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A Point of Pride 2024: An Interview With Robert Stahl



What inspired you to start writing?
For me, it’s a tale of two Stephens. When I was younger, Stephen King’s stories were my gateway into horror. I remember how his work blew me away back then. King’s writing was so engaging and effortless that I got to thinking, how hard could it be to write these? Oh, how naive
I was. Anyway, I never started writing for real until I had quite a few years under my belt. Then it was Stephen Graham Jones who inspired me. His work to me was like Stephen King for the modern reader, written in a voice that was uniquely his own. Once I found out he was also from
Texas, that sealed the deal. I literally went to my desk and started writing right away.

What was it about the horror genre that drew you to it?
It’s often about the beauty of the prose, but also It’s all about that adrenaline rush, yeah? I love that horror makes me feel something. You know, that “on the edge of your seat” feeling, with your heart pumping, the hair on your arm standing on end and your palms getting all clammy. Being scared is thrilling. It lets you know you’re alive.

Do you make a conscious effort to include LGBTQ material in your writing and if so, what do you want to portray?
I don’t make a conscious effort. Some stories call for a gay perspective and gay characters, and some don’t. It’s all about what the story needs. I’m a gay man, true, but being gay is not all that I am. A writer should be able to observe any experience and turn it into a story. I write a lot of
stories with non-queer characters, and I feel perfectly comfortable doing so. I’ve never been to space, but that doesn’t mean I can’t write a story about an astronaut on a mission to Mars. I was born with this vivid imagination for a reason, it’s often about getting out of the way and letting it do its thing.

What has writing horror taught you about the world and yourself?
About the world: Out of all the scary situations I’ve written about, and all the stories I’ve read from other writers, the real world is a scarier place by far. About myself: A sense of discipline. I work a pretty demanding day job, so I have to pursue my fiction around the hours I spend there. That means giving up other things I would often like to do, like you know, hanging with friends, or relaxing, and stuff.

How have you seen the horror genre change over the years? And how do you think it will continue to evolve?
For sure, it’s becoming more diverse. The outpouring of support for writers who are ‘other’ is palpable. You go on Twitter, oops I mean X, and you see horror writers standing up for each other, regardless of gender, cultural background, or sexual orientation. When I was growing up,
horror seemed to be dominated by older white men. Now, the landscape is made up of writers from all different backgrounds. It’s a beautiful thing to see.

How do you feel the LGBTQ community has been represented thus far in the genre and what hopes do you have for representation in the genre going forward?
In the past few years, the playing field has dramatically tilted in favor of LGBTQ writers, which I’ll refer to in this answer simply as “queer”. Look at authors like Joe Koch, Hailey Piper, and Eric LaRocca out there, absolutely killing it. I hope this trend continues, not because these
are queer writers writing queer stories, but because they are queer writers writing kick-ass stories.

Who are some of your favorite LGBTQ characters in horror?
Great question. Judd and Mick, the doomed lovers in Clive Barker’s fabulous short story In the Hills, the Cities made a huge impact on my life. I read that story as a teen before coming out of the closet and it was so reassuring, knowing there were others out there like me—even though
what happens to them is absolutely horrible. I love Stephen Graham Jones’s story Is This Love and thought he handled Jonathan and Lucas with a huge amount of dignity and compassion, even though they also met a horrible fate. And, trust, that a pattern is emerging here is not lost
on me, lol.

Who are some LGBTQ horror authors you recommend our audience check out?
Definitely Clive Barker, for paving a path for queer writers today to be ourselves. His work is brilliant and he’s truly one of the greats. As far as modern authors, Joe Koch is putting out some of the most daring, beautiful, and dark material I’ve seen in years. There’s something so strange
and singularly unique about his work. It’s sensual, hypnotic, and so, so disturbing. He writes in a way I’ve never seen any other author write before. But don’t take my word for it. Look up his short story Pigman, Pigman, and see for yourself. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. Sweet dreams,

What is one piece of advice you would give horror authors today?
Believe in yourself. If you don’t have that foundation in your heart and in your head, that writing is something you were born to do and you want to do more than anything else, you’re not going to make it when the going gets tough. And, for many of us, the going will get very, very tough.

And to the LGBTQ writers out there who are just getting started, what advice would you give them?
The same advice I would give to a non-LGBTQ writer. Write. Submit. Grow. Repeat.

Unbeknownst to Robert Stahl his body is an empty shell, telepathically controlled by a brain in a jar that was buried long ago under the floorboard of his home in Dallas, Texas. Consequently, his days are filled with the urge to write: stories, letters, articles, whatever. At night he listens to music, and when he finally drifts off to sleep, the brain laughs, a humorless, pitiful sound as it jiggles alone in the dusty darkness. Learn more at robertestahl.com

One comment on “A Point of Pride 2024: An Interview With Robert Stahl

  1. I love my other son.
    I have always believed in him and encouraged him in everything he does.
    However, I don’t want to visit his brain!
    I love his stories, since he was a teenager making mixtape!

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