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"Old Country" is a debut horror-thriller novel gaining attention not just for its page-turning suspense, but also for the way its early draft found publishing success — on Reddit. Geoff Bennett spoke with authors Matt and Harrison Query to learn more.
It's a debut novel gaining attention not just for its page turning suspense, but also for the way the authors found publishing success. Matt and Harrison Query's horror thriller is titled "Old Country." Matt says it follows a young couple who buys the perfect secluded house, only to discover the terror within.
Matt Query, Author, "Old Country": They learn through several ways that there's a spirit that inhabits their property and the value at large around their property that presents itself in a in a new and kind of terrifying way depending on each season.
Matt Query wrote whole chapters of the novel on the online discussion site Reddit, in a forum for first person horror stories called No Sleep. He wants to become a near instant sensation, quickly catching the attention of book publishers, and Netflix.
I spoke with Matt and Harrison Query this past week about their new novel and its impact on book publishing.
I had been reading stories on no sleep for about a decade. And I figured eventually, I could try my hand at writing one of my own, and my wife and I really did in real life by a small ranch, kind of in the middle of nowhere. Our property was not haunted like it isn't in the book.
And so I think four or five months after I posted the story, someone reached out to me on my Reddit account and introduced themselves as a someone in the film world in Hollywood and asked if I wanted to option, the story, and I know nothing about that world. But I do have a brother who works in that world. And so, I asked him to step in and hold my hand through the process. And that's sort of how it went from short story on Reddit to book and then movie.
Harrison, why do you think this story is resonating? Why do you think people are so drawn to this book?
Harrison Query, Author, "Old Country": I think it's doing a few things. I mean, I think it's hitting sort of classic Stephen King horror thriller notes. I think it's set in a area of the world that is generating a lot of interest right now. I think that you see it in TV shows like Yellowstone and a lot of other content that's being made right now. I think it's a setting that people are really interested in, and one that hasn't been so thoroughly explored the horror genre. But I think it's unique sort of chorus of genre and setting that people are have a big appetite for right now. And I think it's the same thing that Hollywood saw it as well.
Matt, how did feedback from the online community people who were responding to you as they were reading what you were posting on Reddit? How did that shape if at all the outcome of the book?
I definitely took some feedback to heart generally, who would characters the No Sleep audiences most interested in learning more about and what little facets of lore and backstory people were interested in learning more about, which didn't fit into the real estate of a of a Reddit posts, and so I was able to take direction and just generally what people want to do — wanted to have accordian doubt a little more.
There are I'm sure other would be authors like yourselves who will look at your story and think, Well, how can I do something similar? I mean, what about your experience might be instructive for other people.
I think, you know, it's a good thing to know that like content that's put out there, if it's good candidate will get attention. Not always, but it's, you know, you're not just throwing something into the abyss. There is, you know, people are fishing out there for this kind of stuff now.
So I don't think it's ever a waste to put something out there and then go for it. You can absolutely get attention. And since this project sold, there's been other projects on Reddit and elsewhere are very similar that have sold in big both publishing in film and TV deals. So it's happening more and more. And, you know, I think it's kind of opening up the access to the business in a really cool way.
Well, Matt and Harrison Query, thanks so much for your time, and congratulations again on the success of the book.
Thank you so much for having us. We appreciate it.
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Geoff Bennett is the chief Washington correspondent for PBS NewsHour and anchor of PBS News Weekend.
Andrew Corkery is a national affairs producer at PBS News Weekend.
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