Hey Reddit! I'm Hugh Howey, author of the self-published SILO series that releases today as a TV show on AppleTV!

This has been a WILD journey, and I've been sharing it here with you all over the last decade in a series of AMAs. The first one was after my novel WOOL went gangbusters as a self- published novel. Then I did one as my writing career went to the next level. Two years ago I did one after Apple and AMC announced WOOL was being greenlit for TV. Over the last two years we've been writing, shooting, and editing ... and now the show lands today! The first two episodes, at least.

Anything you've ever wanted to know about writing, publishing, adapting works to film, sailing around the world, how AI will make my job moot, the meaning of life, etc, fire away!

Teaser for the TV show: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bBMajXwi6Cs

Proof: Here's my proof!

Comments: 530 • Responses: 91  • Date: 

pocketsnacks332 karma

OK, big question!
Who made the decision to change the stairs from metal in the books to concrete in the show? I know it's one of those things that doesn't really matter in the grand scheme of things, but I loved how the sounds of feet on the stairs gave you information about the mood of the silo.

hughhowey666 karma

So many good reasons for this change! For one, metal stairs would be an acoustic nightmare for production. But the biggest reason was simply to make the staircase much larger while still being possible to build. In the books, the stairwell is so narrow that barely two people can pass each other. That would make it almost impossible to shoot anything meaningful on them. And they would basically disappear on the screen.

Metal is better for the books. Concrete is better for the TV show. Great question!

Anonakilla154 karma

Love this answer! Having the core of the silo as an empty space was definitely not how I envisioned it when reading. Is the general design of the silo in the show (i.e. starcase in the center, empty core, things visible from the staircase) aligned with how you imagined it when writing the books?

hughhowey126 karma


joremero22 karma

Huge fan. Also loved the fan fiction. I can't remember details, but the narrow space in the stairs was integral to a few plots if i remember correctly. I'm still in shock....

I guess i need to ask a Q:

What's your fav fan fuction book and did you read them all?

hughhowey63 karma

I haven't read any! For creative reasons.

hughhowey189 karma

These questions are SO good! Whenever I do these AMAs, the hours disappear so quickly. Should I take my laptop to my live screening tonight and keep at this? :)

grinr185 karma

As a fan since the very first book, I've been barking at anyone within range to watch this show (and pick up the books!) It's exciting to know that in only a few hours I'll be watching one of my favorite books come to life on the screen!

My question - What's one thing that translated really well from the books into the show we're about to see?

hughhowey170 karma

Juliette! She's so powerful and complex in the books, and Rebecca nailed all that on the screen. I was worried if this ever got made that no one could really embody her fully, and boy did Rebecca prove me wrong!

StalkerBro95149 karma

Hi!! Just want to say that Wool was incredibly impactful for my wife as a teenager. Your books had a huge influence on her young self looking at engineering as career and just overall being a rebel. Juliette is an inspiration.

We are loving the show and rereading the whole series! We also love Sand and Beacon 23. We're so happy to all of the success you're having, well deserved.

Our questions: any exciting projects coming up? Any word on Sand or Beacon 23 being adapted for the screen as well? How do you see the screen adaptation reaching a wider audience of the people you portray as leaders, like my wife?

hughhowey192 karma

Wow. That means so much. Thank you.

SAND is being optioned as we speak (final stages of negotiation). Hopefully the reception of SILO will make this more likely to get into the writing-room stage of things, so we can play around in that ... sorry ... sandbox.

BEACON 23 has already had two seasons filmed! It was shot up in Toronto on the most beautiful sets. Great cast. Stellar production. Should be coming out from AMC within a year. :)

p1afff6 karma

Sand is Outresable in french edition, right ?

hughhowey4 karma

I think so!

syngamer79 karma

Hi Hugh, congratulations on seeing Silo finally release on AppleTV+! Huge fan since the early days so today is a very exciting day!

I know it's been a long journey, how did you maintain a positive outlook throughout all of this? Especially between the rights being optioned for the movie with Ridley and Co., nothing happening with that, and then finally signing a dealer with Apple?

hughhowey161 karma

I have a long Twitter thread about this that you might find interesting. I think it's pinned to my profile right now, because I get this question so much. Basically, I assume nothing will go forward and make myself appreciate the current phase I'm in as if it's the last forward step I'll ever take. Just nothing but gratitude and appreciation.

Right now, I'm sitting here with my laptop, and I'm just grateful that anyone showed up to this AMA. I'm grateful for the excellent questions already. And to see familiar people and long-time fans. Live in this moment as much as possible.

quirked69 karma

Hi Hugh. After following your story since WOOL and greatly enjoy your work, I feel irrationally invested in the success of SILO on AppleTV+. How have you managed the stress of this long journey to bring that to the screen?

hughhowey93 karma

This is a fantastic question. First, thank you for being so involved and supportive! It's folks like you that got this show made. I mean that.

My biggest stress is that viewers would be disappointed. I really, really didn't want the show to suck. So many things get made that aren't as good as you hoped they'd be, and so the chances were good that this would happen to SILO. It was terrifying. I honestly was dreading today for a long time, thinking that the hype of "what it could be" would be better than "here it is."

