Sorry for the delay in getting this up, folks!
And without further adieu, the author of...
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The Horror Librarian: What is your creative process? You are a songwriter for The High Strung as well as a novelist. How do you get from idea to completed work? Does your process differ between mediums?
Josh Malerman: I almost feel weird calling it a “process” at all. It feels more like a mad dash, a lunatic’s game; start with no pages… and run. It’s scary, it’s unnerving, it’s glorious, it’s dark, it turns me into a talkative ninny, it turns me into a masculine giant of muscle and bone. I think you’re asking for something a bit more specific and I think the best I can give you is this: in the first draft days I try for 3,000 words a day and I try to keep that up until the draft is done. Of course, the rewrites are ridiculous, but you know, like love, that early-days fuel can power enough enthusiasm to see the project through, all the way, so why not begin with a bang?
Regarding the different mediums: I think there’s a similarity in terms of fixation on an album/a book, but it’s hard to ask yourself to wrap a song a day, that sort of thing, because songs are more… misty than stories. They kinda start at your ankles and rise up, crawl up your body until they reach your ears. There’s a rhythm to both, but the books gotta come with some real discipline. You can smoke grass and write a song.
The Horror Librarian: How does your music inform your writing (or vice-versa)?
Josh Malerman: It used to be that the short story ideas I had ended up being our songs. But that’s changed. I’ve been writing a lot of short stories lately and I love it. I’m in it for life on that front. And so where does that leave the songs? I’m not sure right now, it’s something I’m navigating. But I have noticed the rhythm in both; I think we have drummers inside us and we play along to their beats. Which probably also explains why you can feel so good about a rough draft and then wonder what the hell we were thinking when we read it again. Maybe it’s just that your drummer is playing a different beat now, and so you think the first draft reads like a bad dancer.
The Horror Librarian: Your debut novel, Birdbox, was well-received in 2014 and was a nominee for the Bram Stoker award in the category of Superior Achievement in a First Novel. What can you tell us about the world of Birdbox that would surprise readers? What steps did you take to build this world and make it real for your readers?
Josh Malerman: Bird Box was a dream to write. The first draft poured out of me; 4,300 words a day, 26 days, done (on Halloween no less, a happy accident.) I’m pretty private about all that went into Bird Box though I’m not sure exactly why other than maybe I don’t like to talk about the creatures too much. Most of my friends know I had birds of my own at the time I wrote it and that the five of them flew freely around the apartment as I worked. Or maybe I’m private about it because no explanation I give can be as scary as the book. It can only take away from the fear of it. Unless, of course, I told you I wrote the book at knife point. Which I did. Butter knife point. See?
The Horror Librarian: Tell us about your dream project. What is it and who is involved?
Josh Malerman: I have four immediate dream projects:
1– I’d like to write a short story a week for a year; end up with a 52 story volume .
2– I wanna write a thousand pager. A huge book. I always imagine my stories going that distance, but somehow they end up more like Vonnegut, Dick, or Shirley Jackson; slim volumes. Which is fine. But I’d love one huge one.
3– A double album with my band, the High Strung. Something nonlinear. Nuts. Where anything counts as a song; even if there’s no music and certainly if there’s no lyrics.
4– A movie with our production company A CASKET FULL OF ROUGH DRAFTS. The crew is myself and my fiancée Allison, Eric Kozlowski, Jason Glasgow, Cindy Spires, James Hall and Kristi Billings. I don’t care if the movie is scary, funny, long, boring, brilliant, colorful, black and white. And I’d love to work with Mike McCarty and/or John Skipp, Rob Cousineau, Chris Rosik, Chris Brown, Kelly Cassise, Brandon White, Mike Rizzo, Jay Adams, and Jimmy Doom. We absolutely must and will make a movie with Jimmy Doom.
The Horror Librarian: What are you working on right now?
Josh Malerman: The follow up to Bird Box. Not a sequel. Supposed to come out early 2017. I wrapped a big rewrite a few days ago, then read through the rewrite (which amounted to a second rewrite, of course.)
Here’s what it’s about:
Members of the army band are sent off to locate the source of a very disturbing sound.
But before that comes out, I’ve got a novella coming out this year, through THIS IS HORROR: A House at the Bottom of a Lake.
And a batch of shorts, too. Here’s a list:
“Danny” Scary Out There (Ed. Jonathan Maberry; Simon & Schuster)
“Who is Bringing Milk to Me?” Out of Tune II (ED. Jonathan Maberry; JournalStone)
“The Jupiter Drop” You, Human (Ed. Michael Bailey; Dark Regions Press)
“The Bigger Bedroom” Chiral Mad 3 (Ed. Michael Bailey; Written Backwards)
“Plots” in the February issue of Metropolitan d’Etroit (Ed. Anthony Americano)
“I Can Taste the Blood” I Can Taste the Blood (Ed. Anthony Rivera/Sharon Lawson; Gray Matter Press)
“The Givens Sensor Board” Lost Signals (Ed. Max Booth III; Perpetual Motion Machine)
“The One You Live With” Gutted (Ed. Doug Murano/D. Alexander Ward; Crystal Lake)
“Matter” to be published in Cemetery Dance Magazine
The Horror Librarian: List five things that are currently sitting on your writing desk.
Josh Malerman: An ARC of Nick Cutter’s Little Heaven
A white box, mysteriously labeled in Sharpie: That Dangerous Thing.
One of Allison’s wigs
The Horror Librarian: Thank you so much, Josh!