Marisha Pessl: Night Film

Marisha Pessl

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.