But I was wrong. The show is amazing, and critics and fans alike are having a blast with it. But believe me, I was in knots for two years.

shaunapirana57 karma

Hugh, My big question, will you be writing another novel in the "Wool" universe?

hughhowey87 karma

For sure.

shaunapirana23 karma

Sweet! Had anytime to read any good books? Any recommendations? I plan on checking out the new one from Justin Cronin, the Ferryman, it's too bad how they really messed up "The Passage" trying to bring it to screen. I was praying Wool would work out, the fact that Apple took it gave me great relief as they are pushing out great shows.

hughhowey49 karma

"This is How You Lose the Time War" blew me away.

MEGAT0N44 karma

Aloha Hugh! We need you to weigh in. What is the proper name for the fandom?

Suggestions include Woolies, Woolers, Woolites, Wooligans, Silozens, Silophiles, et al.

Do you have a favorite or one of your own?

hughhowey82 karma

Woolites was what we went with for years when it was just the books. I'm personally fond of Silozens (I think I coined that, but probably it occurred to a lot of people). Might be nice to keep both, so you know if it's the books or TV show you're referring to. :)

Anonakilla37 karma

Hey Hugh! Huge fan of Wool, and loving the series so far.

Interesting to see how the storyline is starting to deviate between the series and the book (especially in episode 2!) Curious how you were involved in the TV adaptation and what you think of these changes to the plot. Does this new way of piecing the story together make you want to revisit some of the choices you made in the books?

hughhowey84 karma

I've been involved from the very beginning, sitting in the room with Graham and the other writers as we plotted out the beats for the pilot and each of the ten episodes. Usually, I was the one suggesting big changes and deviations, and Graham was like, "Let's stick to the book." It was a great dynamic, because I've always been open to adapting for the new medium.

WOOL is so internal in much of the mystery. Lots of characters' thoughts, reading messages, digging into things in a non-physical way. We had to change that to make for gripping TV. For me, a straight up recreation almost never works well (compare the WATCHMAN film to the WATCHMAN TV show. The latter is SO MUCH better!).

For ep 2, we were telling a story that doesn't take place in the books, really. It's just a line about an old case. So we had ultimate freedom.

FearsomeFurBall32 karma

Hi Hugh! Love your books! Especially your Molly Fyde series. Do you have any plans to do more space sci-fi in the future?

hughhowey36 karma

Yes! I am thinking of doing something in that genre very, very soon. In the early planning phases right now, in fact.

dmorey30 karma

Will Shay get a cameo in Season 2?

hughhowey31 karma

A: If they don't cast her and give her lines, they're fools. She's a shining star if ever there was one. Bigger question is whether we'll get a season 2 and how to get you a cameo.

Q: How much are the Sixers gonna win by tonight?

dmorey13 karma

just needs to be 1 more than the Celtics

hughhowey20 karma


I mean, I'm used to the heart attacks with you, so bring it on.

*pops a nitro pill*

foofoodown23 karma

How can we help ensure the show is a bug success? I want to see the rest of the series adapted, so I'm willing to put in some work.

What has an impact on Apple? Number of views? Viewer ratings? If so, where? Do they look at the number of people talking about the show, or read what we're saying? If they do, which platform matters most to them?

I'm only part way through episode two and I'm pretty sure Silo will join the list of greatest Science Fiction shows of all time. Congratulations, and thank you very much.

hughhowey24 karma

They look at all of this! The more we can get people to tune in. The more reviews we can leave wherever reviews are left. Watch episodes early and often. Post on social. I think it all helps.

Thanks for even thinking along these lines. I'm the same way when I get into something. I just want to see it succeed! Partly so I get more of it. :)

weedyscoot23 karma

Hi Hugh. I have read your work since you started releasing WOOL bit by bit, and I've been convincing people to read you ever since. As a storyteller, do you ever find yourself revisiting previous characters/stories in your head, and if so, are there any nagging plot points or characters you wish you would have changed in a significant way? Wishing you the best!

hughhowey43 karma

There is a character I killed that I wish I could have kept alive. I think I didn't feel like happy endings were allowed to be so ... perfect. That was before my life became full of so much brilliant kismet and positivity. I have since learned that even the best miracles are possible.

sizzlec21 karma

Loved the books. I didn't know the first Wool novel was self-published. Did you attempt to get it published from a major publishing house? What was that like?

hughhowey84 karma

Nope. Never had any desire. My first novel was with a small press, and that experience pushed me toward self-publishing everything. I wrote 5 novels and a novelette and did it all through Amazon's KDP and CreateSpace services. The original WOOL was only 56 pages long. I put it on the Kindle store for 99 cents and made a $5.99 paperback. Then I went back to writing my next novel. Never thought it would be a commercial success. Definitely didn't think a publisher would be interested.

Even after it became a NYT bestseller, I turned down offers from all the major publishers. Just wasn't interested in their contracts. They started offering me seven figures for the book and still turned them down. For me, it's about the rights you can retain more than the money, and finally Simon & Schuster stepped up to the plate with a deal that we could accept.

mjdolce20 karma

I'm so excited to see where the series goes!

