Robert P. Ottone is an author and cigar enthusiast from East Islip, NY. He delights in the creepy. He can be found online at www.SpookyHousePress.com, or on Instagram/Twitter (@RobertOttone). His collections Her Infernal Name & Other Nightmares and People: A Horror Anthology about Love, Loss, Life & Things That Go Bump in the Night are available now wherever books are sold.
What first attracted you to horror writing?
Writing horror has always been a case of therapeutic exercise for me. After losing my dad in 2019, I began therapy to work through the emotions that dominated me. Writing became, essentially, an additional outlet that allowed me to work through the things I was feeling, while also bringing me back into the world of reading for fun.
I work in education, so, I wasn’t doing much reading for fun, or reading to study, so, horror got me back into that. I’m incredibly thankful to the genre and the authors I read that inspired me to write again, because without their work inspiring me to start writing again, I think I would’ve gone down a worse path than the one I’m on.
What is your most notable work?
I guess my most notable work is my collection Her Infernal Name & Other Nightmares, but I’ve also gotten a lot of love and positive feedback on a couple stories in some anthologies I’m proud to be a part of, most notably Unburied, which contains my story “For The Gods,” which is about a young boy confronting a creature in his closet, as well as his own feelings toward gender and sexuality.
I’m also really excited about my story “The Aluxes,” featured in In the Shadow of the Horns, a black metal anthology. It’s one of my gorier pieces, and it has some of my most vile villains in it.
What are you working on now?
I just finished a light revision of my debut horror novel. I’m nervous and excited about it, and it’s currently with my Horror Writers Association mentor, Michael Knost. I keep thinking he’s going to send it back to me with the note “You’re a terrible person, Robert,” or something, but yeah, it’s a remarkably dark story, inspired in some respects by real life situations.
I also am seeking representation for a YA horror-science fiction novel that I wrote while I had COVID. That one is a trippy, esoteric high-seas adventure.
What is your writing routine?
I try to write first thing in the morning. I’ll shower, eat breakfast, drink iced coffee, watch YouTube, then make my way to my laptop and start hammering away on the keyboard. Since the schoolyear is starting, I’m going to lose some of that time to my day job, but I’ll do what I can in the late afternoon and early evening to get some writing done.
Who do you admire in the horror world?
So many people.
The authors that really inspire me the most are John Langan, Brian Evenson, Paul Tremblay, Laird Barron, Michael Cisco, the usual folks. Lee Murray I admire so much, as well. Bret Easton Ellis. Curtis M. Lawson, Todd Keisling. Michael Knost. Stephen Graham Jones. Geneve Flynn. Sara Tantlinger. Mark Danielewski. Gemma Amor. Laurel Hightower.
Jim Chambers is an influence on me. He’s guiding and insanely supportive. Teel James Glenn. Carol Gyzander. Alp Beck. JP Collins. Lou Rera. Alan Burd. Frank R. Michaels. Joe Kennedy. Amy Grech. Amazing folks in the HWA New York chapter.
Ken Cain, Jacque Pallone, Tim Meyer, Amanda Headlee, really awesome folks who’ve been kind and provided support and advice. The HWA PA chapter are all warm, welcoming and supportive folks.
Mike Davis is a great guy. Super supportive. The entire crew at the Lovecraft eZine. Nice folks.
I adore Michele Brittany and Nicholas Diak. Both are amazingly supportive, beautiful souls in the horror world. James Barnett at The Night’s End podcast is fabulous. Rebecca Rowland, a great editor I’ve written for a couple times. Nichi Arcane at DarkBetweenPages, J, Brad Proctor, Working Man Reads, Everyone Who Reads it Must Converse, all these wonderful Booktubers and Bookstagrammers that are amazingly supportive, too. Beautiful, passionate folks who legitimately care about the genre and champion the work we all put out, whether you’re a superstar in the community or a schmuck like me.
Max Landis shares his writing wisdom a lot. I really enjoy his work and find a lot of inspiration in listening to him speak on storytelling.
Alan Moore is a hero of mine.
Linda Addison is amazing. So supportive. Radiates kindness in the few interactions we’ve had. Same with Anna Taborska.
Truth be told, I admire the hell out of Michael and Bob at This is Horror. I’m not just saying that, you can confirm it with Michael, I’ve messaged him a thousand times on Instagram telling him how much I loved The Girl in the Video and They’re Watching.
I get excited by a lot of people’s work and I have this fanboy thing that I think is probably annoying to these people, but I can’t really help it.
Everybody seems to have grown up reading Stephen King. I grew up reading Bret Easton Ellis. He’s like a god to me. Jay McInerney. Shirley Jackson. This is a weird group of folks to all lump together, so, I’m sorry if this answer is all over the place.
Do you prefer all out gore or psychological chills?
Can’t we have both? I wrote a body horror story recently that I’m really proud of, for the summer issue of Gravely Unusual magazine. It’s gruesome, bloody, ugly and nasty. That said, it leans heavily on the psychological aspects of a person that, to me, is clearly deteriorating mentally.
I’m more interested in how people react to horror and situations, so, I guess the psychological aspect is more important to me. I think a great balance is needed, for sure. A balancing act.
Why should people read your work?
I think people might get a little something different from my work. A friend of mine, another author, Michael Jess Alexander had a funny observation about how I write and he said that I “write like a Spielberg who’s seen some shit.” I think that’s about one of the nicest things anyone’s said about me.
Recommend a book.
I’m gonna’ say read Scanlines by Todd Keisling. What a powerhouse story. I finished it in a day, and, no exaggeration, I haven’t stopped thinking about it.
Definitely pick up Black Cranes: Tales of Unquiet Women edited by Lee Murray and Geneve Flynn. This is, in my opinion, the absolute gold standard when it comes to anthologies. I’m not kidding when I say that every story here is a home run. The entire anthology is just outrageous.
I’ll also recommend everyone pick up All Things Deadly: Salem Stories by E. C. Hanson. This is a collection that’ll knock you dead.Buy Robert Ottone’s books