Author interview: Robert Stava
This month, I got the chance to interview fellow Severed Press author, Robert Stava. It was awesome to get to know Robert a little better, and he has some interesting books available - you should definitely check them out!
Al Hodge: Hi Robert, to start off with, can you tell us a little about yourself:
Robert Stava: These days I’m married, settled down in the Hudson River Valley, which supplies more than enough inspiration for my stories. Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, but spent my formative years in a small village in upstate NY before heading to NYC to make a career on Madison Avenue and make a shot at being a rock star on the NY music scene, which was a blast. Later got into 3D design and worked as a Creative Director until the recession torpedoed my career. Which had an upside as it turned my focus toward fiction writing, which began to consume me at that time.
I’ve never been afraid of trying things, which has gotten me into more than a few jams and trips to ER. Great for experiences to leverage into one’s writing, but not always good for one’s health. I’ve done everything from washing dishes to roofing houses to working on major infrastructure projects around the globe. I’ve also studied martial arts – 2nd Degree Blackbelt in Karate – done a fair amount of target shooting and am an avid bicyclist. Even danced ballet once.
These days I just appreciate the fact that I’m alive and able to enjoy life. And write, of course. That’s what everything gets funneled into.
AH: Topically your books range from traditional horror to Sci-Fi – how did that come about?
RS: I’d always had a thing about writing – just a random short horror story here or there over the years, but oddly, my first published (and designed) book was non-fiction. A ten-year effort that covered my great uncle’s experiences as a combat photographer/aerial gunner during WWII. Brutal stuff. But the ‘serious’ fiction writing didn’t kick in until 9 years ago. Originally it started out as a few short stories set in a fictional town here along the Hudson, sort of a modern collection inspired by Washington Irving and Sleepy Hollow. We’d just moved up the road and undeniably, something in the atmosphere began to work on my imagination, which was always overactive to begin with. Before I knew it, I was writing novels, novellas, more short stories about this fictional village that became “Wyvern Falls”. The floodgates were open.
Around the time the fourth novel in the series – “Nightmare from World’s End” - got picked up by Severed Press, I decided to take a break from the horror and try my hand a dinosaur novel, just for the heck of it. They published that one too. So, it was really about trying new things as a writer. Bu t traditional horror is where I really enjoy hanging my hat. You can sneak in a lot of sly social and political commentary and get away with it.
AH: What is your process – how do you come up with these stories?
RS: I can distill my entire process to two words: What if…? Apply that to anything an you have a story. Primarily, though, they typically come from to two sources: either odd scraps of local history & myths I stumble upon, or something I see – usually either running or biking, which I do a lot. You find all kinds of odd things when you get out the door around here – abandoned buildings, ruins, strange houses, spooky locations. And especially talking to people. Everyone has a story. So, I pay attention.
Back to process though – one of the key skills I honed after years of researching my non-fiction book was the ability to quickly and fluidly research topics. I’m good at ferreting out useful information. A lot of time that will inform, even alter the story and give it weight. One quick example: while writing “Nightmare from World’s End” I started out with an enigmatic, elderly American Indian character named “Crazy Jack”, which seemed like a tired Hollywood cliché – I even had another character commenting as such. After reaching out to the descendants of the original tribes in this area I discovered that I’d inadvertently hit it right – “Crazy Jack” was a well-known trickster character in local Indian myths.
I find that happens a lot. It’s almost as if our subconscious taps into something bigger around us. Sometimes it gets a little spooky.
AH: Any strange or odd facts you could share about your stories?
RS: Plenty. One short I was working on one morning involved death walking up the sidewalk to a house that was inspired by a real one on my block. I called it ‘The Shattered House’. A couple hours later I was walking down the street with my wife only to see an ambulance in front of that same house – it was the coroner wheeling out a body on a gurney. Another time I was working on a story where the lead character gets attacked with a brand new stainless steel hatchet with a black rubber handle – hours later my Dad showed up for a visit from out of town and pulls the exact hatchet out of his trunk and hands it to me: “Here, had an extra and thought you could use it.” I keep a log of all the weird stuff. Makes you really wonder where all this is coming from.
AH: What’s coming down the pipeline?
RS: Currently hard at work on my next novel for Severed Press, “Neptune’s Reckoning”, which is my take on all the weird conspiracy stuff out at Montauk, Long Island. The same place where the Netflix series “Stranger Things” was originally set. I’ve been going out there for 16 years, so it speaks to me.
After that, who knows? I have two more “Wyvern Falls” novels in the series finished and have started on the next, along with a bunch of short stories and novellas currently making the rounds with the publishers. I’m also pulling together a collection of previously published and unpublished short stories, finally.
Robert Stava is an author living in the Hudson River Valley, not far, apparently, from the village of Wyvern Falls where so many of his horror stories are set. His fourth novel, “Nightmare from World’s End”, was recently published by Severed Press. His short stories have appeared in various anthologies & magazines including the recently released “Cranial Leakage vol II” from Grinning Skull Press. His next novel from Severed Press, “Neptune’s Reckoning” is due out in 2019, along with a new novella from Sinister Grin Press.
In addition to writing, Stava is a trustee on the Ossining Historical Society, The Ossining Arts Council and is a board member of the Ossining Arts Project, an appointed village organization tasked with developing the arts in Ossining and Westchester.
Further info can be found at: