Marisha Pessl: Night Film

Marisha Pessl

viereckieg-augen asked- Your novels are long and complex. What do you do to not get lost in a story? What happens if you do?

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Crazyinspired asked- Is writing easy for you? You’re so talented, it makes me wonder if you ever struggle during the creative process. Congrats on your well-deserved success!

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imarijack asked- Do you have crafted character plans and action maps before you start writing?

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Piddleton asked: Hi Marisha. First, congrats on Night Film–it was outstanding! I was hypnotized from the very beginning. My question is, when you embark on writing a novel, do you ever get intimidated by the sheer scope of it, e.g., subplots, number of characters, etc. If so, how do you plow through?

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RoadsideFireworks asked- Did you pick upstate New York (i.e. the Adriondacks) for the setting of The Peak because there is a lot of real-life cult activity in that part of the country? Is that where you drew some of your inspiration?

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What Inspires You?


american-hustle asked: Hey Ms Pessl! Both of your books are all-time favorites, and I was wondering what books/film/music inspires you? A more specific question, in case you’re bored of answering that one a billion times: What do you do when you feel stuck? & NIGHT FILM had so many great side-characters (I love Nora like crazy); how do you balance the amount of screen time each sub plot and character get? Again, thanks so much! :)

Marisha- I’d say it’s masterful storytelling that inspires me whether it’s a film, book, TV series.  WIth music it would be something that inspires a mood or emotion.  All great art takes you somewhere.  Even if I end up in the same place where I started it doesn’t matter — it’s where I go in between those two points that matters.

In terms of feeling stuck: Stick around.  Just don’t get up and you’ll inevitably find something that gets your imagination going. 

Submit your questions for me HERE.


Lois Crouse asked- Night Film: Best, most gripping and well-written book I’ve read in a long time! One question: How would Marlowe know so much about Ashley? She was the wife prior to Astrid and out of their lives by the time Ashley was born. Also, why she was married only three months to Cordova was never addressed. Thank you for the most thrilling literary experience. 

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Cordova Inspiration

thegillsgirls asked: I just watched a film on J.D Salinger and his life was eerily similar to Mr. Cordovas in Night Film! Were you inspired by him? Or complete coincidence?

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The Best Book of 2013

ryancmillerstuff asked: What’s the best book you read in 2013? What are you excited to read in 2014?

Marisha- The best book I read in 2013 was a biography of Tennessee Williams called Tom by Lyle Leverich.  In 2014 I’m catching up on 2013, so I’m about to dive into The Signature of All Things by Liz Gilbert. 

Brilliant, haunting, breathtakingly suspenseful, Night Film is a superb literary thriller by the New York Times bestselling author of the blockbuster debut Special Topics in Calamity Physics.

On a damp October night, beautiful young Ashley Cordova is found dead in an abandoned warehouse in lower Manhattan. Though her death is ruled a suicide, veteran investigative journalist Scott McGrath suspects otherwise. As he probes the strange circumstances surrounding Ashley’s life and death, McGrath comes face-to-face with the legacy of her father: the legendary, reclusive cult-horror-film director Stanislas Cordova—a man who hasn’t been seen in public for more than thirty years.

For McGrath, another death connected to this seemingly cursed family dynasty seems more than just a coincidence. Though much has been written about Cordova’s dark and unsettling films, very little is known about the man himself. Driven by revenge, curiosity, and a need for the truth, McGrath, with the aid of two strangers, is drawn deeper and deeper into Cordova’s eerie, hypnotic world.

The last time he got close to exposing the director, McGrath lost his marriage and his career. This time he might lose even more.

Night Film, the gorgeously written, spellbinding new novel by the dazzlingly inventive Marisha Pessl, will hold you in suspense until you turn the final page.

Scan select images in the novel with the Night Film Decoder app to unlock exclusive multimedia content.

With the free Night Film Decoder you can enhance your Night Film experience. Interactive touch points buried throughout the text of the book will unlock extra content on your smartphone or tablet.

    If you have a device with a rear-facing camera (connected to WiFi or a cellular network), please follow these steps to access the bonus content:

  • - Download the free Night Film Decoder app from your app store.
  • - Install the Night Film Decoder on your device.
  • - Search for the bird image above in select illustrations throughout Night Film. When you see it, launch the app on your device and scan the illustration with the rear-facing camera on your device until a Play button appears on the screen. Hint: Not every one hides a secret.
  • - Press the Play button and enjoy.

* Works with any version of the book—both print and eBook.

Welcome to my world. I’d like to use this space to tell you a bit more about me, what you might not find on Google or Wikipedia.

I currently live in New York City but grew up in Asheville, North Carolina, graduating from Asheville High School. I had a very creative childhood (a glimpse of which can be seen here) and began writing mysteries as a very young child (one can be read here). I attended Northwestern University where I majored in Film and Television, then transferred my junior year to Barnard College in New York where I majored in Contemporary Literature with a minor in Playwriting.

I dreamed of being an actor or playwright when I grew up. This changed shortly after I graduated from college and was hired by PricewaterhouseCoopers. In my cubicle on the fifty-second floor of the Fox News Building when my boss and coworkers believed I was hard at work on Power Point presentations, I was actually searching the company database for good names to use for my main characters in a new novel I was writing called The Anatomy of Butterflies, later retitled to Memoir of an American Girl. Two years later, after moving to London, I finished this book, which went on to be retitled Special Topics in Calamity Physics. It was a New York Times bestseller, published in 30 countries, and a New York Times book of the year. It was a dream come true to say the least. Yet my favorite part of this job is the creation of a book—building a universe from scratch, populating this planet with characters and landmarks and hidden tunnels and shops and corners, dark histories and hopeful futures.

I’m often asked to explain what my novels are about, but I find it difficult to really answer. That’s like asking the moth to analyze its flight pattern as it blindly careens from porch light to porch light in the pitch dark. Writing is a meditation, a brutal trek through the wilderness, and a magic trick all at once.

My writing schedule is like any normal job, 9 – 5, M – F. I used to plot out my books meticulously but now I like to start with a specific premise and see where it leads. A few people who influence my work are Agatha Christie, John Hughes, Mark Twain, David Lynch, Damien Hirst, John Lasseter, Georgia O’Keefe, Shel Silverstein, Preston Sturges, Woody Allen, and Truman Capote.

I love fearless people who build companies and outsiders who design worlds, anyone who isn’t afraid to break the mold or stand alone. I love old movies starring Carey Grant or Carole Lombard where everyone wears shimmering eveningwear and talks rapid-fire with a Transatlantic accent. My favorite TV show of all time is Breaking Bad, my favorite films Godfather II and Manhattan. “Ramble On” is a perfect song.

I love people who take time out of their hectic lives to read, so I look forward to meeting you in bookstores around the world. I hope that you never stop finding a reading books or seeking the truth to the mysteries in your own life with courage, laughter, and a healthy respect for murk.

Sovereign. Deadly. Perfect.

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