James “Murr” Murray took the time to do an exclusive interview with me for Horrornews.net. He talks about his book DON’T MOVE and so much more. Make sure to check out the interview.
JAMES S. MURRAY is a writer, executive producer, and actor, best known as “Murr” on the hit television show Impractical Jokers along with his comedy troupe, the Tenderloins. He has worked as the Senior Vice President of Development for NorthSouth Productions for over a decade and is the owner of Impractical Productions, LLC. He recently starred in Impractical Jokers: The Movie, and also appears alongside the rest of the Tenderloins, and Jameela Jamil, in the television series The Misery Index on TBS. James is the author of the international bestselling AWAKENED trilogy.
Hi Murr, first off thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview with Horrornews.net. This is so exciting that you co-wrote Don’t Move with Darren Wearmouth. How did this idea manifest for you?
J.M.-Darren and I call each other nearly every night and talk about what horror movies we’re watching or what books we’re reading that week. We sync up a lot with what we love. If it has got aliens, creatures, time travel, cool technology, or Nicholas Cage in it, you can bet we’re watching. Inevitably, we start kicking around ideas. On one of those nights, we both agreed that there has not been a really great spider book or movie (well…except for Spider-Man), in a long time. With that in mind, we came up with the idea for Don’t Move: a church group from the Bronx accidentally hikes into a forest inhabited by a terrifying prehistoric arachnid that hunts by the vibration it senses from millions of invisible webs throughout the forest. Don’t Move came from one simple question – what would someone do if they were being corralled and hunted from all sides while lost in the woods?
Don’t Move has a great plot and from what I’ve read so far, it is great. You’ve written other books. Do you think you will want to make any of the books into films soon?
J.M.-That’s always the plan! Every book Darren and I write is highly cinematic, with great visual set pieces, movie moments, and a pace that is meant for TV or film. We’ve already received interest from production companies and studios about turning Don’t Move into a movie, so keep an eye out for that!
COVID-19 has sort of shut everything down. How have you been dealing with everything?
J.M.-It has most definitely been a tough year for everyone. My wife and I got married in September, so planning a COVID-safe wedding with ever-changing rules and precautions took up a big portion of the year. Darren and I took the time at home to write, and produce virtual book launches for our novels Obliteration and Don’t Move. The guys and I also took this time to launch a new TV show called Impractical Jokers Dinner Party, which we have been filming from our homes. It’s a great way for us to stay connected with each other and with our fans. And, I drank a lot of wine and watched a lot of movies!
You have worn every hat from producing to author. What advice would you offer to fellow writers or anyone that may be trying to make it in this industry?
J.M.-Just keep going. It’s very easy to get discouraged early on. The act of creating anything is always inherently difficult. The guys and I didn’t find success until our mid-thirties after trying for years and years to get on TV. It took me a decade to get my first book deal. So, my advice is to never stop. Do what you love, and surround yourself with people you love. Never let anyone else limit or define your own success.
What’s it like writing with Darren Wearmouth? Do the two of you have a process that you work with?
J.M.-Two peas in a pod! Darren and I love riffing off each other, and building on to each other’s ideas. There is no ego at play – we both just love creating great stories and characters. It comes from a place of mutual respect, and complimentary skill sets. Plus, he’s just an altogether great guy, and a dear, lifelong friend of mine.
Our process is this: after we come up with a cool hook, we spend an intense week creating the characters and beating out the entire story. Then, we begin writing in earnest and trade chapters back and forth, writing and editing each other’s work until we think we’ve got something great. And whenever we get writers block, we take a break, have some whiskey, and the words begin flowing once again!
Why did you decide to write horror-related books?
J.M.-I’ve been a horror fan for as long as I can remember. I grew up watching all of the classic scary movies, slashers, and thrillers from the 80s. In fact, I wrote my first book almost 15 years ago. Back when I was commuting from Brooklyn to my job in the city every day, I had this long commute underground. One night, I was alone on the subway when the lights when out and the entire train car was plunged into darkness. It was actually really terrifying. That experience is what inspired my first book, Awakened, which is now an entire trilogy. So, you never know when inspiration will strike.
I guess I just love making people laugh or scream. Both are lots of fun!
Impractical Jokers is one of the funniest shows ever. The fan base is awesome. I met so many cool friends at NYCC last year. Also, my cousin is a retired Army Veteran and he watches the show with his family. It’s one of those shows you watch and laugh till you cry. How does it feel knowing that you guys make so many people laugh and it makes you forget about all the nonsense in real life? (Thank you so much for that.)
J.M.-It is humbling to hear that, and we don’t take it for granted. This is the best part of my job – knowing that we bring families together, that the TV show brings joy and laughter and positivity into people’s lives. That’s always been the goal of the show, for it to be an escape from all of the noise and the stresses of life. As long as it keeps making people laugh, we’ll try to keep doing it. And please thank your cousin for his service!
I love that you have been teaming up with R.L. Stine. Is there any chance the two of you are working on a project together?
J.M.-It’s been great getting to know Bob and he is a dear friend. Obviously, I’ve been a huge fan of his for a long time now and it’s great to see the impact his work and his legacy has had on the new fans of horror coming up. As for a project together, that would be a dream come true! I would be honored. I think we would write one hell of a romance together.
The Indiana Murr was amazing, I agree with Quinn. I want to see that movie. What and who inspired you in life?
J.M.-Indiana Murr was actually somewhat of a spur of the moment idea. I really did try my hardest to look masculine, like Harrison Ford. But after every shot, we re-watched the takes and couldn’t help but laugh. As for what’s inspired me in my life, I’ve pulled inspiration from all sorts of places. For example, it was actually my father who had always wanted to become an author. He worked his whole life and even when he retired, he still had that dream. I like to think that with my writing, I’ve picked up that torch and kept that dream alive for him. In terms of comedy, no one beats the Zucker Brothers and Mel Brooks!
What’s next for you? What other projects are you working on?
J.M.-We’re right in the middle of filming the next season of Impractical Jokers, which premieres Feb. 4, 2021. We just finished filming Season 3 of Misery Index, which will be airing on TBS next year. As for writing, Darren and I have another thriller coming out with St. Martin’s Press next Fall called The Stowaway, which we are writing now. If you like Silence of the Lambs, you’ll love The Stowaway!
Thank you so much. I am excited to read more of Don’t Move and Impractical Jokers makes life a little better. Thank you so much Murr. Thank you for taking the time.
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