Daniel R. Robichaud lives and writes in east Texas. His work can be found in Hookman and Friends, The Other Side, and Sick Cruising anthologies. His short fiction has been collected in Hauntings & Happenstances, They Shot Zombies, Didn’t They? and Gathered Flowers, Stones, and Bones.
His story, “With Red Eyes Gleaming,” appears in Haunts & Hellions: A Gothic Romance Anthology.
NTK: How did you discover the horror genre and how old were you?
DR: I came to the horror genre at around six or seven thanks to my Mom. She was a fan of scary movies and books, and I have fond memories of watching the Thriller Double Feature with her on Saturday Afternoons while growing up in the Detroit area. The offerings were moody, weird, and often cut for television. She’d point out the zippers in the costumes in the egregiously cheap flicks, to help me see it was all fake and ultimately fun.
The books and magazines and comics came around the same time. The 1980s were a treasure trove of scary entertainment, so scary stuff was everywhere. I recall reading my first Poe stories as Troll Books aimed for elementary school kids. My first encounter with modern masters was through a big anthology called Great Tales of Horror and the Supernatural … Family night Saturdays would involve watching Monsters or Tales From the Darkside series. And John Carpenter’s The Thing played on network television in a cut format that still frightened me senselessly … that would’ve been around 1983/1984. Fright was certainly in the air back then!
NTK: How did you become interested in Gothic Literature?
DR: From a young age. I got exposure to the stories of Edgar Allan Poe and other gothic works thanks to parents who enjoyed the stuff.
NTK: What is your favorite Gothic horror story?
DR: There are so many to choose from! Right now, I think I’ll have to answer The Witch of Ravensworth, an 1808 gothic horror novel from George Brewer, which I bought on a lark and was truly taken with. It introduced me to the Valancourt Books publisher, as well, and I’ve enjoyed reading their works ever since.
NTK: Do you have a favorite Gothic horror movie? What attracted you to this film?
DR: The Whip and the Body from Mario Bava is a terrific film that blends ghostly chills with sexuality in strange ways. A delirious thing that is gorgeously shot (also with a great performance by Christopher Lee).
I found this movie back in the days of DVD when I was just discovering Mario Bava’s films. It’s beautiful, disturbing, and achingly romantic.
NTK: Are your characters based on real people?
DR: My characters are originals, though that means they are inspired by the films, fiction, and authentic folks I have known and read about.
NTK: Do you use an outline to write? Or do you write by the seat of your pants?
DR: For this story, I had a single scene of a woman descending into a strange subterranean location. From that, I wrote into the dark without any outline. This is not always the case, but it is the way I work on a majority of my stories.
NTK: Do your characters have free will? Or do you decide their fate?
DR: They always have free will. For short fiction, however, their options are far more limited than they might be in a novel.
NTK: What inspired you to write, “With Red Eyes Gleaming?”
DR: I’ve been a fan of Japanese folklore since I was young and reading old Usagi Yojimbo comic books from famed comic creator Stan Sakai. One of the stories that stuck with me back then was a tragic tale involving a kappa or river goblin.
Several decades later, I wound up taking two different vacations to Japan and visiting not only the mainland but some of the smaller islands where locals vacationed. Iriomote and Ishigaki are scenic locales with plenty of beaches and hiking opportunities. So when it came time to write a gothic story, these two different experiences came together and I got to wondering about strange family legacies and goblins that came from saltier waters. “With Red Eyes Gleaming” resulted.
NTK: What are you most afraid of?
DR: I am afraid of loss of my mind, my sense of self.
NTK: Who is your favorite horror author?
DR: I have great respect for Gary A. Braunbeck, who blends lyrical prose, emotional honesty, and disturbing storylines. As well, Suzuki Koji and Murakami Ryu have left some lasting impressions on me—I wish more Asian horror material was available in translation. Poppy Z. Brite was vital during my college years, particularly with accepting my bisexuality and finding the strength to come out. A new Ramsey Campbell book is always a cause for celebration in my house.
NTK: What does the future hold for you? What books, short stories, or works do Horror Addicts have to look forward to?
DR: I am always working on fiction of fright. I have stories appearing in the forthcoming Wishing Well and Camp Slasher Lake anthologies.
I’m particularly proud of a string of stories I create off-the-cuff whenever my daughter asks, “Will you tell me a story?” She’s five now, so the scary material tends to focus more on mood and the unexpected (with some humor) instead of gore or violence, of course. Several of these I’ve gone on to develop into fiction sales for magazines like Spaceports & Spider Silk or parABnormal as well as anthologies like Rockets and Robots and Beware the Bugs! I hope to assemble those stories into a collection, next.