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Dark Materials: Mystery and Noir Writers Confess at Barnes & Noble

When it comes to things that go bump in the night, or things that bump each other off in the night, Otto Penzler is the man. The proprietor of The Mysterious Bookshop purveys classic and contemporary crime novels, chillers, and thrillers, but in recent years has also become a kind of anthology Master of Ceremonies, rounding up choice selections in such genres as pulp and vampire fiction. Most recently, he has curated two volumes in Houghton Mifflin’s “Best American” series—“The Best American Mystery Stories 2010” (with Lee Child) and “The Best American Noir of the Century” (with James Ellroy).

Last Thursday, Penzler hosted a talk by some of the contributors to these two collections—Lorenzo Carcaterra, Thomas H. Cook, Lyndsay Faye, and Bradford Morrow—at Barnes & Noble on 86th Street. Topics ranged from the difference between short story and novel writing to how you find the dark place in yourself, and how to you get back again.

Bon Mots:

Lorenzo Carcaterra on where the dark stuff comes from: “I’d like to write happy stories. But before you know it, someone’s got a knife, someone’s got a gun…”

Thomas H. Cook weighs in: "Writing dark is really like having an intense conversation with yourself, as opposed to having cocktail conversation with yourself."

Bradford Morrow on the appeal of noir: “I’m drawn to the broken wing.”

Lyndsay Faye on the cliché “write what you know”: "I stopped wanting the "write what I know." I would prefer to write what I want to read…to discover new people, and new settings."