In this podcast, Josh Malerman talks about Egorov, Doug and Judy Buy the House Washer, The Jupiter Drop, and much more.
About Josh Malerman
Josh Malerman is the author of many books including Bird Box, Malorie, and A House at the Bottom of a Lake, and the singer/songwriter for the band The High Strung. His forthcoming book, Spin A Black Yarn will be released next month.
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Dehiscent by Ashley Deng
The brand new book from Tenebrous Press, out on August 1st.
The Girl in the Video by Michael David Wilson, narrated by RJ Bayley
Michael David Wilson (00:00:28): Welcome to This is Horror, a podcast for readers, writers, and creators. I'm Michael David Wilson, and every episode alongside my co-host, Bob Pastorello, we chat with the world's best writers about writing life lessons, creativity, and much more. Today is the third and final part of AD Josh Malerman trilogy. We dig deep into the rest of Josh's collection, spinner Black Dian, and talk about the like of Doug and Judy by the Housewasher, the Jupiter drop and the crazy Russian-inspired experimental novel eager of this is a wild, wild ride and I'm so happy you're here to listen to it. But before we get to it, a quick advert break
Bob Pastorella (00:01:29): Out from Tenebrous Press on August 1st de Hisent by Ashley Ding, an eco-horror tale of the humanity that lurks in the most inhuman places in a climate ravaged near future China. E has lived her entire life in her ancestral home, wanting for nothing but her Blessed life is about to take on a whole new meaning when she discovers the true terrible nature of the house, the Hisent by Ashley Ding. A well, well-Fed Home is a happy home.
RJ Bayley (00:01:56): It was as if the video had unzipped my skin, slunk inside my tapered flesh and become one with me.
Bob Pastorella (00:02:05): From the creator of this horror comes a new nightmare for the digital age. The girl in the video by Michael David Wilson. After a teacher receives a weirdly arousing video, his life descends in a paranoia and obsession. More videos follow each containing information no stranger could possibly know, but who's sending them and what do they want? The answers may destroy everything and everyone he loves the girl In the video is the Ring Meets Fatal Attraction from Iphone Generation available now in paperback ebook and audio.
Michael David Wilson (00:02:35): Okay with that said, here it is. It is Josh Malerman. The trilogy concludes. Now on, this is Horror. So we've got a question from Robert Stahl via Patreon, and he wants to know what is your biggest fear and how do you use it as fuel for story ideas?
Josh Malerman (00:03:01): I think this, it took me forever to realise what my biggest fear is because your initial reaction is like, oh, flying or whatever, but no, mine is losing control of myself but momentarily. So it's one thing to go crazy or to lose your mind, it's another thing to snap and then return and be like, oh God, what did I do? So to snap and go out to see, okay, you're gone, right? But to snap, do something terrible and return and be aware of what you have done and have to live with what you have done. That idea of snapping is my greatest fear, and I think that's kind of a heavy greatest fear.
(00:03:43): It does. I don't know if it inform the books, but a lot of the books we were talking I think before are identity based. And this is a perfect example. You lose who you are or at least who you think you are for a moment. You've heard stories of people have done crazy shit and they're like, I don't even know, just suddenly I was doing it. And you're like, whoa, what does that mean? You know what I mean? Weren't thinking this wasn't building up for months. It probably was, but a criminal or someone that does something terrible or will often cite as this sort of, they were not themselves when it happened. And if that isn't a horror story,
Michael David Wilson (00:04:26): Yeah. Have you ever found yourselves in yourselves? I just made it. There's two of you. Have you ever found yourself in a situation where I guess either because you're inebriated, you kind of snap out of this kind of black memory hole and you're like, whoa, where am I? What am I doing?
Josh Malerman (00:04:49): No, and I can't know what's worse. I've obviously blacked out or woke up next day and been like, oh, what did I say? But it turns out, and I'm going to guess you guys are probably similar. It turns out I'm really nice when I'm wasted. So I'll wake up the next day and be like, oh God, Alison, I don't remember. She's like, what do you mean? You were hilarious. You were talking to everybody. You were walking around the room telling jokes. I'm like, really? And I don't know what's worse being some not yourself belligerent monster because you're wasted, but what do you mean I was blacked out in an autopilot? I was still totally myself. That is, I don't know what's creepier in that case. To continue being you when you're punched out is really weird.
Michael David Wilson (00:05:36): Imagine if, and this idea has just occurred to me now, but if at the end of our lives we get to live all the parts where we were blacked out just before we die, just before we bob's face is like, do not let that happen to me.
Bob Pastorella (00:05:53): Yeah, that's not good for me.
Josh Malerman (00:05:55): That's a good idea for a story, man. It's not your life that flashes before your eyes, it's your black house. But I mean, we're laughing now, but we laugh now. But think about that idea though. Oh my God. You would see all these things that maybe it would almost be like a scrooge or whatever, that jimmy stewart thing. I was born Jewish, so I don't know a lot of these Christmas movies. What was the Jimmy Stewart one? It's a wonderful Life. Oh yeah,
Michael David Wilson (00:06:26): Yeah.
Josh Malerman (00:06:27): It would almost be some sort of examination of who you really were. One of these sad, you didn't even realise who you really love. Actually, I kind of love that idea, dude. Something I'm just saying it's funny right now, but something in there, there's a good idea in there.
Michael David Wilson (00:06:42): No, I think there is, my only regret is like, why did I just say that on a writers podcast? It's like, write that story quickly. I'm just giving that
Josh Malerman (00:06:53): I used to tweet out ideas right away. I'd be like, what about? And then I'm like, now I'm like, don't do it.
Michael David Wilson (00:06:58): Don't do it. Yeah, no, I don't tweet out good ideas. I don't even tweet out good lines or jokes. It's like, no, you got to save them. But inadvertently linking to our discussion before, I think there's something more pure about the podcast because it is a conversation and it's like, look, if you are in for the conversation, you almost deserve to get that snippet where it's like if you got the tweet, it's too easy. You've at least seen it in context.
Josh Malerman (00:07:33): This was partly what we're talking about, and we talked about this before. It was partly inspiration for the documentary and for making in general is that, look, what did we talk for two and a half hours already? Something like that. Yeah,
Michael David Wilson (00:07:45): Yeah.
Josh Malerman (00:07:47): I would absolutely watch and listen to this whole thing. I gave a speech in, it was, I'm down here in Michigan, it was up here, I Lake Michigan and I gave a speech for an hour. An hour, and a movie is like an hour and a half. And it kind of struck me, if I could give a speech and I would watch one anytime a panel or this, a podcast, then why wouldn't a documentary a 90 minute documentary be interesting? And it doesn't have to be action packed. It doesn't have to, as we were saying before, it doesn't have to have some tragic arc. It doesn't have to be like, oh, did you see the movie where Mallory gets a divorce?
(00:08:30): First of all, we'd have to be married first, but you understand it doesn't have to be like that, right? So that's when I started thinking this way about making a documentary or even I have an idea for a film to make here at home with a couple awesome sort of occult occultist friends, like a Ghost Hunter and some other people. And again, it's like when you take it in this era of the podcast and the panel, we all go to panels that those are an hour long. We sit there and we watch, talk about eroticism and horror for an hour and it's like, alright, what if this was on film? And then what if it was with some direction in some planning or idea behind this? Why can't this be a film?
Michael David Wilson (00:09:16): So
Josh Malerman (00:09:17): The podcast actually has held my hand on the walk over to the documentary.
Michael David Wilson (00:09:23): And in terms of the film that you mentioned with some ghost hunters is one of them? John Tenni? Yep. Oh yeah.
Josh Malerman (00:09:32): Him and I, we've been trying to do this for a minute now, a few years. He lives 12 miles from me or something. We live that close. He came to my house, I may have told you this before. He came over and gave a lecture right before the whole lockdown thing. It was amazing. That was amazing, man. We had a ghost hunter at our house giving a lecture with a speaker for ghosts to activity to speak through on the fireplace. It was awesome. But anyway, we've been trying to do it. But even a movie at home with friends, even that costs money, man. It is a hard thing to pull off. Getting a movie made even on your own Jizzly Bear costs $10,000. That's crazy. If you watch that, you would be like, this costs $10, this movie can 10. No, no, you got to get a camera. And it was just us making it, but oh, all the props alone. And Allison insisted all the props were vegan. So that doubled, doubled the cost of everything. All the fake poo had to be vegan, but even that was like $10,000. And you start to realise, man, it's intense. To make a movie documentary is a little different. But even the documentary, getting the Better Audio gear sent to me, I don't know how much that would've been. Probably a few thousand dollars just for that stuff alone.
