Joe Hill’s Escape Hatch 001

Happy Halloween and welcome to the first ever issue of Escape Hatch. Thanks for signing up. I’ve never had a newsletter before and will probably spend a little while fumbling around, trying to figure out what I’m doing here. I promise to try and make it worth your time. And who knows, if I run out of stuff to talk about, maybe I’ll just use this space to write a serialized novella or something.

Speaking of novellas, this is available now, and it includes a new 20,000 word story, “Snapshot, 1988.” “Snapshot” is one of four novella length pieces due to appear in my next book, a collection titled Strange Weather, tentatively scheduled for late fall of 2017. But I’m slow, so don’t be shocked if it gets pushed to early ’18. The other titles are: “Aloft,” “Rain,” and “Loaded.”

I stole the idea for this newsletter from Warren Ellis, who possesses one of the most dangerous minds in pulp fiction. I’m always glad when his Orbital Operations pings into my in-box, because I enjoy hearing about his creative process, but also, weirdly, because I like the way he writes about life on the cold, pebbly estuary where the Thames meets the sea. I’ll be learning more about the way he thinks, writes, and imagines when I interview him for Brookline Booksmith on November 30th; he’ll be there to promote his new machine-tooled, chrome-plated thriller, NORMAL. If you find yourself in the Boston area at the end of November, I hope you’ll come see us. Please, do not pet Warren’s beard.


Not sure what to watch during our national night of heart-stopping terror? Sorry, I can’t help you with movie tips for Election Day — but I can offer some advice for your Halloween viewing! Select your choice from the following menu:


Curse of the Demon, from 1957, was based on an M.R. James classic, “Casting the Runes.” I also shamelessly raided it for inspiration when I was writing Heart-Shaped Box. The demon FX are hilarious, but this oldie sneaks in some satisfying shudders before it’s done, and is just the thing if you prefer your scares in black-and-white.


If last year’s What We Do in the Shadows slipped past you, now is the time to circle back and see what you missed. And if you watched it last year… come on, admit it, you’re probably going to watch it again. The funniest riff on horror tropes since Young Frankenstein? A bold claim, I know, but I think maybe this film merits it.


If you demand blood on the walls for your Halloween, you can’t do much better than Green Room, an unapologetic slaughter-fest with a punk rock heart and a scrungy indie film aesthetic. Anton Yelchin is especially remarkable as a thrash-loving shy-boy with a deep reservoir of courage and a tremendous capacity for absorbing a beating. What a heart-breaker to have lost Yelchin in a silly, stupid, tragic accident this year… I have no doubt there was a lot more where that came from.

This December will see the release of Locke & Key: Small World… the first newLocke & Key story in 3 years. The whole crew is back: it ain’t Locke & Keywithout the original team of Chris Ryall, Robbie Robbins, Jay Fotos, and of course Gabriel Rodriguez, who is using Small World to go BIG, as you can see below. Personally I think it’s the cat’s meow.

As it happens, I recently moved back into Keyhouse to stay for a while. IDW Comics has branched out into television, and are two for two with their first pair of shows: Wynonna Earp and Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency (which I’ve seen described as the stoner Doctor Who). They’re aiming for the hat trick when they bring Locke & Key into your living room in the (hopefully) not too distant future. We came close to getting on TV back in 2011, when FOX produced a pilot, written with zip and style by Josh Friedman, and directed with chilly grace by Mark Romanek. It looked great and everyone liked it, but we didn’t make it on the air. That happens. Probably the only thing harder than launching a new television show is opening a successful musical (Hamilton is the cultural equivalent of a meteor strike).

We’re damn lucky to be getting this second shot at it and this time I was asked if I’d write the pilot myself. So:

Thinking about Locke & Key reminds me — the gents who recorded Locke & Key as a fully dramatized audio play for Audible are at it again. They’ve launched a new horror anthology podcast titled The Dark Tome and the first story in their line-up is an adaptation of my short “The Devil on the Staircase.” I haven’t had a chance to listen to it – give it a try, let me know over on Twitter what you thought.

Oh, yeah, Twitter! I asked people to post me some questions for the newsletter, and a few folks obliged.

@daniel_nivy asks “What’s the best movie you’ve seen so far this year?”

Well, I saw The Revenant on the 9th of January, and haven’t seen anything better since. But I assume we’re really talking about 2016 releases. Best of this year’s crop would probably be Hell or High Water.

@seebach_sean asks: “Ever consider writing an episode for Black Mirror? After reading TFTD comics, such a match seems made for sci-fi heaven.”

I love Black Mirror, but it’s Charlie Brooker’s gig, and they only do three episodes a season. So I think I’ll just be enjoying that one as part of Mirror’saddicted audience.

Gotta question? Ask me over on Twitter using the hashtag #joesescapehatch. Maybe I’ll get to it in a future newsletter.

And wow, that was a lot of me for one email. Okay, I’m wrapping this up. Enjoy Halloween, the best holiday of the year (Thanksgiving – family arguments; Christmas – too much pressure to enjoy). Hope you’re curling up with a good scary movie and someone to cuddle. Don’t eat too much candy corn.

Joe Hill, NH
31 October 2016