Pete's picture
Pete from Detroit is reading Red Dragon February 2, 2015 - 9:32am

'Bird Box' by Josh Malerman

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Synopsis: Something is out there . . .

Something terrifying that must not be seen. One glimpse and a person is driven to deadly violence. No one knows what it is or where it came from.

Five years after it began, a handful of scattered survivors remain, including Malorie and her two young children. Living in an abandoned house near the river, she has dreamed of fleeing to a place where they might be safe. Now, that the boy and girl are four, it is time to go. But the journey ahead will be terrifying: twenty miles downriver in a rowboat—blindfolded—with nothing to rely on but her wits and the children’s trained ears. One wrong choice and they will die. And something is following them. But is it man, animal, or monster?

Engulfed in darkness, surrounded by sounds both familiar and frightening, Malorie embarks on a harrowing odyssey—a trip that takes her into an unseen world and back into the past, to the companions who once saved her. Under the guidance of the stalwart Tom, a motley group of strangers banded together against the unseen terror, creating order from the chaos. But when supplies ran low, they were forced to venture outside—and confront the ultimate question: in a world gone mad, who can really be trusted?

Interweaving past and present, Josh Malerman’s breathtaking debut is a horrific and gripping snapshot of a world unraveled that will have you racing to the final page.

Author: Josh Malerman is the lead singer and songwriter for the rock band the High Strung. He lives in Ferndale, Michigan.

His novel BIRD BOX came out in May 2014.

Discussion has officially started!

This book just appeared one day, for me at least. I knew nothing about it one day. The next, every reader I know was reading it or talking about it. So yeah, after that I knew it would make a great book for the club.

Can't wait to see what everybody thinks about this book. It's definitely making waves. And it's the type of book that's right up my alley.

Get to reading!

Purchase BIRD BOX Here

Richard's picture
Richard from St. Louis is reading various anthologies February 4, 2015 - 10:43am

I'm SO IN. One of my favorite books of 2014. I also spoke to Josh on Facebook and it sounds like he's willing to stop by and do Q&A, too.

Here's my review on ENTROPY, if anybody wants to peep it.

Gordon B. White's picture
Gordon B. White from Seattle (for now) February 4, 2015 - 10:26pm

Maybe some slight spoilers, but Josh was kind enough to do an interview with me on Hellnotes.  Most shocking part?  He'd written 14 or 15 trunk novels before Bird Box!  That blew my mind.  But he's a great guy and good interview.  http://hellnotes.com/hellnotes-interview-josh-malerman-author-of-bird-box

Richard's picture
Richard from St. Louis is reading various anthologies February 6, 2015 - 8:17pm

wow, i didn't know that, gordon. dang. that's some serious commitment.

Americantypo's picture
Americantypo from Philadelphia is reading The Bone Clocks February 7, 2015 - 9:47am

One of my favorites this past year. Also curious about all those trunk novels and how he plans on following up such an impressive debut.

Richard's picture
Richard from St. Louis is reading various anthologies February 10, 2015 - 8:35am

^^^seriously

fortunewookie's picture
fortunewookie February 10, 2015 - 3:23pm

The booked podcast with josh was great. He's got like 20 novels sitting around. I thought it was a pretty commanding debut for a new author so it makes sense. He also talks about writing all these books but no short stories because if he had an idea for a short story he made it a song for his band. 

Richard's picture
Richard from St. Louis is reading various anthologies March 1, 2015 - 11:13am

SO IT BEGINS.

i'll toss out the obvious question, josh—where did this idea come from, and how did you develop it?

Bob Pastorella's picture
Bob Pastorella from Groves, Texas is reading murder books trying to stay hip, I'm thinking of you, and you're out there so Say your prayers, Say your prayers, Say your prayers March 4, 2015 - 2:08pm

One of the things that I really liked about this novel was how easy I was able to shrug off my sensibilities and suspend belief that people navigating outside could resist the temptation to remove their blindfolds. If it were me, I would have probably died or gone insane from both keeping the blindfold on, or seeing whatever it was that had taken hold of the world. Surely, this wasn't an easy task, balancing that fine line.

Josh, were there any parts during the process of writing this that you thought readers might not be able to suspend belief? 

WonderWomanDracula's picture
WonderWomanDracula March 4, 2015 - 2:40pm

hey hey all. Yes, it is me... Wonder Woman Dracula. 

WonderWomanDracula's picture
WonderWomanDracula March 4, 2015 - 2:41pm

Richard, as you know well... who the hell knows where the ideas come from? And yet... all of us are able to pintpoint at least some key moment. As goes thinking up the idea for Bird Box, my moment came when I was thirteen or so...

