “likable” or even “redeemable” to be well-drawn?  What does that say about how society views women?

Detective Rhonda Boney is one of my favorite characters.  Flynn has been criticized for making Boney sympathetic to Nick Dunne, who is accused of killing his wife. Since when is it a sign of “stereotypical female weakness” to believe someone is innocent until proven guilty? Margo Dunne (Go of the “daddy issues”), is another brilliant female character who has strength and depth and honor.  The contrast between her and the two dimensional and utterly forgettable female protagonists that populate so many novels these days is profound.

The primary female character Amy Dunne, is a complex woman to say the least.  I found her fascinating even though she freaked me out. She’s a brilliant woman with much more going on beneath the surface than one would guess, to put it mildly. I was drawn to her in much the same way I was drawn to Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs – who I also liked by the way, despite the fact that he ate people.  Parts of me got her, and parts of me found her completely wackado, but I feel that way about a lot of people.

And what about the primary male character? Yes, Nick Dunne cheats on his brilliant wife with a needy twenty-year old former student.  And yes, it’s annoying that he’s that emasculated by the fact that his wife’s money supported them. But those things happen every day because, once again, people are flawed. I’m not convinced he wouldn’t have come to realize what a huge a mistake he was making. Let’s face it, Andie would have gotten boring fast to a guy with Nick’s intelligence. Even if he didn’t though, making stupid choices and being annoying doesn’t make Nick Dunne a horrible character either. It also doesn’t make him deserve what happens to him.  You don’t have to sympathize with Nick, though. You don’t have to like him either.  That still doesn’t make it a bad book.

In sum, great characters don’t have to be likable; they don’t even have to be redeemable. They just have to be memorable. And the characters in Gone Girl are most assuredly memorable.

Nadine’s Year-End Motivational Speech

I spent ten years becoming unhealthy, physically and mentally.  Because I was depressed, I ate to comfort myself. Then before I knew it, I was 40. While I didn’t look very good, I still seemed okay on the outside. I laughed and made others laugh. I wrote some books that people seemed to enjoy. On the inside, though, I was pretty numb in a lot of ways, but I felt like it was too late to change anything.

I almost gave up and decided to just be content with how things were. Then something happened; an anthology I was a part of hit a big Bestseller list back in August. There I was, a former public defender, who had always dreamed of writing, and now in my 40’s I had just become a USA Today Bestselling author. That was when I realized that AMAZING things can sometimes happen if you work hard.

So, I started eating better and walking on my treadmill a few minutes a day, and then a few minutes more etc. I also started reading again, good books – the kind that didn’t just provide me with an escape, but instead also made me think, and made me want to write that well myself. I took steps to learn to write that well, reading books written by master editors, studying the technical aspects of good writing and so on.

I started surrounding myself with supportive people. I began mentoring new authors, and I met some experienced authors who became good friends who have been there for me in many ways. I made new writing goals, and decided to measure success by how happy I felt about a book. Little by little, I started to become healthy again.

So now it’s December, and while I still have a way to go, I’m ON my way. Physically, I may not be a twenty year-old supermodel, but I don’t need to be one to feel beautiful. I’m a woman in her forties who is much healthier and feels attractive because of it. In fact, I’m going out for a Girls’ Night on the town next month for the first time in over a decade. When I go to sign at Wicked Book Weekend in February I will pose proudly for pictures instead of trying to hide behind other people.

I’m still reading good books and studying the technical aspects of writing. I’m not content just to hit a Bestseller list anymore. My new goal is to become a great author – the kind people remember. I’m not announcing release dates anymore until a book I have written is nearly complete and I feel like it’s ready.

I’m also starting to speak up about issues that I am passionate about again, Feminism, Zionism, Neurodiversity, Environmental concerns etc. Although I used to be an advocate, and even an activist, for a long time I remained silent. While I will always do my best to be respectful, and I will never try to force my views on others, I plan to discuss issues that are important to me. I have a voice and I want to use it in many ways.

The point of this post is not to brag; it’s to motivate. It is never too late to turn things around, not in ANY decade of life. If you are still breathing, you still have a life to live. Get out and live it. Start slowly – set yourself up for success, one step at a time. Celebrate your victories, no matter how small. Pick yourself up and dust yourself off and start again when you fall. Think positively and surround yourself with others who lift you up. Believe that anything is possible, but be ready to work hard for it.

I hope that you have a wonderful 2015 and that your dreams come true.