Josh Malerman discusses the rough drafts that proceeded his debut novel, Bird Box. Get the list of his best books and stream the Netflix film and sequel.
I am so excited to share an interview with Josh Malerman, who penned Bird Box, our first horror novel featured on the site.
As a novelist, he has won numerous Bram Stoker Awards, but you may not know he is also known for his incredible gift as a singer-songwriter for the band The High Strung too.
This book built so much buzz for many reasons you will discover through this interview, but it also has received incredible reviews from readers.
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.
Horror BOOKS, on the other hand, just haven’t captivated my attention as much until I read this gem of a book.
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.
Scroll down to see the FULL LIST of books from the author!
Bird Box Book Synopsis
Malerman succeeds in writing a perfectly gripping and creepy psychological sci-fi page-turner.
In a post-apocalyptic world, creatures are lurking. We witness 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 on a horrific ride as Malorie tries to save herself and her children blindfolded, never knowing what lurks around every turn.
I recommend you dig into this one if you are an Alfred Hitchcock fan like me.
I just know it is a book he would have loved and 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.
Now grab your coffee, and let’s chat with Josh about his delightfully creepy book, Bird Box.
The Best Josh Malerman Books (Bird Box Exclusive Interview)
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 “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 later, 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 teacher’s words 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 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 were all kinds of ballroom space for the birds to fly.
With Bird Box, I woke up at 7 AM daily, got to work by about 8 AM, 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 a publishing house picked up Bird Box.
Will this novel’s success finally allow some of your other pieces of work to be published?
Have you pursued publishing these 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.
Part of it was that I didn’t know what to do with a manuscript, and the other part was that 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 other books I’ve written—every last word.
To me, they’re all episodes of the same show; Bird Box just felt like a promising 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 an absolute 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 can find exciting peaks in books that other people might think are flat.
Are you a horror movie lover, 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?
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.
As a writer, can you explain how that happened so early and what your involvement will 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.
The whole thing is nuts, really, and exciting, but I don’t want to think about it too much.
You know what I mean?
I want to keep my mind on the books, and if the movie gains traction, is green-lit, and starts to roll, 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, particularly when 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 I used to ponder this 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: their 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 their achievements have something to do with the encouragement the whole world gave them.
Do 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 differently, 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 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 what are any expectations on what you might publish next?
The next book is coming out in 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.
* Editor’s Note: “Black Mad Wheel: A Novel” and “Goblin: A Novel in Six Novellas” were released in 2017!
Lastly, what is one of your all-time favorite books?
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.
Frequently asked questions about Josh Malerman:
What are Josh Malerman’s books in the order published?
- Bird Box: A Novel (2014)
- Ghastle and Yule (2014)
- A House at the Bottom of a Lake (2016)
- Black Mad Wheel: A Novel (2017)
- Goblin: A Novel in Six Novellas (2017)
- Unbury Carol (2018)
- Inspection (2019)
- Malorie: A Bird Box Novel (2019)
- Pearl (2021)
- Daphne: A Novel (2022)
- Spin a Black Yarn: Novellas (August 15, 2023)
What are the best Josh Malerman books?
My favorite book by the author is Bird Box!
The highest-rated book on GoodReads is that novel and the Bird Box sequel, Malorie.
How many Bird Box Books are there?
There are two books in the Bird Box series.
The books are Bird Box (Bird Box #1) and then the sequel, Malorie (Bird Box #2).
For context, the sequel takes place twelve years after the original story.
At this time, there is no prequel.
Is it necessary to read Josh Malerman’s books in a specific order?
The Bird Box series should be read in order, but his books can be read as standalone novels.
Does Josh Malerman have any movies?
The Bird Box movie starring Sandra Bullock, John Malkovich, Sarah Paulson, and Trevante Rhodes is available for streaming on Netflix.
This movie came out in 2018, adapted from his debut novel. Be sure to read our provided interview to learn about this movie deal.
Josh Malerman’s mind has also inspired a new film called Bird Box: Barcelona (July 2023).
The new Netflix film, Bird Box Barcelona, is not a sequel but a spin-off based on the same world.
Please note Bird Box Barcelona shares the same timeline as the Bird Box movie filmed in 2018.
This is not a prequel or sequel to the film. This movie was based on the novel’s world but is not a book adaptation.
Can you share a Bird Box parent guide for the movie?
This horror film is rated R.
Common Sense Media recommends this film for ages 16+. Head to their site to find out what parents need to know.
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TELL ME: What is your favorite Josh Malerman book?