Interview with Julia Dahl, author of Run You Down

03 Sep 2015

Tell us a little bit about your new release, Run You Down.

Run You Down is the sequel to Invisible City and follows NYC tabloid reporter Rebekah Roberts as she investigates the mysterious death of a young Hasidic Jewish mother in upstate New York. The book introduces readers to Rebekah’s mother, Aviva, who left her insular Hasidic community as a teenager and has struggled to create a life for herself outside the ultra-religious world of her youth.

What’s rocking your world this month?

I recently finished reading Laura McHugh’s debut novel “The Weight of Blood” and completely fell in love with it. I was reading it, standing up, on crowded subways to and from work. I met Laura at Thriller Fest this year. We were both nominated for Best First Novel and losing to her was, honestly, kind of an honor. I can’t wait to read what she does next.

I also just finished watching “Bloodline” on Netflix. In my fantasy world, I get to write for a moody, intelligent show like that. Ben Mendelsohn’s performance as the eldest son of a prominent Florida Keys family is the best piece of acting I’ve seen in years.

What is the one movie that you can quote the most?

The Big Lebowski, dude.

How does writing about crime for effect the novels you write?

Being attuned to the news helps me see patterns in crime and criminal justice, and even though I mostly focus on breaking news at my current job, I’m always paying attention to things I see happening over and over: mass shootings, wrongful convictions, family violence. When I’m working on creating a novel, I tend to have a specific injustice (or set of injustices) in mind that I want to tackle. From secrecy in insular communities to the perils of intolerance, it’s usually something I think is worthy of investigation and attention, but that I haven’t been able to delve deeply into as a reporter.

I also think that, in general, being a journalist helps me keep my prose tight, and reminds me that each paragraph and scene needs to have a purpose, and keep the story moving forward.

How do you like to spend a rainy day?

Either sitting on my porch writing, or napping.

Pretend you qualified for the Olympics this year. What sport would you compete in?


What’s your favorite quote from Run You Down?

I’m not sure it’s my favorite (I don’t think I can pick a favorite!), but I definitely like this paragraph from Aviva’s first chapter – when she first experiences life outside the shtetl of Borough Park:

“The ride to Florida was thirty-two hours of sticky floors and sneezing strangers and body odor and anticipation. At a truck stop in Virginia there was food on a conveyor belt. Heaping meals of greasy brown and yellow and white that glowed beneath heat lamps. In North Carolina we put quarters into televisions attached to hard plastic chairs and watched a game show while we waited for a transfer. There was vomit in the sink of the rest stop in Georgia. Bloody menstrual pads overflowing the courtesy bins in the bathroom stalls. Door latches broken, coffee burnt, half-dressed women, dead-eyed men, inconsolable children, and everywhere fluorescent bulbs blinking and buzzing overhead. It was all ugliness and sorrow – exactly as I’d been warned the goyish world would be.”

Do you have a favorite local bookstore we can give a shoutout to?

I am incredibly lucky to live in a place (New York City) with a wealth of bookstores. Personal favorites are Book Court, Mysterious Bookshop, Community Bookstore, and Greenlight Books.

Do you have a motto, quote or philosophy you live by?

I have two:

“Talk about a dream, try to make it real.” – Bruce Springsteen

“The ancient commission of the writer has not changed. He is charged with exposing our many grievous faults and failures, with dredging up to the light our dark and dangerous dreams for the purpose of improvement. Furthermore, the writer is delegated to declare and to celebrate man’s prove capacity for greatness of heart and spirit – for gallantry in defeat – for courage, compassion and love.” – John Steinbeck


Julia Dahl is the author of the new book Run You Down.

Connect with Julia
Author Website

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Taylor loves books with a heavy dose of absurdity, hilarity, and beautiful prose. She is a marketer, adventurer, nature-lover, Hufflepuff, wannabe world traveler, and advocate of laughter.