The Spooky Six with Willow Croft and Robert P. Ottone
Join me for bagels and iced coffee as I interview Robert P. Ottone for this edition of the Spooky Six Q&A!
Robert P. Ottone is the Bram Stoker Award-nominated author of The Triangle. His other works include Her Infernal Name & Other Nightmares (an honorable mention in The Best Horror of the Year Volume 13) as well as the suburban folk horror novel, The Vile Thing We Created.
His short stories have appeared in various anthologies as well as online. He’s also the publisher and owner of Spooky House Press, which is committed to publishing stories and novels by authors Robert is a huge fan of, published or unpublished.
After realizing that writing horror can be a therapeutic exercise, Robert began writing in his spare time. Finding inspiration in the writings of Paul Tremblay, Lee Murray, Alan Moore, Linda Addison, John Langan, Robert Aickman and many others, Robert celebrates the past as well as the future of the genre.
When not writing, Robert can be found smoking cigars, drinking cocktails and enjoying quality wine. His all-time favorite bottle is the 2009 Hundred Acre. His favorite cigar is the Gloria Cubana Serie R. In terms of cocktails, nothing tops an Aperol Spritz.
Robert has been fortunate enough to read at many venues, as well as online. He has been interviewed by Steve Talks Books, Brad Proctor, Mike Davis and many other talented individuals in the genre.
His goal is to buy a home nestled in the woods of upstate New York where he can roam the grounds nude, glass of wine in hand, cigar dangling from his lips, puffing away in the gathering gloom of a fall evening, listening intently for the movement of leaves in the thick of the verdant ocean of forest around him.
He can be found online at SpookyHousePress.com or on Twitter/IG: @RobertOttone.
He delights in the creepy and views bagels solely as a cream cheese delivery device.
Willow Croft: “Hey, look at that derelict Victorian mansion . . . let’s go explore it!” What’s the most unusual setting you’ve read about in a horror/thriller book, or included in your own creative works?
Robert P. Ottone: The most unusual setting I’ve read about has to be the expansive, terrifying Dutchman’s Creek, from John Langan’s The Fisherman. It’s particularly interesting to me because you can find yourself there without purposefully trying to get there. I also interpret it as a kind-of “fold” in the real world around us, that you just kinda step into this vast landscape with otherworldly, cosmic beings.
The most unusual world in my own work would have to be a place that I’ve alluded to in a few short stories, and in some of my larger work, Kirkbride’s Bluff. It’s an abandoned town, built in an ancient, powerful region of upstate New York, teeming with nightmares, but at the same time, impossibly alluring.
Willow Croft: “It was a dark and stormy night . . .” What are your go-to comfort foods, drinks, or other ways to wind down after a long day (or night) of writing?
Robert P. Ottone: I’m a big cigar guy. Nothing recharged my batteries more than putting on some music, sitting outside after work, and taking an hour to enjoy a cigar. It’s hard in the winter, but with spring on the horizon, it’ll be nice. I usually couple a stogie with some iced coffee or iced tea.
Willow Croft: “Did you hear that noise?” Everyone, even us horror/suspense writers, have our night terrors. What is it that frightens you the most?
Robert P. Ottone: I’m most frightened by the concept of losing or wasting time. We only have so much, so not taking advantage to the best of our abilities is terrifying to me. I see people wasting so much time, all the time. We’re going to be gone one day. You wanna be able to look back and say you made the most of it.
Willow Croft: “I’m sure it was nothing. But I’ll just go outside and check, anyway. Alone. With no weapons.” Have you ever gotten writers’ block? If so, how do you combat it? Do you have certain rituals or practices that help get you into the writing (or creating) mindset?
Robert P. Ottone: I’ve gotten stuck on a story or book before, and I usually find that listening to music or smoking a cigar helps reset and recharge the batteries. Smoking a good, flavorful cigar lets me take my mind off the problem at hand, while also letting my primordial skull meat work its way around issues that might be centrally connected to the writer’s block.
I’ve had all the biggest issues in a story get worked out within an hour of indulging my cigar habit.
Willow Croft: “Don’t go into the basement!” Are you an impulsive pantser or a plotter with outlines galore? What other writing/industry advice would you share with your fellow writers & creators?
Robert P. Ottone: I do both. I usually will have a significant outline with particular scenes lined up, but I allow myself the opportunity to pants within that construct.
In terms of advice, I would just say “Get off Twitter, there’s nothing of value happening there, and do the damn work.”
Willow Croft: “Ring ring!” It’s the middle of the night and the phone mysteriously rings. Which notable writer, or person from history, would be on the other end of the line?
Robert P. Ottone: Realistic answer: Michael Knost, Todd Keisling or Michael Seidlinger. I talk to those guys a nice amount and would gladly field a call or drop what I was doing to help them if they needed.
Pie in the sky answer: Bret Easton Ellis or Robert Aickman. I’d love to have a lengthy conversation with both, if nothing else but to tell them how much their work has meant to me.
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“Bringer of Nightmares and Storms.” Horror writer Willow Croft is usually lurking deep in the shadows of her writer cave, surrounded by formerly feral (but still fierce!) cats for company. Visit her here: http://willowcroft.blog, or check out her other services here: https://kirsten-lee-barger.mailchimpsites.com/.