Michael David Wilson (00:11:08): Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I guess the Jizzly Bear is the very definition of a pleasure project then I don't imagine you're getting that $10,000 back. You've made the movie so funny. But it's
Josh Malerman (00:11:22): In a post script. Post script. We screened that here in town. And remember, bird Box had come out not that long. Well, at this point, I guess it would've been almost a year by the time it comes out, by the time we screen it and an art house here, but the room holds about 300. John Skip flew in for it, which that was unbelievable. And my friend who was supposed to direct, he didn't, but he was involved in the whole thing. It was wonderful. And a sold out theatre, all of our art music
Michael David Wilson (00:11:58): Writer
Josh Malerman (00:11:58): Friends here in town. I mean, it was wild. And afterwards, so many musicians and stuff were like, can we be in your next one? Can we be in your next one? It was like they could tell, it was like, this is just friends having the time in their lives.
Michael David Wilson (00:12:15): And when you screened it, and let me just say, I can't believe we've returned the conversation to Jizzly Bear, but when you actually screened it, did you dare put from the offer of Bird Box, which is great.
Josh Malerman (00:12:34): This is an interesting thing because, so at the time, all my friends were like, I don't know if you should put your name on this man. I just don't know. Bird Box had come out a month before, I told you a month before when we started
Michael David Wilson (00:12:49): All
Josh Malerman (00:12:49): This. And it was like they just were like, I don't know. So it says, directed by Norm de Plume, Norman de Plume. And that's obviously means somebody here is hiding. But now actually I kind of love the name Norman de Plume, though. I would love to watch another Plume movie, but that is a cool name actually. But now I wouldn't have done that. Now I would just be like, yeah, yeah, whatever, dude, we had time in our lives. It's freaking funny. Watch it.
Michael David Wilson (00:13:17): Yeah. Well, I guess the difference now as well is because you've got so many more books that are out there that people can read, they can see that your variety is much more beyond just Bird Box. It's not like that one mode.
Josh Malerman (00:13:35): Also throw in the band and the band just made a bigger studio sounding recording called Address Unknown for listeners or watchers were called the High Strung. And then immediately following that, I made an album on this cassette four track cassette machine that's behind the computer. I guess you could say it's a solo album, but it's just whatever. I recorded a bunch of songs on a cassette. So even in music, Hi-Fi, something Accessible in Poppy, something completely absurd and insane. And I think that we've talked about this for sure before, the body of work of the artists versus the individual work of art. And I think you are right, having the numerous books out and a bunch of interviews out and whatever, now there's enough of a tapestry or whatever that it feels like anything's okay, anything goes like Gull in the Cape is, I mean, if you read that in Bird Box back to Back, you would've no concept that was the same author.
(00:14:40): But now that they're on the same shelf next to each other, it all starts to inform each other. So yeah, I am not even talking about Jusley Bear anymore, just in general getting sort of freer and looser artistically. But it is kind of something you have to set up on your own as you go. I do think there are some authors who, I'm not saying this is bad necessarily, but seem to stay in a sort of branded lane where it seems like every book kind of even looks the same. It's like maybe now, I don't want to say using tropes, but this is a direct horror story, horror story, horror story, horror story. So I think it is something that you have to kind of set up either right away on your own book. Two is a lot different than Book one or whatever. Or at some point like Bob Dylan going Electric, you got to plug in.
Michael David Wilson (00:15:32): So in terms of writing and writing a variety of things. I think with my short fiction, everything's kind of a medley, but I've noticed with my books, so with novels and novellas, I seem to have these different seasons. And so the two that are out at the moment, the girl in the video and they're watching, I see them almost as a piece that they're in a similar mode, but then the forthcoming one House of Bad Memories and the one after that, you're really excited for Daddy's Boy, I see them, they're another season, they're another mode. And so I'm actually excited because what's going to happen next? What will be the next season? So
Josh Malerman (00:16:19): For sure, I mean, what you're describing are the phases of an artist, right? I mean, you started here, now you're here and you can't wait for what's next. And I think again, okay, if someone doesn't do this, I don't know. I don't know if Dean Coons thinks this way, that's fine. He's awesome at what he does. Who cares. He doesn't have to think David Bowie or Bob Dylan or whatever. But I do find myself thrilled by that. And it sounds like you're feeling the same way. It's like there's something thrilling about that variety, and it's not like you don't even think about it. Well, I wrote a horror story, now I'm going to write a comedy. No, no, it's not so black and white like that. It's like I write and I lean this way all the time, but it can stretch. It can be as elastic as we want. It doesn't always have to be supernatural. It doesn't always have to be not whatever the case might be, that kind of thing. I heard the Black Mirror is Supernatural for the first time. Great example of what we're talking about that's still going to be Black Mirror and I'm sure to everyone and is part of the canon now as part of the body of work, whether it's exactly how he was doing things before.
Michael David Wilson (00:17:27): Yeah, yeah. Well, I mean, I think the great thing with Black Mirror all good art is it's constantly evolving. And I mean, I would say if you looked at the first season, then you looked at the one before the latest, purely, I haven't seen the latest yet. I mean, they're in very different modes. I mean, to begin with, it had a very British sensibility to it because the main audience was British, but particularly when they were picked up by Netflix, it did become more, I was going to say Americanized, but perhaps even more global. And it never hurt. It never became like less, it just became different. But I mean, black Mirror is one of my favourite series of all time. It's just so well done. You don't know what you're going to get from each episode and a short story collection. If there is an episode that doesn't quite resonate with you, then the next one might be the best thing you've ever seen. So I just love that show. I love the fact that they're not afraid to take chances either. I mean, they did pretty much the first kind of interactive episode on Netflix too, where you got to become part of it. So yeah, just a phenomenal series.
Josh Malerman (00:18:51): Exactly that same thing you're describing is how I feel with Goblin and with Spin, the Black yard with a lot of collections, you can, it's so liberating as a writer. I mean, you could have a story like the Jupiter Drop, which obviously takes place in the future, and then followed by Igorov, which is like 1901, and they're allowed to be next to each other. They're almost encouraged to stand next to each other in the scope of a collection. And the minute you slap a cohesive, unifying title on it, and in this case Black Mirror, then it's all of a piece and it's all, what is his name? Charlie Brooker or Booker. And so it's all of a piece. It's all his thing. And I think the same thing with writing novels, but add in the music, add in a documentary, add in a bizarre movie you made with your friends, and it may be a serious movie you're going to make with your friends. And it all starts to add up to one giant body of work.
Michael David Wilson (00:19:50): Yeah. I think this is a good time to jump into the next Patreon question. We got this from Dan Hauer, our friend Dan previous co-host of the podcast. And we've covered a little bit of this, but let's give it your role, which is a weird thing to say, given all the things we've been speaking about anyway. A couple of your recent books have been collections of novellas. Were sometimes told by large publishers that there's no appetite commercially for novellas, yet for me, they are the perfect horror story format. Do you have a reference in this area and what has inspired the shift in direction featured in both Goblin and Spin, a black Yarn?
Josh Malerman (00:20:38): Well, goblin, I actually wrote Goblin the Rough Draught, and it was the second book I wrote. So we're talking like oh five or something, and then rewrote in a major way around oh eight, and then rewrote in a major major way around 2017 or something like that. So Goblin, it had actually been a minute since I did a collection like that. I did try, and this is in the afterward in Spin a Black Yarn. I wrote five novellas. There was an original version of Spin, a Black Yarn in around 2011. I wrote it or something. But then each of those novellas were dispersed. One ended up in this book or that anthology or this or that. So one was a Kindle Single, but I always wanted to keep that title. And then as I told you somewhat recently wrote the newest collection. So I wouldn't say trending that way, just it seems like every six years or something, I'm like, Hey, let's go this.
(00:21:46): For me, the novel is home for sure, no matter, you can almost equate it to sports or something. Whereas with the short story, for me, I got to work on my short story game is how I feel. The novella I have a fairly firm grasp on, but the novel is home. I feel free as a bird. And I feel like every time I sit down confident or at least excited to see what comes from it. I definitely understand though why someone would consider the novella being the sort of ultimate format. A lot of the time in novels, there'll be almost sort of like a, what's the right word? Not like a comedic, what do you call it? What do you call that when you make a joke to lessen the tension? What's that phrase? You know what I'm talking about?
