Hugh Howey
Hugh Howey

Bestselling author of Wool and other books. Currently sailing around the world.

The WOOL TV show

Well, the news is out. In fact, the news seems to be everywhere (Variety, Deadline, Hollywood Reporter, Tor, Collider). Which means I can finally talk about it.

WOOL is coming to Apple TV in partnership with AMC.

I’ve written about the origin of the WOOL novels in the past, so I won’t bore you with that. But the road to adapting the trilogy for the screen has been just as wild and twisty. It started back when I was still working in a bookstore, watching my sales take off, and I had to violate my boss’s policy of having cell phones at our desk because I was expecting a call from Ridley Scott and Steve Zaillian.

It was around this time that I put in my two-weeks notice. Not because I was fielding calls from legends of cinema, but I was starting to earn more from my book sales than I was from selling other people’s books. It was going to be a better use of my time to write more stories. Back then, all I wanted was to support myself with my art, rather than doing it on the side. I didn’t take the film deal seriously, because I knew that these projects don’t actually get made. I wrote a Twitter thread about this recently. Nothing ever gets made.

I was right, but it wasn’t for lack of trying. The folks at Fox produced two excellent scripts and attached a few directors, and we nearly crested the hill once or twice. But I kept my expectations low the entire time. I’ve watched others go through development hell over the years and knew how easily the wheels can come off. I was just happy to be in the mix, having creative discussions with other artists, reading brilliant scripts, talking about storytelling and this world that I’d dreamt up. Every little step was an absolute dream.

Five years ago or so, after all these efforts and close calls, I managed to get the rights back. This was a minor miracle, and it wouldn’t have happened were it not for the amazing folks at Fox and the fine people on Ridley and Steve’s teams. I owe them for allowing me to take a chance elsewhere, even after they’d invested so much time, effort, and money into the project. They didn’t have to. And yet they were among the first people to reach out and congratulate me yesterday. There are great people in Hollywood, despite rumors to the contrary. :)

By the time I got the film rights back, WOOL was a much bigger global brand. When we did the first deal, the book hadn’t yet become a huge bestseller. Now it was in over 40 countries and had hit the New York Times bestseller list twice. Also, television had by this time grown into an incredible medium for adapting stories. You could let a book breathe on the small screen, rather than truncating it. Instead of going for the biggest name in Hollywood to boost my book sales, I wanted to see if we could get a TV show made.

There were a lot interested parties. It eventually came down to three companies that start with the letter “A”. I started thinking of them as the AAA service that lends a hand when you get a flat or run out of gas, putting you back on the road again. But I could only choose one, and the pressure was immense. So many readers have high expectations for this series; I get emails and social media comments about it all the time. I ended up going with AMC, and we began developing WOOL for TV. But then Apple tapped us on the shoulder and asked if they could get involved. Miraculously, I’d ended up with two-thirds of my top choices.

As I’ve gotten to know the teams at Apple and AMC, I realize just how lucky I got. I was already a fanboy for AMCs shows. BREAKING BAD, MAD MEN, BETTER CALL SAUL, and the criminally under-watched HALT AND CATCH FIRE. And now Apple is making some of my favorite shows of all-time. TED LASSO was the best thing I saw during the pandemic, and possibly the most joy I’ve ever felt watching TV. One of my fav shows on TV right now is FOR ALL MANKIND. We live in a golden age for television, and these are two of the best companies at it right now. I couldn’t be more thrilled.

Things started to feel real when Graham Yost was attached to showrun WOOL. In the world of TV, showrunners are the most important piece of the puzzle. They serve as the head writer, but also the creative boss. Directors might change episode to episode, and so they all report to the showrunner. Graham would be in charge, and his background was impressive. JUSTIFIED was his creation. And he helped produce THE AMERICANS, one of the finest shows of all-time. Again, I was over the moon. We were batting a thousand at this point.

I joined a writers’ room in LA back before the pandemic struck, and we laid out the episodes of season one and started talking about how many seasons it would take to tell the story we had in mind. These were among the best weeks of my life. The room was full of creative, brilliant people who all loved this world, and we had a blast coming up with ways to delight and surprise fans of the series and all the viewers who will be new to the silo. I assumed this would be as far as things went, and I was completely satisfied. But then Graham took our vision to the higher-ups and they told him to have his team go write the scripts we’d outlined.

I’ve been fortunate to read these and offer notes over the last year. I can’t wait for you all to see what’s in store. Some of the scenes that are only glossed over in WOOL are played out in spectacular fan service. Again, I figured this was where the road would end, but that’s when we got a soft green light to start casting. It was yet one more major step that I couldn’t tell anyone about.

Holding all these steps back has been exhausting. I know how much you all want to see this get made, and with every little bit of progress I wanted to share my excitement with you. But we couldn’t say anything without an announcement, and the folks in charge were smart enough to not want to announce anything until it looked like a sure thing. So that’s where we are now. With the roles cast and contracts signed and finalized, the news was finally able to drop this week. I’m sure you’ll be hearing more soon as we get to filming. You won’t believe who’s in this cast. Some major shocks are ahead. And yeah, I’m right back to dying over here keeping secrets.

The long and short of it is that this isn’t a normal “hey this thing got optioned” announcement. It’s a “people are building sets and going over their lines” announcement. Sound stages are booked. Travel plans are being made. We might just be over the hill.

Then again, nothing ever gets made…

47 replies to “The WOOL TV show”

You might find that it’s worth it beforehand. Ted Lasso, For All Mankind, Tehran, Mosquito Coast, Little America… all series that Apple is producing, all excellent.

I am so freaking excited!! You and Ted Lasso deserve all of this! I have been with you since the very beginning, I have one of your original sets from when you raffled them off before your boat trip. Thank you for your stories and for sharing yourself with your fans!