My question is this... In my head reading the book, I had pictured things so much smaller. In watching the first episode, however, it really made a lot of sense seeing the scale of the Silo. What was in your head as you were writing? Do you feel like the way it looks in the series matches what you imagined?

hughhowey25 karma

When I wrote the first short story, the Silo was smaller in my mind. I expanded it when I turned that story into a trilogy of novels. So either interpretation is easy to understand.

What you see on the screen is very much how I visualize the silo. The space between the stairs and the inner wall. The landings. The space between the levels.

unk-920 karma

Congrats on the series! Watched the first two episodes today, what an amazing cast and adaption. Been a fan of your work since I first read Wool in 2013. Any update on any additional stories set in the Silo world?

hughhowey52 karma

I have a second trilogy planned. It's been planned and outlined for a very long time, but I want to give enough space between the stories that I'm saying something new. Not sure if this makes sense, but I want to write them as a different person, because they are going to be very different stories.

That said, I have written the first few chapters of the next book, and I like the pages so much that I doubt they'll change at all. :)

phareous19 karma

Can you give any hints about your cameo?

hughhowey45 karma

I can tell you not to expect me to be Stan Lee. No lines or anything that would ruin the show like that. But they put me in a very, very intense scene with a lot of other extras. I'm up front, in the middle. If you know what to look for, you won't be able to miss me.

Kenith5216 karma

Approximately how deep is a silo, it being 148 levels?

hughhowey39 karma

Each level is roughly 10 feet, with 30 feet between each level, so the total depth is close to 6,000 feet, or a little over a mile. IT'S DEEP.

pikkopots16 karma

The Silo Wikipedia page says that Season 2 began filming in mid-April, but I couldn't find any news on that. The reference given is confusing. Is season 2 already being filmed right now?

hughhowey37 karma

I have no idea what any of these words mean. ;)

HouseCravenRaw16 karma

I read the series some time ago and quite enjoyed it.
There was a number of fan-made "plausibly-in universe" content released as the Silo Series gained traction. I understand you were pleased with at least some of this.

One of the ones that stuck out to me was an LGBT-themed story that featured a male protagonist and his male partner. One of the issues they dealt with was homophobia in a closed system like a Silo, and what it means to be a non-breeding pair in an environment where breeding was controlled and genetic diversity was important. I found it to be quite an interesting perspective, as I do not recall there being any LGBT content in the actual series.

In the Television version of your series, will there be any exploration of this theme? Or are we going to see an entirely heterosexual cast/100% LGBT-accepting universe?

Further (and spoilers to follow), what do you have against IT people? /s

hughhowey28 karma

Don't want to spoil anything, but the TV show gave us an opportunity to make reproductive control both draconian and oppressive, while also showing relationships of all types. Man, I really want to spoil some stuff here, but I can't. It sounds like you'll be happy when you see what I'm talking about. ;)

mad1at016 karma

What are your three favorite recent (past 10 years) science fiction series on tv?

hughhowey76 karma

Severance blew my mind. I stood up for the last five minutes of the final episode. Never done that before!
The Watchman adaptation
The Last of Us was so good!

Unfair_Builder496715 karma

Hey man, big fan. Congrats. I stumbled across Wool back when it was still self published. Any ideas what's next?

hughhowey28 karma

Next up is enjoying the fan response to Silo! I have a new show I'm trying to get started at AMC, but with the strike on all that's on pause. I have so many books and stories to get out. Including 2 children's picture books out this year!

My big writing focus right now is the third and final SAND novel, which I hope to have finished this year.

Xenophule14 karma

Hey Hugh!

Thanks for the great stories :) The Wool trilogy is my most lent-out books (I’ve had to re-purchase them many times haha). I have such a bad memory that I can watch the same movie eight months later and enjoy it like it’s new, but you wrote the Silo world so vividly that I can still virtually walk through it in my mind years after reading it.

That first chapter is probably the best opening of any series I’ve ever read—I tell people to just read the first chapter, and if they don’t like it the rest of the book is not for them (I’ve never encountered a person who didn’t like it).

I’ve had a pet-theory about the name “Wool” and I’m wondering how off-the-mark I am:

Knowing how it was self-published, I figured you named the story after the cloth they use to clean the camera lens; then the story got popular and you fleshed out the rest of the world, but kept the name “Wool” to let those people know that this next bit is part of the same world. My head-cannon also has you regretting that you couldn’t rename it “Silo” until it was too late?

Thanks again, and I’m looking forward to what you do with the series!

hughhowey39 karma

The title was foremost, for me, a reference to having the wool pulled over your eyes. I made up the cleaning cloth being made of wool to obscure this (not sure that wool is a good choice for cleaning glass or plastic!) :)

When the story expanded, I added a touch: the name of the entire operation is an acronym that spells W.O.O.L. I used to write the word with the periods to denote this.

There's also an element of humans being like sheep that I had in mind and was an intentional and added bonus.

I never thought of calling it "Silo." The "silo series" was added much later. It works, but I would always go with the artistic and odd over the literal.

gambl0r8214 karma

Hi Hugh! It seems like the show's production team has you involved throughout the project, which is awesome and I'm sure will result in a better show! Have you been involved in mapping out how the entire story will be paced if given X seasons? Or is this not really done until additional season(s) are greenlit?