Michael David Wilson (00:22:38): I know what you're talking about. I'm trying, you mean yellow shimmer?
Josh Malerman (00:22:41): No, but I love that, but
Michael David Wilson (00:22:47): Breaking the ice for a really bizarre kind of, yeah.
Josh Malerman (00:22:51): Well, I can't remember the phrase, right, but whatever. It seems like a lot of the time in a novel you'll have that. And sometimes for me, that actually takes me out of the mood. Oh, we had such a mood going. And the novella, it's much easier to maintain that mood without being tempted to turn to something, a tangent, or what the hell is that? I'll remember that phrase later or some sort of comedic break to start. Okay. And we start over how in horror movies, the really scary thing often happens at night, and then you're like, ah, God. And then when you see that it's daytime, when it comes to daytime, oh, thank God. Okay, now we're in the day again. Then we build our way back tonight. Oh, no. And in the novella, the Mela could just be that night, something, you can stay there the whole time. And so I get why Dan and other people would think that novella is the sort of ultimate format, or can be.
Michael David Wilson (00:23:54): Yeah, yeah. Although I enjoy that kind of lightness and heaviness, the light and dark. I feel like when we have these little breaks or these transitions, then it almost amplifies the horror more because if we've only got intense horror throughout, then what do we have as a reference point? I feel like you need the darkness for the light to be light. Otherwise light is just a normal mode of being.
Josh Malerman (00:24:29): I don't know if I agree. I definitely understand what you're saying, but let's take a book like Bird Box. Bird Box. There is not a joke in sight. There is not a moment. I mean, that book is just like boom, boom, boom. You can almost play the same, that beat through the entire novel, and it never, bird Box is almost like a novella, but that made it to a novel length in that way, that particular mood or something. Whereas go on the Cape is with flights of fancy and not, I want to say jokes, but whimsy and light dark you're describing. So I don't think you necessarily need it, but I also, yeah, I'm a fan of it too.
Michael David Wilson (00:25:10): Yeah, I guess there have been things that I've consumed where they have been unrelenting and there was no light. And actually, the thing I always think of is a video game called Outlast, and that is just so intense. I mean, you're effectively trapped in this kind of haunted asylum, but it's got this atmosphere throughout, and you're playing it for 10 or 12 hours. There's no joy. There's pretty much no weapons in this game, unlike a lot of other horror games. So something turns up, you just have to run, you just have to hide, and you feel like you've been through something anytime you stop playing it. So
Josh Malerman (00:25:59): Yeah,
Michael David Wilson (00:26:05): I agree with your point that you made as a counterpoint to mine. But I think, I guess I was making a more general point in terms of life, that if we don't have the lightness and the darkness, then we can't distinguish which is which. But
Josh Malerman (00:26:25): Absolutely. And there are times where I wonder if you guys do this where you have to clean the palate after a particularly scary movie or something, or a book. I'll be like, Hey, what's the new Disney movie? I would just, what's the hell out of myself in the office? And I need to clear the blackboard or something.
Michael David Wilson (00:26:51): But yeah, I stand corrected if people interpret my comment for Just Art, because it's like, well, where's the light moment in the last Von Trier movie? It isn't the bit that involves the scissors, that's for sure. It's not the light in that one, or where's the light in the Sun? Sun?
Josh Malerman (00:27:17): And there are those who probably think that that's all darkly humorous or something. There are people who think that way too, right? But well, obviously what came to my mind was Catch 'em. The Girl Next Door, oh boy, talk about No jokes, but there is actually the first 60, 80 pages are a bit lighter. If you remember The boy, the narrator and her are sitting on a rock in a river or something, putting rocks in the river or whatever. It was pastoral and sweet at first when she first comes to town. And so it's not relentless in a, it's not like the book opens with brutality and carries that throughout. So light doesn't necessarily have to be a joke. What the hell is that phrase? I'm going to remember it, man, in this kind of,
Michael David Wilson (00:28:05): Yeah, we will get to that phrase by the end of the episode. But yeah, I think reading The Girl Next Door is probably the nearest literary equivalent to playing Outlast in terms of how uncomfortable I felt throughout. And I feel like it is so intense. It's so uncomfortable that you almost have to read it quickly, because if I step away from the book, I can't go and do some laundry or something because it's like the story's still happening, or it's like, well, now I've left a girl there. Now I'm completely, I got to read it,
Josh Malerman (00:28:45): Man. That book I wrote Jack Hetchman this. He didn't write me back, but this is a long time ago. I wrote him after reading it, saying, that's the first time I've ever, I've never so badly wanted to reach into a book and help someone. I'm never so badly wanted to literally reach in and help. And it's interesting that you bring out the word complicit. It's like, it's that well done that you feel like you're there, and maybe I can help her. I mean, that's how well done that book is. Yeah.
Michael David Wilson (00:29:16): Oh, yeah. Yeah. Well, this is the final Patreon question, and again, we covered a little bit of this last time, and this is from Tracy Kenworth. She wants to know, how has fame affected your life and have you changed your writing habits? Do you write during book tours? Give us a glimpse as to what it's like to be in your position as a celebrated author and how you might do things differently from when you first started out writing.
Josh Malerman (00:29:55): Well, I think mean, fame seems like a strong word for all this, but I understand the question. No, I think we talked about before the writing habits have not changed at all, and we brought up the bird box, breaking that sales mark and discovering that the routine hasn't changed at all. Now, there are times where I wondered to myself, Hey, maybe it should change, maybe as we were talking about reinventing yourself and reinventing what you're working on, but I have a fear of taking too much time off
(00:30:35): Travel. I've never been to Europe. Not really. I went to Istanbul, but I haven't travelled Europe or something. It's like, Hey, man, go travel Europe for a year. Let's see what you write when you get back. But in the same way that I worry if I was a weightlifter or a runner, I'd be worried about falling out of shape. I worry about falling out of writing shape. So what does that mean? That means that I'm doing it fairly regularly. So the routine, the regularity, the consistency doesn't change much, but the actual storytelling hopefully does. I think the one book that would be, obviously I could have felt pressure for would've been Mallory, but I didn't mean the movie is this hit movie and the book's doing well, and it's open the doors for all these other books of mine. And you can imagine sitting down and being really, you can imagine a writer being really scared or freaked out to write mallory, but it was it bizarre.
(00:31:35): It was like I was able to hold two opposing truths at once. One was, this better be good. And the other one was, Hey man, you're just writing your next book. It doesn't matter if it's good or bad, let's just roll and both were in the room the whole time. This better be good. And it doesn't matter if it's, let's go, let's go. I feel great about how Mallory turned out. And I think though, in a way, I'm fortunate, like my favourite character to write. So let's say I'm just looking at the shelf, let's say, I mean, I love writing all of these, but let's just say a house of bottom, a lake became a million seller or something. That might be a harder one for me to have gone back into like, oh, boy, what happens now? And I'm not quite as familiar with those two as I am with Mallory the character.
(00:32:22): So really to answer that question, I feel like that would've been sort of the one moment where I might've felt something like that. cbs, good Morning was at our house for Mallory. There was an interview, I mean, the living room. There were cameras and this, and I'm over here. Then I would go to write and it's like, oh boy, but whatever pressure or whatever, this thing never got into that writer space area. It seems to be in general, and I wonder if you guys feel this too. It seems to be a fairly impenetrable place now, a health crisis or something. That's a whole different thing. But in terms of whether shit's freaky in my life, whether it's amazing whether I'm falling in love, whether I'm lonely, whether I'm broke, whether I have some money, I've still been writing two books a year and excitedly doing so, and it seems like nothing breaks down that vault door or something. So now it's remained almost exactly the same. Alison did point out to me, she's like, like, I don't know if you noticed, you do so much more work now than you're used to. When I first met her, I didn't have a book deal, and I'm writing a book two books a year, but no short stories, no rewrites, no interviews, no book tour. No, I mean, so, so now you add all that to still writing two books a year. So routine hasn't changed, but the, it's become busier the entire life, I guess.
Michael David Wilson (00:33:54): Yeah. Yeah. No, that makes a lot of sense. And I mean, in terms of, I feel that even if you decided to do a kind of tour of Europe, you probably would find yourself even if not the three or four hours, but you'd probably squeeze an hour of writing each day. Yeah, I think so. Mean, are there any days that you miss in terms of, that you don't write on that day? If you're doing a book tour, does that make it harder? If you're at a convention
Josh Malerman (00:34:37): And that is the same as working out or something, you'll be running or something, and then you go to some Reader Con or whatever it is, and you're gone for three days and you're drinking with other writers and stuff, and you're like, so yeah, no, I mean, I feel like anyone who says they write every day, I feel like that's probably a myth. I imagine Stephen King doesn't actually write every single day, you know what I mean? I'm sure he has shitty days or lazy days or sick days or holidays, or I'm trying other day words.
