The Hollywood Reporter: Where did the idea for the novel come from?
Daniel Pyne: I never get single inspirations. The most obvious one is my brother actually bought a goldmine back in the nineties near a ski area. For some reason he decided to buy this gold mine and he opened it up and he sort of puttered around inside, he didn’t mine, but the mechanics of it and finding relics of things was cool. I went to visit him and went up there and saw and it sort of stuck in my mind that it was an interesting idea for a story. Then I read a few years ago, there was a guy down in Thailand, a gold speculator who tossed himself out of a helicopter on the way to examine one of his gold sites that turned out to be fraudulent and they didn’t know if he was tossed out of the helicopter or pushed out of the helicopter, and that was. So I kind of take disparate elements and shove them together, but it was a little bit of a homage to my brother and a little bit of a story about brothers, although it doesn’t resemble our relationship at all. But it’s that kind of complicated relationship that people have when they love each other, but they’re also incredible rivals.
THR: In some ways A Hole in the Ground calls to mind the work of David Mamet. Was he an inspiration?
Pyne: I didn’t think of that. But the voice that it pulls with it is a slightly ironic voice that’s a slightly muscular, macho voice that he loves. I didn’t think of him as inspiration, but I can see how you would think that. Anytime time you’re writing about men in real relationships he’s one of the masters of doing that. It still has the twisty caper element to it and the woman caught between two men.
THR: The Colorado setting of the novel functions almost like another character in the novel. Is that a familiar part of the country for you?
Pyne: I spent the first 18 years of my life in Colorado, never leaving. Growing up, my brother’s a lot older than I am and he would take me jeeping, so I knew that territory, I know it really well. It has a very specific feel to it. Not like anywhere in the world. And the altitude, it’s so high, and you’re just overwhelmed by the size of those mountains.
When I write I like to locate things. It’s very important for me to put my stories in a place. The place becomes a part of the story. Because I think that’s true, I think we’re affected by our environment and where we grow up. There’s this whole thing in the book about how people who grow up in Colorado, me included, and certainly my family, there is a boom-bust mentality that you grow up with, that you think you’ll strike it rich. And it’s weird, you don’t think about it until you leave, then you realize ‘oh this is the personality that has personified this place for 150 years.’ It was founded by people who think that way, who think that they’re just one shovel full away from that strike that’s gonna make them rich.
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