Horror Writers Association
Email us.
Slasher TV
HWA on Instagram
Visit Us
Follow Me

A Point of Pride: Interview with Andrew Robertson


Andrew Robertson is a queer horror writer and editor. He recently released a dual-author short story collection with Sèphera Girón, Dearly Departed, available from the Great Lakes Horror Company. The collection represents their favourite frights and gravest hits published over the past decade.

Andrew has three short stories heading to the Moon as part of Lunar Codex. A project by Samuel Peralta, Lunar Codex is archiving the works of over 30,000 artists, writers, musicians, and filmmakers from 156 countries in tandem with NASA’s Artemis program and the Writers on the Moon project. These stories will be part of the largest single collection of contemporary artwork ever put on the Moon and will fly there on the first commercial lunar flight in history. 

A lifelong fan of horror, his writing has appeared in multiple anthologies and literary magazines. Recent work includes the social media critique Sick is the New Black which appears in the all-gay anthology Pink Triangle Rhapsody, edited by Andrew Wolter, available from Lycan Valley Press. Andrew is currently working on a novelization of the same story, exploring themes of queerness, addiction, fame, and a culture locked in the thrall of online obsessions.

What inspired you to start writing? 

As a kid, I was always fascinated with mythology, ghost stories, the paranormal, and storytelling. If you told me we were going to visit a haunted castle, I would lose my mind. And I absolutely loved when someone would sit us all down and tell us a fable, a grim tale, or a legend. That should happen more, by the way, that skill is becoming extinct. The best were the ones that scared me. The words seemed so powerful, crawling up the back of your neck like when someone would sing a sad song.

As early as grade three I was starting to come up with story ideas, and by grade five I was in a writing group creating the adventures of Mr. Bones, a dog detective in a seedy city populated by anthropomorphic animals, both good and evil. It was very Gotham, very noir. 

That led me to think about mutations, and by that point, I was a die-hard X-Men fan. Wolverine and Storm were the parents of my early drive to do more than just put some words on a page. The Chris Claremont-era of The Uncanny X-Men is pure gold, what a storyteller! The outsider status of the heroes, the way they did everything they could to help humankind but were constantly recast as villains due to political interference from the right wing, and being generally misunderstood- that was very attractive to a queer kid growing up in the 80s. 

Everywhere I looked, people I knew were just like me were villainized, and blamed for GRID (Gay Related Immune Deficiency) before it came to be known as AIDS. How do you grow up feeling okay about yourself when there are people out there wishing death on you, afraid to help you, and making you the centre of a problem that wasn’t yours alone? That was the moment I started to sympathize with the villain because I knew not all villains were evil. I wanted to tell those stories from the other side. It was all born out of darkness so it had to be horror.

Later in life, when I came across The Power of Myth with Joseph Campbell, it all fell into place. As a species, we need stories and mythology, and if we look closely at these cultural threads, we could realize we are all coming from the same principles and beliefs. It’s a shame that part often gets obfuscated. 

What was it about the horror genre that drew you to it? 

There are so many layers in a horror story, where the outsiders and weirdos are always regarded as objects of scorn and hate, and it often begins with a misunderstanding. We know so much of society is close-minded, but keep finding new ways to show just how bad it is. The themes of horror are just holding a mirror up to challenge our very basic, sheeplike way of being in a society where discomfort equates to something bad instead of an opportunity to grow and experience something new and confusing. There is this desperation to keep everything and everyone the same. How boring, right? But horror breaks that in half and shows you both sides. Horror is the antidote and makes any impulse a possible storyline.

There is also the othering that takes place, whether the characters in horror books and movies are evil or just perceived to be– that was again very attractive to a queer kid growing up in the 80s. Think about Frankenstein’s Monster. The blame fell to the monster as the easiest outsider to shake a pitchfork at, but none of it was his fault. I could relate to being othered and blamed for things that had nothing to do with me. We are born into a society that has turned us into scapegoats, and the foundation for fear-based religious and political fundraising efforts. Our society likes to lay blame, like the AIDS crisis that continues to this day. Easier to blame gay men and junkies because they were historically disproportionately affected, the cause of it all…but that isn’t necessarily true. So much of what was hung on queer people wasn’t true, but we became a horror trope, and now we are taking our trope back.

Do you make a conscious effort to include LGBTQ material in your writing and if so, what do you want to portray?

I used to find it hard to centre my writing in queerness because I thought that would limit my audience. That was accommodation, aka internalized homophobia. Queers were always victims and stooges in so many books or an easy kill, and I didn’t think a gay character would carry the story, but now I know better. Now, all my stories have queer characters, and I want to show the full spectrum, including both the good and the bad gays. I want to represent multidimensional and complex queers, not Riverdale stereotypes. 

What has writing horror taught you about the world and yourself?

