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For Paul Tremblay, 2023 has been a dream come true. His beloved horror novel, The Cabin at the End of the World, is now a major blockbuster movie with millions going to see his characters come to life on the big screen.

Knock at the Cabin, starring Dave Bautista, Jonathan Groff, Ben Aldridge, Rupert Grint, and more, is director M. Night Shyamalan’s take on Tremblay’s 2018 novel about a family that must make a terrible decision in order to save the world. The film, which is now playing in theaters, is a tense, emotional, and gripping watch that will leave moviegoers on the edge of their seats from start to finish. Shyamalan is known for his thrilling horror films, and with Tremblay’s storytelling at the forefront, this film falls in line as another great addition to the genre of innovative horror that has gained more and more of a spotlight in recent years.

Pop Crave asked Paul Tremblay about watching his novel come to life, what his favorite M. Night Shyamalan movie is, and what it was like to visit the set of Knock at the Cabin during filming. Keep reading for the full interview!

What was your initial reaction when finding out that your novel, The Cabin at the End of the World, was being adapted into a film?

Disbelief and excitement. An it-didn’t-seem-real-until-it-was-real kind of thing. The book was optioned in late 2017/early 2018, so the producers and I went through a few years of development and close calls before Night became interested in producing, then writing/directing. The first holy-shit-this-is-happening moment was a phone call I had with Night in November 2021. Then things moved very quickly with casting and pre-production, etc.

Two other novels of yours are also currently in the works to be adapted for the big screen! How special does that feel for Hollywood to recognize your storytelling at such a high degree?

It’s flattering, for sure, and I’m lucky to have passionate, talented people working to get the books adapted. Of course, getting an adaptation made needs a lot of luck, needs everything to go right at each step along the way. I’m crossing my fingers another adaptation can make it to the finish line. Also, with so much great horror being published these days, I’d like to see Hollywood adapt Stephen Graham Jones, Mariana Enriquez, Eric LaRocca, John Langan, Nadia Bulkin, and so many more.

As a novelist, what has drawn you to writing within the horror genre for so many years?

I’ve been drawn to and afraid of horror movies/books for as long as I can remember. When I was like 7, I would watch a program called Creature Double Feature on Saturdays and give myself nightmares. As an adult, the rodents in my brain are continually running and spinning in the worst-case-scenario wheels (how’s that for a metaphor?), so I might as well put them rats to use in my writing. Honestly, I think horror can get at art’s hardest/stickiest questions in fascinating ways. Plus, monsters are still cool.

Have you been reading through people’s thoughts, opinions, and excitement about the movie? How has the hype for it on social media made you feel?

I have been. But I’m trying not to read too much online stuff because it makes the above-mentioned brain rodents scurry around my head even faster. That said, I’m extremely and eternally thankful to the kind readers who have been talking up the book and the movie.

I’m sure you imagined what your characters would look like for quite some time. What was your initial reaction like toward the casting of the film? Were there any cast members that were spot on to how you pictured the characters while writing the book?

For the book, I borrowed one of my good friend’s body/physical description for Eric. But I doubt my friend Chris could act, so it’s definitely for the best they cast Jonathan Groff.

In all seriousness, when I write, I don’t ever imagine who would be cast as certain characters. I imagine the characters as their own person, stealing my friend Chris’s body notwithstanding. However, the casting is perfect. Having seen them work in person and now having seen the film in its entirety, all the actors totally inhabited these characters. I’m blown away by their performances.

What was watching your novel come to life for the first time like? Was it overwhelming, exciting, nerve wracking, or just a large mix of everything at once?

All the above. I’ve been writing for over twenty years now, and with the notable exception of Cabin, all the stories I’ve written have stayed on the page in my head. Seeing the set and the actors and hearing lines I’d written, it’s been an unmooring (but in a good way) experience. I’m still wrapping my head around it.

M. Night Shyamalan is directing! Do you have a favorite past film of his?

I think it’s Unbreakable, which I’m glad has been re-visited and re-appreciated in recent years, especially given all the superhero movies that have taken over the screens. Unbreakable is so unique and affecting in how rooted in reality his broken hero’s tale is.

I’ve heard you teach math and that your kids might not find you to be very cool, but there’s no way they don’t find you cool now that your book is getting its own movie! How have your students reacted to the news about Knock at the Cabin?

Haha. Yeah, well, I guess I’m as cool as a math teacher can be now? I’m currently on a year sabbatical from teaching, but I have stopped by school for a couple of visits this fall, and the students were excited for me and wishing me and the movie luck. I will of course visit again after the movie comes out to say hi and ask students for their missing geometry assignments.

You visited the set of Knock at the Cabin and met some of the cast and crew! What was that experience like, and were there any particularly memorable moments from that experience for you?

It was wild. I went to Philly and a warehouse/soundstage where they’d built a cabin for all the interior shots, and it’s hard to describe the cognitive dissonance I had when I first walked into the cabin; there was Ben and Jonathan tied to chairs with Kristen sitting between them, and Dave and Niki and Abby standing by a wall, and Night introducing himself and everyone else. From there, my favorite moments included an up-close view of how Night worked, the positive atmosphere on set he engendered with cast and crew, and my hanging out with and picking the brains of the actors between scenes. Everyone was nice, accommodating, and so gracious with their time and attention. My only regret was they wouldn’t let me steal one of the weapon props. Probably for the best. I would’ve had a hard time explaining that to TSA for the flight home.

Do you have any future plans on releasing another novel at the moment?

Yes! In mid-March, the paperback of my novel The Pallbearers Club comes out. This July, my short story collection, The Beast You Are, will be published. New novel-wise, I just finished a draft of a novel called Horror Movie: a novel, which should be out summer of 2024. Then I sleep?

What would you like people to get up and do this weekend? Perhaps an activity they can do at the cinema?

They should of course go see Knock at the Cabin in addition to hitting their favorite bookstore. And then maybe take a nice walk, depending on how cold it is, for some exercise after all that tense movie viewing and reading…

Knock at the Cabin, the film adaptation of Paul Tremblay’s horror novel, is now playing in theaters.