Read about the collaboration between Amy Hempel and Jill Ciment for The Hand That Feeds You in The New York Times:
Several years ago, the writer Katherine Russell Rich made an alarming discovery about a man she had fallen in love with. She grew suspicious when, after they had been dating for a while and he had proposed marriage, he said that he couldn’t spend the holidays with her, so she paid a hacker to get into his email. His messages revealed a shadow life, refracted through layers of deception. He was living with another woman and seeing several others on the side.
Ms. Rich quickly ended the relationship and started writing a novel about it.
She never got past the first chapter. A few months later, at 56, she died from breast cancer, a disease that had been diagnosed 24 years earlier and chronicled in her memoir, “The Red Devil.”
The end of her life might have meant the end of her story. But two of her closest friends, Amy Hempel and Jill Ciment, decided to tell it for her.
Crime Fiction Academy Master Class: Amy Hempel and Jill Ciment
Thursday October 15, 2015
|Photo Credit: Arnold Mesches (Ciment)|
Two great literary writers team up to write a mystery and hit a home run first time out! Amy Hempel known for her terrifically terse short stories (The Collected Stories of Amy Hempel) and Jill Ciment (Act of God) are the collaborative crime team of the season. The Hand That Feeds You is a psychological thriller based in part on reality, dedicated to a dear lost friend and the kind of crime fiction that lingers in the mind long after reading. Hempel and Ciment discussed the genesis and process of their collaborative effort. Two Lit stars in one room, on one night, talking about writing crime. What could be better?
About The Hand That Feeds You
It’s hard to imagine a more intriguing premise: two critically acclaimed writers decide to collaborate on a thriller to answer a question that has been bothering both of them. How did a dear friend of theirs, a smart, independent, capable woman, end up in a relationship with a man who lied to her about everything? How was he able to seduce her with intense sex and convince her he wanted to marry her, even as he convinced several other women of the same thing? The resulting book, The Hand That Feeds You (Scribner, July 7, 2015), is a gripping portrait of a sociopath and his unlikely victims. Amy Hempel and Jill Ciment, writing together as A.J. Rich, explore and ultimately explode the standard tropes of a psychological thriller.
In the opening pages of The Hand That Feeds You, Morgan Russell, a student of victim pathology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, returns to her Williamsburg, Brooklyn, apartment to find her fiancé Bennett dead, killed in one of the most gruesome ways possible: he has been mauled to death. The presumable culprits are Morgan’s own beloved dogs, who are covered in blood. Just like that, Morgan loses everything: the man she loves, her beloved rescues, condemned to canine death row, and, as she tries to untangle how and why this horrific attack happened, maybe even her sanity. The more Morgan uncovers about her Bennett, the murkier everything becomes. Did she know this man at all? It turns out he was lying to her about everything – who he was, where he came from, and his occupation. There were also other fiancés in his life – several! When these other fiancés die in unusual and suspicious circumstances, Morgan must find out who Bennett really was, why he deceived her, and what, exactly, he was hiding, before she becomes a victim herself.
Amy Hempel is the author of four collections of stories: Reasons to Live, At the Gates of the Animal Kingdom, Tumble Home, and The Dog of the Marriage. Her Collected Stories was published in 2006, and was named one of the New York Times Ten Best Books of the Year. She has won many awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, an inaugural USA Foundation Fellowship, and the PEN/Malamud Award for the Short Story. She teaches writing at Bennington College and the University of Florida, and is a founding board member of two dog rescue nonprofit organizations: The Deja Foundation (DejaFoundation.org), and Morgan’s Place, a rescue in Connecticut. She lives in Gainesville, Florida, and New York City.
Jill Ciment is the author of Small Claims, a collection of stories and novellas; The Law of Falling Bodies, Teeth of the Dog, The Tattoo Artist, Heroic Measures, and Act of God, novels; and Half a Life, a memoir. She has been awarded a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, a NEA Japan Fellowship Prize, two New York State Fellowships for the Arts, the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. Ciment is a professor at the University of Florida. She lives in Gainesville, Florida, and Brooklyn, New York.