The Story of the Book

 

Five Surprising Influences on You Will Know Me

by Megan Abbott


We asked Megan Abbott to talk about some of the surprising influences behind her new hit book You Will Know Me. Below she discusses how a television show about football, movies about ballet, and a book on parenting helped shape her novel centered on gymnastics. 

 


 

Far From the Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity
by Andrew Solomon

 

You Will Know Me began with a longing to write about the family of a prodigy. Families are complicated to begin with, but I’ve always been curious about how it plays out when a child is exceptional in some way. How power works, how love does. What happens in a marriage when so much effort and energy is put into the child’s endeavors? What’s it like to be the sibling of a prodigy? What are the unique pressures and yet also power that a prodigy has? And that’s when I came upon Andrew Solomon’s book, which is about parents with children who are deaf, autistic, transgender, and so on—including children who are prodigies. I didn’t want to write a book grounded in cliché (stage moms, tennis dads, etc.), and this book helped so much in enabling me to find the richness and complexity in these families. And the immense love.

 


 

Friday Night Lights

(TV series 2006-2011, Creator: Peter Berg)

 

I’m a big fan of the book (by Buzz Bissinger) too, but the TV show in particular has loomed for me, creatively and emotionally, for some time: this world of high school athletes and boosters, and the ways community forms around a shared pursuit of athletic triumph and big dreams. In some ways, I thought of Katie and Eric Knox, the gymnast parents in You Will Know Me, as a (darker, trickier) version of Coach and Tami Taylor.

 


 

The Red Shoes 

(1948, Director: Michael Powell) and

Black Swan 

(2010, Director: Darren Aronofsky)


Two movies not about gymnastics, but about ballet—though really about obsession, about a young woman’s obsessive pursuit of her dream, the pressure hoisted on her shoulders by others and herself. The beautiful, mad glory of surrendering everything to one’s art.

 


 

  1. Letters to a Young Gymnast
  2. by Nadia Comaneci

 

I read a lot of gymnast memoirs for You Will Know Me, but this one loomed the largest. Comaneci’s voice is so powerful, forceful, passionate and beautifully strange. She gives us only so much, but remains a mystery, which is how I think of Devon, the gymnast in You Will Know Me. And the memoir also gave me my title. At the beginning, she tells the reader, “I don’t know you, but you will know me.” And that was it. I knew I had it.

 

 


 

Shadow of a Doubt

(1943, Director: Alfred Hitchcock)

 

One of my favorite Hitchcock movies, about a young woman (Teresa Wright) who discovers the uncle she adores (played by Joseph Cotten) may not be the man she thinks he is. Suspicion and paranoia within one’s own family is an ongoing fascination for me and played a big role in You Will Know Me. I think it’s a perfect example of a “suspense story” as a vehicle to explore the mysteries of family, of intimacy, of the extent to which you ever really know your loved ones, or yourself.

 


 

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Megan Abbott is the Edgar award-winning author of seven novels, including Dare Me and The Fever. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Guardian and the Wall Street Journal and in anthologies including Queens Noir and Best American Mystery Stories. She is also the author of The Street Was Mine, a study of hardboiled fiction and film noir, and A Hell of a Woman, a female crime fiction anthology. She is currently adapting two of her novels for television. Her latest novel is You Will Know Me.

 



 

BUY THE BOOKS & SHOWS

 

 

You Will Know Me


 

Far From the Tree

 

 

Friday Night Lights

 

 

The Red Shoes

 

 

Black Swan

 

 

Letters to a Young Gymnast

 

 

Shadow of a Doubt