Somewhere between Western Massachusetts and North Central Connecticut, author Howard Odentz is quietly concocting a supernatural world of suspense and horror with just a twist of humor on top.
A decidedly un-creepy-looking candidate amidst his fellow authors in the genre, this preppy, button-collared scribe has penned eight titles including the newly released shorts BONES and SNOW, as well as the young adult and emerging adult zombie trilogy DEAD (a LOT), WICKED DEAD, and DEAD END, the disturbing jaunt BLOODY BLOODY APPLE, the psychological thriller WHAT WE KILL, and the wildly creepy collection of twenty-six short stories about murderous children called LITTLE KILLERS A to Z.
I recently spoke with Howard and found him to be a horror filled blast of creativity and talent.
You write exclusively about New England—why?
I like writing about this part of the world. There are so many interesting and mysterious things that go on here that it’s a goldmine of opportunity for someone who writes in my genre. Of course, I change the names of people and places to protect the innocent. Sometimes.
Is your writing scary?
I hope it is, but still, I can’t help being funny. My first book, DEAD (a LOT) hit number one in both humor and horror. Often, those who discover my work say it makes them laugh—even though they’re still reading with the lights on. When I hear something like that, I know I’ve done my job right.
How does the humor creep in?
I think I sometimes find inappropriate things funny. One of the books I wrote, LITTLE KILLERS A to Z is comprised of 26 short stories about little kids who kill. I think the idea of murderous children can be very dark and twisted, but these tykes also make me nervously laugh—especially ‘W is for William who’s Smitten a little’. William is a bad, bad boy.
Tell me about your recent releases.
The three newest out there are two free novellas called SNOW and BONES. Both have hit number one in the horror genre and have gotten great reviews. They are available on a lot of the electronic apps for free and are currently being translated for the Italian market. In addition, my publisher, Bell Bridge Books, released the third title in my zombie trilogy. That one is called DEAD END. If you ever want to know what a bunch of teenagers would do when confronted with the zombie apocalypse without parental supervision then the DEAD (a LOT) trilogy is for you.
You’re very inclusive with your characters.
When I write I am very inclusive. I use straight characters, LBGTQ characters, and those of all races and ethnicities. Our world is very diverse. I feel the people who populate my fiction should be, as well. I also exclusively use kids and teens as characters. They tend to handle horror in interesting and unique ways, where adults characters are often more rigid.
Are you a horror fan yourself? Why?
I’m absolutely a horror fan in my reading and viewing habits, but I also think horror is a great emotion to play with in my writing. For me, that fear factor is easy to understand because I’m basically scared of everything—you know, sharks, the dark, the woods, ghosts, aliens, Bigfoot, you name it. Besides, my part of the world has its own ‘creep’ factor built in. We burned witches in Salem, supposedly still have big-headed people living in the Berkshire forests, and still have great white sharks off of Cape Cod.
As far as horror as my preferred genre, I blame my mother. When I was in grade school, she would bring home Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Peter Straub and more from the library. While my friends were reading Dick and Jane, I was reading about Danny Torrance from THE SHINING with his creepy finger, Tony.
Aside from what you’ve written, what horror stories scare you the most?
I think LORD OF THE FLIES is the freakiest thing I’ve ever read. It scared me as a child and it still scares me, especially because of what happened to Piggy. Of course, JAWS scarred me for life so I can never put my big toe in the ocean again. Also, I grew up during the time when the real Amityville Horror took place, so when the book and the movie came out they just plain freaked me out. There is something about a little girl who talks to an invisible, demonic pig that gives me the chills.
What about movies?
The original ALIEN with Sigourney Weaver gave me nightmares for weeks, mostly because watching it back when I was a kid was like being on a rollercoaster that wouldn’t stop. The adrenaline in that movie was crazy. These days, I’ve watched enough horror that I can almost tell what’s going to happen next by the camera angles. Still, I’m an avid WALKING DEAD fan, as well as AMERICAN HORROR STORY. Of course, I love BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, too. I still like my giggles with my scares
So when you write, do you ever actually get scared yourself?
Absolutely! I only write during the day, and I can’t write in my basement or with my back to a door. You never know what’s going to come scratching or sneak up behind you.
Are you working on anything now?
I’m currently working on a new book but I can’t tell you what it’s about just yet. The characters are still fleshing themselves out, but if the opening scene is any indication, this one is going to be a non-stop scary romp in the tobacco fields of Connecticut. There’s nothing scarier than combining farm equipment with horror—at least not for me.
Howard Odentz can be found at http://www.howardodentz.com
Follow him on Twitter @HowardOdentz
His titles are available wherever books are sold