The Sirens of Suspense

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Blake Crouch is a bestselling novelist and screenwriter. He is the author of the novel, DARK MATTER, for which he is writing the screenplay for Sony Pictures. His international-bestselling Wayward Pines trilogy was adapted into a television series for FOX, executive produced by M. Night Shyamalan, that was Summer 2015's #1 show. With Chad Hodge, Crouch also created GOOD BEHAVIOR, the TNT television show starring Michelle Dockery based on his Letty Dobesh novellas. He has written more than a dozen novels that have been translated into over thirty languages and his short fiction has appeared in numerous publications including Ellery Queen and Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine. Crouch lives in Colorado.


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In Good Behavior: The Letty Dobesh Chronicles, Letty, fresh out of prison and fighting to keep afloat, returns to her old tricks burglarizing suites at a luxury hotel. While on the job, she overhears a man hiring a hitman to kill his wife. Letty may to be winning any morality awards, but even she has limits. Unable to go to the police, Letty sets out to derail the job, putting herself on a collision course with the killer. The drama serious of the same name launches simultaneously on TNT on Tuesday, November 15th.


You told Letty’s story in a series of novellas. In the first, we find her trapped in the closet of a swanky hotel room she was robbing, when she overhears that a woman is going to be murdered. After writing THE PAIN OF OTHERS, had you initially intended to revisit her?

I love Letty, she’s my favorite character, hands-down. It’s not so much that she cares about whether the woman is killed—she’s doing it to entertain herself so she won’t drink. Female characters aren’t really allowed to fuck up, once they do, they’re banished into untouchable territory. The nice thing about Letty is that we let her crash and burn, but give her the ability to come back like we always give men.


You’ve had the opportunity to write novels and also for television. Writing for the screen is a more collaborative process, was that a difficult transition? Do you prefer one to the other?

There’s definitely benefits to being involved in making television and films based on your own material. If I had to choose just one, I’d write novels. I love that medium more than any other. You’re making all the decisions. It’s very exhilarating. That being said, you’re very much on your own. I learned a lot from the process of working with writers, directors, producers. You think about story in a way that you wouldn’t necessarily just writing novels and short stories. Mostly it has to do with characterization. In books it’s very easy to write supporting characters that you don’t have to think about, but in film or TV, any speaking role, no matter if one line of dialogue or ten, you have to cast from among at least three to ten actors. It makes you figure out what is at the core the character. For even small parts, you have to choose the right person.

I’m still trying to find the balance of how much involvement I want. I’ve been lucky that the door has been open to me and I can be involved as much as I want. At what point is the best use of my time not sitting on a set all day but moving on to the next book?


Do you have any advice for writers who are in (or hoping to be in) the position of having their work adapted?

It’s different for everyone. Writers have to ask themselves what they want out of the experience. If you’re just happy to have the project being made, go visit the set, and let it go. If someone want to actively be involved, they have to ask what they have to offer the screenwriters, directors, etc. who have been working in the business for many years—other than generally consulting on the manuscript. Most of all: be easy to work with. Writers have a very bad reputation in Hollywood of being super weird and cagey about their material, and it’s earned. There are so many writers who shit on amazing films made from their work. You can’t be seen as a roadblock to an already difficult process. The cooler you are and the easier you are to work with, the better you’ll be able to jump in and get more involved.


Early on in your career you explored self-publishing. Obviously, you’re one of the success stories, now a hybrid author with various TV and film. Can you give us some details about your publishing journey? Is there anything you wish you’d done differently?

I don’t have any regrets. A lot of it is luck at having made the right choices. And not being married to one idea of what publishing is. There were so many writers who were eager to speak out against self-publishing, while at the same time were literally starving. Publishing is constantly changing. Self-publishing is far more challenging than when I was first getting into it in 2010. Just be willing to evolve and keep track of goals.

Ever writer wants to be a bestseller, and sets that goal for themselves without considering whether or not more than 100 people would want to read about that subject matter. Particularly with social media today where you can see success in real time, it makes it hard for people to have realistic expectations.

Be at peace with what you want to write. There’s definitely stuff I’ve written that I’ve known wouldn’t reach a wide audience but I wrote it anyway because I wanted to write it. It’s a challenge. Have the right expectations in light of the sort of writer you are.





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Book he wishes he could read again for the first time: THE ROAD by Cormac McCarthy.

What he's reading now: THE SECRET HISTORY OF TWIN PEAKS by Mark Frost.

Period in time he'd like to visit: 500 years into the future.

Favorite independent bookstore: Maria's Bookshop in Durango, CO.

If he could have one superpower: Never having to sleep.

Four people he'd invite to a dinner party: Bono, Cormac McCarthy, Barack Obama and David Lynch