Howard Odentz, the Horror, Thriller, Supernatural, and master of suspense author has just released "Dead End", the final episode in the Dead (a lot) Trilogy.
An unlikely candidate in a line-up of horror authors, this handsome, preppy, buttoned collared, writer is also well known for his number one sellers including: "Snow", "Bones", "Bloody Bloody Apple","What We Kill", and "Little Killers A to Z."
The books in this Zombie Apocalypse? Game On, is "Dead (a lot)", "Wicked Dead", and now the highly anticipated "Dead End."
Locally based in between Western Massachusetts and North Central Connecticut, this author, and playwright often incorporates his love for the region in his stories. Fascinated by the emotion of horror, yet there is comedy as well, Odentz accidentally fuses the two in his manuscripts making the intrigue an addictive fascination.
I spoke with Howard and found him to be a horror filled blast of creativity and talent....
You often include the place where you reside as a home base for your stories.
Howard Odentz:Now that I've crossed over the boarder to Connecticut I'm starting to write about Connecticut. The book I am writing right now takes place right over the Massachusetts border in a country town in Connecticut.
Eileen Shapiro: Is it scary?
Howard Odentz:I write all scary but.....I can't help being funny. There's always funny elements to it. When "Dead (a lot)" came out, my very first book, I thought I was writing a teen scary book. It hit number one in humor and number one in horror. Number one in humor.....I don't get it.
Eileen Shapiro: How did that happen?
Howard Odentz:I don't know. One of the books I wrote, "Little Killers From A to Z", is 26 short stories about little kids who kill. I think the very subject is hysterical. It's kind of very dark and twisted that makes you nervously laugh...sometimes.
Eileen Shapiro: Your book that was just released....
Howard Odentz:It is the third book in a trilogy. At the same time that "Dead End" came out, my Publisher had me do these free stories. We put them out on the Kindle app and some other apps for free. Both of those stories that have been out there, one is called, "Snow", and one is called "Bone", they both hung out as number one stories. "Snow" hung out as number one for a month and a half. When I write I am all inclusive. I use gay characters, straight characters, black characters, trans characters, I do whatever. I try to be very inclusive. Almost everything has a gay character. Maybe it's just part of the world these days. I try to write inclusive stories. If you get a copy of "Little Killers A to Z" I would say out of the 26 stories that are in there, there might be four gay themed stories, and they are really wrong. I just read one recently, and I thought "OMG, I can't believe I wrote that". It's freaky.
Eileen Shapiro: Are you a horror fan, or do you just enjoy writing it. Why horror?
Howard Odentz:Because I'm scared of everything. I'm scared of everything and I believe in everything. I'm scared of sharks, I'm scared of the dark, I'm scared of the woods, but clowns don't bother me. UFOs, ghosts, whatever, I believe in it all. You're from Long Island I'm from the foothills of the Berkshires. It's creepy here. I remember when I was a kid and the whole Amityville Horror thing came out. All that stuff intrigued me. Then of course my mother after bringing home “Mira Breckenridge”, not a thing that she should have been bringing home for her third grader to read. Then she brought home the "Harrad Experiment". She got them from the library. Then she started bringing home Stephen King. So I think I was in 4th grade when I read "Carrie". I was just hooked. From a writer's standpoint I think not only do I write horror because I think it's a great emotion, I threw humor in there because I think horror and humor are very closely related. Then whether I am writing for a young adult, emerging adults or adult, I always use kids and teens for the characters. That's really what I focus on. I find that you can give the most emotion in horror.
Eileen Shapiro: Aside from what you've written, do you have a favorite horror story?
Howard Odentz:I think "Lord of the Flies" is the freakiest thing I've ever read. It scared me. It's not even that scary except for what Piggy does. "Jaws" freaked me out.
Eileen Shapiro: That's scary. It's still scary.
Howard Odentz:It is scary. The original "Alien" with Sigourney Weaver, that was creepy. Now when I watch horror I can tell what's going to happen by the camera angles. You can tell if something is going to jump out. I think that the way you write can actually make it creepier than describing it. The beginning scene of a book I wrote called, "Bloody Bloody Apple", there are kids walking from grade school and they find a dead body in the woods. And she's missing her eyes. That's creepy enough. It's about the creepiest I get. I don't think you have to be super graphic.
Eileen Shapiro: They are doing a re-make of "The Amityville Horror".
Howard Odentz:My parents sent me across country one summer. I remember being in like Oklahoma during my cross-country tour. They took us to see "The Amityville Horror" at a drive in. They say the credits and then it immediately it jumps to a rain scene, and I jumped at the rain scene. I was scared before it started.
Eileen Shapiro: So when you write these horror stories, do you ever actually get scared yourself?
Howard Odentz:Absolutely! And I can't write downstairs. I write during the day and turn on all the lights in the house. But I love the emotion. I love how characters inter play with each other.
Eileen Shapiro: When did you write your first book?
Howard Odentz:My first book came out in 2013.
Eileen Shapiro: Did you write before that?
Howard Odentz:I did write for a living. My partner was running a community theater. He was president of the theater. I remember telling him that I was either going to write a musical or I was going to write a book, and I asked him what I should do. He said to write a musical so maybe the theater would do it. So I sat down and I wrote a full length musical. Words, music, everything. It was about a haunted theater and a really bad Community theater group that moves in. Initially the ghosts are going to haunt them, but instead they help them do "Jaws" the musical.
Eileen Shapiro: I love that.
Howard Odentz:Not only did I have standing ovations every night, it went around the country. So I had to do it again, so I wrote "Piece Meal" the musical. That was the back story to where all the body parts came from for Frankenstein. That got an equity run. It was cool but I wanted to write a book. I always wanted to write a book and I didn't know if I could crack the code. Then I figured "hey no apologies" and I started writing a book. When I started the first book "Dead (a lot)", I didn't even know it was going to be a zombie book.
Eileen Shapiro: Are you working on anything now?
Howard Odentz:I'm currently working on my new book.
Eileen Shapiro: Reading horror kind of makes me nervous, would I be scared reading your books?
Howard Odentz:I hope you'll laugh and be scared.
The Official website for Howard Odentz may be found at http://www.HowardOdentz.com
Follow Howard Odentz on Twitter @HowardOdentz