I really hope the series has the viewership for the whole story to be told! The trailers look excellent and I can't wait to watch the first two episodes this weekend. Congratulations on this huge accomplishment!

hughhowey25 karma

Yup! We've talked about this from the very first day. What happens in each season, how many seasons we'd want to tell the full story, how to end each season in a way that satisfies but leads to the next. You have to sort this out even before you know the first season is getting made.

And yeah, the big pressure now is to get more seasons! Hopefully the writers' strike is resolved quickly in our favor so we can keep making great TV.

Darkencypher13 karma

I just want you to know that I ADORE your books and shift made me bawl my eyes out (cat story). How did you come up with the whole world building of wool? Any inspiration?

hughhowey22 karma


Sorry. Too busy crying to answer any more questions.

Darkencypher4 karma

I lost my dog of 12 years late last year (3 months before that I lost my father had also passed) and when I read that chapter, I was inconsolable. It was so beautiful and so real at the same time.

hughhowey16 karma

I'm so sorry for your loss. :'(

I wrote the original short story WOOL after losing my dog. She was like my child (I know parents will find this comparison strange, but it's how I felt). Losing her put me in the darkest place I'd ever been, and it was in that place that I wrote the opening line of WOOL and just kept going.

The Shadow story is based on my pet cat. I was in elementary school when she was hit and killed by my school bus, right in front of me. It really wrecked me. I think I'm still scarred from that. And that's where Shadow's story came from.

(The loss hurts in direct proportion to how much we loved them. I learned to celebrate my pain as a badge of that love.)

Kenith5212 karma

Will Wool connect with the Shift series in future seasons? That and do you ever go back to Boone?

hughhowey12 karma

That's the plan! If we get more seasons.

I haven't been in forever, but I miss that place so much.

telizas7611 karma

Hugh! From one writer to another, congratulations! I am writing a book I hope to see on the screen one day. Was that something you had in mind while writing and were you involved with the screen writing process? (I happened upon this interview; I hope this hasn’t been answered already!)

hughhowey13 karma

I never dreamed of my story being adapted when I wrote it! I'm glad, because I would've written a simpler story for a smaller budget. I may have limited the scope and scale of the book as a result.

I've been involved in the writers' room, and I serve as an executive producer, which means helping outline the beats, reading scripts and giving notes, etc.

Good luck with your book!

a_midgett11 karma

Hi, Hugh. Do you ever think you'll get back to sailing around the world? If so, what's on your itinerary?

hughhowey11 karma

For sure! We do a big Atlantic crossing later this year (Cape Town to the Caribbean). And I'd love to do the Pacific again. I'm still on my circumnavigation. It's just a bit of a pause for this wild adventure of creating TV. :)

Neee-wom10 karma

Hugh, I’m so excited Silo is being made into a series. My paperback copies of Wool, Shift, and Dust from 2013 are in my most revisited.

My question is about The Shell Collector- with how climate change has become more urgent in the years since you wrote that work, if you were writing it today would you change anything?

hughhowey11 karma

Not much. It's sad how quickly that's becoming non-fiction. :(

Thanks for the kind words and for the support!

grizzlebee-gunderson10 karma

Hey!! Huge fan of the WOOL books (and have read a ton of the fan-created Silo-verse content) and have been anxiously waiting for the show for years now! Stayed up extra late after work last night to watch eps 1 & 2. Totally worth it, loved them and can't wait for more.

My questions:
1. Did you get to be on-set for the production, and if so, how did it feel to see your silo come to life?

  1. Do you ever read the fan-written Silo stories? Do you have any favorites, and is there a possibility that any of those storylines or ideas will make it into the show?

hughhowey28 karma

1) I did! I visited set quite a few times, and even got to be an extra in a very important scene. It was wild. Super wild. The first time I walked into the stair set I got very emotional. I caught it all on camera and hope to share it sometime. What's really nuts is meeting people dressed up and playing characters you invented. So weird! And amazing!

2) I've been so supportive of the fan fiction, but I've avoided reading any of it, because I don't want to preclude myself from exploring similar themes. The other writers on the show have done the same thing. But for sure there will be overlap. It's difficult not to write some of the same beats and to see big similarities where there is nothing but coincidence.

grizzlebee-gunderson7 karma

I've been so supportive of the fan fiction, but I've avoided reading any of it

That makes perfect sense, thank you so much for responding!

I hope you do share your video, and that there is other behind the scenes content about the show. I'm very interested in how the sets and world were created for screen. Congratulations on everything!

Hagenaar13 karma

As a stage actor, I'm careful to avoid seeing footage of any previous performances when preparing for a role. Of course, some I'll have seen already (who hasn't seen Romeo and Juliet at some point in their lives?) but others constantly seem to pop up on my YouTube feed etc.

But it's not just to avoid appropriating someone else's hard work. It's about the joy of discovering the character in the text and finding ways I can bring him to life myself. That's why I act.

hughhowey4 karma

Great attitude!

patssle9 karma

I have no question, but just wanted to say thank you for all your stories. Sand, Half Way Home, Molly Fyde... Been a big fan since first reading Wool! That book has visited several countries around the world with me... Always great to binge read on a plane.