Michael David Wilson (00:35:15): Yeah.
Josh Malerman (00:35:17): But right now, I think I mentioned this before that I'm going to start writing that non-fiction book for the first time. Yeah, I can't wait to get rolling on this one.
Michael David Wilson (00:35:31): Yeah. Is that one that is currently contracted, or will you be shopping it around?
Josh Malerman (00:35:38): Yeah. No, no. I don't even know what it would be for or who or what, but I kind of would rather, in this case, for whatever reason, I think I would rather just write it first
Michael David Wilson (00:35:50): And
Josh Malerman (00:35:51): Then show Del Rey with anything that I put out. I would show Del, I showed Del Rey go in the Cape first. I showed them Goblin first. I show them these things first, and if they're like, no, we don't think that's the right thing for now, whatever. Then often I'll figure out a different way to put it out or whatever, because I kind of have to ask them who they're, you know what I mean? They're really good to me and I love working with them. So I love working with Paul Miller at Earthling and Paul and I started talking about going the Cape, but I got to run this by Del Rey first. I'm allowed to do it contractually, but just as a gentlemanly, let me run this by them. I don't want to do this book with Paul and then discover that Rey is like, dude, this is our favourite book of yours.
(00:36:36): Why didn't you even bring it up to us? So in this case, I think it's best, do I think Rey would want to put this out? I have no idea. I guess that matters what comes from this, how much of whatever it is, I guess it matters what comes from it. My instinct would tell me, no, they probably wouldn't be as interested in a nonfiction book for me. So I imagine it would end up somewhere else, but maybe I'm wrong. Maybe they would be thrilled at it. I don't know. And maybe Kristin, my agent would have other ideas where a nonfiction book ideas that I'm not even having right now.
Michael David Wilson (00:37:10): Yeah. Well, I mean, I've still got many thoughts on this kind of topic and area, but I'm also conscious that we want to talk about those other stories in Spinner Black Yarn. And rather than doing it sequentially, let's not bury the lead. Let's jump in to Igorov. That is kind of the main event. And I mean, obviously you decided to end a collection with this, a short novel, in fact, it's so long. But did you ever have any reluctance to put this in rather than let it stand alone as its own book? Because I mean, that would've worked too.
Josh Malerman (00:38:02): Part of the experience of having a backlog of 25 novels. Now there are 25 novels in this office that are unpublished, and I've been writing them since Bird Box came out you and the whole story. And part of that is looking for ways to get them out there. So she, or no, sorry. When I was working putting together Spin a Black Yarn originally, I said to myself, there's an opportunity here probably at the end of this, to slip in maybe one of these novels. If it's around 60,000, maybe there's a way to squeeze that down to 45, or maybe it actually even works better as a novella. Some of them, I dunno if you guys have ever had that experience where you write a whole novel, it's like 400 pages. You go in and start chopping away and you're like, wow, this could be 180 1 70.
(00:38:57): Right? So Egorov is one that I couldn't really see them putting out this period piece from 1901, little Russia, Sam Hatton. Everything about it seemed a little odd for Rey to maybe put out on its own. And I love the book. It's the first book I wrote in this house that I'm in right now. This is the first house I've ever bought, and I love that book. So I saw it as like, okay, here's a chance to sneak this, to sneak a novel into a collection of novellas. No, I didn't really think, because I knew the next book was, I think at the time, oh, right. We knew it was Daphne. Oh, I didn't know that at the time. I don't know. But either way, I saw it as a chance to slip. Egorov was around 60,000 words. So I saw it as a chance to sneak it in here.
Michael David Wilson (00:39:52): And of course, last time we spoke about how these kind of Russian novels are indulgent. They are sprawling. They have things that perhaps they'd even say in writing books don't include that, but that is part of their charm. So of course, I mean, you deliberately replicated some of that. One of the things you brought up was what, probably about two thirds of the way through, you have this insane kind of soliloquy from Misha where he essentially confesses to all death over all of the time. So I mean, doing that and particularly the editing stage and going back and forth, was that more of a challenge? Because I mean, when you're writing, I suppose, something more conventional, it's obvious what you're meant to cut. But when indulgence is part of the charm, it's like, how the hell do you know which bits to come, which bits to keep in? That's
Josh Malerman (00:41:02): Such a great question. And I think that I had a bit of, not a masterclass, but a bit of a class with that, with editing gul in the Cape, because Gul in the Cape was allowed, it's supposed to be a, I wouldn't say that it's seen, you could cut, but you can go on tangents and you can have multiple, A character can enter and then leave and these kind of things. So I had some recent experience with a rewrite that wasn't so as you said, conventional, but this is a little different. This was like, no, you don't need that scene, or you don't need misha at all, or you don't need, how many times are we going to go back to being haunted and how many and this kind of thing. And God, this sentence, the opening sentence is so clunky, but I just kept telling myself, no, no, no, this is that mood. It's like if you are painting in someone else's style and you went out and got the right colours and the right kind of canvas, and I was just like, no, this is that mood. You have to leave it. And it wasn't, what's the right word? It didn't feel like punitive. It wasn't like, you have to leave this. It was exciting. It was like, no, this is starting to feel like a russian from Translated from Russian.
Michael David Wilson (00:42:30): Yeah. Yeah. Did that make it more of a challenge, do you think, for your editor when they got it as well?
Josh Malerman (00:42:38): Yes. So Igorov like, you know how you can tell, can just tell. Even if someone likes something, you could tell the stories that really throw someone. You can tell the stories that maybe they thought were interesting. You could just tell that she felt a little weird about Igorov, and I should hadn't explained to her all this stuff we're talking about now. Beforehand. I just sent in the book and then she was like, oh, wait a minute. I had no idea that that's what you were trying to do. And then Ross Jeffrey, the writer, I don't know what his name Ross read, spin a black yarn, and I had told him about that, and he said, what you should do is that the beginning of Igorov say that this was translated say that this was, so that's your way of, don't wait for the afterward or something to explain to a reader at the beginning of the novella say that this was translated. And then it was my idea to do it by Sean from Argyle, Sean's sister Ethel. That's her job as a translator, whatever. And so she translated Igorov, right? So that little tiny note of Ross Ross's
(00:43:54): Probably helps that novella because it's like, yeah, even the audio, dude, I talked to Nick in the audio department who I love this guy, and you could just tell, he is like, Ooh, man, we got to find the right narrator for this one. Man. You could just tell that it was challenging for everyone each step of the way, and then I'll do it. I was like, I'll do Igorov. Lemme do it. I feel like I know how to do it or whatever. I won't use some silly russian accent, but I know the rhythm and I know the excitement of Misha. I can definitely do him. And he was like, no, I think, honestly, Josh, I think you need a pro for this story. I think you need somebody who can deliver. And I was like, okay, okay. I did try.
Michael David Wilson (00:44:39): Yeah. Yeah. And I'm wondering, at what point did Ross come in and read the book? Was this a case where you already had advanced copies or was he an early reader? Obviously you then had to add the translation note.
Josh Malerman (00:44:55): Yeah, so him and I did something amazing where I've never done this before in terms of a process where we were both starting books at the same time. And so we sent each other every 10,000 words of what we were working on. And it was fun. You started, you were serialising a novel for one person, one reader, and you were excited to get to the next 10,000 to send. So Ross sent me his, I died too, but they haven't buried me yet. He sent me every 10,000 words and I read it serialised, and I sent him incidents around the house, which is one of the newer ones I wrote. And we were sending back and forth, and I think it was right after that that I got the copy edit or whatever it was for a spin of black yarn. So it was near completion and it needed last little final notes. And Ross is a fast reader, thank God. He read it right away, and he suggested why not actually say this is translated from Russian so that people understand what you're trying to do this. I was like, right. That's a good idea, dude.
Michael David Wilson (00:46:01): And also I love that kind of experimental idea that you've came for in terms of sending 10,000 words to you've got this writer partnership. I mean, of course, it's like it's scary because it's so raw, it's so unfiltered, but also why the hell not?
