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Nic Pizzolatto

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Title: Nic Pizzolatto  
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Subject: The Long Bright Dark, True Detective (season 1), True Detective (season 2), The Killing (season 1), True Detective
Collection: 1975 Births, 21St-Century American Novelists, American Crime Fiction Writers, American Male Novelists, American Male Screenwriters, American Male Short Story Writers, American Short Story Writers, American Television Producers, American Television Writers, American Writers of Italian Descent, Depauw University Faculty, Living People, Louisiana State University Alumni, Male Television Writers, Showrunners, True Detective, University of Arkansas Alumni, University of Chicago Faculty, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Faculty, Writers from New Orleans, Louisiana, Writers Guild of America Award Winners
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Nic Pizzolatto

Nic Pizzolatto
Born (1975-10-18) October 18, 1975
New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.
Occupation Author, screenwriter, producer
Nationality American
Alma mater Louisiana State University
University of Arkansas
Genre Literary fiction
Crime fiction
Notable works True Detective
Spouse Amy Pizzolatto
Children 1

Nicholas Austin[1] "Nic" Pizzolatto (born October 18, 1975) is an American novelist, short story writer, screenwriter, and producer. He is best known for creating the HBO crime drama series True Detective.


  • Early life 1
  • Career 2
    • Fiction writing 2.1
      • Short stories 2.1.1
      • Novels 2.1.2
    • Teaching 2.2
    • Television writing 2.3
    • Screenwriting 2.4
  • Awards 3
  • Personal life 4
  • Filmography 5
    • Films 5.1
    • Television series 5.2
      • Writer 5.2.1
  • Publications 6
  • Notes and references 7
  • External links 8

Early life

Pizzolatto, one of the two middle children of four,[2] was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, the son of Nick Pizzolatto, Jr., an attorney, and Sheila Pizzolatto (née Sierra), who was a schoolteacher until Pizzolatto was 6.[3][4] He is of Italian descent.[5] Pizzolatto grew up poor[5][6] in a working-class Catholic family[7][8] in New Orleans and at age 5,[9] he and his family moved to the rural area of Lake Charles, Louisiana.[10][11] He described his hometown in unflattering terms: "Lots of poor, stupid people there, lots of drinking and fighting and cheating. Also lots of fanatical religion and illiteracy. It’s a rough place, and you grow up fighting."[5] Pizzolatto had an unhappy childhood and said, "where I grew up gave you violence as a common language, as much a part of daily life as the French Creole the Cajuns spoke. Violence as a legitimate rhetoric in daily life."[5] He has since been estranged from his parents and never visited Lake Charles, explaining that "there's a certain amount of trauma tied to that, largely physical trauma."[5] Growing up in a household that didn't have books or "any other kind of intellectual materials", he spent his free time in the woods and around nature.[5] He became interested in art, and said he used it "to escape my surroundings."[12]

He graduated from St. Louis Catholic High School in 1993[3][13] and left home when he was 17.[5] He attended Louisiana State University on a visual arts scholarship.[6][12] After he graduated from LSU with a B.A. in English and philosophy,[14] his fiction professor and mentor died. Pizzolatto gave up writing and moved to Austin, Texas, where he worked as a bartender and technical writer[14] for four years.[6] He later enrolled in an MFA program in Creative Writing at the University of Arkansas, and received the Lily Peter Fellowship for poetry and Walton fellowship in 2003.[2][14][15][16] He graduated in 2005.[14]


Fiction writing

Short stories

He wrote two short stories when he was completing his MFA at the University of Arkansas – "Ghost-Birds" and "Between Here and the Yellow Sea" – which were sold to The Atlantic Monthly.[6][17] In 2004, his work was among the finalists for the National Magazine Award in Fiction.[14] His collection of short fiction Between Here and the Yellow Sea was long-listed for the 2006 Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award and was also named one of the top five fiction debuts of the year by Poets & Writers Magazine.[18]

He also received an honorable mention from the Pushcart Prize, and his short story "Wanted Man" is included in Best American Mystery Stories 2009.


