Author Interview with Robert P. Ottone

Welcome to my first author interview. I’m hoping these will become a recurring feature on my website. Many thanks to Robert P. Ottone for being my guinea pig. Without further ado, let’s get to the interview.



1. What made you start writing horror?

I started writing horror as a therapeutic exercise in dealing with my grief over losing my dad. From there, it turned into something where I could explore my own fears and insecurities about certain things, certain aspects of life, normal stuff we deal with every day, so, dealing with such heavy grief was the impetus.


2. What is your favorite tool (vocabulary, commas, dialogue, flashbacks, etc.) in your writer’s toolbox? 

I’d say dialogue. I’m a habitual eavesdropper, I pay very close attention to a person’s cadence, their vocabulary, their inflections, their mispronunciations, etc. I’m obsessed with language, with a language’s origins, its evolution. I’m actually in the process of putting together the silliest thesis paper on the commonalities between two languages that do not share a common root. I know I went off on a tangent there, but I guess dialogue, language and the evolution of language are things in my toolbox.

Along with coffee and cigars.


3. If your life was on the line, which iteration of Batman would you want to save you? 

Ben Affleck’s Batman. We’d never experienced true terror in looking at a Batman before him. He was enormous. Terrifying. Violent. Bruce/Batman should always be physically larger than Clark/Superman because Superman has never had to work out a day in his life, he’s just … Superman. Batman must be the physical embodiment of intimidation and terror, and to me, Affleck is exactly that.

Bruce and Clark need to be reflections of one-another, but the mirror has to be obscured differently for both. Bruce is a massive, physically perfect specimen, where Clark is a normal guy.

Affleck’s Batman nailed that.

Pattinson comes close, but we’re not there yet.


4. What should readers know about your most recent work (or works) and where can they find your writing? 

My most recent novel is The Vile Thing We Created, published by Hydra Publications. It’s available wherever books are sold, and I’m super-excited about it. AmazonBookshopB&N, everywhere.



In addition to the book links above, you can find all of Robert P. Ottone’s darkest secrets by visiting this link.


Occultation and Other Stories

Occultation and Other StoriesOccultation and Other Stories by Laird Barron

At one point, I assumed Laird Barron was a peer of Robert Bloch and Fritz Leiber because his name came up so often when I researched Lovecraftian writers. Of course, I realized my mistake, but I think that informs you about how esteemed Barron is in Lovecraftian circles. So, it was only a matter of time before I dove into some of his work.

In Occultation and Other Stories, Barron presents an array of macabre tales that manage to avoid easy categorization. The story that spooked me the most in this collection was The Broadsword. It’s a tale where the protagonist is an older gentleman hearing people talk about nefarious doings in his apartment’s vents. Things get freakier from there. I enjoyed a ton about this tale, but what stuck with me the most is the fact that The Broadsword effectively recreated the feelings I got while devouring The Whisperer in Darkness for the first time.

Catch Hell and Mysterium Tremendum worked in similar ways for me. They conjured feelings I associated with classic horror stories, but Barron made them feel fresh in his voice. It was also a lot of fun to see “The Black Guide” used in Mysterium Tremendum after reading about it in Paul Tremblay’s Growing Things and Other Stories last month.

Two stories that felt intensely unique were Strappado and – -30- -. Strappado is essentially a tale about a man seeing a Banksy gone wrong. While – – 30 – – deals with the ecology of an area that has something unknown wrong with it. It reminded me a little of Jeff VanderMeer’s (who is thanked in the acknowledgements section) Annihilation, but this was published four years before that. Barron does some of his most effective work when he writes about nature, and I assume that his time living in Alaska probably gave him a unique perspective on the subject.

Lastly, Barron often challenges traditional Lovecraftian tropes. His protagonists come from different ethnicities and genders and go beyond the typical Lovecraftian type, and he deals with sex and sexuality in every story, something often avoided in Lovecraftian yarns. Besides sex, insects also seemed to show up to some degree in every story in this collection, but I’m not sure if that’s a coincidence or not. Bugs certainly play a huge role in Occultation’s first story, The Forest. In that opening story, Barron also has a character named Toshi, whom I assumed was partially inspired by famed Lovecraft scholar S.T. Joshi.

Overall, I enjoyed all these stories, and I’d like to revisit them to work through the nuts and bolts of how Barron writes. One of the pains of working forty-hour weeks and listening to everything on audible is that I don’t get to underline and mark up the text in front of me. Perhaps I’ll seek out a physical copy of Laird Barron’s Occultation and Other Stories to do just that.

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Growing Things and Other Stories by Paul Tremblay

Growing Things and Other StoriesGrowing Things and Other Stories by Paul Tremblay

There’s a fun diversity of narrative forms on display in Paul Tremblay’s Growing Things and Other Stories. Notes from the Dog Walkers gives us a story told exactly how the name indicates. Nineteen Snapshots of Dennisport is a yarn unwound by descriptions of old photographs. A Haunted House Is a Wheel Upon Which Some Are Broken is a choose your own adventure. Tremblay also gives the reader stories that defy easy subgenre categorization and transcend typical tropes by being more nuanced and layered than expected. My favorite stories in this collection all have a Weird/Lovecraftian vibe, which is fitting since I just saw Tremblay at NecronomiCon in August. Notes for “The Barn in the Wild,” Where we All Will Be, and Our Town’s Monster are three that I loved, but my absolute favorite was Something About Birds. This is a story about a story with references to other stories, and I just marveled at how well crafted, entertaining, and unique it was. I haven’t stopped thinking about it since I consumed it. It’s a must-read. So, to end this nutshell review, I must ask, “would you prefer talons or beak?”

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