After sending out a roving band of raptors to convince him, Robert Essig agreed to answer a few questions.
Why writing? What drew you to it? Why do you continue?
Without a love for reading, I doubt I would have the drive to write. I’m a creative person, always have been. Writing is what I do to alleviate that urge to create that builds in my brain. I began writing in high school, then stopped for a few years, picked up the craft again and haven’t looked back. At this point, I can’t envision my world without writing.
If you were freezing to death and the only thing left to burn were the books in your library, what 5 books would you burn last? (And yes, everything else burnable has been burnt.)
I have a lot of books, so it would be quite a fire. I don’t collect limited editions or first editions, so I wouldn’t save anything based upon value. In my current state of mind, I would save Ray Bradbury’s October Country, Stephen King’s Night Shift, Robert W. Chambers’ The King in Yellow, Richard Laymon’s In the Dark, and Tim Lebbon’s Fears Unnamed.
What’s the most challenging thing you’ve done (in life or in writing (your choice))?
Buying a house in San Diego.
What’s one word or phrase that drives you nuts? Why?
The word “like.” Like listen to like any idiot on like MTV, and like you’ll hear how much they like to use the word like. Drives me crazy. You hear it a lot in Southern California.
Do you have a favorite character you’ve created? If so, who is it and why?
I don’t play favorites, but I tend to like the villains. I’m quite fond of the demon sentinels in my forthcoming book Through the In Between, Hell Awaits. Even villains can be at odds with one another.
Creepiest place you’ve ever been? Has it appeared in your fiction? Why or Why not?
I painted the interior of an apartment where someone had been murdered. There was an underlying stink of death in the air, and a huge stain in the concrete in the closet where the body had been stuffed into a suitcase and rotted through the carpet before the odor finally reached the neighboring unit and the police were called. I received a lot of information from the maintenance man who opened the door for the police, which set my mind wandering. It was December and got dark early. Fingerprint dust on the wall where the guy’s safe had been turned my white paint gray. As the sun went down and the shadows grew larger, the place really started to freak me out, particularly the stain where the body was found. I thought about a story angle at the time, but nothing came of it.
What’s the best rejection you’ve ever received?
From Warren Lapine for his Fantastic Stories of the Imagination anthology series. Said he was going to buy the story until he read the last paragraph. That would have been my first pro sale. I later changed the ending, and I think the story is better off for it. Even the best rejection is frustrating.
How did you get that scar?
I don’t have a lot of distinct scars. There’s a faded scar on my forehead from tripping and falling on something hard (a metal threshold, I think) when I was a kid. Had to get some stitches.
What song would precede your entrance into a room if we all had personal soundtracks?
Promote yourself and/or your writing
My debut novel Through the In Between, Hell Awaits is coming out in 2012 from Grand Mal Press. Updates, musings, and information about my work can be found at robertessig.blogspot.com. I also have an author page on facebook, though I’m not sure what the hell to do with it.
Final thoughts before you run screaming for your life?
Support the small press and your favorite authors.
Thank you, Mr. Essig, for taking the time to answer some questions. Feel free to make your way to the nearest exit through the dark and bloodstained closet. Please take your DNA with you when you leave. You never know what will happen if it gets left behind.