Monday, March 5, 2018
in conversation with Clarissa Cruz
discussing his late wife Michelle McNamara’s book,
I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer
The Writers Guild Theatre
135 S Doheny Dr,
Beverly Hills, CA 90211
“I was married to a crime fighter for a decade,” writes Patton Oswalt in describing his wife, Michelle McNamara. “She was born with a true cop’s heart and mind… She made everything about me and everyone around her better. And she did it by being quietly, effortlessly original.” When Michelle died in the spring of 2016, she was still hard at work on her debut book.
“I’ll Be Gone in the Dark will undoubtedly be stocked in the True Crime section, which is fine, but in so many ways it’s a brilliant genre-buster. It’s propulsive, can’t-stop-now reading, which makes it all too easy to ignore the clean and focused writing.
What readers need to know—what makes this book so special—is that it deals with two obsessions, one light and one dark. The Golden State Killer is the dark half; Michelle McNamara’s is the light half. It’s a journey into two minds, one sick and disordered, the other intelligent and determined. I loved this book.” —Stephen King
Patton Oswalt is a comedian, actor, and writer. From his award-winning comedy specials to his many memorable film roles and guest appearances on his favorite TV shows (including Parks and Recreation, for which he received a TV Critics Choice Award), Oswalt continues to choose work that inspires him and entertains audiences. He tours regularly and extensively, headlining both in the United States, Canada, and the UK.
On TV, Oswalt had a starring role on Adult Swim’s The Heart, She Holler, was a series regular on Showtime’s United States of Tara, recurred on the SyFy series Caprica, and has had many guest roles on Veep, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Parks and Recreation, Justified, Two and a Half Men, Portlandia, Bored to Death, Flight of the Conchords, The Sarah Silverman Program, Tim and Eric’s Awesome Show, and Seinfeld, among others. He is also very well known for playing ‘Spence’ on The King of Queens for nine seasons. He was also a regular contributor to Countdown with Keith Olbermann, Real Time with Bill Maher, and Lewis Black’s Root of All Evil.Oswalt also has a regular, bi-monthly show at the new Largo at the Coronet Theater in Los Angeles. Both of his published books Zombie Spaceship Wasteland (2011) and Silver Screen Fiend (2015) are New York Times Best Sellers.
Michelle McNamara’s (1970-2016) fascination with unsolved murders began as a teenager, when a young girl was killed less than half a mile from her family’s home. As an adult, she channeled her obsession into the website True Crime Diary. After earning an MFA in fiction writing from the University of Minnesota, she sold two television pilots to ABC and Fox and a screenplay to Paramount. She lived in Los Angeles and is survived by her husband, Patton Oswalt, and their daughter, Alice.
For more than ten years, a mysterious and violent predator — The Golden State Killer — committed fifty sexual assaults in Northern California before moving south, where he perpetrated ten sadistic murders. Then he disappeared, eluding capture by multiple police forces and some of the best detectives in the area.
Three decades later, Michelle McNamara, a true crime journalist who created the popular website TrueCrimeDiary.com, was determined to find the violent psychopath she called “the Golden State Killer.” Michelle pored over police reports, interviewed victims, and embedded herself in the online communities that were as obsessed with the case as she was.
At the time of the crimes, the Golden State Killer was between the ages of eighteen and thirty, Caucasian, and athletic—capable of vaulting tall fences. He always wore a mask. After choosing a victim—he favored suburban couples—he often entered their home when no one was there, studying family pictures, mastering the layout. He attacked while they slept, using a flashlight to awaken and blind them. Though they could not recognize him, his victims recalled his voice: a guttural whisper through clenched teeth, abrupt and threatening.
I’ll Be Gone in the Dark—the book McNamara was writing at the time of her sudden death—offers an atmospheric snapshot of a moment in American history and a chilling account of a criminal mastermind and the wreckage he left behind. It is also a portrait of a woman’s obsession and her unflagging pursuit of the truth. Framed by an introduction by Gillian Flynn and an afterword by her husband, Patton Oswalt, the book was completed by Michelle’s lead researcher and a close colleague. Utterly original and compelling, it is destined to become a true crime classic—and may at last help unmask the Golden State Killer.
Clarissa Cruz is the Senior Editor, Books at Entertainment Weekly. She was previously an editor at O, The Oprah Magazine and People Magazine, and has written for many publications, including InStyle, Inc., New York and Time Out.