December 2019 4th Circle Interview with Gary Robbe
DESI D: Name one horror author you admire and explain how they helped you become a better writer.
GARY ROBBE: There are many writers who had a profound influence on me, and what and how I write. But there are two who stand out. When I read Ray Bradbury at a very early age, specifically Dandelion Wine, I knew that I wanted to write and tell stories the way he could. His storytelling and simplicity, and the way he could get a message across without pounding you on the head, definitely influenced me to the core. Another writer who got to me, at a much later date, was Harlan Ellison. When I read I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream, and A Boy and his Dog, I was completely blown away. Harlan’s writing style and anger shone through with everything he wrote, and he embodied what I thought a writer was all about. We are who we read, and I often reread Ray and Harlan to remind myself what writing can do.
DESI D: As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot and why?
GARY ROBBE: Has to be a squirrel. They’re cute on the surface, but they’re really rats with a fluffy tail. I used to pretend I was a squirrel when I was a toddler (this was the day and age of Chip and Dale, who were chipmunks, not squirrels). So, yeah, an animal that is really deceptive. We’re terrified of rats eating our face, but squirrels? Not so much. But they will…
DESI D: Name six of your favorite horror movies or books. Elaborate on any of them.
GARY ROBBE: I grew up watching all the great Universal monster films, watched all of them over and over, usually late at night on Shock Theater on a black and white TV. Frankenstein, the monster played by Boris Karloff, and King Kong, played by himself, stood out and were always special to watch. Psycho scared the shit out of me at a very vulnerable age. I’m still wary of showers. Halloween. Alien. The Thing. Almost perfect horror films.
But ultimately my heart belongs to the old, tattered black and white (sometimes color) horror films of my childhood. Anything by Hitchcock or Roger Corman, all the cheap and cheesy effects and acting, the bad costumes, all of it.
Books? Salem’s Lot. Interview with a Vampire. The Exorcist. Rosemary’s Baby. Maybe the most disturbing and haunting book I ever read was Johnny Got His Gun by Dalton Trumbo.
DESI D: “Scrape” from Denver Horror Collective’s new anthology, Terror at 5280’ is a disturbing tale; can you tell us a little about how it came into being?
GARY ROBBE: Gentrification gone bad. An image came to me, children staring from a window of a place that was being torn down, and the story took off from there. Loss to me is the ultimate great fear. Loss of control. Loss of what we love. Loss of self. I thought, what if a family scraped an old house and built a new one in its place. And once they moved into the new house they realized the old place was still very much there. Maybe it is a little homage to House of Leaves, a story I really liked but didn’t understand all that well. Of course, I did have to give the story a happy, Disney ending. That’s my homage to Chip and Dale, those crazy mixed up rodents.