His first novel, Galveston, was published by Scribner's in June 2010.[19] It sold translations in France, Hong Kong, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Argentina, Brazil, Czech Republic, Hungary, Norway, Bulgaria, Poland, Russia, Portugal and Arab countries. In 2005, Pizzolatto was named one of Poets & Writers magazine's best new writers. In 2010, Galveston earned him the Prix du Premier Roman Étranger, the French Academy’s award for Best First Novel, Foreign.[10] It was also a 2010 Edgar Award finalist for best first novel.[2] Galveston also won third prize in the 2010 Barnes and Noble Discovery Award, and additionally won the 2011 Spur Award for Best First Novel from the Western Writers of America.


Before creating True Detective, Pizzolatto taught fiction and literature as Kenan Visiting Writer (2005–2006) at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, in Spring 2008 at the University of Chicago, and as Assistant Professor of English (2008–2012) at DePauw University.[14] He moved to California to pursue a screenwriting career in the summer of 2010.[2]

Television writing

In 2011, he wrote two episodes for the first season of the crime drama television series The Killing.[20] Pizzolatto was dissatisfied by the dynamic between the showrunner and the writers of the show; he remarked that, "I want to be the guiding vision. I don't do well serving someone else's vision."[9] He decided to leave the show after spending two weeks in the writers room on the show's second season.[9]

In 2012, he created an original television series called True Detective, which was sold to HBO and completed shooting in June 2013, with Pizzolatto as executive producer, sole writer, and showrunner.[21] It premiered in January 2014, and became the most watched freshman show in the network's history.[22] The show was critically acclaimed[23][24] and was so popular the finale crashed HBO's HBO Go streaming service.[25] Pizzolatto listed several influences on the show's first season: philosophy books such as Thomas Ligotti's The Conspiracy Against the Human Race, Eugene Thacker's In The Dust Of This Planet, Ray Brassier's Nihil Unbound, Jim Crawford's Confessions of an Antinatalist, and David Benatar's Better Never To Have Been. Pizzolatto also mentions horror authors Laird Barron, John Langan, Simon Strantzas, and Ligotti.[26]

In August 2014, an article alleged that Pizzolatto plagiarized Thomas Ligotti's book The Conspiracy Against the Human Race: A Contrivance of Horror, citing eleven examples that included word-for-word quotations.[27] HBO and Pizzolatto made statements that they considered the allegations groundless, arguing that philosophical ideas can never be plagiarized.[28] These allegations were widely disputed by many media sources, including Laura Miller of Salon,[29] and no claim was ever filed.

A new season of True Detective premiered on June 21, 2015, with Pizzolatto again writing all the episodes.[30]


Pizzolatto has co-written the screenplay, along with John Lee Hancock, for The Magnificent Seven, a contemporary crime film remake of the period-piece western The Magnificent Seven (1960) (which is itself a western remake of Akira Kurosawa's 1954 film, The Seven Samurai). Antoine Fuqua is attached to direct, and cast members include Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Vincent D'Onofrio, Lee Byung-hun, Ethan Hawke, Peter Sarsgaard and others. The film is slated to be released on September 23, 2016.


The first two short stories Pizzolatto submitted sold simultaneously to The Atlantic. His collection of short fiction Between Here and the Yellow Sea was long-listed for the 2006 Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award and named one of the top five fiction debuts of the year by Poets & Writers Magazine.[18]

Pizzolatto was a finalist for the National Magazine Award for Fiction in 2004. He received an honorable mention from the Pushcart Prize, and his story "Wanted Man" is included in Best American Mystery Stories 2009.

His novel Galveston won third prize in the 2010 Barnes and Noble Discovery Award, and was a finalist for the 2010 Edgar Award for best first novel. It won the 2011 Spur Award for Best First Novel from the Western Writers of America. In France, Galveston was awarded the Prix du Premier Roman étranger[31] (Best Foreign First Novel) for 2011, by a jury of literary critics.

For the 66th Primetime Emmy Awards, Pizzolatto was nominated for Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series for "The Secret Fate of All Life".[32]

For the 67th Writers Guild of America Awards, Pizzolatto and the series won for Best Drama Series and Best New Series.[33]

In 2015, Pizzolatto was nominated for a Producers Guild of America Award for Outstanding Producer of Episodic Television, Drama for True Detective.[34]

In 2015, Pizzolatto was named British GQ Writer of the Year.[35]

Pizzolatto and True Detective won the 2015 British Academy Television Award for Best International Programme.[36]

Personal life

Pizzolatto has lived in California[2] with his wife, Amy,[2] and daughter since 2010.[15][37]



