I am so excited to be sharing our first Sundays With Writers of 2016 with such a special writer today. You know I am all about embracing all the book genres so I am VERY excited to share an interview with Josh Malerman who penned Bird Box, our first horror novel featured on the site. This book is building so much buzz for a lot of reasons you will discover through this interview, but it also has received incredible reviews from readers too. Just look at those reviews and tell me it doesn’t make you want to snag a copy for yourself!
If you are good friends with me you know that I love a good scare. Horror flicks (scary not gory) are my jam! I only recently discovered that I get this from my Dad and now anytime a good one comes out, we go and get the heck scared out of ourselves together. I don’t have to to worry though because MY DAD is there to protect me.
Horror books though just haven’t captivated my attention as much until I read this gem of a book and the more I read about the story behind his success, the more I wanted him to pull up a virtual chair at my kitchen table and share about his book with you.
Malerman succeeds in writing a perfectly gripping and creepy psychological page-turner. With the creatures lurking, a woman and her two children try to flee to safety blindfolded along a river. If they see what is lurking, they die a horrific death inflicting pain upon themselves to stop seeing the horrors of what they have seen. Interweaving past (pre-creatures) and present (a post-creature world), you go along on a horrific ride as Malorie tries to save herself and her children blindfolded, never knowing what is lurking around every turn.
I am recommending you dig into this one, particularly if you are a Hitchcock fan like me- I just know it is a book he would have loved and would have wanted to create into a film. You will also really love it if you love classic Stephen King or if you enjoyed The Girl With All the Gifts as much as I did. Do yourself a favor and read this one so we can talk about it!
I included this book in our November/December Must-Reads list last month and I am still thinking about it since I shut it. That’s the power of a great book, I tell you!
Now grab your coffee and let’s chat with Josh about his delightfully creepy book, Bird Box.
You are our first author joining us who has written in the Horror genre so I am particularly thrilled to introduce Bird Box to our readers and a completely different genre that I love. How did you come up with this terrifying concept of Infinity and what about it do you think terrifies your readers the most?
Strange germination; long ago (back before I had a personality of my own), an elementary school teacher mentioned that (ahem) “a man might go mad if he were to contemplate infinity.” Every word of this admonition worried me and I have a very strong memory of sitting in the carpeted hall as Mom and Dad got ready to go out… worrying that I might accidentally “contemplate” infinity. Many years late I found myself with an exciting image; a mother and two children are rowing down a river blindfolded… why? What are they fleeing? I didn’t think about it long, the words of said teacher returned, and I had myself a book.
One of my greatest fears is birds. It’s a deep fear because my mother terrified me of diseases if I picked up feathers and then the fear was solidified after I watched Hitchcock’s, The Birds. I understand you let your pet finches fly around freely around you while writing this book in a pretty unique location. Can you tell us about that so I can have more nightmares?
I’d love to give you more nightmares. Yes, I had five finches and I felt very bad about keeping them locked up, so I left the door to their cage open. It’s not as messy as you might imagine; you get to know their haunts and you lay newspaper below. I was renting the third floor of a magnificent home in Detroit’s Boston-Edison (this is where Motown singers once lived; Berry Gordy had a place; Mark Twain built one of the homes for his daughter), so there was all kinds of ballroom space for the birds to fly. With Bird Box I woke up at 7AM each day, got to work by about 8AM, and wrapped it up by noon. The birds were really active in those hours, constant fly bys, until they eventually landed in the story itself.
You wrote 15 novels before Bird Box was picked up by a publishing house. Do you think that the success of this novel will allow some of your other pieces of work to finally be published? Had you pursued getting these published before or was this your first time trying to get your book out in the world?
I didn’t shop the other books for no reason other than I was completely satisfied with writing one, then moving on to the next. Partly I didn’t know what to do with a manuscript and partly I was touring with the band, writing novels in the passenger seat, and just didn’t see the rising stack of novels with desperation in my eyes. This is not to say it was/is a hobby, it most certainly is not, but for who-knows-why I was content with knowing they existed and nothing more. Now that Bird Box is out I plan to release all 24 of the other books I’ve written. Every last word. To me, they’re all episodes of the same show; Bird Box just felt like a good debut after I’d met the people who could bring her to a publishing house.