Josh Malerman (00:46:26): Yep. No, exactly. And those are those opposing truths again, right? Yeah. It's embarrassing, but also why the hell not? So what, dude, let's, alright, let's just be real in front of each other. Here's my shitty rough draught writing and here's yours. I think, if I'm not mistaken, Ross did it the Lansdale Way edit as he goes
Michael David Wilson (00:46:48): Chapter
Josh Malerman (00:46:48): And then edit that chapter, then the next chapter, edit, then write the next one. I think he did that book that way, so his felt like ready to roll. I was like, dude, this feels like it's already published. But I went back and read, I've rewritten incidents around the house since the stuff I sent him, and I'm turning red with embarrassment as some of the stuff that I sent him.
Michael David Wilson (00:47:11): Yeah,
Josh Malerman (00:47:13): Look what happened. It's like this is that whole, the momentum of things, right? You're doing something like this with someone, then they want to read, spin a Black yarn, then they have an idea for spin a black yarn, and you have an idea for this or theirs. And so like you said, why not?
Michael David Wilson (00:47:29): Yeah, no, I mean, since I've done collaborations before, then obviously people have read my rougher work, so I've already got that kind of experience. But yeah, I'm definitely going to do this 10,000 word bit here, bit there, and Bob knows where this is going. If Bob's up for it, this is the next novel after Daddy's. Boy, I'm happy to do that exchange. I dunno from Bob's face if he is happy, but I'm gay.
Bob Pastorella (00:48:02): Well, I mean, I'm trying to get back into prose. I've been like for the last year, and Michael can probably say the same thing. We've been writing screenplays and it's a different type of writing, and I got to the point to where I didn't want to work on the other screenplay I was working on. I've got all the beats done and I just need to finish it, but I couldn't do it. I had to write some prose. I had to write some writing, some writing, writing. And so I've resurrected one of my trunk novels and started over again. Start it over again, start it over again. But I liked the idea so much and it took me a while to see the trees through the forest, but I realised that the secondary character is actually the main character. So now I'm just going to base everything in his main pov might switch around, so I'm already at about 3000 words on that. So you give me about another seven and I'll let you read some Dirty Bob. Yeah,
Josh Malerman (00:49:12): Love it fast, man. First of all, God, you have an awesome freaking voice, man.
Bob Pastorella (00:49:18): Thank you.
Josh Malerman (00:49:19): We're talking now. I'm like this dude, man. Both of you guys. Yeah, you guys are made to do this shit. Okay, so yeah, the screenplay, dude, I am the same way, man. I wrote a few and it is weird. It seems like I was doing it for a minute. That's all I was doing for a minute or something, and then it's almost like you get in that room or something, and again, the novel is home. Same thing you were saying, I need to write, man, this felt like I was trying to follow so many rules and so many some arc and page number, page count. I'm like, what am I doing here? It's just the screenplay is not home for me. I think that we're probably all of us here capable of writing an awesome freaking screenplay, but the novel is just, that's home.
Michael David Wilson (00:50:05): Yeah, a hundred percent on that.
Bob Pastorella (00:50:08): Yeah. It's almost because it's like, it's totally different tense, and you try to carry that tense over in the pros and it don't work. I'm not, I guess, a present tense writer. I'd love to be. I used to not like it, and now everything I'm reading, it's present tense. It's like, when did this happen? They shifted on me, but it's very energetic and it's in the now, but I can't do it. I start mixing up the verbs and stuff, and somebody they ran, but they were running like, what the fuck, man?
Josh Malerman (00:50:51): Present tense and the same thing. When I went to write that for the first time, I was like, oh shit, I slipped in the past. It's really easy to do. You don't even see it happening. You're just writing. Everything's according to plan and nope. Yeah,
Michael David Wilson (00:51:08): I dunno, Bob, if those 10,000 words, if you really want it to be a present tense one, you can just give me a note and be like, present tense me. I change anything today. It's not present tense.
Bob Pastorella (00:51:24): I wouldn't want to do it that way. To me, it'd be easy to write it in past and then go around and turn around and change it to present in a rewrite, but it would feel awkward and I think it would feel forced. Whereas if I had more practise in writing in that tense in a pro state, then yeah, I would be in tune with it. That's where I am on that. But I mean, I've got some momentum going, man, just probably give me about a month or so. I can probably get you about 10,000, 10,000 words typo in the first sentence. All that shit. Yeah. Yeah, it, well, this should i actually submit. Are you sure you want to submit this? There's a typo in the first sentence. Oh, yeah.
Michael David Wilson (00:52:18): Yeah. And let me clarify when I said I could help you with a present tense. I meant if you'd written something in the present tense, and then if I see something sneaking in, I did not mean I got you. I'm not going to rewrite. I'm sorry, Bob, but I love you got a good friendship, but I ain't fucking changing your past tense novel, all to present tense.
Bob Pastorella (00:52:41): Come on, man. Really? You can do it for me. Come on, man.
Michael David Wilson (00:52:47): Oh God.
Josh Malerman (00:52:50): Very odd and very specific role if you're like, I'm not an editor, but I've changed books.
Michael David Wilson (00:52:58): Yeah,
Bob Pastorella (00:53:01): My tense editor, Michael David Wilson,
Michael David Wilson (00:53:05): I'll add that to my
Josh Malerman (00:53:06): Transferred from,
Michael David Wilson (00:53:08): I'll add to my editorial services. You've got the full edit, you've got the story overview, and now you've got the present tense only. I don't even know what rate I'd have to charge for that. I feel it would be between the story overview and the fall in-depth edit, because I mean, it would almost have to be more than the fall in-depth edit, because I'm doing every sentence. I'm rewriting it. But I mean, I was going to say this book, and that is the thing with eager of, it feels like a book. I forget for a second. It is like, no, this is a story within a book, but it changes genre multiple times. I mean, when I started off reading it, I felt we just had a russian murder mystery. I felt like I was participating in it in a way, it almost was a choose your own adventure, even though there are no choices to be made, but it's a game for me.
(00:54:15): And then it's like, no, no, no, this is what we're giving you as an answer as to what's actually happened. Then it becomes a haunting, then, well, a kind of faux haunting as it were. Then as we progress further and further, it's like, oh, there is more going on in this than I even imagined. And then, yeah, you're throwing in soliloquies. It's like all rules, all fucks have been thrown out the window, and you just have to embrace it and go along with the ride. So I mean, yeah, I think as you have implied, this has to be the most experimental. This is a trip of a book right here.
Josh Malerman (00:55:09): I love, man. I love everything you're saying. Egorov himself was so wonderful to write and also took the most, I had to take the most care with him in the rewrite because it's real easy with a guy like that to give him just sort of villainous words and villainous dialogue and menacing. I mean, he's this old sort of disgusting guy that, whoo, remember when he eats? Remember that when he sits down dinner for,
Michael David Wilson (00:55:35): Yeah,
Josh Malerman (00:55:38): It's real easy. But I just kept wanting to give him a certain, and misha too, a certain sing Songiness is to him, and almost like smoke from Unburied Carol. Not quite though the same, but just, I don't know. I wanted him to have a lilt or a dance to what he was saying without it being just straight up villain
Michael David Wilson (00:55:58): Speak. Yeah,
Josh Malerman (00:56:02): It was fun to work with him, man. It's great when they first him, remember when they're out in town looking for him and they sort of see him and the robes are going down to the concrete. It almost looks like he's voting
Bob Pastorella (00:56:14): Right. I have that passage. I actually have that passage. I took a picture of it.
Josh Malerman (00:56:19): Oh, wow.
Bob Pastorella (00:56:24): This is heighten writing right here out of my way. The man said to the very twin girls, the brothers had passed not long before. One of you is awful enough, but two of you makes me, ill Pavel, I guess his name is Pavel, took gently on Barat's cuff directing him to a row of hedges at the river's edge from this cover. They watched a man draped in billowing robes moving a Mather neither had seen before. Does he touch the ground? Barat whispered. It wasn't quite as if the man floated. It was more that he was moving through a world he utterly rejected, and that is some powerful shit right there, brother. Right
Josh Malerman (00:57:04): On, man. I can't, wow, that was incredible that that's the one scene I cited and you busted it out right there.
