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AUTHOR SNAPSHOT & BEYOND: JOSHUA HULL

By Mo Moshaty  January 23, 2024

Snapshots are usually quick, engaging, bite-sized interviews with writers that we love! This week, we're doing things a bit differently, just this once.

We're branching out into our new Screenwriter's corner of NightTide: "Writes. Camera. AX-tion" and Screenwriter Joshua Hull takes us through his journey from screenwriting into the world of horror literature. 

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1. Give us your best elevator pitch on your work. 

I love to write weird, darkly comedic genre material. Be it talking Lovecraftian glory holes (Glorious) or monstrous mouths in the ground (Mouth), I’m always leaning into strange directions with my writing.

2. What was your first published work?

A nonfiction, coffee table/alternate film history book called Underexposed: The 50 Greatest Movies Never Made for Abrams Books in 2021. I wrote about fifty doomed films and then fifty artists from around the world created movie posters for those unmade movies. It was a wonderful experience and one I’m incredibly grateful for. 

3. Is there a story inside that you have seeds of but can't seem to connect that's dying to get out? 

I do have a few ideas inspired by James Whale’s Frankenstein that I’ve been dying to get down on the page. The idea/seeds are there but it just comes down to fitting the project into my schedule. That’s easier said than done for a gothic period piece that touches on a myriad of things including Covid-esque vibes, paranoia, the pilfering of sexual organs, and (extremely old timey detective voice)... CHILD MURDER. 
I know, I know. All of those things will make a sure fire hit! 

 

4. How do you handle a rejected story?

I have a Danny McGrath-type list that their name goe–
(wipes off lipstick)
I move on quickly. I have so many ideas that if one doesn’t connect or land with a publisher or producer/production company, I just keep forging ahead. There are so many reasons why something is rejected and the majority of those are out of your hands. You can’t let it stall your creative progress. Not everything will land and that’s okay. 

5. What does literary success look like to you?

Maintaining the joy/excitement for the material and for writing in general.  Everything else is out of my hands. 

6. Do you read your book reviews and if so, how do you deal with bad or good ones?
I do read reviews but I don't obsess over them. Obviously, good reviews are nice and they make me smile… but sometimes, even the bad reviews make me smile. They can be really creative and fun! But yeah, I think it’s important to see what folks think of your work. We’re doing this for others to read and interact with. If we were strictly doing art for ourselves and not caring about an audience, we’d just be talking to ourselves all day long. 

 

More so than we already do... 

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7. What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?

Not having enough hours in the day… or enough plates to hold everything. You spend so long pursuing this that when you actually get your foot in the door, you want to say yes to everything. So… maybe saying no is the hardest part of my process?  

8. As in most times, the truth is stranger than fiction, what has been the hardest scene or chapter you've had to write, if you were channeling personal experience?

It’s hard to narrow it down to one scene or chapter. I wrote both my debut novella Mouth and my debut novel 8114 last year while going through major life changes. I think those changes and the tough situation seeped into both projects pretty heavily. Mouth looks at life in a more positive “it’s okay to start fresh” way. 8114… does not haha. 

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9. What inspired your latest work?

I had a number of things eating away at me that started in late ‘22 and continued heavily into ‘23. I was dealing with a heavy personal situation on top of feeling like my film career was slipping away. Movie projects kept stalling, hitting development hurdles, or falling out of my hands after Glorious came out. I had landed my dream project after ten-plus years of trying and my reps (at the time) had other ideas for it… that didn’t really involve me. It was… pretty awful. All of that resulted in Mouth… a novella about loss, movies, pursuing dreams, and a monstrous mouth in the ground. 

10. If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be? 

I’d say two things: It’s okay to be weird and trust your gut. Wait, no… three things. It’s okay to be weird, trust your gut, and MAKE SURE you keep your original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles toy collection. Please. 

11. What's the best advice you've received from a fellow writer?

I was having a tough time switching from screenwriting to prose while starting initial work on 8114 in 2022. I had a call with Michael J. Seidlinger (Anybody Home?) and told him about my early struggles. His advice: Treat each chapter like a short story. So, my best advice is to take Michael’s advice because it worked wonders for me. 

12. What is your go-to comfort horror/Sci-Fi book? 

John Langan’s The Fisherman. Hands down one of my favorite books of all time. It’s an absolutely gorgeous read!

13. If you were to genre-hop, which genres would you most like to try writing? 
I get to play in a ton of genre sandboxes with my screenwriting which is always nice. But as far as prose goes… I don’t know. I think it would be fun to write a sort of Elmore Leonard-esque crime novel one day. Maybe set in 1980’s Hollywood with some Brat Pac-- Wait. 

 

You’re not writing this down, are you?!?

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1. Take us back to little Josh Hull's first brush with the horror genre. 

My mom showed me Jaws when I was like… 3 years old. That was an experience… and one she just kept building on from there. The big life changing/altering experience was her showing me John Carpenter's Halloween when I was 7. Michael Myers changed my life (AND made me change my pants)... 


