Silver Spring author Eve Ottenberg decided to dive into the dark side of a decade in her crime thriller “Dark is the Night.” Set in the 1960s, the story follows characters living on the fringes of society in the underbelly of an unnamed East Coast city.
The novel tells the story of drug-dealing hippie Iago Dustingrove who also is a police spy living in a commune ghetto on the edge of a university neighborhood. The story also centers on his girlfriend who is having an affair with one of his competitors in the drug trade, a local legislator who is campaigning to recall the city’s mob-connected mayor and a political radical plotting to blow up city hall.
While some characters and situations are extreme, Ottenberg intended the book to have a “true crime” feel.
“In some dialogue there is satire. Overall, it’s a pretty grim picture about the results of human endeavor,” she says. “Things do not work out well for most the characters in this book.”
One of the novel’s themes is “the propinquity of the unknown” and how each character deals with forces that are out of their control, and how it effects their lives, Ottenberg says.
“It’s like they dwell in a kind of darkness, most of them. That is where the title comes from,” she says. “There are a few people who are really actively trying to do good, but overall, forces of good in the world are relatively weaker than those of the bad, which are always busy, always pushing forward and very hard to stop.”
Ottenberg works as a school library media specialist in the Prince George’s County Public School district, and usually is able to spend her summers writing. The prolific author has published nine books total, the last five with Publish America, a print-on-demand book publisher. This year she also published a novel titled “The Walk Out: A Tale in Three Parts” about teacher strikes, and a collection of short stories titled “What They Didn't Know, Stories and Essays.”
Ottenberg previously has been a political columnist for The Village Voice and has been published in The Washington Post, The New York Times and Vanity Fair, among other publications. She credits her journalism career with exposing her to writing frequently, organizing her thoughts and using real-life events as inspiration.
“It’s given me lots of ideas for the books I write. It’s a big help,” she says.
Because she was a teenager in the 1960s, Ottenberg says she was able to use her memories to inspire many of the book’s characters and situations.
“I remember a lot about what people were concerned with,” she says. “I went to political rallies protesting the war in Vietnam, I knew political activists. A lot of this, it is back there in my mind, I remember it.”
Although she finished “Dark is the Night” several years ago, Ottenberg felt that this year was the perfect time to publish the book because mass political movements are making headlines around the globe. She felt that many of the issues of the 1960s are something that people today could relate to.
“It doesn’t seem all that different than what is going on with us,” she says.