Bob Pastorella (00:57:11): I had a picture of it. It was so good. I was like, fuck, dude. That's poetry right there. Right
Josh Malerman (00:57:17): On. And I think that, again, let's go back to that idea of what's the right, we're not experimenting. I keep thinking of dylan plugging in. It doesn't even matter what's right or wrong, or if the song's too loud or if in this case, if it's too weird. It's just like, and where is this leading? What's next? What's the next thing you write after a session like this? I think of things more in those terms. How do I explain this? I give my allegiance to an artist, let's say like Tarantino, right? And I love him. And then if he puts out in a movie, I didn't really love the last one Once Upon a time in Hollywood, but I love him. And so it's like, okay. I'm like, then where is this next one leading? And it's like, I don't then stop liking him. I'm like, Nope, I don't like him anymore. This one was a seven out of 10. You know what I mean? No, it's all part of that body of work. And where is he leading to? And I'm like, cannot wait for his next one, even though I wasn't mad crazy about the last one because I'm already invested in the artist versus each individual work of art. Does that make sense?
Bob Pastorella (00:58:24): Oh, yeah. It makes a lot of sense. The Worst Black Sabbath album is also a pretty damn good album. I mean, that's the way you got to look at it.
Josh Malerman (00:58:33): Oh, I wanted to tell you, I have 10 Judas Priest albums I got, they're up there. I was the other night. I was going to grab this and show you guys and I forgot to or son, but that stuff is great to write to. And I got the record player right behind me.
Bob Pastorella (00:58:50): Oh yeah. Oh yeah.
Josh Malerman (00:58:53): I'll just throw that stuff on right there. Yeah,
Bob Pastorella (00:58:56): I can write to it. I've been writing to a lot of jazz lately. Oh, sweet. Yeah, I'm trying to broadened my musical horizons. I came to jazz very late, but I've got Michael turned on jazz now, so I think he was kind of lean in that way. Anyway, but yeah, there's some incredible artists, new and old. I'm just loving it. Yeah,
Michael David Wilson (00:59:21): Yeah. Well, I mean, both you and I, Bob, we'd been listening to Dark Jazz as it were, and you were like, no, no. Here are some of the originals. This is where it's coming from. You got to check out Bitches Brew by Myles Davis. And I'm
Josh Malerman (00:59:37): Like,
Michael David Wilson (00:59:38): And then listening to that, yeah, it is like, are you serious? And this was written nearly 60 years ago now. What the hell?
Josh Malerman (00:59:53): Oh man. You know what? That is such a great album to bring up. I mean, we will write to music without lyrics and soundtracks and this kind of thing and that album. I mean, if that couldn't be a horror soundtrack, you know what I mean? Why couldn't it be Right? But it's not, and it fits more into this. Yeah, that is, oh God, I'm going to try to write a book to that album, man, that album
Bob Pastorella (01:00:17): Is
Michael David Wilson (01:00:17): Great. Yeah. Yeah. So my girlfriend, who is not into so much experimental or dark stuff as me, I played some Bitches Brew to her. Sometimes she'll put some jazz on and stuff, and she was like, this is just making me feel too uncomfortable and uneasy. And it's like, that's a great compliment. Also, I'll switch it off now. We'll put something else on, but that is probably exactly what my was going for. But what's the name of, what's that other album that's almost like Bitches Brew, but Turn to 11. He goes even further. Bob, I know you know it.
Bob Pastorella (01:01:03): You talking about the Live one, live Evil?
Michael David Wilson (01:01:05): Yes, yes.
Bob Pastorella (01:01:07): Live Evil is Miles Davis with this little, the end that goes into the trumpet, the Mute, playing it with a wah-wah pedal because he listened to Jimi Hendrix and it's just fucking amazing what he does, and it's, it's so good. When the first time I heard it, my jaw hit the ground. I was like, this guy is playing a trumpet, like Jimi Hendrix plays guitar, and it's phenomenal music. It's very, very experimental. It's very, it's free jazz. It's like the tempos are changing, it's evolving, it's twisting and turning how they remember the parts that they're playing and they do it live, and it's like you listen to different tracks of alternate takes and it's almost the same song. I'm like, how did they do this? It sounds, at first, listen, it sounds like cacophony.
Josh Malerman (01:02:10): I can't wait. I've never heard of this man. Oh
Bob Pastorella (01:02:13): Shit. Live Evil is pretty cool.
Josh Malerman (01:02:18): Is that on vinyl, or you think it's super rare? It's not on vinyl, probably, right?
Bob Pastorella (01:02:22): I mean, it probably is. I got it off of Apple music, and they didn't have it on there for a while. I just happened when I always look at new stuff. And so they had a new recording of it and it was on Apple Music, so I just started streaming it and I was like, holy shit, this is dude he's playing. It's like he sounds like he's using a wah-wah pedal. And it's just like, what the fuck, man? Whoa.
(01:02:52): Yeah. But then you got modern artists like Connie Hahn, who is a pianist, and she shreds, I mean, piano is such a percussive in percussive in instrument anyway, that if you're writing something highly energetic, you put on some Connie hahn, you're going to get through that scene pretty fast because it's like you get caught up in her energy. And so there's their main jazzist is, it's so wide, I don't even know where to go with it. I'm trying to capture everybody. I'm started listening to a lot of John Coltrane lately, but I still love the old dark jazz, the
Josh Malerman (01:03:38): Cover art for Live Evil. By the way, black Sabbath has an album called Live Evil too. They
Michael David Wilson (01:03:44): Do?
Bob Pastorella (01:03:44): Oh yeah.
Josh Malerman (01:03:46): I looked up and I'm like, what the, no, but yeah, the Cover Art for Live Miles Davis album is unbelievable. This is the greatest thing, man.
Bob Pastorella (01:03:57): Oh yeah. It's insane. You need to check it out, Josh. I mean, you'll enjoy it. Man's fucking badass.
Josh Malerman (01:04:04): Yeah, I'm on it.
Michael David Wilson (01:04:05): Yeah, no, I mean, I feel from you making the comment about the cover, both me and Josh, you've probably discovered in that time when Bob was talking that yes, it is available on vinyl. So
Josh Malerman (01:04:20): Not even kind of expensive, but not, I mean, all vinyl is around this these days it feels like, but it's double vinyl. That doesn't seem so bad actually, for double vinyl,
Michael David Wilson (01:04:35): Or I think I've found one for twenty-six, maybe I'll send you the link.
Josh Malerman (01:04:42): This is what we're doing in the podcast.
Michael David Wilson (01:04:44): Yeah, but anyone listening should absolutely check out Myles Davis Live Evil and Bitches Brew. The only drawback as music to write to is it's almost too intricate and too intense that sometimes I'll find myself wanting to just listen to the music, or it is almost so well done that it's as if it's a lyric. So I mean, I find Live evil harder to write to than Bitches Brew just because there's so much going on there.
Josh Malerman (01:05:27): So in the documentary, there's a moment early on where I'm showing the camera all the horror soundtracks I write to. And I don't think I told you this last time. Maybe I did, if I did whatever, and I'm going through it and I'm like, here's the Shining and this is what I write to. And then it strikes me on camera. I'm like, oh, wait, I don't have the rights to any of this. How the hell am I going to play this in this movie, this documentary? And then I was like, ah, shit. I think my band, and I think we need to make our own horror soundtrack for this book. And then cut. We are in the studio recording a soundtrack for the documentary of this book.
(01:06:04): And I was aware of the very thing you're talking about right now where there are parts that are crazy madness, but I wanted long segments that you could just write to without, what's the right phrase? Almost, I don't want to say mood music, but can you sustain a mood for 10 minutes? Can you stay around here for 15 minutes? Because 10 minutes of writing is not that much. 10 minutes sitting there, listening is a long time. So I was very aware of trying to make it palatable. You would put on those 15 minutes and work to them. And it sounds like what you're describing is they're way busier than that, and it's all probably over the place. Yeah.
Michael David Wilson (01:06:49): Yeah. Well, I think so that we cover all of the stories, we should jump back to Doug and Judy by the House Wash. And now we mentioned it a little bit, but we didn't go too in depth before. I don't think you did, but did you ever consider actually trademarking the house washer and Glasgow solution?
Josh Malerman (01:07:19): Wow. No, I hadn't. I probably should. So Alison and I, when I first, I meet Alison and two or four months later, her son, I got a book deal, and I had been writing for decades before then. So not only do I fall in love, I get a book deal a couple months later, whatever it is, and it's like a romantic moment. And then I had been living in an apartment for only a couple months on my own. Alison moved in there and then we're like, Hey, let's rent out a house instead of this apartment. So we rented the first house I ever rented, and it was kind of nice. It wasn't think of a mansion or something, but it was nicer than all the places I've lived in when I was broke for 20 years. And the very first day we were in that place, I was like, man, imagine I was thinking about having to clean the place.