For the most part, the horror community is amazing, and so supportive. The horror community has taught me that even if a loud voice is an oppressive one, there are so many other voices that will stand up for what’s right that being the loudest for a moment in time doesn’t matter as much as that awesome community. 

Horror in itself has taught me that it’s cool to be different, even if that kind of difference means you drink blood and struggle to accept your clearly homosexual relationship with Lestat. 

How have you seen the horror genre change over the years? And how do you think it will continue to evolve?

What I’ve seen is that innovation has entered the chat. Queer horror creators have taken the lead, and thrown frightening and fabulous dark rainbows of ink on the page. They’ve fearlessly shown that there is so much more to the themes we’ve seen in horror, so many more wild and terrifying tales to tell, because queer voices are being elevated rather than shut out. 

I’ve also seen how some creators see the rise of queer and BIPOC voices as somehow shutting them out. It’s really disturbing to see so many well-known and formerly respected horror writers shit the bed with their fear of being dethroned and their damaging ignorance about making space for others. Saying that you can’t make a living because of ‘woke’ culture is like admitting you could only afford to live by subjugating more talented voices than your own with gatekeepers. It’s telling on yourself. The criticism they level is that the talent of queer, female-identified, or BIPOC creators needs to be questioned to validate the concerns of what has been mainly straight, white male horror writers. Their fear is unfounded. Giving space to diverse voices enriches our community. If these guys aren’t being published anymore, they should try harder, because the easily available spaces they once occupied don’t have the same gatekeepers anymore. Diversity is innovation and that is the future. 

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?

I was on a panel once with a white, straight female, and a black, heterosexual male. Part of our discussion was, in decades past, which of us would be killed off first in a standard horror movie. We got to that line of discussion because so much has changed, and we don’t have to be the first to die anymore, which is an odd sort of thing to be a cheerleader about!

One thing I will say is that in today’s queer horror, your gay characters don’t always have to be the hero or the sidekick or the moral lesson. There’s been this historical aversion to showing a queer villain and now we are allowing them to be celebrated rather than punished.

Who are some of your favorite LGBTQ characters in horror?

I love the absolute, tragic queerness of Anne Rice’s vampires, with Louis de Pointe du Lac taking the number one spot. That sad sack, what a dream he is. He just can’t deal with being a vampire, but he’s so good at it. And by vampire, I mean gay dude. He can read me poetry by candlelight in a crypt anytime, and I won’t be annoyed by it.

Who are some LGBTQ horror authors you recommend our audience check out? 

Hellraiser is my favourite film, so obviously I’m going to say Clive Barker. The Hellbound Heart is foundational reading, and the Books of Blood series is a revelation. 

I’ve loved everything I’ve read by Hailey Piper. Queen of Teeth is a wild ride. I’ll never look at peanut butter the same way again. 

And I also love the emerging talent W. H. Vigo, who I had the pleasure of sharing a panel with at Frightmare in the Falls in 2022. I’ve never seen someone capture an audience like Vigo. Their debut novella, Beneath the Rio Cobre, is available to read for free on Wattpad right now, and the way they write horror and speculative fiction inspired by Caribbean folklore is fantastic. We are also working on a spooky historical cookbook together that should be out later this year.

What is one piece of advice you would give horror authors today?

I grew up trying to fit in, trying to find my place, and then rebelling hard against the idea of needing to fit in for society’s sake, so that’s a big theme in my work. I think the issue there is the paralysis of living in a culture that is desperate for imagination, but punishes those who live imaginatively out loud. Don’t try to fit in. It’s not worth the sacrifice or the time. 

And to the LGBTQ writers out there who are just getting started, what advice would you give them?

Write for yourself. Write what you want to read. My work has a lot of queer themes, but I know anyone can relate to them. If they can’t, that’s their issue, not mine. Don’t write for an agent or to become a bestseller. Don’t write to accommodate a heterosexual audience because you’ve been told queer work won’t sell. It won’t work and you won’t be happy with the result. Artifice is the death of art. I’ve actually gone back and changed characters I’ve written from female to male, and straight to queer, did a full review and edit, and was much happier with the final result. It felt genuine.

And don’t sit around waiting for things to happen– make the effort, send out the work, keep writing, do a blog tour, start a podcast, self-publish, make a zine, attend readings, demand more from yourself, and stop the excuses. Actively search out opportunities and actually follow through. I despise hearing people complain about being overlooked in publishing but on further questioning find that they’ve sent out two stories over a year or two and fell into a self-pity party. Gay and tired may be a trend, but go out and network, create a writing community around you, go to readings, read your own work aloud, ask for feedback, and welcome it without bitterness. Find a mentor. No one owes you a thing, but you can create yourself. You just need to make the effort. There is a great, big queer horror community out there waiting for you!

While you’re at it, read more horror and make it queer af!

You can find more about Andrew on Instagram.

Comments are closed.

Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial