AuthorsFrom the Wire

High Marks: PW Talks with Lauren Nossett

In “High Marks: PW Talks with Lauren Nossett,” author Lauren Nossett discusses her foray into writing mysteries and the inspiration behind her detective character Marlitt Kaplan. Nossett, whose background is in comparative literature, explains that she initially attempted to write literary fiction but found herself needing the structure and rules of the mystery genre. She discusses how mysteries allow writers to explore social themes and delve into the reasons behind criminal behavior. Nossett also shares the origins of her detective character, Marlitt, and how her personal experiences and observations influenced the themes of her novels, including the lack of mental health resources in academia. Overall, this interview provides insight into Nossett’s journey as a mystery writer and the motivations behind her work.

High Marks: PW Talks with Lauren Nossett

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Background and Inspiration

What draws Nossett to writing mysteries?

Nossett is drawn to writing mysteries because of her background in comparative literature and German literature. She initially tried to write literary fiction, but found that she needed the rules of genre to guide her writing. Mysteries provide a structure and a roadmap for her storytelling. Additionally, mysteries allow her to explore social themes through the lens of crime.

Where did the character of Marlitt come from?

The character of Marlitt came to Nossett in a moment of inspiration while she was visiting her parents in Georgia. She had a vivid image of a woman waking up on fire and screaming in German, and she felt that this character demanded to be heard. This image became the spark for her first novel, “The Resemblance.”

What inspired the sequel?

The inspiration for the sequel, “The Professor,” came from a personal experience Nossett had on a plane. She divulged too much information about herself to a seatmate and realized that she had given him enough information to find her in the real world. This unsettling experience, coupled with her experiences as a professor and witnessing the high rates of depression and alienation among her students, inspired the major themes of the novel.

How did Nossett’s husband’s death affect her writing?

Nossett’s husband’s death in 2021 had a profound impact on her writing. It prompted her to reflect on how she portrayed death in her novels and made her realize that she had been treating it as something abstract that couldn’t touch her. After her husband’s death, she wrote the prologue to “The Resemblance,” which reflected her grief and the inability to save her husband. This experience influenced her writing and added a layer of emotional depth to her work.

Writing Process

Why does Nossett need the rules of genre in her writing?

Nossett needs the rules of genre in her writing because they provide structure and a clear path for her storytelling. Starting with a problem and having the protagonist’s job be to solve it gives her a roadmap to follow. However, she also values the freedom within the genre to explore social themes and delve into the motivations behind crime.

How does Nossett use mysteries to explore social themes?

Nossett uses mysteries as a vehicle to explore social themes because committing murder is a violation of the social code. By examining why murder happens and the ripple effects it has on society, she can delve into deeper issues and provoke thought in her readers. Mysteries allow her to explore the complexities of human behavior and the societal factors that contribute to crime.

What is Nossett’s approach to writing a mystery novel?

Nossett’s approach to writing a mystery novel involves starting with a problem and creating a roadmap for the protagonist to solve it. She carefully constructs the plot, incorporating clues and red herrings along the way. She also focuses on developing complex and relatable characters who grapple with personal and social issues. Through her writing, she aims to engage readers and keep them guessing until the very end.

What kind of detective would Nossett be?

Nossett believes she would make a curious and inquisitive detective who is fascinated by understanding what makes people tick. She finds the idea of being a criminal profiler intriguing but acknowledges that it would challenge her belief in humanity on a daily basis. She values preserving her belief in the goodness of people and would prefer a detective role that allows her to explore the human psyche without constantly questioning it.

High Marks: PW Talks with Lauren Nossett

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The Resemblance

Overview of The Resemblance

“The Resemblance” is the first novel in Nossett’s mystery series and introduces readers to detective Marlitt Kaplan. Set in a small town, the novel follows Marlitt as she investigates the murder of a local artist. The plot is driven by Marlitt’s determination to uncover the truth and her complex personal connections to the case.

Review of The Resemblance

“The Resemblance” has received critical acclaim for its engaging plot and well-developed characters. Readers praise Nossett’s ability to keep them guessing and her skill in weaving together various storylines. The novel has been commended for its balance between suspense and emotional depth, drawing readers in and keeping them hooked until the very end.

Reception of The Resemblance

“The Resemblance” has been well-received by readers and critics alike. It has garnered positive reviews for its compelling storytelling and atmospheric setting. The novel has also gained a dedicated fan base, with readers eagerly anticipating the next installment in the series.

The Professor

Overview of The Professor

“The Professor” is the sequel to “The Resemblance” and continues to follow detective Marlitt Kaplan as she investigates a student’s apparent suicide on a college campus. The novel delves into themes of depression, alienation, and the lack of mental health resources in academia.

