Early in the episode, we see Errol come into the big house, "North by Northwest" is playing and he starts doing a James Mason voice. Then he slips into a number of other accents. What was behind that?

Nic Pizzolatto: That was part of his creation as a character. There was this idea that when he talks in his real voice, it's very slurred because of the scarring. My background for him was that he learned how to enunciate properly through watching all these old VCR movies. And that brings us back to the idea of storytelling, right? At one minute he can affect this Andy Griffith good ol' boy voice, the next he can sound like James Mason, and when he wants to use his real voice, he sounds like something wounded and damaged. And then when Cohle is in Carcosa, he sounds like something entirely different.

This has been the story of these two guys, and we get to know them incredibly well. None of the other characters really exist as anything but mirrors to reflect some aspect of Rust or Marty. How challenging is it to populate a world in which the only two characters who really matter are these two guys?

Nic Pizzolatto: That was really challenging. That was one of the most challenging things. Had this been an ensemble, that would have made it much much easier. In an ensemble, you can always cut to someone else's story. You have at least half a dozen characters going through individual problems. But this was very much about tracking two personalities and two points of view. The significant change in the final scene is that a point of view has shifted. After we've been told via Hart that there's no such thing as absolute justice — that's a story we tell ourselves, the real guilty don't get punished. It was very hard. If someone were, I think, to read my prose, they would find it populated with rich female characters. My challenge was, if somebody only exists in relation to Cohle and Hart, so they're only going to get one or two lines, they need to become vivid and imply a history and dimensionality in one or two lines.

I don't know where you are in working on season 2, but has any of the reaction to this season informed what you're doing with the next?

Nic Pizzolatto: It's informed exactly one thing. It's that I realize I need to keep being strange. Don't play the next one straight.

Can you tell me anything at all about season 2?

Nic Pizzolatto: Okay. This is really early, but I'll tell you (it's about) hard women, bad men and the secret occult history of the United States transportation system.

Finally, you wrote this entire thing in a vacuum, as someone relatively new to television, not knowing how it was received. And the show comes on, and people go nuts about it, they are penning raves, coming up with elaborate theories about the Yellow King and Lovecraft and everything else. How did it feel to see your creation being received in all of these ways?

Nic Pizzolatto: I felt like, look, it's all good, and I really mean that. To me, that is what it means to connect and resonate with people. It means that they are going to project onto the work. There's never been anything I didn't love that I didn't connect with on a personal level because to some degree, I projected upon it. That said, I think I've made clear that my only interest in the Chambers stuff (Robert W. Chambers wrote "The King in Yellow") is as a story that has a place in American myth. And it's a story about a story that drives people into madness. That was mainly it. Beyond that, I'm interested in the atmosphere of cosmic horror, but that's about all I have to say about weird fiction. I did feel the perception was tilted more towards weird fiction than perhaps it should have been. For instance, if someone needs a book to read along with season 1 of "True Detective," I would recommend the King James Old Testament. I wouldn't tell anyone to go buy Robert Chambers. It's not that great a book. Joseph Conrad and William Faulkner I think are in there far more than Chambers or Lovecraft. But again, I guess I hope that these 8 chapters, once the totality of it is evident, it might provoke a re-evaluation. But if it doesn't, I'm very happy with the reaction we've had. It couldn't have been better. I'm just surprised by it. I remember talking to you three months ago and having to convince you: "This just sounds like every other show," "I know, I know." And now my wife read a comment the other day that said I live out in the desert, and I run some kind of cult. (laughs) I don't know what I can say about that. I think this show answers everything it told you to ask. The questions it didn't tell you to ask are questions best left to one's self.

Alan Sepinwall may be reached at sepinwall@hitfix.com
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Alan Sepinwall has been reviewing television since the mid-'90s, first for Tony Soprano's hometown paper, The Star-Ledger, and now for HitFix. His new book, "The Revolution Was Televised," about the last 15 years of TV drama, is for sale at Amazon. He can be reached at sepinwall@hitfix.com