Genuine Fraud is a thriller so surprising you won't be able to put it down! E. Lockhart has mastered psychological suspense in her latest novel- the story of a young woman whose diabolical smarts are her ticket to her charmed life, until she reinvents herself one too many times. The novel explores a friendship between two young women who look enough alike to share a passport. What makes Genuine Fraud so intriguing, is that the entire story is actually told backwards! Lockhart explains the reasoning of that is because the novel is an 'antihero' story, breaking the barriers of literature as that role typically isn't seen in young female characters.
"We identify with these characters, and they force us to confront darker sides of ourselves in really interesting ways," Lockhart explains. "They invite that kind of complicity, and so I wanted to write that kind of story but tell it backwards, so you can become increasingly invested in an antihero character by seeing her become more innocent as the story goes on." This concept is what makes Genuine Fraud so captivating, along with the engaging voice in which the story is told and a clever plot twist that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
The main character, Jule, is a totally fascinating character with so many complex layers that unfold as you dive deeper into the novel. Lockhart explains that she started with a plot idea, in which she wanted to write a story similar to one she truly loved which is Patricia Highsmith's The Talented Mr. Ripley. Lockhart wanted her book to be a true coldblooded thriller that explores the darker side of human nature, which is how Genuine Fraud came to life.
Lockhart doesn't think that characters necessarily need to be role models or likable, but need to express something that people can identify with. She explains how the separation of the family of origin goes on to be such a fundamental theme in her novel, as well as with relating to her young adult readers. "Young teenagers are redefining their moral codes, as separate from but yet still in relation too, their families of origin and the institutions that have shaped them. Their schools, their churches, their synagogues, their family unit. They're asking, am I with you or am I separating from you? And sometimes they do separate, in an awkward and difficult transition." Lockhart explains that she thinks YA readers are very interested in this stage of life, which is why it was such a predominant theme in Genuine Fraud.
Check out the video below where Lockhart talks about why writing emotionally true stories is important to her.
Helen also spoke to Lockhart about writing a book backwards and how difficult that must be to accomplish! In order to do this, the author had to figure out the most important aspects of the plot and lay them out going forward, eventually flipping them so they are now backwards. "I had to rethink how the exposition happened, how you got to know the characters, and what shape everything is going to take," Lockhart tells Helen. "In fact, I had to rethink many events that happened in the story. Once I got that solid, I was able to go and write it in the order that the character experiences it in. I wrote it from the end of the book to the beginning of the book."
Wow, the Public Library Podcast is impressed! Only an extremely skilled writer could pull off this task. Genuine Fraud is everything you want in a psychological thriller novel; haunting, suspenseful, masterful language, and intriguing characters. The reverse storyline will keep all readers on their toes, never entirely sure about what antics the characters are up too.
Listen to the full episode to learn more about Lockhart's favorite writing styles, which character she relates to the most, and the similarities and differences between Genuine Fraud and her first novel We Were Liars and much more.