Also by this author: , After Dark
An Interview with M. Pierce author of the Night Owl Trilogy
Thank you so much for having me and for supporting the Night Owl Trilogy.
1. How did you come up with the concept for the book?
In terms of plotting After Dark (vis-à-vis Night Owl and Last Light) I had it a little easier. Every book has a beginning, middle, and end. A trilogy is, itself, a beginning, middle, and end. I find the middle of a novel the most difficult part to write, just as I found Last Light the most difficult book to write in this trilogy.
But I love ending things—books, chapters, scenes. There’s power in a final word. I like to exploit that power for emotional punch.
Writing After Dark, I already had my main characters in play. Certain long plot lines carried over from books 1 and 2. To sustain a full and satisfying final novel, I looked to my current/working characters for new sources of conflict. That’s why all the drama in After Dark is interpersonal. It’s sexual, familial, occupational—it’s about the issues between lovers, husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, colleagues.
2. Do you frequent sites similar to the ones in the book?
I have had the pleasure of visiting almost all the locations mentioned in the Night Owl Trilogy. Someone somewhere urged writers to “write what you know.” Personally, I find it’s difficult to do otherwise.
3. Did you know when you started writing how the story would end?
Yes. When writing, it’s essential for me to be able to envision the end of a project. I have to see that final scene—see it in my mind, or have a strong sense of it. It anchors me.
I believe that all writing requires intention—academic writing, reportage, fiction too. What intention means for me is taking aim and hitting your mark. I can’t hit my mark unless I know what and where it is.
4. Will you ever reveal yourself to your readers? If so, how do you think it would impact your life?
I am a regular churchgoer and a recovering alcoholic, six years sober. If I put my name behind the highly erotic Night Owl Trilogy, I would not be welcome in my extremely straitlaced church, and I rely on that community as part of my sobriety. Moreover, I would estrange certain family members, which would be devastating to me. My intense privacy is a personal preference as well as a health choice, and I appreciate the respect readers have for that.
5. How old are you?
6. How much of your life is infused into the story?
I would say a lot of my life is/will be infused into any book I write. That’s the nature of the creative process, . We are constantly trying to nail down our vision of something, a feeling or memory, a person or time in our lives. All my favorite writers seem to circle the same obsessions in every book.
I like this quote from William Makepeace Thackeray: “Our great thoughts, our great affections, the truths of our life, never leave us.”
I think I’m constantly trying to infuse “the truths of [my] life” into fiction.
7. What is your writing process (start to finish).
Good question. This seems to change daily. I don’t outline; nothing kills my writing drive faster than a detailed outline.
I write in “the morning” with my first cup of coffee, but “the morning” for me is 3 PM. I will write 1,000 words a day, usually more like 500, if I’m not under deadline. If I throw too many words at the page, I start to treat words like they aren’t precious and precise . . . I get sloppy.
I can’t write much at night. I’ll edit at night. I’ll sit up until 5 a.m. working on edits sometimes. Editing exhausts and depresses me. I really don’t shine during edits. I become an extremely unpleasant person and I sleep a lot.
(I have to say — I remember, as an unpublished author, reading about the writing processes of authors I admired and thinking therein I’d find the magic trick—the key activity that would finally transform me into “a writer.” Maybe if I abused caffeine like Honore or wrote lying down like Walker Percy . . . that strange transformation would happen. But it’s all about work ethic. Native talent is an unnecessary bonus. I’m with Faulkner—“writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness”—writing is work and it’s agonizing work for me.
8.What can we expect next and when? After the release of After Dark.
More books, definitely. Hahaha. I’m 50,000 words into a new project, which is romantic but very different from the Night Owl Trilogy.
9. Words have power, what four words would you use to describe yourself?
10. Matt Sky is one of the most complex characters in current literature. What would your character Matt Sky think of M. Piercethe real author?
Matt Sky would skim my books to establish a mental sense of superiority. He would view me as a competitor, though he would never admit jealousy. He’d playfully mock my writing to Hannah. She would see his bad attitude for what it really was: The kind of deep-seated insecurity that keeps many writers going.
11. You’ve been given the task to host a last minute dinner party. Which authors are on your ultimate dinner invitation list? Why? (Alive or Dead.)
The authors of the sixty-six books of the Bible.
Now that would be a party.
12. What was your favorite book (or chapter in any of the books) to write and why?
After Dark was my favorite book to write. The final chapter was my favorite chapter to write. Why? Because I don’t feel, as a writer, that I’ve earned the right to philosophize and hyperbolize until I’ve given readers what they came for: A good story, well told. Having done (or attempted) that with the Night Owl Trilogy, I let myself go a bit in that final chapter—emotionally speaking.
It’s like the finale at a fireworks display. All those rockets going off, one on top of another, that’s what makes the finale awesome. But that crazy pitch can’t be sustained throughout the whole show. It’s grand because it’s brief and extreme and final. Writing the end of a “saga” is grand like that. It was a rare treat.
13. What has been the toughest criticism you’ve been given as an author? What has been the best compliment?
Criticism, I can’t think of “the toughest” particular piece of that. Lots of rejection, lots of pressure, lots of fear of failure, lots of advice mixed with angry critique, lots of fast friends, dismissal, scrutiny.
There’s real heat in any creative pursuit. Learning how to manage that is part of the game.
The best compliment came from a professor, who said something I wrote was “cut like a diamond.”
General Smooch questions
Favorite childhood toy you wished you still had
The capacity for wonder that comes with youth
Favorite fictional male (or female) character whom you have not written?
Jim Burden of My Antonia by Willa Cather