Tuesday 3 May 2022

Interview with Horror Author Nick Roberts

 Today, I have an interview with horror writer, Nick Roberts, author of The Exorcist's House. Enjoy.

Interview with Horror Author Nick Roberts

Why don’t you begin by sharing a little about yourself.

I was born and raised in West Virginia. As the often-invisible middle child, I think my creativity manifested out of necessity. As early as I can remember, I was drawn to the darker side of art. It was quite the effort to get my hands on a horror movie or a Stephen King novel or an elusive episode of Tales from the Crypt at a young age, but I managed.
My own creative output consisted of monster drawings and scary stories. By the time I was 12, I had a film review published in a national magazine. The fact that I was in seventh grade and writing a review for the R-rated film, Red Dragon, and praising Sir Anthony Hopkins’ diabolical turn as a cannibalistic serial killer for Teen Ink Magazine tickles me to this day.
My writing was sidelined from ages 16 to 25 due to my preoccupation with partying which quickly spiraled into full-blown drug addiction. West Virginia’s beauty, economy, and population has been decimated by the ongoing opioid epidemic. I was one of the lucky ones who survived. It took a lot of trial and error, but I finally got straightened out. I enrolled at Marshall University and earned a BA in English, an MA in Teaching, and I’m currently finishing my Ed.D. in Leadership Studies.
It was during this time that I also cracked open the laptop and wrote my first short story in over a decade. I haven’t slowed since then. Although I’m married with young children, still in a doctoral program, and working as an English teacher, I still make the time to write. It’s a compulsion that I’m grateful to have. Chaos is my default setting, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Could you tell us a bit about your latest book?

My new book is called The Exorcist’s House. It takes place in the nineties and begins with a family from Ohio purchasing an old farmhouse in rural West Virginia to flip. Once they get there, they discover something sinister within a secret room in the basement. There’s a well inside harboring an ancient evil waiting to be freed. The family finds out that the previous owner was an exorcist, and his work was far from over.

How long have you been writing, and how many books have you published to date?
I’ve always written as a hobby, but I’ve been writing for publication since early 2019. That’s when I made it a discipline. To date, I’ve had several short stories published in various magazines and anthologies, and two novels published. I’m currently finishing my doctoral dissertation, so most of my current writing has been academic.

What do you enjoy most about writing in the horror genre?
Horror is inherently an engaging genre in the same way that comedy is. Both genres elicit a physical response whether that is a scream or laughter. My love of horror is akin to riding a roller coaster. That rush of adrenaline brings me fully into the present moment. I want to do that for my readers. I want them to pick up one of my novels and temporarily forget about everything else going on in their world. First and foremost, I want to entertain them. If I can’t write an effective story, then whatever embedded meaning/metaphor/moral will stay buried.
I know I’m onto something when I’m writing a scene that gives me the creeps. That’s when I get that giddy feeling. I instantly revert to being a kid, hiding in my hallway closet waiting to burst out and scare my sisters.

What did you enjoy most about writing your book?
I enjoyed writing Daniel and Nora’s conversations with each other. From their first scene together, they just had this playfulness that took over. I was on autopilot writing that stuff. Plus, the fact that they had been married for over a decade and were still into each other was refreshing.
One goal I had going into this book was to make it lighter between the scares. Obviously, the horror must horrify, but I find it easier to shock the reader when they’re invested in the characters and lulled into a false sense of comfort. My previous novel, Anathema, started dark and just got relentlessly bleaker. This was intentional and the only way to tell that story with those themes.

Can you tell us about your writing process? Where do your ideas originate? Do you have a certain writing routine?

Ideas are all around us—we just have to look for them. As I type this, I am sitting in bed with my MacBook. If I tilt my head slightly to the left, I’m looking into a dark closet beyond the foot of the bed. What’s in there? I know what’s there if I get up and turn the light on: hanging clothes, shoes, a laundry basket. But from this angle, this far away with no light on inside, it is an open abyss. What could be in there? Did something just move? Did I just hear it breathe? Is it smiling at me?
Or I look out the window to my right at my neighbor’s house. The guy looks normal enough. I know his name. We nod heads when we pass each other on dog shit walks. But what does he really do once he shuts that front door? Is it even his house? I haven’t known him that long. The original family could be bound and gagged in the basement. At least he’s considerate enough to walk their dog.
There are always ideas, but if I don’t have the discipline to put my ass in the seat every day and commit to the craft, those ideas remain fantasy. I write my novels during summer vacation from teaching. My day starts with exercise, breakfast, and a shower. Around 10 or 11 AM, I take my MacBook and go to my basement and write for about an hour to an hour and a half, aiming for a minimum of 1,000 words per day. Any deviation from this routine throws off the rest of my day, and it all hinges on strategically avoiding my children.

Do you have a favourite author, or writing inspiration?
My all-time favorite authors are Stephen King, Cormac McCarthy, Bret Easton Ellis, Chuck Palahniuk, and Clive Barker. I’m late to the Paul Tremblay/Stephen Graham Jones/Grady Hendrix party, but I’m diggin’ it so far.

How do you research your books?
It depends on the topic. I was writing a short story about a hunter who accidentally shot a child, and I needed to know what kind of legal charges the guy would face. My lawyer and police friends helped with that one. With my first book, I needed to know specific veterinary drugs and doses, so I spoke with my veterinarian. With The Exorcist’s House, I dove deep into The Bible and Milton’s Paradise Lost. I also had a local pastor and a paramedic check some scenes for accuracy.

What do you like to do when you're not writing? Any hobbies?

I love to read, watch movies, exercise, and spend time with my wife and kids. A Cuban cigar on the back deck isn’t a bad way to kill an hour either.

About the Author

Nick Roberts is a resident of St. Albans, West Virginia and a graduate of Marshall University. He is an active member of the Horror Writers Association and the Horror Authors Guild. His short works have been published in The Blue Mountain Review, Stonecrop Magazine, The Fiction Pool, Haunted MTL, The Indiana Horror Review, and anthologies by publishers, such as J. Ellington Ashton Press and Sinister Smile Press. His novel, Anathema, won Debut Novel of the Year at the 2020-2021 Horror Authors Guild Awards. His second novel, The Exorcist's House, will be released May 6, 2022 by Crystal Lake Publishing. 

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