(01:08:12): I was like, imagine if we're in some sort of tube, you and me and the whole house has cleaned around us. And I was standing with her in the middle of the room, and I'm like, now the whole house is, we're swishing. All of our possessions are. And then she was like, well, how would I clean that? I'm like, well, it doesn't matter. It is able to do anything. It knows how to clean everything, and everything's cleaning and clean. I'm up and down the stairs. And then I was like, oh man, actually, this is awesome. This is awesome. What if we ended up in this house because we just stepped on people, shamelessly stepped on people in our whole career and blah, blah, blah. And here we are stuck in this tube. And all of our possessions that we got, because we're assholes, are swirling around us and showing what kind of assholes we are, and oh my God, and we're having this mental breakdown as everything we own.
(01:09:02): It's like a materialistic mind of monstrosity. And I was like, oh, this is good. So I said to her, I was like, I got to write that house washer story. And then for years, for years, I'm talking four or five years, I'm like, I got to write that house washer story. And finally it felt, and you guys probably relate to this, it felt like refreshing in relief, in comparison to Argyle, in comparison to Igorov. It felt like this was the exact right time for that story. I wanted something that fit the Samhattan vibe and the Samhattan world world that was nothing like Argyle or igorov. And originally, this is interesting, just to note real fast that Daphne was called Daphne because each of the novellas were a person's name, a proper name. So it was Daphne, and then it was, Stephanie says half the house is haunted, and then it was Argyle, and then it was Doug and Judy by the house washer, and then it was Igorov. But then when Daphne was removed, I was like, oh, we don't have to, whatever. But I just wanted to point that out for some reason. But Doug and Judy, like we were saying before, I mean, come on, man. These two are assholes.
Michael David Wilson (01:10:24): Yeah, yeah. Well, I mean, we're told in the first sentence, and again, as I said with Argyle, I just love that you don't bury the lead. You have these amazing to the point first sentences and actually reading it, that was really inspiring just in terms of thinking about my own writing. And it's like, make sure that you are packing a lot into that first sentence that you've got intrigued because that's your hook. That's almost like your sales line, or that's your promise to the reader that they're going to go on a decent journey with you, that you're secure in what you're doing. So yeah, I love that. You've got it straight up front. Doug and Judy, barman are assholes.
Josh Malerman (01:11:14): But I still find if I was somehow invited to their house, right,
(01:11:20): I think I would know right away that dog was, and I think Judy would probably scare me. I would be like, no, I don't really want to. Don't be alone in the kitchen talking to that lady or something, or outside on the patio with each of us have a drink in our hands. But I do sense something redeemable about Judy, and you could argue Doug also remember when that microphone is going through and he like, what the hell is that? You write a song, remember that? And he was like, yeah, I wrote a song. And she's like, oh my God, what was it? And they're ripping on each other for being artistic at all.
(01:11:57): And he was like, oh, it was about changing the world. And she's like, oh God. Oh, spare me. But you wonder in them, I mean, maybe dog did have a little of something too, but the reason the two of them are irredeemable to me is that they didn't just cut some corners. They didn't just cheat. They decided to step on people to climb water. And they have a phrase between them that is, Hey, man, anything goes on the way up. Anything goes. And so it's like on the rise, that was on the dude, dude that was on the rise, Doug, remember when you did this dude that was on the rise? And she is married to that idea too. And so she's like, that's right. All right, so you're forgiven between the two of them of anything on the rise. The whole point was getting to the top. And so in that way, they're irredeemable.
Michael David Wilson (01:12:51): Yeah, and I think as we said before, when you find out about the moment with Carla, it's like, oh, they are beyond. They will hurt people that they have nothing to even gain from it. This has taken it to a whole new level. And I mean, I think perhaps one of the most important lines in this piece is I'm saying at some point you and I stopped worrying about whether or not we won and we started needing everyone around us to lose, and it's like, holy shit. That is kind of the core of Doug and Judy.
Josh Malerman (01:13:44): Yeah. I almost feel like they're still in that tube right now. They're trapped there forever. The Phantom Zone Superman movie.
Michael David Wilson (01:13:55): And I mean, before you said that this had something a little bit of a flavour, and I said, yeah, I think this is tangential, but I think too, particularly you've got Tendrils as well. There is definitely something cosmic horror going on here. Perhaps your most cosmic horror piece, I would say.
Josh Malerman (01:14:24): Yeah, man, you're right. And did Bob, or one of you guys mentioned Mathison with this before?
Bob Pastorella (01:14:32): Yes. Yes, it has that, it reminds me of something that Mathison would've probably written for Twilight Zone that Serling would've probably said, nah, it's a little dark, because I mean, it is, and yeah, Twilight Zone went dark, but this is, I don't think that if it was written back then in the fifties or so, it would've definitely not made it, but I could see it being in Jordan Peels version of the Twilight Zone, definitely, because it does have a darker tone, but Mathison had this kind of, I guess a domestic science fiction thing. He would take something that was scientific and put it into our world to where we could totally get a grasp of it or have something uncanny, but scientific happen, and then you have to deal with your own life and the reality around it, and that's when I saw was these people taking advantage of other people while this machine takes advantage of their suffering that they feel inside themselves. You know what I mean? It's like they get to see this shit, and it's like ultimately, well, I'm not going to spoil it, but yeah. Yeah, it had definitely reminded me of Mathison, and that's a good thing. That's a good thing. It's like you got these echoes, these shades, but man, you know how to make it your own.
Josh Malerman (01:16:19): I wrote down domestic science fiction because I want to write more stories. I didn't even think of it in those terms. There's a museum around here, this awesome museum, and it has a living room from the fifties and it has blah, blah, blah, and I took a photo of me standing in it, listening to the radio, like Allison took this photo, and I remember crossing my mind like, oh, I want to write stories in that kind of setting the living room in the domestic science fiction story, and I hadn't articulated that until at all. You just said it, and now I'm like, I almost want to write a whole book of domestic science fiction stories.
Bob Pastorella (01:16:59): I could see something like that in the 1950s, and they had this new invention, and it's not a tv, it's not a radio. It's like they figured out how to do a hologram or something like that. It'd be like it makes the TV live, and it's like you'd have these little commercials on the tiny tv. It's like now bring the future of television directly into your home. That could be a whole genre unto itself because there's just so many things. Doug and Judy buy a fucking toaster. Yeah, I mean, it could be anything. It could be anything. It's crazy.
Josh Malerman (01:17:40): Yeah. Oh, that's fun. Oh, boy. Wow. You just really, yeah. I may write another collection of novellas sooner than that. Sounds fun. Good Five domestic, even give it a title, something domestic like something domestic is a good title. Yeah.
Michael David Wilson (01:18:00): Yeah. Well, we are coming up to the time that we have together. We should talk a little bit about the Jupiter Drop because in many ways it's the hardest to talk about because I feel it's the shortest in the collection. It's certainly one of the shortest, and so, I mean, my favourite line and the most foreboding is just there is no life on Jupiter. If you think you see life on Jupiter, you are mistaken. What a fucking creepy thing to read in this ad for the project itself.
Josh Malerman (01:18:42): That one was straight up in the same way Bird Box was just came with an image, and I just imagine this plexiglass apartment held above that planet by some giant crane and just dropped just falling through this gas giant and how, I mean, obviously it's insane, but how everything's fine in the apartment and everything's stable, but you're literally surrounded by these storms and this insane weather and this, oh my God, that would be the trip of a lifetime. But also how soon before you're like, I want to get off. You know what? I want to get off this ride. It would take you months to fall through Jupiter. That one was just straight up an image. Did I tell the announcement side of this on this or no? I know I've made some announcements in this episode. I made make another one here. Did I talk about the film side of this?
Michael David Wilson (01:19:39): I think you mentioned that there was interest, but I don't think we got any detail on that.
Josh Malerman (01:19:45): I'm going to tell you, and if I get in trouble, I don't care. It is with Monkey Paw and it is with Universal, and the script is, well, the Writer's Strike has everything on hold, but I've read the script and it's awesome, and it's different than the book, but also it's the Ju. It is the Jupiter drop and blah, blah, blah. But yeah, so that could be a really exciting movie if you just cinematically get the scorns again outside the glass and as they're plummeting through this planet. Yeah,
Bob Pastorella (01:20:22): I don't think people realise exactly how big Jupiter is.
