When writers choose to explore the dark side, what are they mining to get there? And what do they expect from their readers? Three novelists with recent first-hand experience discuss and speculate. In her Ockham NZ Book Awards shortlisted debut novel Aue-, Becky Manawatu examines gang and domestic violence through children’s eyes. In the Ockham longlisted Necessary Secrets, Greg McGee (who also writes award-winning crime fiction under the pseudonym Alix Bosco) has his characters navigating domestic violence and contemplating suicide. And in Ockham shortlisted Halibut on the Moon David Vann imagines his father’s deeply troubled mind to produce a book that “Crackles with bleakness and beauty, terror and truth,” according to the Listener. Kathryn Burnett chairs a conversation about beautifully wrought but thematically tough prose.