Review of The Professor

“The Professor” has been praised for its thought-provoking exploration of social issues within the context of a gripping mystery. Readers appreciate how Nossett tackles subjects such as mental health and the pressures faced by students and faculty in academia. The novel maintains the same level of suspense and character development as its predecessor, keeping readers engrossed until the end.

Reception of The Professor

“The Professor” has received positive feedback for its compelling narrative and its ability to shed light on important societal issues. Critics have commended Nossett’s skill in balancing the mystery elements with the exploration of social themes, making the novel both entertaining and thought-provoking.

High Marks: PW Talks with Lauren Nossett

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Themes in Nossett’s Novels

Depression and alienation among students

One of the major themes in Nossett’s novels is the prevalence of depression and alienation among students. Through her writing, she explores the underlying causes of these issues and the impact they have on individuals and the wider community. By delving into these themes, Nossett aims to raise awareness and provoke discussion about mental health in academic settings.

The lack of mental health resources in academia

Nossett also addresses the lack of mental health resources in academia, highlighting the challenges faced by both students and faculty. She examines the consequences of this lack of support and the potential for it to exacerbate mental health issues. Through her novels, Nossett encourages a dialogue about the importance of prioritizing mental health and providing adequate resources within educational institutions.

Exploration of social codes and norms

Another recurring theme in Nossett’s novels is the exploration of social codes and norms. Crime, particularly murder, is seen as a violation of these codes, and Nossett uses her mysteries to delve into the underlying motivations and societal factors that contribute to criminal behavior. By exploring these themes, she invites readers to question and reflect on the complexities of human behavior and the influence of social constructs.

Nossett’s Background

Nossett’s background in comparative literature and German literature

Nossett’s background in comparative literature and German literature has shaped her approach to writing mysteries. Her academic studies provided her with a deep understanding of storytelling techniques and the ability to analyze and interpret literature. This foundation has influenced her writing style and allowed her to incorporate literary elements into her genre fiction.

Transition from literary fiction to crime fiction

Nossett initially attempted to write literary fiction but found that she needed the structure and rules of genre to guide her storytelling. The transition to crime fiction allowed her to explore social themes within a narrative framework. By incorporating elements of mystery and suspense into her writing, she could engage readers and inspire them to think critically about the issues she addresses.

Influence of Grief

How grief shaped Nossett’s writing

Grief had a profound influence on Nossett’s writing, particularly after the death of her husband in 2021. It forced her to confront her own mortality and reflect on the portrayal of death in her novels. Her grief seeped into her writing, adding a layer of emotional depth and authenticity to her characters’ experiences of loss and grief.

Representation of death in Nossett’s novels

After experiencing personal loss, Nossett became more attuned to the representation of death in her novels. She recognized the need to portray death as a tangible and deeply impactful event, rather than treating it as something abstract. This shift in perspective allowed her to create more genuine and relatable portrayals of grief and loss in her writing.

Future Plans

Upcoming projects

Nossett has several upcoming projects in the works. She is currently working on the next installment in the Marlitt Kaplan series and is excited to continue exploring the character’s journey. Additionally, she has plans to branch out into other subgenres of mystery and suspense, incorporating different settings and themes into her writing.

Goals as a writer

As a writer, Nossett’s goals are to continue creating engaging and thought-provoking mysteries that resonate with readers. She aims to push the boundaries of the genre and challenge readers’ expectations. Additionally, she hopes to shed light on important social issues and inspire conversations about topics such as mental health and societal norms.

Reception and Impact

Critical reception of Nossett’s novels

Nossett’s novels have received positive critical reception, with reviewers praising her storytelling abilities and her exploration of social themes. Critics have commended her for keeping readers engaged and for seamlessly integrating complex issues into an entertaining narrative. Her novels have garnered attention in the mystery genre and have been recognized for their unique perspective and compelling characters.

Impact on the mystery genre

Nossett’s novels have made an impact on the mystery genre by offering fresh perspectives and tackling social themes within the context of a gripping mystery. Her blend of suspense and exploration of complex social issues has garnered attention and sparked discussions within the genre. She has carved out a unique niche for herself and has gained a dedicated readership.

Conclusion

Final thoughts from Nossett

In conclusion, Nossett emphasizes the importance of genre in her writing and how it allows her to explore social themes. She expresses gratitude for her readers and the critical reception her novels have received. She acknowledges the impact of personal experiences, such as grief, on her writing and the authenticity it brings. Overall, she is excited about her future projects and the opportunity to continue telling engaging mysteries.

Closing remarks

Nossett’s unique blend of mystery and exploration of social themes has captivated readers and critics alike. Her compelling characters and thought-provoking narratives have solidified her place in the mystery genre. As she continues to write and push the boundaries of the genre, she will undoubtedly leave a lasting impact on the world of mystery fiction.

Source: http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/authors/interviews/article/93092-high-marks-pw-talks-with-lauren-nossett.html