Thank you HUGELY for the interview. I loved the questions (especially about being nervous for reviews.) They felt more like what I'd be interested in, reading about other writers, than most questions do.
If my answers suck, let me know and I'll redo them.
But here's to hoping you like them.
Can you tell us something about yourself and about the Bird Box for the readers of my blog? Doesn't have to be long. (I already read a lot about you on the internet). How would you describe your novel (Amazon calls it a Horror Thriller)?
Bird Box is a story about a mother and her two kids attempting to flee Infinity. We’ve all heard that a person might go mad if they were to fathom infinity; now imagine if that concept were personified, and standing on the front porch of your house. Malorie (and others) defends herself the best way she knows how; with a blindfold. For, to gaze upon Infinity would drive a woman mad.
Will there be a movie of Bird Box? While reading it I could almost see the movie in my head. So I can imagine that a movie would be a great success.
Universal Studios bought the film rights and it sounds like things are moving along. It’s all wildly exciting. I flew out to Los Angeles and met with the producers on the Universal lot. I was so freaked out and scared before hand that I was pretty much pacing outside the bungalow office. But once I got inside, and saw the shelves of books the producers had optioned or want to option, I settled down, having recognized some of the books as favorites of mine, too.
Is the character of Malorie (or other persons in the book) based on real persons?
Nope. None of the characters were based on actual people, though I do think my own worldview is split somehow, carried in two parts, by Tom and Don.
What do you think of ebooks? In the Dutch reading communities there is a lot of discussion about it. (like is an e-book a real book?). But there is also the problem about illegal copying of e-books. Is Bird Box available as e-book?
Bird Box is available as an e-book. Audio book as well. I’m for it. You know? Why not. I come from the school of “as long as people are reading, it’s a good thing.” That said, I’ve discovered I’m a physical copy man myself. It’s just too fun, carrying the thing around, flipping through pages while waiting in line or waiting for a movie to begin. I’ll never be able to turn my back on that part of the experience. Holding the actual book. Reveling in the cover art. Turning the thing over to look at the author photo. You ever notice that an author’s photo seems to change, the more you read of the book?
How long did it take you to write Bird Box? And after writing it, the editor read your book and gave comments. Was that hard for you? Did you have to change many things or even throw parts of it away?
I wrote the rough draft in 26 days. 4,300 words a day. It was a word-storm and I loved it. I never went to sleep empty-minded. By nightfall I knew what I was going to write the next morning, then I woke up and wrote it. As goes the editor: yes, she did have a lot to say but it was all good stuff. The book changed a lot from the rough draft to the finale, but it also didn’t. I’m more interested in the essence of a thing, rather than the particulars, and there’s no doubt the spirit of Bird Box is the same in both manuscripts.
Are you already writing your next book? If so can you tell something about it?
I sure am. Right now actually! I haven’t settled on a title but I’ll tell you what it’s about: It’s 1952 and members of the US Army band are sent into the Korean jungle to locate the source of a very strange sound. So imagine these musician soldiers wearing headphones, pointing microphones at deep dark woods, trying to find out where this horrific sound is coming from. I won’t tell you any more! Not yet. But it’s scary.
Did you have a complete plan before writing the novel and was everything thought out before you started to write? Or did the story develop itself while writing?
Do you use things like a storyboard or character files? (The Dutch writer Lisette Jonkman always makes complete files of all the characters before she starts writing) Or do you have other writing routines?
I’ll have a few landmark scenes that I can’t wait to get to, but I try not to rush it on the way from one point to another. It’s traveling along those “bridge” scenes where most of the great stuff happens; it’s the place you get to know the characters, or the place you get to pause, yourself, and let the mood creep in around you. Maybe I should plan things out more, but I’ve never really been that sort of artist. I like to read the thing as it’s being written. You can probably feel that in Bird Box.
When your book was released were you nervous about the reviews? And when the reviews where written how did you deal with it? The good ones, of which there were a lot I read, but also the less positive (there are always all kinds of reviews)?
Which reviews where the most meaningful to you? Friends / family, newspapers / magazines, bookstore, bloggers or ....?
Are you nervous about the Dutch reviews?
Yes. Sure. I was nervous. Horrified is more like it. But I think something happened a long time ago, a handshake between art and I, and over the handshake Art said, “As long as you finish the books you set out to write, nothing can rob you of them.” I really do live by that and believe in that. So, yes I was nervous and yes I’m nervous for the Dutch reviews and yes I hope they’re good, but I’m absolutely crazy enough to bully right through any negativity and I’m almost crazy enough to consider bad reviews the result of being “misunderstood.”
Is there a story behind the book? Something that inspired you to write Bird Box?
I’ve long been interested in the idea of the “abstract monster.” An emotion or a concept as a monster. I wrote a story about a fella who sets out to trap “depression,” as he believes it’s a physical creature in his apartment. Wrote that one in 2010. And these sorts of “abstract monsters” of mine go back to the year 2004, when I really got on a roll with writing. So… with all that in mind… I wanted a book about men and women facing Infinity and what they might have to do to avoid it.
The end of the story (don't worry I won't tell spoilers) is quite open and doesn't answer all the questions. Although I think this end fits like a glove in the book, I wonder why you decided for an ending with doubt and questions?
I liken Bird Box to “slice of life” horror. The same way people like “slice of life” drama. In and out. We begin when things are crazy. And we leave the same way. I actually think the ending isn’t that vague. All the characters gave their guesses for what’s going on out there. One of them has to be right, right?
Will you come to Holland to promote your book?
Oh MAN do I want to. So yes. I will. When? I have no idea. But I am 100% on board with doing it. I’ll look into this and get back to you.
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