The B&N Podcast: Stephen Chbosky on His Scary Side


Every author has a story beyond the one that they put down on paper.

Happy Halloween! On today’s episode of the B&N Podcast, we’re joined by the novelist and filmmaker Stephen Chbosky, for a conversation about his spine-tingling new novel Imaginary Friend. Many readers and moviegoers alike know Chbosky as the author of the acclaimed coming-of-age story The Perks of Being a Wallflower — a deeply affecting and bracing novel that instantly found a devoted audience. That audience grew even larger thanks to Chbosky’s deft and memorable 2012 film adaptation of his own work. His long-awaited second work of fiction is now finally here, and while there is something of a rite of passage in Imaginary Friend, we’re in a very different place than the Pittsburgh high school of his debut. Imaginary Friend is the story of a seven year old boy named Christopher and his mother Kate, their arrival in a small town with a strange past, and what happens when Christopher disappears into the woods for nearly a week — only to return terribly changed, and obsessed with the knowledge that the fate of the world is in his hands. The chilling tale that follows takes in the secret lives and hidden shames of a community, a cosmic clash between mysterious forces, and the deep love between parent and child. We spoke to Stephen Chbosky in our podcast studio about his excursion into nightmare, and what drove him there.

A young boy is haunted by a voice in his head in this haunting epic of literary horror from the #1 NYT bestselling author of The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

Christopher is seven years old.

Christopher is the new kid in town.

Christopher has an imaginary friend.

We can swallow our fear or let our fear swallow us.

Single mother Kate Reese is on the run. Determined to improve life for her and her son, Christopher, she flees an abusive relationship in the middle of the night with her child. Together, they find themselves drawn to the tight-knit community of Mill Grove, Pennsylvania. It’s as far off the beaten track as they can get. Just one highway in, one highway out.

At first, it seems like the perfect place to finally settle down. Then Christopher vanishes. For six awful days, no one can find him. Until Christopher emerges from the woods at the edge of town, unharmed but not unchanged. He returns with a voice in his head only he can hear, with a mission only he can complete: Build a tree house in the woods by Christmas, or his mother and everyone in the town will never be the same again.

Twenty years ago, Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower made readers everywhere feel infinite. Now, Chbosky has returned with an epic work of literary horror, years in the making, whose grand scale and rich emotion redefine the genre. Read it with the lights on.

Explore more books by Stephen Chbosky.

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