Josh Malerman (01:20:26): No
Bob Pastorella (01:20:27): Doubt. And with the changes that you would have in gravity and things like that, it's not, to me, in my mind, it's not far-fetched that you would fall for a long, long time and you would want to get out before you ever hit the core, because the planet, it's a gas giant that in a lot of ways, it's just an anomaly. It should not exist the way it does, but at least what I've read about it, it's just a massive, massive thing that
Josh Malerman (01:21:15): Yeah, it's like a it.
Bob Pastorella (01:21:17): It was like, shit, how long would you fall?
Josh Malerman (01:21:20): Yeah. So then in those cases, I'm like, well, then we just put on Afterburners on it because then, okay, it would take four, so it doesn't quite free fall. It's being propelled down, but okay, it's got stabilisers because you want the setting so bad, the whole don't let perfect get in the way of good. Right.
Bob Pastorella (01:21:39): Don't let science ruin this. Don't
Josh Malerman (01:21:41): Let science ruin this. Exactly. Yeah. Don't let science ruin horror
Bob Pastorella (01:21:47): Friends. Don't let science ruin horror. Yeah,
Michael David Wilson (01:21:53): It's bob's new,
Josh Malerman (01:21:56): But yeah, that I don't want to give anything away, but in a bizarre way, it's similar to Doug and Judy, but whatever people will read out on their own, but
Michael David Wilson (01:22:05): Yeah. Yeah. I mean, of all the planets wide jupiter,
Josh Malerman (01:22:12): Again, I just saw above this swirling gases and this just to be dropped into a ball of violence, just violent weather and storms, and I think there's even an ice lake or something somewhere at some point in Jupiter, it sort some miles and miles of a frozen, not frozen, but freezing or something, sort of like Lake, I don't remember exactly. Thicker, A thicker ring or something at some point that in the movie script they go through, because the people writing the script actually were like, well, we're actually going to check the science on this, Josh. Yeah.
Bob Pastorella (01:22:56): Well, yeah. When you put it into a movie, I guess the movie format, then you don't want to have the social media backlash.
Josh Malerman (01:23:05): Oh, boy. Yeah. Yeah.
Bob Pastorella (01:23:06): Here we go with the toxic positive.
Josh Malerman (01:23:08): Yeah. Yeah. This guy says, anything's possible.
Bob Pastorella (01:23:12): It's a movie. It's a fucking movie. No.
Michael David Wilson (01:23:16): Yeah. I think it's bizarre how sometimes you'll see people that will be fact checking these innocuous details and getting really upset about something in a film, but it's like, but this is a fantastical film. This is a horror film. This is cosmic horror. This is an interpretation of our reality. We're simulating it, but it isn't reality, and it is bizarre how these little details can be like, well, that ruined everything for me, particularly if you see in a Lawrence Block thing, it's like, oh, well, that street isn't there in New York, or it's like that store is actually on the opposite side of the road. It's like, so that ruined the whole story, this blops interpretation of New York.
Josh Malerman (01:24:08): I know with Kafka, it's like, it's cool that he didn't know America that he had it wrong. It's like people pick and choose who are allowed to, who are allowed to get away with this and that, because you'll see that happens a lot where they'll be really mad at one filmmaker or whatever for portraying this or that then, but with this other guy, it's like, oh, he's like a bad boy, and I like that he breaks the rules. You see those a lot.
Michael David Wilson (01:24:33): Yeah. As always, we could have spoken to you for much longer. I feel like if we wanted, we could do 24 hours with you, and we still have things to talk about, but we got to save something in the tank for next time. So thank you again. This has been a journey. Journey we've spoken for. We getting on, I guess totally for those four hours. Yeah, three and a half or so, but where can our listeners connect with you?
Josh Malerman (01:25:12): So it's just my name Josh Mallerman. There's only one Alan Mallerman. For those who don't know, the website used to be boring. Well, I don't know if boring, but nothing was there. Now it has a free novel up there. I've been up there for a minute. Carpenter's Farm, Josh Mallerman on all the sites, and again, my band, the High Strong, we just released a new album that's everywhere, like Spotify, whatever called Address Unknown. That's where we're at,
Michael David Wilson (01:25:39): And I'll be checking out the album for sure, and I've heard of the High Strong a lot more than the last time, well, than any time that we spoke, because relatively recently, the last few months I've been watching the US version of Shameless. Every episode, you kick that off, and yeah, it was like, oh, shit. This is pretty good music. I've never really explored your music before, but yeah.
Josh Malerman (01:26:14): Yeah. That is awesome. I didn't know that I was going to bring that up before. That's amazing that you do that, and I'm going to get live evil and write something domestic.
Michael David Wilson (01:26:25): Yeah. Well, do you have any final thoughts before we close out?
Josh Malerman (01:26:35): I do kind of. I just want to, here's one more fun announcement is that I think the next fiction book I write, I'm going to try. I have a songwriting partner in the high strong Mark Owen, and him and I have been writing songs together forever, and he's been wanting to write novels forever, and he's a brilliant dude and a brilliant writer, but he hasn't written a book, and I've never written a book with someone else, and so I said to him, I don't know. Should we see what it's like to write a novel together? We've written all these albums together. I write novels you want to write now. I've never done it. You want to do it? And he said, yeah. So Mark and I are going to try to write a novel together, and I'm really excited about this. This is like, we've been best friends since we were 17 or something.
(01:27:19): I'm really excited to try to do this with him, and I'm curious if it'll turn out more kind of like the band's music where it's accessible but its own thing, or if it'll be more like thriller or horror. I don't even know what this will be yet, and I'm just really excited to do that with him. So final thoughts or final announcement? It seems like there's been a bunch of 'em in this. One is that I think Mark and I are going to write, well, I know we're going to try to write a novel together, and I'll be working on the non-fiction book too.
Michael David Wilson (01:27:51): Thank you so much for listening to Josh Malerman on This is Horror, and I sincerely hope that next time we talk to Josh, it will not have been three years because it's too much fun talking to him. It was far too long for us to be absent from one another, and I mean, it sounds like he's got a lot of good things coming up, including that writing documentary, so I think we'll have plenty of excuses to getting back on the show, but talking about people who will be back on the show. Join us again next episode for a brand new conversation with Dean Coons. You see Dean's work rate is so prolific that he's back with us for the second time this year. He's just released a brand new novel after death, and we recorded that conversation this morning, the day of release at the time of recording this intro.
(01:28:52): If you want to get that episode right now, if you want to get every episode ahead of the crowd, join us on patreon.com forward slash This is Horror. This is Horror podcast patron. You not only get early bird access to each episode, but you get a multitude of exclusive podcasts, including story Unboxed to horror podcast on the craft of writing and the patrons only Q&a sessions. Speaking of which, Bob and I will be recording a new Q&a session in the next 12 hours, so a lot of good reasons to become a patron. Go to Patreon.com forward slash this Is Horror. Have a little look at what we offer, and if it is a good fit for you, I would love you to join us. Okay. Before I wrap up a little bit of an advert break,
RJ Bayley (01:29:52): It was as if the video had unzipped my skin, slunk inside my tapered flesh and become one with me.
Bob Pastorella (01:30:01): From the creator of This Is, horror comes a new nightmare for the Digital Age, the Girl in the video by Michael David Wilson. After a teacher receives a weirdly arousing video, his life descends in a paranoia and obsession. More videos follow each containing information no stranger could possibly know, but who's sending them and what do they want? The answers may destroy everything and everyone he loves the Girl. In the video is The Ring Meets Fatal Attraction from Iphone Generation. Available now in paperback ebook and audio out from Tenopus Press on August 1st, the Hissent by Ashley Ding, an eco-horror tale of the humanity that lurks in the most inhuman places in a climate ravaged near future China. E has lived her entire life in her ancestral home, wanting for nothing but her Blessed life is about to take on a whole new meaning when she discovers the true terrible nature of the House, the Hissent by Ashley Ding. A well-Fed Home is a happy home.
Michael David Wilson (01:30:58): As always, I would like to end with a quote, and this is from one of my favourite childhood wrestlers Diamond Dallas Page. This is a dude who has inspired so many people with his Ddp yoga programme, and he is just a ray of positivity in this world. Here is a quote from The Legend that is Diamond Dallas Page, better known as Ddp. Never underestimate the power you give someone by believing in them. More importantly, never underestimate the power you give yourself by believing in you. I'll see you in the next episode with Dean Coons, but until then, take care of yourselves. Be good to one another, read horror, keep on writing, and have a great, great day.