The Mystery Of Isabel Allende: Author Explores New Genre | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

The Mystery Of Isabel Allende: Author Explores New Genre

Play associated audio


Isabel Allende planned to retire in 2011. Instead, she wrote a murder mystery.

The New York Times bestselling author is known for her unique style that blends historical reportage, memoir and literature. Her books have sold over 60 million copies and are translated into more than 35 languages.

Coming out this month, Ripper is Allende's first foray into the thriller genre. The novel takes place in San Francisco, and centers on Amanda, a teen sleuth hooked on crime novels and a macabre online game called Ripper. When a rash of killings strikes the city and her mother disappears, Amanda takes it upon herself to investigate, and is drawn into a dangerous mystery.


Interview Highlights

On research

I went to a mystery writers conference ... and I learned a lot not only from the faculty — and in the faculty we had forensic doctors, detectives, policemen, experts in guns, etc. — but from the questions of the students. For example, if I inject my victim with a blood thinner and I stab the victim 13 times and then I hang the victim upside down in the shower, would the blood congeal in the bathtub? I would never come up with that kind of question or that kind of situation. But if you ask me now ... I am an expert. I can kill anybody and not be caught.

On writing in a new genre

The book is tongue in cheek. It's very ironic ... and I'm not a fan of mysteries, so to prepare for this experience of writing a mystery I started reading the most successful ones in the market in 2012. ... And I realized I cannot write that kind of book. It's too gruesome, too violent, too dark; there's no redemption there. And the characters are just awful. Bad people. Very entertaining, but really bad people. So I thought, I will take the genre, write a mystery that is faithful to the formula and to what the readers expect, but it is a joke. My sleuth will not be this handsome detective or journalist or policeman or whatever. It will be a young, 16-year-old nerd. My female protagonist will not be this promiscuous, beautiful, dark-haired, thin lady. It will be a plump, blond, healer, and so forth.

On San Francisco, the novel's setting and Allende's home

Twenty-six years ago I was passing by on a book tour without any hope of ever staying in San Francisco. But I met a guy, very exotic to me — he was blonde with blue eyes — and I just had a fling that turned out to be love. I moved to San Francisco to spend a week with him and get him out of my system; I'm still here 26 years later. Now I'm stuck with a husband.

On adapting Ripper for the screen

Let's not talk about Hollywood. ... They want the rights to do the movie and everything else they can think of, forever. There's no limit to the contract — 'In this universe and universes to be discovered' — I'm not making this up: This is in the contract. And they also want the copyright of the characters, so I lose my characters, and if I want to repeat them in another book I have to pay them a royalty. Give me a break.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

TLC's '19 Kids' Pulled For Sex-Abuse Scandal

Josh Duggar of TLC's 19 Kids and Counting admitted "wrongdoing" amid media reports that he allegedly fondled underage girls as a teenager. NPR's Scott Simon speaks with TV critic Eric Deggans.
NPR

Clean Your Grill, And Other Hot Holiday Tips From Alton Brown

Whether you're barbecuing OR grilling, a meat-eater or a vegetarian, here's how to keep your flavor from going up in smoke this Memorial Day weekend.
NPR

Senate Blocks Measures To Extend NSA Data Collection

The Senate worked late into the night but was not able to figure out what to do about expiring provisions in the Patriot Act that authorize the NSA's bulk collection of Americans' phone records.
NPR

The Future Of Cardiology Will Be Shown In 3-D

The Living Heart Project aims to create a detailed simulation of the human heart that doctors and engineers can use to test experimental treatments and interventions.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.