Television series


Year Show Season Episode Episode number Original airdate Notes
2013 The Killing 1 "What You Have Left" 6 May 1, 2011
"Orpheus Descending" 13 June 19, 2011 Written by Pizzolatto & Veena Sud
2014 True Detective 1 "The Long Bright Dark" 1 January 12, 2014
"Seeing Things" 2 January 19, 2014
"The Locked Room" 3 January 26, 2014
"Who Goes There" 4 February 9, 2014
"The Secret Fate of All Life" 5 February 16, 2014
"Haunted Houses" 6 February 23, 2014
"After You've Gone" 7 March 2, 2014
"Form and Void" 8 March 9, 2014
2015 2 "The Western Book of the Dead" 9 June 21, 2015 (2015-06-21)
"Night Finds You" 10 June 28, 2015 (2015-06-28)
"Maybe Tomorrow" 11 July 5, 2015 (2015-07-05)
"Down Will Come" 12 July 12, 2015 (2015-07-12) Written by Pizzolatto & Scott Lasser
"Other Lives" 13 July 19, 2015 (2015-07-19)
"Church in Ruins" 14 July 26, 2015 (2015-07-26) Wriiten by Pizzolatto & Scott Lasser
"Black Maps and Motel Rooms" 15 August 2, 2015 (2015-08-02)
"Omega Station" 16 August 9, 2015 (2015-08-09)


  • Pizzolatto, Nic. 2003. "Ghost-Birds" The Atlantic Monthly October 2003 issue. (short story).
  • Pizzolatto, Nic. 2004. "Between Here and The Yellow Sea" The Atlantic Monthly November 2004 issue. (short story).
  • Pizzolatto, Nic. 2004. "1987, The Races". The Missouri Review. 27, no. 1: 83-93. (short story)[38]
  • Pizzolatto, Nic. 2005. "Haunted Earth". The Iowa Review. 35, no. 2: 14-24. (short story)[39]
  • Pizzolatto, Nic. Between Here and the Yellow Sea: Stories. San Francisco, CA: MacAdam/Cage, 2006. ISBN 978-1-596-92168-9 (a collection of 9 short stories)
  • Pizzolatto, Nic. 2009. "Graves of Light". Ploughshares. 35, no. 4: 140-156. (short story)[40]
  • Pizzolatto, Nic. Galveston: A Novel. New York: Scribner, 2010. ISBN 978-1-439-16664-2