WonderWomanDracula's picture
WonderWomanDracula March 4, 2015 - 2:49pm

a teacher mentioned in class that a man "might go mad" if he were to attempt to "fathom infinity." The word "attempt" was enough to scare me shitless. So, according to this teacher, if I even tried to understand where Space ends or Time begins, I could... lose my mind? I remember that night I was sitting in the upstairs hallway, sitting on the carpet, as my immediate family members went to and fro, getting ready to go out to dinner. I was frightened, worried, because I was "attempting" to understand where Space might end. I was worried lest I go mad before dinner. I don't have a real memory of telling Mom and Dad about this, but somehow I got through it, got dressed, and so on.

Now, flash forward so many years and I'm writing a new book and I've got this idea of a blindfolded mother rowing down a river, with her two kids on board. All blindfolded, all in trouble. But what are they fleeing? What's behind them? What's ahead? As we all know... this is a make or break moment when writing a book. You've got this story idea and you don't have it fleshed out yet so you kinda leap in on faith, faith that you'll figure that shit out as it comes. haha. Sounds ridiculous to say a man might start writing a book without knowing what it's about, but it's true! So... leaned back in my chair... thought about it for a second or two... recalled that evening on the carpet in the hall... and thought, "Ah... what if they're fleeing Infinity? What if they're trying to elude a creature that somehow has the impossible to describe characteristics of Infinity?"

And the rough draft exploded from there.

Richard's picture
Richard from St. Louis is reading various anthologies March 5, 2015 - 1:54pm

brilliant. love that story. really explains a lot.

did you do any research on the blindfolded/blind aspects of this novel? like, walking to the well? i love the suspense and terror that washes over you as you take that trip with the main characters.

there are opportunities in the book for the "creatures" to hurt the people, but they don't. why? is the only way they can harm humans to be seen?

i hear that you have a whole trunk full of novels. why do you think BIRD BOX has broken out, gotten so much attention? did you finally just evolve to a level where your writing was polished, and fresh, and yet still universal? or do you consider it luck and perseverance? did you shop the others, or was this the first you really pushed hard? curious about the path you've taken.

Americantypo's picture
Americantypo from Philadelphia is reading The Bone Clocks March 6, 2015 - 9:09am

Josh,

I finished reading this book in like three days, which doesn't happen often. I think I remember you mentioning in another interview that you wrote this book very quickly (like a week or something). So I guess, seeing how this is a workshop, what is your process? I'm currently only my own book and have a cork board, notes, bios of characters. I went in blind for the most part with only a vague idea of what happens (beginning, some of the middle scenes, and an ending that kept changing the more the book changed), but I also story boarded once I had a decent chunk of the thing finished and kept a notebook of questions and facts to keep the whole thing from falling off the rails. So I was wondering if you had any routines you employed. Birdbox is such a small book in terms of place and character, but so effective because of the concept and the language used, so I can see someone not having any notes at all and just running through the damn thing.

My second question: you also mentioned in an interview that you've written like 20-30 books. Do you believe these were your 100,000 words or whatever they call it needed for a writer to finally start writing their first good work? Or is there another Birdbox lying around in your house that just needs a good edit? It's hard to wrap my head around writing that many books without doing anything with them, especially since, as I said, we're all writers here and this is a workshop. I spent like 3 years writing short fiction very aggressively before trying the novel I'm working on now and it was always my prerogative to get things published, but I have to be honest, if I didn't sell a single story, I don't know how long I would've kept at it. Then again, they say that a real writer can't be told to stop writing. So what was your motivation to keep writing like this when not a single book has seen the light of day before you finally got to Birdbox?

Finally- I just wanted to say that I loved Birdbox. The rating systems can be kind of arbritary, but I'm very fickle about giving any book five stars and Birdbox easily hit the five star mark for me. It's only flaw was that I wanted to know what the monsters looked like, but it's such a flimsy criticism given the concept of the book. Of course you can't describe these things because they're impossible to perceive. You're going to have a hell of a time following this book up I think.

-Bill

Pete's picture
Pete from Detroit is reading Red Dragon March 18, 2015 - 7:25am

Just finished it. For a book where, for the most part, some people are safely stuck in a house together - the tension and suspense was ridiculous. Once the book picked up, it really hooked me in. My favorite type of stories are apocalyptic future and dystopian future stories. So this was right up my alley.

I don't think this story would have worked at all if it wasn't told without the alternating story-lines. It was able to give us multiple peaks, multiple times where everything comes together to make one big high point in the story.

Bob said: One of the things that I really liked about this novel was how easy I was able to shrug off my sensibilities and suspend belief that people navigating outside could resist the temptation to remove their blindfolds. If it were me, I would have probably died or gone insane from both keeping the blindfold on, or seeing whatever it was that had taken hold of the world. Surely, this wasn't an easy task, balancing that fine line.

I kept coming back to this. Or all the experiments that could have been done to figure out a way to "see." But then, that's probably why there aren't that many people left in the world.

I also kept coming back to how small their world was. They spent hours going to the well or searching a neighbors house. In my head I would zoom out and think about how ridiculous this was. And then when Gary says that he watched them and starts to describe it - it's as if he's describing all of the ridiculous scenarios I've been thinking the whole time.