This book has been compared to some of Stephen King’s classic novels and I would dare say it feels a little like some of Hitchcock’s creepier works. Do you have any authors or filmmakers that have inspired you as a writer and has this genre always intrigued you?
Oh yeah… I’ve been a horror fan all my life. And because of that, this question is very hard to answer. I love so many of them for so many reasons, but since you asked I’ll tell you that I did go on a real Hitchcock tear after I wrote Bird Box, watched twenty or so of his movies and really started to sink into his world. I loved him. I love Stephen King, too. Charles Beaumont. Richard Matheson. Dan Simmons. Robert McCammon. Kathe Koja. John Skipp. This list gets big fast with me, as it does with most horror lovers. I think we’re all very open minded and will read just about anything that passes through the genre… because you just don’t know. And we’re all looking for that thrill, constantly, and are willing to read things that fall short of that on the way and/or are able to find exciting peaks in books that other people might think are flat.
Are you a horror movie lover as well or just a reader of horror fiction? Can you share some of your favorite films for us to check out after we read Bird Box?
Yeah sure. The first scary movie I saw was Twilight Zone: the Movie. Blew my mind straight up the middle. The Anthony skit, where the boy can do anything with his imagination; so good. The Invisible Man, the original, is crazy and features a Heath Ledger-Joker-esque villain in the title role. It’s one of my favorites. Hitchcock’s Rope is magic.
The ending made the story feel open to a sequel. Do you think we will be able to continue along on this journey with the survivors? Oh, and you can only say yes….
Yes. Or… no. You know what… there are too many ideas right now to spend another year in this world. But that doesn’t mean I’m against returning. Just… not yet.
I read the exciting news that we can expect a movie and that the film was optioned by Universal for six figures back in 2013 when it was only in the manuscript stage! As a writer, can you explain how that happened so early and what will your involvement be in the film?
Universal Studios optioned it, yeah. And you know, I changed some of that manuscript before publication but it’s made its way into the script! So, that’s pretty wild because the book will be different than the movie but I may be responsible for some of those differences despite not writing the script myself. Crazy. The whole thing is nuts, really, and exciting, but I don’t wanna think about it too much. You know what I mean? I wanna keep my mind on the books and if the movie gains traction, is green-lit, starts to roll, then I’ll have the biggest smile in the room.
source: paste magazine
I also understand that you have quite the juggle with being a musician (in The High Strung) and a writer. As a creative, how do you make time for both of these in your life particularly when you are on tour? How excited were the others in the band about this book being published?
Well we haven’t done much touring since the book deal and I understand that’s mostly my fault. I haven’t written any new songs! And this is something I used to ponder all the time; take a band like the Beatles. People adored them from the get-go, heralded as geniuses long before they actually imagined their genius works of art, they’re middle and later albums. So what happened there? Was the world right? Did the world predict this greatness? Surely they didn’t suspect Sergeant Peppers after hearing “Love Me Do,” right? So maybe they’re achievements have something to do with the encouragement the whole world gave them. You see? In other words; would they have written the White Album without this zany global support? I’m not sure. And I’m experiencing that phenomenon in a different way, but by the same rules: I’m focusing so much of my attention on the books and it’s probably because many people are encouraging me to do so whether they really mean to or not. And the songs have suffered as a result. I’m okay with that, but I need to check my soul (in a manner of speaking) and make sure I’m addressing both and if I’m not addressing both it better be for good, noble reasons.
Since you are a fast producer of words, how many books have you written since Bird Box and any expectations on what you might be publishing next?
The next book is coming out early 2017. Sounds like a long time and it is. I’m working hard on fixing that scenario and I’ll have it righted by then. Regarding how many books: the total is something close to 25 books now and like I said earlier, I see them all as episodes of the same television show, my own Outer Limits, and so the way I see it I’ve probably written the first two seasons by now.
The Howling Man– (TOR 1988) Charles Beaumont. It’s got about 30 of his short stories and for those who don’t know him… hang on tight; you’re about to feel a tidal wave of wonder wash over you.
You can connect with Josh Malerman on Facebook! I’m always thankful for these moments with writers and I hope you will pick up this amazing book! You can always connect with me on GoodReads, through our books section of our site, and you can read our entire Sundays With Writers series for more author profiles. Happy reading, friends!
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