Publishing Tomorrow: What You See in the Dark by Manuel Muñoz

Tomorrow marks the publication day for What You See in the Dark, the debut novel by Manuel Muñoz. Love? Intrigue? Hitchcock? What could be better?

We have three copies of What You See in the Dark to give away. To enter, just leave a comment here on or our Facebook page letting us know which Hitchcock movie you love most and why. Haven’t seen a Hitchcock movie? Go out and rent Psycho IMMEDIATELY.

For more Muñoz, catch him on his Spring 2011 Book Tour, pick up a collection of his short stories, watch the What You See in the Dark trailer below, and read the stellar pre-pub reviews at bottom of this post.



About the book:

Bakersfield, California, in the late 1950s is a dusty, quiet town too far from Los Angeles to share that city’s energy yet close enough to Hollywood to fill its citizens with the kinds of dreams they discover in the darkness of the movie theater. For Teresa, a young, aspiring singer who works at a shoe store, dreams lie in the music her mother shared with her, plaintive songs of love and longing. In Dan Watson, the most desirable young man in Bakersfield, she believes she has found someone to help her realize those dreams.

When a famous actress arrives from Hollywood with a great and already legendary director, local gossip about Teresa and Dan gives way to speculation about the celebrated visitors, there to work on what will become an iconic, groundbreaking film of madness and murder at a roadside motel. No one anticipates how the ill-fated love affair between Dan and Teresa will soon rival anything the director could ever put on the screen.

Praise for What You See in the Dark:

“A performance in literary night vision … Drawing on tremendous empathy and an exacting eye for detail, Muñoz conjures up a vanished era in which the people nevertheless feel indelibly real. Through a small cast of characters, he gives the reader an intimate look into dark places both literal and metaphorical … Muñoz’s lean, graceful prose, shot through with quiet bursts of poetry, enlivens every page.”—AARP VIVA

“[A] stellar first novel … The author brilliantly presents the Actress’s inner thoughts, while he handles the violence with a subtlety worthy of Hitchcock himself. The lyrical prose and sensitive portrayal of the crime’s ripple effect in the small community elevate this far beyond the typical noir.”Publishers Weekly, starred review

“Muñoz (The Faith Healer of Olive Avenue, 2007) has hit upon a killer premise: the making of Psycho (with appearances by the “actress” and the “director”) set against the real-life murder of a young Latina singer in Bakersfield … Muñoz expertly evokes the way quiet desperation can explode into life-altering violence.”—Booklist

What You See in the Dark strikes emotional chords so deep and with such precision, it almost makes you believe you’ve discovered a new art form.”—Austin Chronicle

A “refreshingly innovative first novel … Muñoz has upended the conventional crime novel, lauding a cinematic master while downplaying his own crime scene and concentrating on a secondary victim. Nice work.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Manuel Muñoz’s vividly suspenseful first novel is a fine blend of Hitchcock’s chilly elegance with the sordid passions of James M. Cain: a dark, intimate, heartbreaking tale about four very different women, each one longing to escape the confines of her everyday life through the romantic illusions concocted by Hollywood. Their voices will haunt me for some time to come.”—Julia Glass, author of The Widower’s Tale and Three Junes

“Manuel Munoz has written a novel that is gripping to read and illuminating in what it says. What You See in the Dark begins with a sweet romance and a dark surprise, as it traces the winding path of violence in our dreamy American longings. How beautifully the pieces of this book fit together, and how radiantly original it is.” —Joan Silber, author of Household Words and Ideas of Heaven

31 Comments On This Post:

March 28, 2011
12:09 pm
michele malone says...

I really love psycho. everything about it is super creepy.

March 28, 2011
12:15 pm
Kirkus MacGowan says...

This seems like an easy one, but Birds is still my favorite. Every time I see a huge flock of birds I tell my wife to watch out.

March 28, 2011
12:17 pm
Ivan says...

The Birds. The way Hitchcock took a subject that was looked upon as harmless and turned it into a brilliant killer has my vote.

March 28, 2011
12:18 pm
Lisa says...

I don’t have a favorite hitchcock movie. but I remember the birds and psycho. LOL

March 28, 2011
12:19 pm
Wendy says...

