Peter Straub has had a long and distinguished career during which he has shown himself adept at writing deeply felt, personal fictions that also resonate with a large audience of readers. I've learned a lot reading his work, and I find myself as drawn to his short fiction as his novels. His latest book, In the Night Room, is about "a famous children’s book author who, in the wake of a grotesque accident, realizes that the most basic facts of her existence, including her existence itself, have come into question. Willy Patrick, the respected author of the award-winning young-adult novel In the Night Room, thinks she is losing her mind–again." (from the dust jacket). The novel is garnering rave reviews, with Publishers Weekly giving the novel a starred review and writing in part:
Moving briskly while ranging from high humor to the blackest dread, this is an original, astonishingly smart and expertly entertaining meditation on imagination and its powers; one of the very finest works of Straub's long career, it's a sure bet for future award nominations.
Recently, Straub consented to justify himself in an interview, of sorts...
Why should readers pick up your book as opposed to, say, just about anybody else's book?
Let's face it, Dan Brown doesn't need any more readers. And I present a certain, well, a certain... a certain je ne sais quoi
. This comes from the insertion of a little bad, illiterate French into every book I write.
Does your book have any socially redeeming qualities? If so, what are they?
Absolutely. My new book, which by the way is called In the Night Room
, in no way advocates murdering children, urinating on your neighbor's lawn, or smoking in elevators.
Does your book have any medicinal or mental health value to readers?
Right again. If you put that book through a juicer, and it had better be a pretty damn powerful machine, what dribbles out at the end is strong enough to let you Ace your calculus exam, make love eight or nine times all in a row, and stay awake six nights running. God, what a book it is.
Assume your book has been filed under "Ages 8 to 12" in the children's section, perhaps by mistake, perhaps not. How horrified do you imagine a child would be after reading your book, and why? How many years of therapy would the child take to recover from the experience?
Any child who should happen to pluck one of my books from a shelf and begin reading will experience a sudden burst of astonishing, in fact well-night mystical clarity, the effects which will linger long into adult life.
If no one buys your book and you are unable to continue publishing your fiction due to the intense vilification that occurs in the media, what line of work will you go into?
If vilified, I would retire to the countryside and run a little bar called Pete's Place, or maybe Sneaky Pete's.