By the way, I haven’t been called Little Josh Hull since high school so this is currently my latest brush with horror…


2. World-building in horror can be as extensive or as contained as we wish. What comes first for you in the idea department, the plot, the character, the atmosphere?

The basic plot is always first and that can be anywhere from a full paragraph or a brief description. Mouth started as “a guy is gifted a property with a hungry mouth in the ground”. Every idea is different though and that’s what makes the next step so much fun. 


Once I have that initial concept locked in, I start to build the idea in two major ways. First, I create a Google Doc sheet with characters, atmosphere, inspirations, notes, images, links, and more. This is where I’ll also put the outline. These docs range from five pages to thirty pages and they become my bible. Second, I build a playlist that matches the vibe of the project. My rule is it has to be at least two or three hours… but I’m an overachiever so they usually land around ten or so hours. I have a couple sitting around forty hours because I’m totally and completely normal. That’s an overview of my process. 


BUT WAIT… there’s more! This can also be your process and I’ll show you how with three easy steps. First, mail me a check or money order to–

3. Who are your horror influences?

I have to start with our lord and savior, JC. I don’t know where I would be as a screenwriter, author, filmmaker, or just horror fan in general without John Carpenter. His films, his music, his overall attitude. He’s easily my biggest influence. There are plenty of others though. Guillermo del Toro is one VERY small notch under Carpenter when it comes to love/influence. David Cronenberg is a BIG one. Brandon Cronenberg as well.

 

I feel like I need to start shouting names like I’m in the lightning round of Family Feud. Jordan Peele! Julia Ducournau! Wes Craven! Sam Raimi! Karyn Kusama! Seth Rogen! (buzzer sound)... oh come on! He does horror stuff! Ummm! Okay… ummm. Radio Silence! Leigh Janiak! Ari Aster! Tim Burton! Wait, am I supposed to do books as well? Shoot! Ummm. Stephen King! Mary Shelley! R.L. Stine! H.P. Lovecraft but not the icky personal belief stuff! The icky monster stuff! Shirley Jackson! Mike Mignola! Does the clown from Poltergeist count?! (Final Buzzer) 

 

That was stressful. 

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4. Which horror element or creature from film/lit terrifies you and why?
This has changed for me over the years… especially as my daughter has gotten older.  Obviously, you know, monsters and aliens would suck to deal with. Same with demons and possessed people. Slashers would be a real pain in the neck. But there’s one element of horror that is just so terrifying to think about and it really hits home as an adult. That is the financial burden of finding yourself in a haunted house-type scenario. 


There’s always the comments like “Why don’t you just leave?” or "Dad, why are your fingernails falling off?" but sometimes things are just out of your hands. It’s impossible to pull an Insidious and just find another house so fast. Especially in this market, amiright? But seriously, the idea of you and your family being stuck in a poster-like situation because of financial hardships or irresponsibility is literally haunting to think about as a dad. 

 

“Sorry, kiddo. You are going to get sucked into the TV because we can’t move again or even get approved for an apartment. Oh, we also can’t afford a friggin’ new TV… so pleaseeeee be careful while you’re in there!” 

5. What was the last horror film/tv show you absolutely adored?

We’ll go with the movie first… and that was Onyx the Fortuitous and the Talisman of Souls. I think Andrew Bowser is a one of a kind talent and he's just so, so funny. The way he was able to take the Onyx character and put him in this wonderfully weird world filled with creatures and ghouls and Meatloaf is a testament to his talent. I really hope we get a sequel. 

 

As for the series, that is easily Mike Flanagan’s Midnight Mass. I’m currently on my fifth rewatch of the series and I truly adore it. 

6. If you could reboot/make a sequel to any horror film from any era, what would it be?

So, the answer has always been Halloween for me. It doesn’t matter if they ask me to do Halloween 100. I am there! A legacy sequel to The Faculty was always my second choice… but they just announced a sequel. So… I guess it would just be--

 

A friggin' remake/reimagining of Chris Baugh's BOYS FROM COUNTY HELL (2020). Hear me out. It would star (keep in mind, it's not fully cast up in the noggin yet) Danny McBride, Ayo Edebiri, Jimmy Tatro, and Sam Neill. It would be fun and bloody and-- what's that??

 

Of course I haven’t thought about this at all. Not one second-- 

 

(slides over completed screenplay)

You can find Joshua's Lovecraftian wonder, "Glorious", on SHUDDER, Amazon Prime & Apple TV

"Mouth", published by Tenebrous Press, can be pre-ordered here!

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Mo Moshaty is a horror writer, lecturer and producer. As a Cognitive Behavioral Therapist and life long horror fan, Mo has lectured with Prairie View A&M Film & TV Program as a Keynote, BAFSS Horror Studies Sig  and The University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom. Mo has partnered with horror giant, Shudder Channel, to co-produce the 13 Minutes of Horror Film Festival 2021 and 2022 with Nyx Horror Collective and her literary work "Love the Sinner" was published with Brigid's Gate Press in July of 2023 and her two volume collection, "Clairviolence: Tales of Tarot and Torment Vol. One and Two" will be published with Spooky House Press in the Spring of 2024

Mo is the creator and Editor-in-Chief of NightTide Magazine

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