Anyone wanna go for a ride?

The first episode of NOS4A2, AMC’s adaptation of my novel, drops on June 2nd, right after Fear The Walking Dead. It’s interesting to note that it’ll begin airing almost exactly a decade after I wrote the first chapter, off by only a single month.

Showrunner Jami O’Brien crafted a remarkable, emotional grindhouse of a first script, and Ashleigh Cummings anchors the whole thing with heart, courage, and vulnerability. And then there’s Zachary Quinto as merciless Mr. Manx, an old man with a young face and a car that runs on hate. Manx has been spiriting children away to the secret world of Christmasland for almost a century — and drinking their souls in the process — and he has no intention of letting some brat slow him down now. I hope you’ll come along with us for the ride.

To support the program, my publisher is launching a newsletter titled the NOS4A2 RECAP, largely penned by yours truly… consider it a kind of sister publication to Escape Hatch. A new issue will appear shortly after every episode of NOS4A2, all summer long, and will feature behind the scenes photos and my own thoughts about the latest chapter. In a Q&A feature titled ASK4U2, I’ll be interviewing some of the key creatives behind the show. Also, I’ll be monitoring Twitter during every episode of NOS4A2. Gimme a shout from the peanut gallery, ask a question, and maybe I’ll answer it in the newsletter.

You can sign up here.

Escape Hatch is not going away, but I’ll give it a rest while I’m doing the Recap Newsletter, so if you want me nattering in your face the next couple months, that’s the best place to find me. Don’t worry. The Hatch will hatch again. Warren Ellis told me to give newsletters a shot and he was right, as usual. This is a favorite space of mine to casually blab about work and reading and my enthusiasms, and I’m not letting it go anytime soon.

Ashleigh Cummings did a great interview with EW about her work on the show — check it out. She talks about it being emotionally arduous, but doesn’t say anything about the time she almost lost an eye getting a challenging shot. More about that maybe in the Recap at some point. The kid has absolutely no fear, not of the walking dead, not of Christmasland, not of Charlie Manx, and not of the physical and psychological demands of playing The Brat. So pleased and grateful she took on the role. We were so lucky to get her.

Escape Hatchin: The Survey

I know why I like Escape Hatch… but a more interesting concern is why you like it (always assuming you do). Six months ago I launched the First Annual Escape Hatch Survey to find out what you’re digging, what you dislike, what you want more of, and what makes you crazy. Almost two thousand of you took the time to share your thoughts.Our team of expert data analysts have taken the last half year to thoroughly crunch the numbers (either that or I’m just really lazy, you decide). Here’s what we discovered about you.

Q: How do you feel about the usual length of Escape Hatch?

WOW. I didn’t see that coming. Overwhelmingly, Escape Hatch readers were happy with the length of each newsletter… a bit of a surprise, since I always think I run on too long. Almost 500 of you wanted it to be longer! Nuts, but if you insist, get ready for a future newsletter to feature my 10,000 word polemic arguing that Greta Van Fleet is more interesting that Tame Impala.

Q: Do you dig the pop culture essays, like the think piece about Liam Gallagher?

When I actually write that Greta Van Fleet article, you will have no one to blame but yourselves.

Q: Politics?

Ah, I think I’m going to disappoint some folks here. While a slight majority of you are interested in my political thoughts of the moment, a healthy number of respondents would rather I spare them… and I’m inclined to let the minority call it this time out.

Here’s my thinking: a newsletter is a thing that arrives in your in-box, dropped through the digital mail slot. I came to you… you didn’t come to me (except to sign up, and you can always unsubscribe at any time). It’s a little like someone knocking on your door and asking for a minute of your time. If someone gives you a minute, don’t be an asshole. Escape Hatch is, first and foremost, an escape — and maybe one of the things we’re escaping here is the outrage of the moment, the partisan shitfight of the day.

Besides, anyone genuinely interested in my political think can get it over on my blog, Hill’s House. On the blog, the relationship is different. I didn’t come to you; you came to me. I tend to pipe up on Twitter now and then, too, where I still, regrettably, continue to post. Can’t seem to help myself.

Q: Greta Van Fleet?

You guys will just not rest until I write that essay, will you?

Also, I agree with those of you who say Fleet is the worst thing to happen to rock and roll since Oasis. That’s the only way to explain why I can’t stop listening to them.

