Author Andrea Bartz on the Brooklyn inspiration behind ‘The Lost Night’

"The Lost Night" by Andrea Bartz is out Tuesday.
"The Lost Night" by Andrea Bartz is out Tuesday. Photo Credit: SOMOS Community Care

What if one of those wild nights in Brooklyn in your early 20s ended with a mysterious death?

In Andrea Bartz’s debut novel, “The Lost Night,” out Tuesday, such is the case for her protagonist, Lindsay, and her crew of friends in 2009. Ten years later, Lindsay reunites with an estranged friend who found the body of her former best friend, raising questions of what actually happened the night all of their lives changed forever.

Bartz, 32, shared with amNewYork her writing inspiration, why North Brooklyn in its prime is a perfect mystery setting and her current favorite place for writing (and maybe also day drinking).

Where did you get the idea for “The Lost Night”?

I started working on this novel about five years ago. I knew I wanted to write a murder mystery because that’s what I love reading. I was looking for a cool setting where there may be some sort of mysterious death. So I thought back to moving to New York at 23: I was working, but my main hobby was going out with my friends, and we spent a lot of time partying in North Brooklyn. It was a crazy time, with warehouse parties and concerts and DIY venues. There was a specific club-culture feeling, like they ruled the world.

The mysterious death takes place at Bushwick’s Calhoun Lofts; how is that location like the infamous McKibbin Lofts?

The McKibbin Lofts were a dormlike former factory and epicenter for this scene. You could walk in without any plans and find a poetry reading and two different concerts and an EDM dance party. It was an adventure you could have without any idea of where the night would take you. You’d lose your friends and find each other and compare notes. So I thought, what if one of those nights, after all the debauchery, there was a dead body?

What sources did you use to recreate New York from a decade ago?

I don’t keep a journal but I wish I did, it would have made this much easier. I read through my emails from the time and reminisced with friends. I was looking back at things that happened, little vignettes I wrote, similar to my narrator, Lindsay. When I started writing this book five years ago, it didn’t feel that far in the past, so it’s a happy coincidence that it will be published in 2019 — the era now feels special and we can look back nostalgically.

Where in New York do you like to write?

I do a fair amount of writing at home in Williamsburg. I also really like writing in bars, I’m a night owl. It works for me to go to a place that opens at 2 or 3 [p.m.] and have it to myself for a few hours. Tuffet has great daytime drinking deals and a beautiful patio. I’ll have work dates with friends at Norman in Greenpoint, which has the feeling of a co-working space.

Customers browse books at Books Are Magic in Brooklyn.
Customers browse books at Books Are Magic in Brooklyn. Photo Credit: Yeong-Ung Yang

Where do you like to get books?

I love Word in Greenpoint. And Books are Magic has such an actually magic air, you feel like everyone in there really loves books. I like going to McNally Jackson in the city. I prefer the indie stores, of course, but just being in the Barnes & Noble in Union Square, when I have time to kill in the area, gives me hope about the state of books; it’s always packed. That makes me happy.

What are you reading now?

“The Winter Sister” by Megan Collins [which] straddles the line between thriller and family drama. It’s beautifully written and eerie and atmospheric. I just started reading “The Age of Light” by Whitney Scharer. What everyone says is true — it’s just incandescent writing, very transportive. And I just went to a book party for a YA book called “Stolen Time” by Danielle Rollins. It’s a time-traveling heist I’m looking forward to reading.

And what are you planning on writing next?

I’m hard at work revising my second novel, “The Herd,” coming out winter 2020. It also delves deep into female friendships and takes place in New York City. It’s twisty and dark and hopefully funny, and really examines the question of what happens when high-achieving women’s perfect veneers begin to crack.


Andrea Bartz is in conversation with Jason Diamond on Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Books Are Magic | 225 Smith St., Cobble Hill, booksaremagic.net