Q&A Peter Straub discussion

structure of "Dark Matter"

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message 1: by Dan (new)

Dan Chaon | 1 comments Peter,

I was fascinated by Jeff Vandermeer's review of the book, comparing it to your earlier version of the story, "The Skylark." http://bnreview.barnesandnoble.com/t5...

Could you talk about the process by which the novel came together? Did you work on each piece of this Roshomon-like novel as an individual short story? Did you favor one of the various character's interpretations over an others'?

One of the great pleasures of the book is seeing the events fractured through so many different lenses, but I wondered if you had a "master" narrative that you were working from, or whether you saw each character's interpretation of the events as equally valid?

message 2: by Peter (new)

Peter | 5 comments Mod
This novel took years to write. After that, the editing process turned out to be long and demanding. One good thing that emerged from the editing was this "Roshomon" quality.I knew that Boats saw a tower of dead children, and I knew that Meredith Bright would have a selfish interpretation of what she saw, but the various demonic entities charmed me so much that all the others turned out to be almost exactly alike. However, I knew that the Eel had to surpass everyone else; she was to deliver the definitive account. If you doubt the Eel, you're reading a different book.

I wrote the book in the way I write every novel: from first word to last, in order.

message 3: by Patrick (new)

Patrick Brown | 1 comments I was curious about the chapter about Hootie, as it's presented as a bit of metafiction. Was that the initial idea? Did you ever consider giving any other characters a similar conceit?

message 4: by Peter (new)

Peter | 5 comments Mod
Ah, this is dark matter indeed. The novel was originally written in the third person, and that Hootie chapter about Mallon's rehearsal was simply a section of text, with no surrounding apparatus. One of my editors suggested putting the novel into the first person, and I agreed, thinking it would make everything more immediate. Of course, with the first person comes the requirement that the narrator must be present at every event, or at least hear about various episodes in some detail. When I made the change from first to third, I had little difficulty. What the narrator could not see for himself was simply cut from the book. However, I did not want to lose the rehearsal and the fraternity party afterward. After some thought, I felt I could get it in only by presenting it as a short story written by the narrator -- I wasn't happy with this tactic, in fact I disliked it intensely, but it was the only solution I could find to my dilemma. At least, I thought, most readers would forget it was supposed to be an interpolated story about half-way in.

message 5: by Thomas (new)

Thomas Burchfield (thomasburchfield) | 2 comments Greetings and Apologies:

As a reader of Peter's work for over 30 years, I am sorry I did not make this discussion! I'm a freelance editor who suddenly found himself swamped in a deluge of badly needed work and could not attend this discussion as I'd hoped.

But worry not. I will write about my response to "A Dark Matter" on my webpage at the Red Room in week or so (I just finished reading it last night.)

Until then, cheers to all and to Peter Straub (and to Susan--don't worry; she'll be home soon).

Thomas Burchfield
(510) 547-1092
Author of "Dragon's Ark," a supernatural novel
Visit my page at the Red Room: http://www.redroom.com/member/thomas-...
Author of the comic screenplay "Whackers," available at Smashwords.com
Owner-Operator Thomas Burchfield Editing & Writing Services

message 6: by Peter (new)

Peter | 5 comments Mod
Telling me not to worry about my wife has the odd effect of making me feel a bit worried,

message 7: by Thomas (new)

Thomas Burchfield (thomasburchfield) | 2 comments Oops . . . sorry about that.

message 8: by Peter (new)

Peter | 5 comments Mod
Well, you were right, though. She did come home soon.

message 9: by Char (new)

Char I live in the hope that one day, Mr. Straub will come back here!

message 10: by Char (new)

Char One day...one day.

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