Oh, so many good movies to choose from – loved Vertigo and of course Psycho…but my favorite? Hands down: THE BIRDS

Thanks for the giveaway!

March 28, 2011
12:20 pm
Christine Miller says...

My favorite Hitchcock movie by far is To Catch a Thief! I am a huge fan of old movies and Cary Grant and Grace Kelly are frequently my movie stars of choice. I love the weaving of romance and excitement To Catch a Thief has, as well as Hitchcock’s typical suspense added in. I think what makes this movie so special for me, though, is the fact that I was introduced to it when I was rather young and feel in love with it. My dad and I always will watch it together while decorating gingerbread cookies at Christmas time and around Father’s day. It is a fantastic movie, but I also love all the memories I have built around it. Regardless of how fancy the effects are in action movies today, or how novel a plot is conceived, nothing can beat Hitchcock’s classics!

March 28, 2011
12:22 pm
martha dexter says...

My favorite Hitchcock movie is Vertigo…love the psychological suspense and that it was filmed at San Juan Bautista near where I live in California.

March 28, 2011
12:22 pm
Falise says...

Favorite Hitchcock movie is THE BIRDS. While all of them still hold up today even without the special effects this one has sentimental connection. Yep I said sentimental.

My dad and I used to watch this together in addition to other movies in this genre. It was just us and I got to stay up late to do so. THE BIRDS started it all so while it still creeps me out to this day it always will hold a dear place in my heart.

March 28, 2011
12:25 pm
Jada Bradley says...

I like Marnie because it explores how our pasts can affect the present in myriad ways.

March 28, 2011
12:26 pm
Jenifer says...

The first Hitchcock movie I ever saw was PSYCHO, and it remains my favorite. It scared the holy you-know-what out of me, and started me writing stories of my own. I try to watch it at least once a year, and it still never fails to make me jump out of my skin at least once.

March 28, 2011
12:31 pm
Alex V. Cook says...

ROPE, for those little bits where they focus on the curtains or the back of a chair so they could change the film reels and still have it all in one take. It undoes and builds up the idea of it being a film in one simple move, and then Jimmy Stewart’s character does the same thing with relativist morality.

March 28, 2011
12:35 pm
margosita says...

Vertigo. I’ve also see The Birds and Physco, but both traumatized me at a young age. But Vertigo was interesting and thrilling.

March 28, 2011
12:38 pm
Deborah Combass says...

I have to go with Jamaica Inn — Charles Laughton and Maureen O’hara AND a Dauphne du Maurier book — what more could you want? oh yeah, Alfred Hitchcock 🙂 I just love du Maurier’s works and this one, tho’ lesser known than Rebecca (and even her short story which Hitchcock uses for The Birds so often mentioned here already)is one of my all-time faves.

March 28, 2011
12:43 pm
Teresa says...

I loved Rebecca both the book and the movie. I have read some great early reviews of this one and really want to read it. Thanks for the chance!

March 28, 2011
12:54 pm
Bonnie C. says...

It has to be The Birds… I still get a little freaked out when I see birds accumulating around a playground.

March 28, 2011
1:03 pm
Wendy Wishon says...

Either Rebecca or Vertigo. The beauty of the women…they just don’t have stars like that any more.

March 28, 2011
1:20 pm
Susan Bucharest says...

NORTH BY NORTHWEST – Just an all around spectacular film, great characters, huge cast of locales, twists and turns of plot, and atmospheric music. Additionally, there are great scenes on a train. I’ve seen it hundreds of times, my husband says I recite dialogue from it in my sleep. Though not technically a Hitchcock film, The Ghost Writer, has all the earmarks, and gives hope there will be more films made in the spirit of Hitchcock.

March 28, 2011
1:21 pm
Linda Johnson says...

Rear Window – hands down Grace Kelly, Jimmy Stewart and Raymond Burr. Perfect.

March 28, 2011
1:27 pm
Linda says...

Birds or Rear Window, I believe are two of my favorite Hitchcock films.

March 28, 2011
1:42 pm
Tammy Allen says...

Birds hands down. All of them are great for different reasons. The Birds is laugh-out-loud terrifying.

