"The Year of the Gadfly" by Jennifer Miller

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
The Year of the Gadfly, Jennifer Miller
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Jeff Glor talks to Jennifer Miller about "The Year of the Gadfly."

Jeff Glor:  What inspired you to write the book?

Jennifer Miller: The Year of the Gadfly is a literary mystery set at a high-powered prep school in northwestern Massachusetts. The novel grew out of two experiences I had as a teenager. The first and most serious, was the death of my high school boyfriend, who was killed in a car accident at the age of 17. I based one of the characters in Gadfly on him. I wanted to remember my boyfriend, of course, but I also wanted to better understand the brilliant, kind, and troubled person he was. The second event was a fairly major cheating scandal that my brother exposed at his all-boys prep school in Maryland. In bringing this event light--and in spite of being labeled a NARC and a snitch-- my brother exposed the hypocrisy of the school's honor code and its proclamations of integrity and brotherhood.

JG:  What surprised you the most during the writing process?

JM: I spent six years writing this novel and the book I started out writing bears almost no resemblance to the book in its current form. My protagonist--a precocious teenage journalist who talks to the apparition of CBS' own Edward R. Murrow--didn't exist until year 4 of the writing process!

JG:  What would you be doing if you weren't a writer?

JM: I don't have any other skills! I'm a journalist as well as a fiction writer, so even if I wasn't writing novels, I'd still be out reporting. I also love bluegrass music and play the banjo, so maybe I'd join a band.

JG:  What else are you reading right now?

JM: I just started "A Thousand Acres" by Jane Smiley.

JG: What's next for you?

JM: I'm working on a second novel about the daughter of a Vietnam vet who takes off on a motorcycle trip with her dad and his war buddies when her fiance comes home from Iraq with PTSD.

For more on "The Year of the Gadlfy," visit her website.