Unbury Carol-min

Josh Malerman and crew perform at The Parliament Room in Ferndale, Mich on Monday, April 9, 2018 to promote Malerman's latest book, Unbury Carol.

Meet Ferndale's Rising Author: Josh Malerman


When world-renowned horror author Stephen King published his first book, Carrie, it wasn’t for another two years that the book would be officially optioned by director Brian De Palma. Taking that into account, it’s surprising, then, to hear that Ferndale-based horror author Josh Malerman’s first published novel, Bird Box, was optioned four months prior to the book’s release.

“Man, I am so excited about that,” Malerman said of Bird Box’s forthcoming release this December.

The film, which stars Sandra Bullock, was originally optioned by Universal Studios before being bought by Netflix, Malerman explained.

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Allison Laakko and Jim Byrne of Ohio Wild sing a duet for an intimate gather at The Parliament Room in Ferndale, Mich. on Monday, April 9, 2018  as part of a performance promoting the launch of local author Josh Malerman’s fourth book, Unbury Carol.

We were told, at that point, that it was going to be a Netflix and a theatrical release, as well,” Malerman said. “So, I don’t know what that means. I don’t know if that means select theaters. I don’t know if that means a big run. I really don’t know that aspect of it yet.”

However Bird Box ends up being released, the road it took to get there is an interesting one. Malerman, while writing Bird Box (and roughly 14 other novels), was touring with his band, The High Strung. Malerman would write as much as he could while on the road, but, he says, it never occurred to him that his work as a writer would lead to a Hollywood film adaptation, let alone a book publishing deal.

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“I was having such an unbelievable time with the boys and with music and with whatever that I just didn’t look at these rough drafts with dollar signs in my eyes,” Malerman said. “I never saw it, like, ‘I have to get this published!’ or ‘This is an avenue to fame!’ Nothing like that at all. It was all just, like, ‘Oh, my God. I’m having the greatest time ever writing these books.”

It wasn’t until an old friend from high school contacted Malerman, asking if he could send one of his rough drafts to a lawyer he knew that represented other authors, that Malerman’s career as a writer would take off.

“I was like, ‘Wow. Uh, okay.’ And I chose one and sent it to him and the [lawyer] ended up calling me. He was like, ‘Hey, I’d like to represent you and I know a manager that’s good for you,’ and the manager knew an agent and, like dominoes, Bird Box ended up with Harper Collins and Universal Studios,” Malerman said.

Today, Malerman is enjoying the success of releasing his fourth novel, Unbury Carol, a story about a woman that lives with a condition that can put her in a catatonic state, seemingly dead to the casual observer, and, when buried alive, must fight to stay alive while she prays for someone to save her.

To commemorate the launch of the book, Malerman, with the help of his friends, put on a show at The Parliament Room in Ferndale that involved musical performances and passages from the book read aloud while actors performed them on stage. This was something Malerman had experimented with for the release of another one of his books, but this time, the production had more moving parts and players involved. Mallerman hopes to take the show to other cities in the country to promote Unbury Carol but currently does not have any official plans.

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A “magic trick” is performed by James Henry Hall (far left) and Mark Owen (far right) for a small gathering at The Parliament Room in Ferndale, Mich. on Monday, April 9, 2018 as part of a performance promoting the launch of local author Josh Malerman’s fourth book, Unbury Carol.

Given Bird Box’s instantaneous success in being optioned prior to its release, it was unsurprising to hear that Unbury Carol has enjoyed the same level of success.

Unbury Carol was optioned like four months ago,” Malerman said, unable to disclose any other details.

With four published novels under his belt, Malerman is constantly churning out drafts for new books. In fact, he currently has somewhere in the ballpark of 27 completed drafts and is being selective about which ones he would like to publish next.

“I don’t want to put out like five really expansive novels and then four totally straight, balls to the wall horror novels,” Malerman said. “I don’t wanna give this illusion of, like, going through phases that never happened. In reality, I’m kind of bouncing back and forth. They’re all horror-related and some are more elastic than others. So, I want to achieve that balance as they come out in the same way that they were written.”

Drawing on his experience as a musician, Malerman compares his slate of published novels to the tracklist of an album.

“You wouldn’t put all the rockers in a row and then all the slow ones in a row, right? It’s like Unbury Carol is a good song four. Now, what’s a good song five?”

We won’t have to wait too long to find out what the next song on Malerman’s tracklist sounds like as his next book is slated to launch this Halloween. You can jam out to song number four, Unbury Carol, today.

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