Dan Mallory’s debut was not an amazing thriller, but his rise in the publishing world is

Dan Mallory, who wrote “The Woman in the Window” under the pen name A.J. Finn, was essentially outed as a manipulative narcissist — and incredibly derivative if not a plagiarist — in an incredible profile by The New Yorker. (Nathan Bajar / For The New York Times)

If this post was a work of fiction, the serendipity I’m about to describe would either be essential to the plot, or bad writing. But, as it happens, I finished up the audiobook version of the much-ballyhooed literary thriller “The Woman in the Window” this morning while trying to wake up after consuming too much beer and brisket during a rather meh Super Bowl.

After the wonderful narration by Ann Marie Lee concludes, there is a short interview with Finn, whose name in our version of reality (that’ll make more sense to you in about five minutes) is Dan Mallory. Lee introduces Mallory as Finn and his real name is not mentioned. What is mentioned is Mallory’s love of thrillers and how Gillian Flynn’s 2012 outlier “Gone Girl” changed the genre (I agree with this and have said as much to folks with whom I discuss thrillers and the current market). Hitchcockian and noir films are also mentioned. He “feasted” on them, Mallory, as Finn, said.

A bit more to the point of this post is Mallory’s mention of the severe depression he’s struggled with for his entire adult life. That experience helped shape his protagonist in “The Woman in the Window,” the agoraphobic child psychologist Anna Fox.

“As a depressed person, I’ve spent many years on fairly intimate terms with grief, misery, and fear,” Mallory, as Finn, said in the interview, which ended the audiobook produced by Mosaic Audio and released Jan. 2, 2018.

“But there’s a silver lining — these struggles have helped me develop a strong sense of empathy, and I’ve tried to bring those experiences, and that hard-won empathy, to the character of a complicated woman who has lost all belief in the possibilities of life.”

Pay attention to that quote, class. It gets a little more confusing from here, and you may have to refer to your notes. You’ll also want to remember that Mallory said he took “exactly one year to write” the novel. Another fact to note: Mallory said he had a very detailed outline from which his characters didn’t deviate during his writing process.

After the audio ended, I checked my Twitter notifications, and from there refreshed my feed to see what the Twitterverse was discussing after Tom Brady and Bill Belichick cemented their godlike gridiron statuses.

One of the first tweets I saw was from Joyce Carol Oates.

I was intrigued, like many writers — especially journalists — would naturally be when encountering a possible case of plagiarism. I dug deeper into Oates’ thread.

That, of course, led me to the New Yorker magazine profile of Dan Mallory, also known as A.J. Finn, who at one point in his bizarre literary life also wrote as his younger brother Jake, whose real name is John.

Confused yet? As you can see, The New Yorker’s web headline is appropriate for the piece: A Suspense Novelist’s Trail of Deceptions.

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In the news: Rick Treon featured in The Big Thrill magazine

Going from interviewer to the interviewee felt a bit strange late last year when Azam Gill from The Big Thrill sent me questions via email. He was working on a feature story for The Big Thrill, the online magazine of the International Thriller Writers.

I already had a couple of short mentions in the local media, basically re-written press releases or a short mention along with other authors having events.

But the story in The Big Thrill was going to be the largest piece written about me and my novel, and it did not disappoint.

Here are some of my favorite parts (please go online to read the whole thing if you can).

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