Gillian Flynn, always under the influence of movies, has a happy ending: She adapted her novel "Gone Girl" into a highly anticipated movie version by one of her favorite directors, David Fincher.
"I was one of those incredibly nerdy kids who mail-ordered scripts for movies I liked," she said during a recent telephone interview.
She earned a master's degree in journalism and wrote about movies and TV for Entertainment Weekly. In 2009, after 10 years, she lost her job due to cutbacks.
Happily, she bounced back. In 2012, her third novel, "Gone Girl," became a best-seller.
The book and movie tell the story of a missing woman, Amy Dunne (Rosamund Pike), and a mounting pile of evidence pointing alarmingly toward her husband, Nick (Ben Affleck).
But it's also a tale of surfaces and appearances -- how they can be more prominent than facts.
"It's about the media, about how we package ourselves. Anytime David Fincher can reverse people on themselves, force people to think about what lazy thinkers we all are, he enjoys that," Flynn says.
Writing the novel, Flynn found balance between the two mediums.
"I'm not writing thinking about movies," she says. "I write in terms of scenes. I think it comes out very visually in certain ways, and that's from the amount of movies I've seen over the years."
One striking scene takes place in a dark, abandoned mall, now the sinister dwelling place of outcasts and misfits.
"I wrote the mall scene in the book almost for David Fincher. It takes up a lot of pages, a lot more than it needs to. I just really enjoyed it. I couldn't stop myself. I remember asking him, 'Do we cut the mall scene?' And he said, 'Absolutely not.'"
But Flynn credits her husband as her first and best reader, though she still bristles at criticism. Their deal is: "If you ask me for criticism, you can't get angry if I give you criticism."
Flynn describes the wonderful experience of sitting in on rehearsals with the actors.
"Until then it had been me and my husband," she says. "It was impossible to tell if a line sucked because the line sucked or if it was because we sucked."
A woman capable of creating shocking themes, Flynn comes across as rather humble.
"Everything about this has been ridiculously lucky," she says. "We all know how this is supposed to go: the nerdy, shy author goes to Hollywood and is immediately dismayed and broken. I kept waiting for the bad part to happen."