Interview with Riley Sager On writing, Final Girls, Lock Every Door, and inspirations. | More2Read
 

Interview with Riley Sager On writing, Final Girls, Lock Every Door, and inspirations.



Riley Sager is the pseudonym of a former journalist, editor and graphic designer.
Now a full-time writer, Riley is the author of FINAL GIRLS, an international bestseller that has been published in 25 languages, and the New York Times bestseller THE LAST TIME I LIED. His latest book, LOCK EVERY DOOR, will be published in July.
A native of Pennsylvania, Riley now lives in Princeton, New Jersey.

https://www.rileysagerbooks.com


The Interview with Riley Sager


Lou Pendergrast

What was the inspiration and seed behind Lock Every Door?

 

Riley Sager

My main inspiration was ROSEMARY’S BABY by the late, great Ira Levin. I’ve loved the book and its film version for decades, and always thought it might be fun to do my own take on the storyline. Innocent young woman. Fabulous apartment building. Friendly neighbors that are more sinister than they first appear. Levin was a master at creating this creeping sense of dread before revealing the full horror of the situation. My goal was to do the same thing. Because he was such a big influence on me, I wanted to make him proud.



Lou Pendergrast

What were you trying to communicate to the reader with this tale?

 

Riley Sager

First and foremost, I wanted to scare them.
And while they were being scared, I wanted to include a little message about wealth, privilege and economic disparity. 


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LP

Your novel Final Girls was an international bestseller, published in 25 languages. Tell me more about your reflections on this tale from setting it first on the page to publishing, and then translated and reaching so many nations?

 

Riley Sager

I wrote that book at the lowest point in my life. I had just been laid off from my day job and dropped by my publisher. I was running out of money. I couldn’t find a new job. Everything was just horrible. But I had an idea for a book about horror movies and the women who survive them and guilt and rage. I wrote the first draft in nine weeks. It just poured out of me. After a few months of revising it with input from my agent, it was submitted to publishers and sold within a week for six figures. Soon after that, international publishers started snapping it up. It was a very wonderful, very strange time for me. I started that year with next to nothing and ended it with publishing deals in two dozen countries. So I can safely say that FINAL GIRLS changed my life.

 


 

LP

There is to be a movie, back in 2017 Universal Pictures bought the option.
How is that shifting onwards to be adapted to screen?

 

Riley Sager

It’s still in the development stage. Other than that, I have no idea. I’m purposefully not involved with the adaptation in any way. I love movies, but have no idea how to make one, so I prefer to leave it to the experts. All I know is that Hollywood works in mysterious ways, and that there’s no guarantee a movie will ever get made. Or, if it does, it could take years. If it happens, fantastic. If it doesn’t, well, it’s still a great book that I’m incredibly proud of.

 


 

LP

Writing, when, where, and with what do you do it?

 

Riley Sager

I have a dedicated office space for writing. Since I’m a full-time writer who works from home, it helps to have a place that’s for writing only. It’s a nice divider between “work” life and “home” life, even though both are within the same house. I’ve found that I write best in the afternoons or late a night. I’m just not a morning writer, although I’ve tried. I do my writing on a laptop in a very comfy rocking chair. I need to be comfortable and relaxed when I’m writing. I do have a desk and a desktop computer in my office, but those are used solely for correspondence and administrative things. 

 


LP

Pantser or Outliner? Why?

 

Riley Sager

I’m a firm believer in outlining. I’ve tried just winging it, and it never seems to work out for me. I need some kind of structure to keep me on track with the writing. That being said, there are many times when the work in progress quite unintentionally veers away from the outline. When that happens, I have no choice but to follow it and see where it takes me.


 

LP

What key writing advice to the aspiring author? 

 

Riley Sager

 

I get asked this a lot, and my answer is always the same. 

One, read ON WRITING by Stephen King. It truly is a master class in learning how to be a better writer. 

Two, read as much as you can from as many different genres as you can. You’ll learn something from all of them.

Three, write the book you want to see in the world. Ignore the trends. Ignore the bestseller lists. Ignore everything. Just write the book you most want to write. Then rewrite, revise and hone it until it’s in the best shape possible.



 

LP

Which books have a special place on the bookshelf?

 

Riley Sager

There are books that will always have a special place in my heart, often because they really spoke to me during a specific time in my life. THE SECRET HISTORY by Donna Tartt is one. I read it my freshman year of college and it just really resonated with me. Same with THE GREAT GATSBY by F. Scott Fitzgerald. And then there’s BEAUTIFUL RUINS by Jess Walter, which just hit all the sweet spots for me. I loved every page.

 



 

LP

Who are your memorable characters from fiction?

 

Riley Sager

At this point, they’re such clichés because everyone names them, but Scout Finch from TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD and Holden Caulfield from THE CATCHER IN THE RYE. I saw myself in both of them.



 

LP

Thank you for this great chat on writing.

 

Riley Sager

Thanks for the great questions.

 



 

Reviewed by Lou Pendergrast on 27 June 2019