And stupid bot deletes my nice post because I don't ask a question?

hughhowey11 karma

Ha! Thanks for the kind words. And the great question at the end!

thisisafakeaccount29 karma

Hugh - the casting choices in the TV show so far seem spot on. I'm curious though - when you wrote the books, did you have any different specific actors in your head that just "fit" the character you wrote? Someone just told me Paul Giamatti would have been the perfect Bernard and I couldn't agree more. I think Tim will be great, but Paul is more who I imagined in my head when I read the book.

hughhowey17 karma

Paul would've been a great Bernard! Bernard is one of those characters that pops off the page. Makes me think a ton of actors would love to sink their teeth into him. But honestly, I wish I'd written Bernard as a tall, imposing character like Tim. He's so powerful, even just walking around with him in person. Makes him like a gentle giant that can also be scary. It's an upgrade over the book version.

Sam Elliot was always in my mind for Marnes. But you know what? Will Patton turns in some of my favorite performances in this show. Watch him in every scene. He's an absolute genius and such a great guy.

scrappnfan9 karma

Might we see the ramifications of orthopedic disability on living in the Silo? Obviously, the stairs come to mind first. I have a happy daughter who uses a wheelchair and she definitely likes to be on the go!

hughhowey34 karma

We have people in wheelchairs in the story, and sadly they are not treated as I would want people to be treated. Instead, they are treated how the designers of the silo looked at humanity, which is not very positive.

I've learned not to conflate the POVs of the fiction with the POVs of the creator of that fiction. Sometimes you do awful things to point out the injustices of society, not because you support them. It's a great question you pose.

hughhowey20 karma

Also: Your daughter sounds awesome!

KnittingEntropy9 karma

Hi Hugh! I've been a fan of your work for a long time, Beacon 23 and Half Way Home are my faves. Thanks for doing this! My question is: What are your favorite hard sci fi books of all time? You're absolutely allowed to include your own works, and bonus points if the story includes space colonization! :D

hughhowey16 karma

LUCIFER'S HAMMER by Niven and Pournelle is my favorite of all time.

I love everything Andy Weir writes. He's a genius, that guy.

coffeecat5519 karma

How many hours of sleep have you gotten since you were at the premiere? And do you think you'll be able to sleep now that you've seen the initial reactions from fans?

I'm only half joking here. I'm a fan from the early days - I, too, stumbled upon the first short story almost by accident, had to wait impatiently for you to write more of the story - and my own adrenaline is soaring after seeing the first two episodes.

Thank you for creating such an intriguing world!

hughhowey12 karma

Not many! My wife and I have been traveling a lot since the premiere. It's been insane watching the reactions. I'm so jazzed right now that I probably won't need sleep for another day or two. :)

Thank you!

Faithless1958 karma

I'm starting the show shortly, but I gotta ask this one, Hugh.

Why in the name of all that is holy did you make the early parts of Wool so damn frustrating!? Every nice person has terrible stuff happen to them, and the 'bad guys' are so unreasonably unreasonable! I got so mad when Juliette had to go back to the top levels for a second time in a week! HER POOR LEGS!

hughhowey5 karma

Life is so unfair.


HaxRyter8 karma

Hi Hugh, I'm a writer who excels at short pieces, flash or short stories, but struggles with longer forms like the novel. How do you manage such a large project? Any tips?

hughhowey19 karma

Think of each chapter as a separate work. How do you make each scene interesting?

The temptation with a novel is to have a great opening idea and a brilliant climax, and then you fill it in with people talking or running about and plot just happening to them. Characters meander their way toward the climax. Avoid this temptation!

Instead, think of each chapter as a short story assignment. Okay, I need characters A and B to meet for the first time, get in an argument, but then see each other's points of view. That's my writing prompt. How can I make that interesting? Or tell it beautifully? Challenge yourself like this. Don't just go through the motions.

PeanutSalsa7 karma

What factors led to your book blowing up and was there a specific platform or avenue that served as the main catalyst in this happening?

hughhowey21 karma

Amazon's Kindle store was the main catalyst. The timing was so lucky. I started self-publishing in 2009, when there was a lot less competition. Publishers were being very slow to adapt, so they kept many of their books off the Kindle store. That left it to the very small number of early adopters. If I'd published this story today, there's a very good chance it wouldn't have been discovered.

Facebook played a huge role in my early success, as I spent a lot of time there interacting with my first handful of readers. They became hundreds and then a thousand fans over time, and they really helped amplify my stories.

I also kept writing and publishing at a furious pace. I aimed for 2-3 novels each year. There is no marketing in the world like another book.

esghalis7 karma

Hi Mr Howey! Big fan of the books for years here. How do you feel about your books being marketed as the "next Hunger Games"?

hughhowey9 karma

I never understood the comparison except that the Hunger Games were selling very well at the time and publishers hoped the next thing would sell very well. I laughed at the attempts to link them together. It was probably a decision made by someone who hadn't read any of the books of either series. Or maybe any book ever. :D

esghalis6 karma

Haha thank you for the answer! I'm a big fan of Hunger Games too so it doesn't bother me, even if it's not the same thing at all!

hughhowey6 karma

Same. I loved those books (and films). The comparison was flattering.

ddiiibb7 karma

Hi Hugh!! Did you enjoy Edoardo Ballerinis reading of your series?

hughhowey5 karma

LOVED IT!!! He's a master.