Anybody else think that Gary's story about his old housemates was just hilarious? The part I actually laughed at was when he said they were target shooting without weapons, or something like that. It just reminded me of all of those militia type people that are totally out of shape and know nothing of actual military operations.

Pete's picture
Pete from Detroit is reading Red Dragon March 19, 2015 - 7:24am

Also - what did you guys picture the creatures as?

For most of the book, I went back and forth on different ideas in my head. But for some reason a pretty solid image formed in my head when Malorie gives birth in the atic and the creature is behind her.

In my head I saw one of the creatures from Critters, but with more human like proportions - longer arms and legs. Maybe less hair as well.

Bob Pastorella's picture
Bob Pastorella from Groves, Texas is reading murder books trying to stay hip, I'm thinking of you, and you're out there so Say your prayers, Say your prayers, Say your prayers March 19, 2015 - 6:27am

I think in a film adaptation, the best way to show the monsters is to not, at least directly. I'd like to see the focus on the actors, their reactions, and have the creature be nothing more than out of focus glimpses, no details, no closeups. Combine that with some long distance wide-angle shots, and you see the horror without actually seeing it. 

I see them as bipedal beings, hairless and featureless, except for their eyes. It would make sense that we would be so afraid of a creature's eyes that we force ourselves not to look at the them. 

Richard's picture
Richard from St. Louis is reading various anthologies March 19, 2015 - 10:08pm

i always saw it as some sort of wraith

Pete's picture
Pete from Detroit is reading Red Dragon March 20, 2015 - 4:43am

All three of us have totally different things in our heads.

The wraith makes sense. I wonder why I had this weird picture in my head...

Americantypo's picture
Americantypo from Philadelphia is reading The Bone Clocks March 20, 2015 - 6:24am

I'd have to go with the skinny critters look myself. Their defense mechanism seems to be some kind of visual attack. Maybe the light bounces off them in a way that is harmful to anything that can see them.

fortunewookie's picture
fortunewookie March 20, 2015 - 6:37am

Langoliers

asianliga's picture
asianliga March 20, 2015 - 10:11am

It's hard to wrap my head around writing that many books without doing anything with them, especially since, as I said, we're all writers here and this is a workshop. I spent like 3 years writing short fiction very aggressively before trying the novel I'm working on now and it was always my prerogative to get things published :: agen bola

Pete's picture
Pete from Detroit is reading Red Dragon March 20, 2015 - 10:30am

Props to this spammer for actually posting something relevant before posting the link.

Bob Pastorella's picture
Bob Pastorella from Groves, Texas is reading murder books trying to stay hip, I'm thinking of you, and you're out there so Say your prayers, Say your prayers, Say your prayers March 20, 2015 - 4:45pm

^^^^^ No shit, if that's actually spam. If so, Best. Spam. Post. Ever!

Robert VanCleave's picture
Robert VanCleave from The Land of Ice And Snow is reading "Sex Lives of Siamese Twins" by Irving Welsh March 25, 2015 - 10:00am

My biggest question is why (let me not include spoilers), if nobody's seen "them" as far as ANY of the characters know, how are they all so absolutely convinced that "they're" creatures? Where did the "infinity" thing, in-universe, come from to justify everybody going mad? Really irked me throughout the story that these characters were haphazardly clinging to guesswork and speculation like it was a factual account of their surroundings.

Honestly, i kept picturing "the big bad" as some Aurora Borealis or giant Lovecraftian monster. Or even alien rays of light that fuck with human sight in all the wrong ways. So many possibilities that "creatures" just seem arbitrary.

Americantypo's picture
Americantypo from Philadelphia is reading The Bone Clocks March 26, 2015 - 2:44pm

I think, if I remember right from reading, that a few of the characters that have seen them and go insane afterwards, but not to the point of hurting themselves. It's been awhile since I've read it, so I don't remember the specific name of hte character, but I remember the guy hiding in the basement said that there were alot of "them" out there, like, all over the place. We can assume a smaller scale based on the fact that much of the outside environment isn't completely demolished, but other than that, it's hard to say. It's the strength of the book. Just listened to This Is Horror interview with Malerman and he mentioned meeting with a studio about film rights and the idea of having large segments of the film completely in the black with only sound to go by. Terrifying if they can pull that off. I don't think they'd be able to do entire scenes that way, but they can certainly toy with it, or maybe film it behind a shroud, have it slip off a little, stuff like that.

Americantypo's picture
Americantypo from Philadelphia is reading The Bone Clocks March 26, 2015 - 2:46pm

Overall I'd imagine them very small and weak, their defense mechanism being their appearance or the way the refract light, as literal as we're going to get with breaking this down.

Robert VanCleave's picture
Robert VanCleave from The Land of Ice And Snow is reading "Sex Lives of Siamese Twins" by Irving Welsh March 27, 2015 - 1:58am

I know who you're talking about, but the "creature" hypothesis came before he could introduce his theories/visions.