Josh Malerman’s Tricks Are Treats: ‘Ghastle And Yule’

Image - iStockphoto: Michelle Drewes
Image – iStockphoto: Michelle Drewes

‘We Were…Making a Horror Movie’

No, there’s no film called Curate Your Own Death (1960).


But there is one called Choose Your Own Death: The Babysitter(2009).

And no, there’s no Bicameral Island (1961).


But there are Shutter Island (2010), Gilligan’s Island (1964) and more IslandsDinosaur (2014), Spike (2012), Fantasy (1977), Harper’s (2009), The (1980), a newer The (2005) and just plain Island (2011).

GHASTLE-AND-YULE-V11In a canny Halloween (2014) offering, the author Josh Malerman comes to the door this year and drops Ghastle and Yule into your treats bag.

“After all, you did knock.” As Malerman’s protagonist-narrator might say.

You know my name because you know the name of every pivotal crewmember hired by Fountainhead and Panacea.

You know the studio heads themselves. Photos of them, touting Ghastle and Yule, might be found somewhere in your bedroom.

You might even know the casting agents, the wardrobe department, the caterers….

You either consider Wigs or The Market to be the greatest horror movie ever made. But not both.

Josh Malerman is the Detroit-based author whose masterfully controlled debut Bird Box from HarperCollins’ Ecco Books has drawn adamant praise from so many readers this year.

One of the high-profile clients of literary agent Kristin Nelson, he is traditionally published and prodigiously talented … and smart enough to have written more than 20 books before letting one see the light of publication. Our Thought Catalog coverage of that significantly auspicious debut is here, Blindsided By ‘Bird Box’: Josh Malerman’s Debut May Surprise You.

Bird Box coverGhastle and Yule is the first thing Malerman has released since Bird Box’s springtime flight. The new work is quick, a Kindle Single. You’ll easily get through it before the terrors of Halloween’s midnight catch up with you — though it may intensify them when they arrive, fair warning.

And its fast uptake, as steep as the Hollywood sign’s hillside, might have to do with the fact that Malerman’s Bird Box is in play there in Tinseltown — optioned by Universal with screenplay work and director search reportedly in progress. He tells of meeting with his team there in Lucille Ball’s original dressing room at the studios. And somehow, in Malerman’s hands, even that anecdote becomes a little ghostly.

The Bird Box tale of what he called in our Los Angeles conversations a “think tank” of horrifying danger — an evocation of the “infinite” that causes you to kill and then take your own life — makes the novel almost irresistible to a filmmaker’s imagination.

And when that thing comes out, don’t forget what you learn now in Ghastle and Yule:

It bothers you when people laugh in scary movies. It makes you want to scream in their comedies.

Ever spent much time around film crews? Some on a good film set do talk this way. They can be among the most erudite, eloquent people you’ll meet.

It bothers you when people say they’re more scared by something “real.” As if a man with a knife is more frightening to them than a breathing mass of tanned flesh crouched in the corner of their kitchen.

Josh Malerman
Josh Malerman

Malerman’s narrator is a cinematographer for both filmmakers. Gordon Ghastle, he tells us, was “as punch-drunk on the genre as the viewers who would soon flock to his films.”

And Allan Yule wore “a pair of glasses so big you’d think his cheeks were blind.”

The two men were, he tells us, “obsessed with one another…stealing…cheating…warring.”

Want to know Malerman’s scariest line in this novella? Here you go. The emphasis is his:

You love horror because you believe it’s possible.

There’s more: Read the full story at Thought Catalog

By Porter Ander­son | @Porter_Anderson

Writing on the Ether: Josh Malerman’s Tricks Are Treats: ‘Ghaslte And Yule’ (“Best Read In The Evening”)

Originally published by Thought Catalog at



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