Civiconfire7 karma

Hi Hugh, Wool was the first book that got me back into reading, so I wanted to say thanks so much for that. It's also 1 of only 2 sci-fi books that my wife has read, which I think is higher praise!

My question is what made you decide that Apple was the right fit for Wool? Did they offer you the most creative freedom?

hughhowey22 karma

At one point, I was down to Apple, Amazon, and AMC. All three wanted the rights, and I was hiking around New Zealand weighing the pros and cons and taking calls with each. Apple hadn't launched their network yet, so they were a big unknown, but the passion was extraordinary. For me, it came down to them and AMC. I went with AMC, because of the relationships I was forming over the calls, the shared vision, and their storytelling excellence.

Apple never gave up. They asked AMC to partner up. I celebrated this, as it meant I got two out of my three top picks! We combined the storytelling brilliance of the folks at AMC with the huge support of Apple (who are also brilliant at crafting story and played a massive role here as well). It was the best of all possible worlds!

fergusonskirby6 karma

Your favorite episode of the Silo show adaptation? And why (if there’s no spoilers) haha

hughhowey5 karma

Let's discuss this on July 1st!

fergusonskirby5 karma

HA! hope you do another one of these then

hughhowey6 karma

Happy to, as long as you don't think Redditors will mind me coming back so soon. :)

LordSn00ty6 karma

Hi Hugh!

Thank you so much for doing an AMA. I cannot tell you how much I loved the wool series.

How difficult was it to translate the huge amount of internal narrative that occurs throughout the books into story exposition for the screen? It wasn't until I started watching the show that I realised how much time you spend in the character's heads in the books. It must be a huge challenge.

hughhowey3 karma

It was SO difficult! Most of the changes we made were to solve that very thing. It's impressive that you picked up on this.

poozfooz6 karma

What is your favorite book of all time?

Also, I noticed on your Instagram that you're incredibly fit, any workout tips?

hughhowey5 karma

The Age of Absurdity by Michael Foley

Do something small every single day. 15-20 minutes consistently is better than a big session once or twice a week. I highly recommend the Five Tibetan Rites. Search them on YouTube with my name to see my version of them.

pants67896 karma

Favorite and least favorite English word?

hughhowey8 karma

Favorite: syzygy

Least favorite: fiancé

Ozdiva5 karma

I loved Wool when I first read it and always hoped it would come to the screen. I’m also a fan of Geraldine James’ work so finding out she was playing Jahns was pretty amazing. She was a terrific Jahns, I thought.

I guess it’s a stupid question, but I suppose you’re happy with the casting in general?

hughhowey6 karma

She's one of the most perfectly cast figures in the entire show, if you ask me. Absolutely perfect. Wait until you see the next episode!

I'm thrilled with the casting. They knocked it out of the park.

claire05 karma


hughhowey6 karma

Thanks so much! I love these AMAs. I'd do them more often, but not sure anyone would show up. :)

I have a show called BEACON 23 coming to AMC this year. I love both of these teams so much that it's difficult to imagine working with anyone else, but am open to all kinds of partnerships. I just love telling stories.

ATL_Beekeeper5 karma

Are you still living on the catamaran ?

hughhowey10 karma

Nope! I'm currently based out of NYC, but Shay and I are doing an Atlantic crossing later this year on friend's cat, and it might be what spurs us to move back aboard a boat for another 5-year stint. I had to get off the boat when these two TV shows started going into production. You don't get to choose when Hollywood makes your stuff. Gotta jump on these once-in-a-lifetime opportunities!

inscopia5 karma

Hi Hugh,

The Wool series is my favourite series of all time; knocking Oryx & Crake to number 2. I share it far and wide, including the fan fiction written by Ann Christy. I’m happy to hear you’re working on another series, as I have found it hard to leave the Silo behind. I have honestly found nothing like the world you created, and I miss the time I got to spend there. I enjoyed the first 2 episodes and can’t wait for the rest. Like many, I am intrigued by the ending of episode 2, as it is a deviation from the book, but I have since read your comment responding to others about this.

My question:

In what order would you rate your works?

You may choose to order them however you wish; could be by how happy you’re with them, how much you liked writing them, how much you still think about them - are just some examples. Additionally, feel free to limit your response to top 5/10.

hughhowey6 karma

Thank you so much for the kind words and the support. Means so much. <3

Now ... this is one of the most difficult questions anyone has ever asked me! I don't really like hyping my own works. I prefer to recommend the works of others. It just feels so icky to say "this book of mine is awesome, here's why you should read it."

The other difficult thing is that I have so many different ways I could rank my works. How proud I am of them, how much I love the story, how easy or difficult it was to write, how much it changed my life or opened doors for me, etc.

So... instead of ranking the books by any metric, I'll list a handful of books and tell you which list of mine they would top. In other words, what these books mean to me more than any other book I've ever written.

