Best-selling US author Daniel Mallory has admitted lying about having brain cancer for years in an article that has accused him of making up many details of his past.
In a profile for The New Yorker magazine, the writer of the thriller The Woman in the Window made the confession and spoke at length about mental illness, which he said was the “defining experience” of his life.
Mallory wrote the popular book under the pseudonym AJ Finn and it spent weeks on top of the New York Times best-seller list.
At the centre of the story is Anna Fox, an alcoholic agoraphobe who from inside her own unstable world thinks she witnesses a crime happening at her neighbour’s home.
The book uses the main character as an unreliable narrator and has been praised for its clever references to films and conventions of the crime genre.
It has also been turned into a film – due out in October – starring Amy Adams and Gary Oldman.
More than 2 million copies of the book, which Stephen King has endorsed as “one of those rare books that really is unputdownable”, have been sold.
Among the revelations in the article are claims Mallory told people he had worked with in the publishing business in London and New York that he had cancer and that he also lied about it on an application to Oxford University.
Mallory had also claimed to have a PhD from the university but records showed he had completed only a master’s degree, the article said.
“It is the case that on numerous occasions in the past, I have stated, implied, or allowed others to believe that I was afflicted with a physical malady instead of a psychological one: cancer, specifically,” Mallory said in a statement in response to the article.
“With the benefit of hindsight, I’m sorry to have taken, or be seen to have taken, advantage of anyone else’s goodwill, however desperate the circumstances that was never the goal.”
The New Yorker article also reported that Mallory had misrepresented his professional history and had claimed to have been an editor with US publisher Ballantine but had worked there only as an assistant.
In his response statement, Mallory said he had been “afflicted with severe bipolar II disorder” and “experienced crushing depressions, delusional thoughts, morbid obsessions, and memory problems”.
“It’s been horrific, not least because, in my distress, I did or said or believed things I would never ordinarily say, or do, or believe — things of which, in many instances, I have absolutely no recollection,” the statement said.