Paula Hawkins’ first book, the emotional thriller “The Girl On The Train,” isn’t out until Jan. 13, but DreamWorks has already bought the movie rights. With every early review comparing it to “Gone Girl,” the stakes are pretty high for this novel, about a woman named Rachel who sees the same couple on her commute to and from work each day and builds up a story in her mind about them. An alcoholic, Rachel makes for an unreliable narrator, which in part is responsible for the book’s twists, turns and shocking ending.
Making ‘subway friends’
“When I used to commute for work, one of my favorite things to do was to look out the window and into peoples’ houses if I could see in,” Hawkins tells us. “The idea for the book partially comes from the idea that you see these people every day and you feel like you’ve made a connection, but it’s actually imaginary. And then thinking about what a vulnerable, lonely person would do with that sensation.”
Hawkins says she liked the idea of creating a narrator with a drinking problem because it createsan unreliability in a lot of ways. “You can’t trust yourself, your memory or your own judgments,” she says.
Getting it all on paper
When she sat down to write the book, Hawkins says she first created a detailed chapter-by-chapter outline to keep track of the book’s multiple narrators and time jumps, but there were a few things that even took her by surprise. “There’s a character, Anna, who changed quite a lot for me,” she says. “I saw her completely differently at the end of the book than I did at the beginning.”
On those ‘Gone Girl’ comparisons
When asked if the constant “Gone Girl” comparisons are flattering or annoying, Hawkins says it’s a double-edged sword. “It’s fantastic because I think ‘Gone Girl’ is such a great book, but at the same time, I’d like [‘Girl On The Train’] to be seen on its own merits as well.” And as for that movie deal, Hawkins says things are still very early and she’s just crossing her fingers. For now, she’s content with just getting the book in the hands of commuters, getting them so immersed that they just might miss their stop.