THE WOOL OMNIBUS - This tops the "book that changed my life" list, and it's an easy choice. It hit the New York Times bestseller list as a self-pubbed work, getting all kinds of attention. It won awards. It got translated into over 40 languages, which sent me to countries I'd dreamed of visiting on someone else's dime. And it earned me more than I was making at my day job, so it's the book that turned me into a full-time writer. Very few books stay on shelves and continue to sell a year after release, and yet this book does it a decade later. It's insane to me how many doors this one work has opened up.

MOLLY FYDE AND THE PARSONA RESCUE - This tops my "I'm so proud of you" list. I spent twenty years trying to write a novel and failing, giving up, shoving opening chapters aside. It wasn't until I came up with the character of Molly that I found a story I couldn't let go of. Finishing this novel was one of the greatest days of my life. It convinced me that I could be a writer.

I, ZOMBIE - This book tops my "I'm not a shitty writer" list. It's my most literary work. It's the closest I'll ever get to writing something sublime. I hid my biggest writing effort inside the putrescence and foulness of diseased intestines because deep down I'm never going to allow myself to believe that I'm not a shitty writer.

SHIFT - This books tops my "I'm not scared of my own success list." The meteoric rise of WOOL terrified me. I was more comfortable writing for a small audience. When I set out to complete the trilogy, I made a deliberate decision to not string along the story from WOOL and just cash in on its success. I wanted to pivot in an unexpected way and, frankly, sabotage the success of WOOL if possible. Make sure that book stood on its own. The easy way to do this would've been to not write a sequel at all. But I challenged myself to write about how the world of WOOL came to be made, something that apocalyptic writers (rightly) avoid. I hear from so many people that SHIFT is their favorite book in the series, and this is the highest compliment to me. Even my agent loves this book the most.

MACHINE LEARNING - I love short stories. I live for them. This collected work tops my "Here's who I am laid bare" list. It's got all of me in it, and that's so frightening. But I embrace it and am as proud of this work as I can be. It includes several short stories that top various other lists I could dream up, like THE WALK UP NAMELESS RIDGE and PEACE IN AMBER.

jakekerr4 karma

How much sunscreen did you go through while living on the Wayfinder?

hughhowey6 karma

Not nearly enough!

Jake Kerr, everyone. He'll be here all week. Sadly.


Angelusz3 karma

When you fall asleep, what do you hope to dream about?

hughhowey3 karma

My wife. So I don't have to go 8 hours without her.

Honest answer.

EllaLikesPurple3 karma

I'm always sceptical when I see a book I loved being turned into a film or TV show but this thread has made me excited to watch! Was there ever the question of show versus film (or other media - video game?!)? I suppose the length lends itself more readily to TV format, but wondered if there were any other considerations that went into the format of an adaptation? Thank you for your art and the kindness you are putting out into the world.

hughhowey9 karma

Originally, this was going to be a film with Ridley Scott attached. It was a great offer and a huge get. But then TV really hit its stride, and when I got the rights back I wanted to go that route. It allows us to tell the full story rather than cut out big sections.

Would LOVE to do a videogame someday. I have so many ideas there.

BMCarbaugh3 karma

Hey Hugh! Been a reader forever, since back before WOOL was even complete. Can't wait for the show, it looks amazing. (I honestly can't believe it's finally seeing the light of day, after how many times it seemed to go in and out of limbo. Hollywood is whack lol.)

Here's my question:

Any thoughts of adapting "The Walk Up Nameless Ridge" (/ would you like to 👀)? I adore that story and have always thought it could make a great script for a movie. I actually wrote a paper about it in college.

hughhowey8 karma

Wow! Thank you! That's one of my favorite stories that I've ever written, and I think it would make for a wonderful film. Love to read the paper. Send it to me via DM if you want.

venture_q3 karma

How do you feel it's best to build a writers network, where we read other's ideas and encourage but guide at the same time?

hughhowey5 karma

I joined a writers' group during lockdown, and we meet twice a month to read and critique each other's works. It's a great group and it feels like therapy much of the time. We've become great friends. Not sure how we pulled it off, but I highly recommend fostering community among fellow writers.

There are some good forums for it, and tons of private FB groups. I'm no expert in creating these, but I can attest to their beauty and usefulness.

Saar132 karma

Hello Hugh. I loved the books and the first two episodes were fantastic. How was the experience of working with Apple? They've excelled at curation, and, well, big budgets (shouldn't be an issue for Apple), but the heads of AppleTV+ aren't very talkative (hello, Zaslav) and they are new in this TV/movie business.

In addition, part of the press already says that season 2 is in development. Proceed?

hughhowey3 karma

The Apple team is AMAZING. And they've been in the business for a very long time, just at other studios. There's a ton of experience there and really brilliant creative minds.

I think communication tends to be a top-down decision. I've worked with Amazon a lot over the years, and they have very clear protocols on how to communicate with the public. It trickles down to all departments. The same is true of Apple, I think. They hold their cards close to their chests.