Oh, and hey, speaking of Oasis, I obviously have a taste for Faux Beatles, but if you got a yen for the real thing, go hunt down the bonus tracks on Paul McCartney’s latest album, Egypt Station. How bewildering is it that three of the four best songs on the disc weren’t included in the original release? “Frank Sinatra’s Party” and “Sixty Second Street” are Paul at his weirdest and so, unsurprisingly, also at his most brilliant. Then there’s “Get Enough,” a track that feels like it grew directly from McCartney’s collaborations with Kanye West; here he does his very best Yeezus and completely nails it. (Also worth hearing is “Fuh You,” which was on the original release, and picks up where “Why Don’t We Do It In The Road” left off)

Q: What if Escape Hatch included chapters from a serialized story? Or a comic?

Funny story about this. I started writing a four panel strip for Escape Hatch about nine months ago. Only it all got away from me, and in fits and starts has become a new comic book. I’ve got about three and a half scripts now on a six issue initial run. I thiiiiiink it might be good? You’ll be hearing more about it soon.

At some point I am for sure gonna drop some short fiction through theHatch, but to qualify for release in the newsletter, it has to be 1,000 words or less, and I just don’t write much at that length. Still, everyone’s gotta have some goals.

Q: How often do you want to see Escape Hatch?

There was a lot of consensus throughout the survey, but not here. For the most part, Escape Hatchers seemed equally divided between three of the four options (I can’t believe not even one of you clowns went for the “I was just hunting for the unsubscribe button” option).

For those of you who were hoping to hear from me once a week, boy have a I got a deal for you.

Q: As a reader, I’m primarily interested in your…

I admit, on a selfish level, this was the question I was most tuned into. Naturally you guys would be most interested in the novels, which are the hardest goddamn frickin thing to write. Couldn’t more of you have voted for my tweets???!?!?

The hundred and fifty of you who are psyched about the comics are going to be pretty happy with 2019 – 2020. For the other 1,400… hey, you’ve still got Escape Hatch!

(Secret: I do have a novel going. I’ve got maybe 150 pages of the thing. It’s not Up The Chimney Down, as has been suggested elsewhere. But for the moment the new thing is hibernating peacefully while I work on some comic book stuff, which you’ll be hearing a lot more about come SDCC)

Q: I read…

The other question I was most interested in. You guys are some serious readin’ fools! For those of you who read 50+ a year, I’d love to know your secret…

… except, tragically, I already know it. People who read 50+ books a year read that much, because they make the time for reading. It’s not magic. There’s not a technique. They just made reading a priority. Instead of jumping on Twitter, they pick up a book. Instead of throwing on Netflix, they crack the hardcover. They binge read. Maybe we all should.

For myself, I read 30 – 45 a year, but generally fall a bit on the low side (36? 35? Thereabouts?). Although that doesn’t count graphic novels (I’m good for about 24 graphic novels a year). My personal high is 52 books in a year, but I’ve only tapped that twice since I was 18 (yes, I keep track).

Q: The best James Bond was…

I think this is one of these “no wrong answer” questions, but was glad to see the affection for the Ellis Bond.

Maybe I should spam your in-boxes with my 10,000 word Graham Greene vs. Ian Fleming essay. The short version: I’ll take The Third Man over every Bond film ever made, in a heartbeat.

Thanks so much for taking the first ever Escape Hatch survey. I learned some stuff and had some fun in the process. We’ll have to do this again sometime.

It’ll be a while before the next novel, but you won’t have to wait too long for the next book. FULL THROTTLE, a collection of thirteen short stories, will be out this October. It includes a pair of new ones: “Mums,” about a kid who loses his mother, and grows a new one; and “Late Returns,” about a young man who takes a job driving a Bookmobile and finds himself lending books to the dead. There are also two collaborations with my dad, “Throttle,” and “In The Tall Grass.” The latter will be a movie from Netflix this October. Then there’s a round-up of a whole bunch of other stories I’ve written in the years since my first collection, 20th CENTURY GHOSTS. They include “Faun,” “Wolverton Station,” “Dark Carousel,” and “By The Silver Waters of Lake Champlain” (which has been filmed as an episode of Creepshow, airing on Shudder, also probably out this fall — I’ve been awfully lucky with the adaptation stuff just of late).

It won’t be hard to find a signed copy — somehow I have wound up agreeing to sign almost 8,000 copies this summer. But if you don’t want to take any chances, you can pre-order your signed and personalized copy from Water Street Books right now. They ship everywhere. Note: I won’t be doodling in FULL THROTTLE cos I haven’t thought of a good doodle yet. I may not be able to doodle stuff at all, just to make sure I sign all the stuff I promised I’d sign.

Thanks, as always, guys, for picking up the book. I hope you enjoy it.

You guys voted for long newsletters, but I figure that’s more than enough this time out. If you just can’t get enough of hearing my blab, you know what to do. Hang in there, look after yourself, and remember we don’t take candy canes from strangers, kids.