The Fright Stuff
How the high strung’s Josh Malerman sealed a six-figure horror book deal while scared silly.
Published: August 21, 2013
Boudreaux says, “I had no intention of working all night, no intention of reading a whole submission. But I finished it at 1 a.m. I just knew that I loved it and I was certain there would be other readers out there who felt the same way. I also loved that the protagonist was a young mother. Surviving in this world contained so many paradoxes and burdens; Josh examined these beautifully.”
Bird Box is being readied for an early summer 2014 release. That could be followed shortly afterward by a movie adaptation, although little has been confirmed at this point. “Once HarperCollins picked it up, my manager started to shop it to studios and producers,” Malerman says. “One producer, Scott Stuber (Ted, Identity Thief), started trying to assemble a team with the intention of presenting it to Universal Studios. The director he got, Andrés Muschietti, had a sleeper horror hit last year called Mama. I loved it because it had a new monster, its own thing. I love when that happens. I thought it was legitimately scary, so when I heard that he was on board to direct Bird Box, I thought it was nuts. His first movie was pretty fucking good. Once he was on board, plus the producer, and HarperCollins bought the book, I think that was obviously sweeter to Universal. A screenwriter is attached and he’s working on it now. I’ve never done this before so I don’t know exactly what happens next, but I think after he’s done they start to cast it. I met him in that moment, and he’s super enthusiastic, super nice and a really smart guy.”
That’s the life of Josh Malerman right now; he’s preparing for the release of his first novel and the movie adaptation, and the High Strung has one song left to record for a forthcoming new album. The hard work that has seen him struggle for many years is finally paying off. His mom knows why. “I believe he found his passion,” Debbie says. “I think being on the road all those years has helped him realize what is important in his life and how important his writing is. He’s a strong person and I think it takes that to get up every day and work on your craft. His father and I work long hours at a CPA firm and that may have some kind of influence, but I doubt it.”
Don’t be so sure, Ma Malerman. We often take cues from our parents, even if it’s because we were hiding out from them to watch scary movies. And even though Malerman has grown creatively, he’s arguably just as terrified a horror fan today as he was in those formative years.
“I lived in a basement in Clawson for two years before moving to where we are now in Royal Oak,” Malerman says. “It was a really creepy basement. I’d sit there on my own with the lights out and headphones on and watch Italian horror movies — it was horrifying. To go to the bathroom after that was terrifying. I’d have to leave my bedroom light on.”
One suspects that, even when Malerman is the one doing the scaring through his stories, he’ll always be that 10-year-old boy, full of both joy and paralyzing fear.
Life’s much more fun that way.
Brett Callwood is a staff writer for Metro Times. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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