Notes and references

  1. ^
  2. ^ a b c d e f Rose, Lacey (August 6, 2014). True Detective's' Nic Pizzolatto on Season 2, 'Stupid Criticism' and Rumors of On-Set Drama"'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved November 15, 2014. 
  3. ^ a b Seiber, Cliff (August 9, 2012). "Author Nic Pizzolatto to produce show for HBO". American Press. Retrieved July 5, 2014. 
  4. ^ Cohen, Rich (July 2015). "Can Nic Pizzolatto, True Detective’s Uncompromising Auteur, Do It All Again?". Vanity Fair. Retrieved June 12, 2015. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Strainchamps, Bernard (September 2, 2012). "Where I came from a lot of people viewed violence merely as efficient communication". feedbooks. Archived from the original on November 15, 2014. Retrieved November 15, 2014. I'm Italian from the American Deep South 
  6. ^ a b c d Zeitchik, Steven (January 8, 2014). "'"Nic Pizzolatto, the brooding poet behind 'True Detective. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 15, 2014. 
  7. ^ Hughes, Sarah (February 17, 2014). "'"True Detective: 'I didn't want it to be just another serial-killer show. The Guardian. Retrieved November 15, 2014. 
  8. ^ Ringen, Jonathan (February 28, 2014). "'"The Dark Thrills of 'True Detective. Rolling Stone. Retrieved November 15, 2014. 
  9. ^ a b c Walker, Dave (July 7, 2014). "'"Nic Pizzolatto, New Orleans-born novelist, discusses HBO's upcoming 'True Detective. Archived from the original on October 19, 2014. Retrieved November 15, 2014. 
  10. ^ a b Slotnick, Alexander (January 8, 2014). "NIC PIZZOLATTO". The Last Magazine. Retrieved November 15, 2014. 
  11. ^ Walker, Dave (July 9, 2014). "'"Writer Nic Pizzolatto discusses how his Louisiana childhood colors 'True Detective. Archived from the original on August 8, 2014. Retrieved November 15, 2014. 
  12. ^ a b Seiber, Cliff (August 20, 2012). "Sunday Talk: Pizzolatto's star quickly rising". American Press. Retrieved November 15, 2014. 
  13. ^ "St. Louis Catholic Alumni Newsletter". St. Louis Catholic High School. Spring 2013. Archived from the original on November 15, 2014. Retrieved November 15, 2014. 
  14. ^ a b c d e f Spurr, Kim (June 16, 2005). "Fiction writer, poet Pizzolatto to be visiting writer in 2005-06". University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Archived from the original on August 24, 2014. Retrieved November 15, 2014. 
  15. ^ a b "About Nic". Nic Pizzolatto. Retrieved July 5, 2014. 
  16. ^ "Nic Pizzolatto". The Missouri Review. Retrieved November 15, 2014. 
  17. ^ Christopher Orr, Before True Detective: The Short Stories of Nic Pizzolatto, The Atlantic,
  18. ^ a b "2006 Longlist for the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award in association with the Irish Times". Munster Literature Centre. 2006. Archived from the original on November 9, 2006. Retrieved July 5, 2014. 
  19. ^ Lehane, Dennis (July 16, 2010). "Love Among the Ruined".  
  20. ^ Sepinwall, Alan (January 7, 2014). True Detective' Creator Nic Pizzolatto on Matthew McConaughey, Woody Harrelson His Gripping New HBO Series"'".  
  21. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (April 30, 2012). "HBO Picks Up Matthew-Woody Series ‘True Detective’ With Eight-Episode Order".  
  22. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (April 15, 2014). "‘True Detective’ Now Most Watched HBO Freshman Series Ever".  
  23. ^ "True Detective : Season 1".  
  24. ^ Sepinwall, Alan (March 10, 2014). True Detective' Creator Nic Pizzolatto Looks Back on Season 1"'".  
  25. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (March 9, 2014). "‘True Detective’ Finale Crashes HBO Go".  
  26. ^ Calia, Michael (February 2, 2014). "Writer Nic Pizzolatto on Thomas Ligotti and the Weird Secrets of ‘True Detective’".  
  27. ^ Davis, Mike. "Did the Writer of 'True Detective' Plagiarize Thomas Ligotti and Others?". Retrieved August 17, 2014. 
  28. ^ "'"HBO & Nic Pizzolatto Issue Official Statements Denying Plagiarism Charge Against 'True Detective.  
  29. ^ Miller, Laura (August 10, 2014). "Enough bogus plagiarism scandals! "True Detective," Rick Perlstein and our obsession with intellectual theft". Salon. Retrieved April 8, 2015. 
  30. ^ http://www.forbes.coms/ellenkilloran/2015/06/10/true-detective-season-2-hbo-series-gets-a-clean-slate-but-has-it-learned-from-its-mistakes/
  31. ^ "Marien Defalvard et Nic Pizzolatto, lauréats du Prix du Premier roman".  
  32. ^ Mitovich, Matt Webb (August 25, 2014). and Many Repeat Winners Grab Gold"True Detective, Horror Story: Coven, Breaking Bad, Sherlock"Emmys 2014: . TVLine. Retrieved August 26, 2014. 
  33. ^ Zuckerman, Esther (February 14, 2015). win WGA Awards"The Imitation Game and The Grand Budapest Hotel". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved February 15, 2015. 
  34. ^ "All Nominations for 26th Annual Producers Guild Awards". Producers Guild. January 5, 2015. Retrieved January 5, 2015. 
  35. ^
  36. ^
  37. ^ Romano, Andrew (February 4, 2014). "Inside the Obsessive, Strange Mind of True Detective’s Nic Pizzolatto". The Daily Beast. Retrieved November 15, 2014. 
  38. ^ Pizzolatto, Nic (Spring 2004). "1987, The Races".  
  39. ^ Pizzolatto, Nic (Fall 2005). "Haunted Earth".  
  40. ^ Pizzolatto, Nic (Winter 2009–2010). "Graves of Light".  

External links

  • Official website
  • Nic Pizzolatto at the Internet Movie Database
  • Master class with Mr. True Detective (translation) (Original, in Danish)
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