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Arts & Performance

Author Marisha Pessl discusses her creative process, her WNC roots, and her need for privacy


A recent New York Magazine profile of Marisha Pessl describes a lecture the thirtysomething author gave at Lenoir-Rhyne University in Hickory four years ago.  She quoted an interview with Stan Cordova. The presentation went on. Lots of people quote famous people in lectures, sure-- but Pessl had just cited the work of a character in Night Film, a book she hadn't even published yet.

While this anecdote is certainly unique, it's not surprising if you've read Night Film. Pessl has created a world in these pages, one that becomes increasingly dark and disorienting, and the story's details are acutely intriguing, especially with Pessl's use of "digital" content, bringing Wikipedia articles and chat screens to the book's pages in an innovative way.

Stanislaus Cordova is the reclusive  terror film director whose daughter mysteriously dies in the beginning of the story. Scott McGrath, our valiantly imperfect narrator, is an investigative journalist whose career was burned last time he tried to report on Cordova's eerie lifestyle. He knows he's unwise to unravel the events that led to Cordova's daughter's death, but he's inextricably drawn to the case.  

Much like Cordova, Pessl likes to keep her private life just that--private. She says that as she's creating her characters and the world they live in, "[t]here has to be the sense of a dark room where there's no judgment and there's no outside voices, where you can create a bit like an alchemist."

WCQS reporter Greta Johnsens poke with Pessl about her creative process, her own need for privacy, and what it was like to grow up in Asheville.

Marisha Pessl will read excerpts from Night Film and sign copies tonight at 7pm at Malaprop's Bookstore in downtown Asheville.