I was skeptical of how quiet they were during production, but then I watched how they timed all the announcements, teasers, trailer, photos, ads, etc, and now I'm in complete awe of how smart their approach is. The hype built at the right time in the right way. I would've totally messed this up had I been in charge.

srirachagoodness2 karma

Dying writer here. How did you promote your self published novel? Did you already have a large audience?

hughhowey6 karma

I never had a large audience. It grew slowly at first, then rapidly when WOOL took off.

The only promotion I did was to chat with friends, family, and a handful of early readers on Facebook. I blogged a lot on my website. I uploaded videos of me talking about my books to YouTube. Not sure what, if any, of that worked. The best promotion was always to write and publish another story!

PangolinDisastrous342 karma

I’ve recently found the trilogy and just finished the second book - absolutely loving them! Thanks for taking time to answer all these questions and engage with everyone!

As history tells us, in times of oppression - which the silo would rate pretty high on that scale - people find a way to express themselves with music and art. Was there any temptation to include any music or poetry by the people in the silo? Clearly, the people in charge wouldn’t want some Pete Seeger-type rallying folks, haha, but imagining the song lyrics that would include coverall colours and stairs is fairly entertaining. Cheers!

hughhowey7 karma

There is music and art in the TV show, a lot more than I allowed in the books. Art is so subversive, in the best way possible. The founders really frowned on this. But you can't stop humans from being humans.

breals2 karma

Loved the Silo series, it was one of the 1st thing I binged during the COVID lock downs. Is the Wool series going to continue after the last book Dust?

hughhowey3 karma

The next trilogy starts with some overlap with WOOL. The second book in the new trilogy picks up after DUST.

catchabreak2 karma

Hi Hugh! I just want to thank you so much. I've always considered myself an avid reader, but after having my first child (and entering a pandemic 6 months later), I hit a major wall reading any books. I just stopped reading. It wasn't until about a month ago that I picked up WOOL for the first time in a decade and reread it in two days. Your work really helped me get past that wall and back into reading. So thank you.

Did you have any actors in mind before casting happened? Rebecca is exactly who I pictured for Juliette.

hughhowey9 karma

Whoa. Thanks so much. That's very kind of you. What a wild time to have a kid, right before lockdown! Hope it went well for you.

I tried not to cast people in my head, but I always saw Juliette as a powerful, fierce woman. LOST was big at the time and I thought Evangeline Lilly would've done a great job. We got so lucky with Rebecca. If we tried to get her right now, it would be difficult. She's blowing up!

mount_of_contecrisco2 karma

Silo is fantastic. So. Well. Done. What are your major influences for Wool and Sand? What, or who, ultimately drove you to write and tackle compelling sci-fi? How does it feel to be on the BIG stage? So damn excited for you, Hugh! Silo, Beacon 23, Sand!! Just the best, man

PS. Hope Half Way Home makes it to serialization or a movie one day, too! Second thing I read of yours after Beacon 23.

hughhowey8 karma

I have so many influences, it's hard to sort them all out! I read a ton of sci-fi and fantasy when I was young. Watched all kinds of TV. Read comics. I think most of my ideas come from non-fiction reading, though. WOOL was inspired by Plato's cave analogy. It was inspired by watching people sort themselves into silos with where and how they got their news (hence the wallscreen).

How does it feel to be on the big stage? It's intense, but it also feels similar to when the books blew up. Lots of media, lots of DMs and texts from fans and friends, very busy calendar. It's so surreal that it feels like it's happening to someone else, and I'm just watching it up-close. Does that make sense?

staskamaev2 karma

How does artificial intelligence affect a writer's work?

hughhowey11 karma

That will be different for every writer. I think at some point, writers will have to face the fact that what we do is reproducible by machines. The chess greats went through this existential crisis over the last two decades. The machines crept up on them slowly, and some thought that the best grandmasters would never be bettered, but then they were. Kasparov has interesting thoughts about what this felt like, and how he battled Deep Blue for all human chess players.

The same for Go recently. The top players have had to cope with the fact that what they do, which requires a lot of creativity, study, smarts, concentration ... can be done better by a machine.

Writers will go through the same process. In the end, we will continue to write, just as people continue to play chess and go.

JungleBoyJeremy2 karma

Hi Hugh, I’ve really enjoyed your writing in the past, and generic as the question might be, do you have any advice for anyone looking to self publish their own stories?

Also please tell us about one of the grossest things you’ve ever eaten.

Thank you for your time

hughhowey4 karma

Everything I know about writing and publishing I posted starting here (in 4 parts):


It all still applies. Basically, write a lot. Finish what you start. Publish everything. Rinse and repeat.

Grossest thing I've ever eaten was a bunch of bugs at a zoo, where you could eat larva and grasshoppers and worms. They were all alive. I hated it. Thanks so much for the memory! :P ;)

Ron_Swansons_wood2 karma

Hi Howey! I was curious.... was there anything you were basically (sorry for this) ready to die on the hill over when translating the book to screen?

Some character, set, trait... anything you just didn't want to budge on?

hughhowey6 karma

There were a few, but luckily I was partnered with like-minded creatives. Juliette had to retain the DNA from the book. I was very adamant that we have her and Holston on-screen together. There are very few things about the adaptation that I had to push back on.