That’s amazing. Great job. I’m wistful that I never got around to writing the sequel to my contribution to the Wooliverse, “45”. But I’ll remember with joy the effort to write that and wait for the show with anticipation.

Massive congratulations. I was rather late to the WOOL series, but I’m so glad I got here. Recently, I have found stories to be fairly predictable, but WOOL kept me guessing, wondering and hungry to learn more!

OMG…I’ve been with you from the beginning and can’t tell you how excited I am, for you and for me…Yay!!!

Way to go dude! Now I have a reason to give Apple my money. Once you get drunk with power you need to talk them into the Molly Fyde series – set in the same universe…

Super happy for you Hugh. Very much deserved and cannot wait for this! Congratulations!

Thanks for this. “In these troubled times,” it’s exciting and reassuring to see good things happen. And this is the beginning of a good story, so your willingness to share what details you can (including what it’s like for you) is appreciated.
In the meantime, I think I’ll move Halt and Catch Fire up in my ridiculously long queue.

Congratulations Hugh! I just may need to subscribe to Apple TV for this (I never watch tv except for nfl football) but this should be worth it. I hope it’s a smashing success. Love your work and waiting for more….DaveM>

So fantastic! I cannot wait to see who all is cast. I’m so excited and happy for you and for everyone who is going to get to see the world of Wool!

Very exciting! I’m sure it will launch you into yet another level of well-deserved success.

I’m curious about how the A’s view the potential problems from your opening up the Wool-iverse for published fan fiction. I could see writers (or more likely families of a deceased/incapacitated writer) seeing similarities between elements of their plot lines and the television series. If the series becomes a huge hit, you are sure to encounter lawyers willing to sue over violation of what they claim is their intellectual property (even though their entire story is built completely upon yours).

I certainly wouldn’t think they had legal ground but people sue all the time even if they’re wrong and all they need is a lawyer willing to take the case. The bigger the success of the series, the bigger put of gold they would see to chase.

Bummer thought I know, but that’s the places my mind goes some times.

Congratulations! Hard work, perseverance, and patience do pay off and now you’ll be “overnight sensation.” Just don’t stop writing real books, please. There will never be enough of those.

Hugh, I am over the moon happy for you and your success. I get to say, “I knew you when,” as I’m still the Membership Chair at High Country Writers in Boone. You’ve come a long way since I kept telling you that you should keep copies of your book in the trunk of your car. :-) Needless to say, we’re very proud of you around here. We love you and hope to see you sometime in the near future. We’ve been having Zoom meetings for over a year, but going back to in-person meetings in July back at our old haunt, the Watauga Library. Come see us.

Congratulations, Hugh! 🎉🎉🎉 (I’m hoping I’ll be able to stand watching this series with Dave: He often overanalyzes and gets distracted by inconsistencies, so it’s not always fun to watch stuff with him…and I suspect he’ll be especially critical of this series since he loves these stories so much. Please make sure the writing team does a good job so I can enjoy watching with my husband! 🤣)

Congratulations Hugh. 🙂All good things come to those who wait. I am relived for you but also myself. We are all mortal. Nothing would be worse than departing this world for another without seeing the Silo on the screen for real.

I am absolutely thrilled – THRILLED!! – to see this news, and I will be yet another new subscriber to Apple when the time draws nigh. Congrats, Hugh! Did you ever think that the one short story you started with would take you on this much of a ride??

Congratulations. I’m so happy for you and I’m also very happy for all of us fans who have been waiting for this. Your success has meant the world to would-be writers everywhere, a shining example of a new path and the hope that things really can work out. Can’t wait to see what is in store as the world of WOOL unspools on the TV screen.

Can’t wait to see it! Loved your Wool book series, (which you knew, we used to be friends on FB. ) Miss following your travels and all your comments. lol!

Such wonderful news!!! I’m a huge fan of your trilogy and am so happy that lightening has struck for you!!!

Fantastic – but Apple TV though. Will be a cold day in hell before I sub to Apple anything so hopefully will get to see it elsewhere in time…

That’s great! My daughter just texted me about this tonight. She recently gave me “Wool” to read because she loved it. We have bonded over books since she was little (she is now 25). I then bought “Shift” and gave it to her when I was done. I am currently waiting for “Dust” to arrive. I can’t wait to see how the story turns out. As far as the TV series, I just hope they do the book justice. On a side note, I was pleasantly surprised to learn about the story behind the book’s success and its journey from self-publishing to, well, this now. I am an aspiring writer and the story of the book’s (& the author’s) journey have inspired me to continue with my dream. Thank you, Mr. Howey!

Wow. Congrats. The shows you mentioned are all favorites, every one of them. If your citing these I’n sure your vision for Wool will be successful. Can’t wait to see the series.

Someone is using your pictures to pick up women and scam them. He starts out on face book and then talks them into going on Hangouts or Whatsapp.
He pretends to be irish and says he is here in the US working as an independent contractor. Just wanted you to be aware of that.

I am very excited for you and everyone involved. I can’t wait to experience WOOL in this medium. So looking forward to this!!!!

Hugh! So freaking happy for you. I know you’ve always wanted to see your baby on the screen. You are so inspirational, and a wonderful writer. My books were written because of the encouragement you gave me during your book tour in 2013! A beautiful WOOL hardback reads, “To Susan, Dare to hope!” and I am! I’m doing what I love most. PS. I’ve been approached by 3 producers for my first book! Nothing yet, but I’m daring to hope! Thank you for being YOU.

Congratulations! But … Apple? If that’s the only place to watch it, I won’t get to see it, alas.

Great news! My biggest hope is casting of the characters , I hope they get it right. The wrong actor can ruin it all. Ok ok me and my negative ways.

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