March 28, 2011
1:46 pm
Sulu says...

I loved Shadow of a Doubt, but my very favorite is The Birds. The eerie light, shadow, and sound effects are pretty amazing. Poor Tippi out on the water in that little john boat, and the bird starts out just divebombing at her blond coif, then pecking at the lapel of her smart jacket….just the beginning of a rocky horror birdie picture show! Also thanks, Al, for the giveaway..would love to read Munoz’s novel.

March 28, 2011
2:17 pm
Rosejunkie (Cathy) says...

My favorite is The Birds….. this movie terrified me when I was young! I was 8 when it was released and to this day if a large flock of birds starts toward me I’m scared. I will never forget how it made me feel. I would love to read the Munoz book! Thank you.

March 28, 2011
2:49 pm
Sara says...

Hitchcock loved my favorite so much that he made it twice: THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH. The second version had Jimmy Stewart and Doris Day, and the unforgettable scene of Doris sitting at the piano and singing “Que sera, sera” in her loudest voice. I loved it as a child and love it now, though it is disconcerting to see the old-fashioned married relationship between Doris and Jimmy. Thanks for giving us a chance to get the Munoz book….

March 28, 2011
2:57 pm
Here Be Dragons says...

North by Northwest – I love Cary Grant and Mount Rushmore.

But The Birds totally freaks me out. I don’t like birds. The movie didn’t help.

March 28, 2011
3:36 pm
Ann Boles says...

I hate to echo everyone else, but The Birds is my favorite Hitchcock movie. This book sound like another winner from Algonquin. I’m looking forward to reading this first novel from a fellow Arizonan.

March 28, 2011
4:39 pm
Ami Kim says...

Loved Rear Window – scared by the Birds. I’ve never seen Psycho! Sounds like I need to get that.

March 28, 2011
4:45 pm
Lisa Peet says...

NOTORIOUS. You’ve got a bad girl gone good, the best screen kiss of the ’40s, and tension — romantic and otherwise — that you could cut with a knife. Cary Grant hits all the right notes in this one. I want him to carry me down the stairs and whisk me away in a car, dammit.

March 28, 2011
5:05 pm
Matt says...

I want one. Munoz is a great writer.

My favorite Hitchcock movie has nothing to do with the movie itself, but everything to do with a great short story it inspired: Mark Richard’s “The Birds at Christmas,” in which the charity ward children DEMAND a viewing of The Birds.

PS…Any word on when the next installment of NEW STORIES FROM THE SOUTH is coming out? I always love this anthology.

March 28, 2011
5:53 pm
Ruthie B says...

Rear Window was the best but I still can’t look at birds the same way!

March 29, 2011
7:03 am
Hira H. says...

I am not surprised a lot of people chose the movie “The Birds”, if you’ve watched it, you know precisely why this particular title re-emerges as a favorite.

What makes Hitchcock so very special was the treatment of his movies – while others were busy doling out sound effects to add to the eeriness of the plot, Hitchcock , in his movie “The Birds”, was experimenting with extended bouts of silence, and a movie without a musical score. Hitchcock played with pacing, at times he set the pace painstakingly slow, and at other times (especially with the Birds attacking) the pace was akin to a feverish frenzy. With these varying nuances, Hitchcock builds a tension so sublime, the audience feels more dread than a 6 year old on his first roller-coaster ride. Hitchcock’s “The Birds” was cinematic genius, and an immensely engrossing movie, one which the audience can enjoy over and over again — for me, one of his utmost best.

Thank you so very much for a chance to win Munoz’s “What You See in the Dark”, can’t wait to read it!

March 29, 2011
2:07 pm
Chris Roberts says...

The entirety that is Alfred Hitchcock’s psyche can be found in his masterwork, “Rear Window.” It is driven first by boredom, due to protagonist “Jeff” Jeffries’ sedentary condition, followed by paraonia and ultimately, terror. Hitchcock weaves a palpable sense of claustrophobia into the story, both with the views through the binoculars of the villain Lars Thorwald and the seemingly shrinking apartment of the voyeur Jeff. Hitchcock blends the cerebral and emotion flawlessly in this classic film.

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