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Robert Dunbar

answers the Usual Questions

photograph, Robert Dunbar, courtesy of the author; 220x242

Robert Dunbar

Author and publisher Robert Dunbar has written in a variety of forms include poetry and plays as well as horror fiction.

In his troubled teens he turned to books. In an interview he said, "Ray Bradbury probably saved my life ... with a little help from Fritz Leiber and Theodore Sturgeon and Shirley Jackson and ..."

Has your interaction with fans, for example, at conventions, affected your work?

I don't do that sort of thing much. Crowds of humans not really my thing. (My character type is solitary, almost hermetic.) But sometimes I force myself. Yes, there have been moments when I came away energized and inspired from meeting writers I admire from talking to people who felt a passionate appreciation for the same kind of writing that I love. But such people are rare. Then of course there's all the sex and drugs. Come to think of it, I should go to more of these.

Is there any particular incident (a letter, a meeting, a comment that stands out?

Yes, the first conference I ever went to, but it wasn't a good experience. My debut novel had just been released, and the gentleman putting the con together had liked it and invited me of all people to do this guest-of-honor sort of thing. It's wonderful when readers become that enthusiastic. Anyway, I'm there like maybe half a day, giving interviews and participating in panel discussions, you know, the usual thing, though all new to me at the time, when this creepy guy starts following me around and asking all sorts of weird questions. Why did I want my main character to be black? Was I trying to make some sort of point? Who did I think I was? And was there something sexual going on between the boys? (Duh.) The next day, I discover that this guy is circulating a petition, honest to God, a petition no less, urging people not to buy my book because I'm get this ? "abnormal." The petition even attacked my publisher because they "obviously don't think normal people read horror." This pretty much set the tone of my relationship with hardcore genre fans for years. (The fact that the American Nazi Party staged a march right outside the hotel didn't help.) I was never quite that innocent again and quickly started getting nicely combative. So I guess something good came out of it.

Do you have a favourite author or book (or writer or film or series) that has influenced you or that you return to?

There are writers I return to periodically because their prose sets the what's the word? the cortex or whatever of my brain on fire. Faulkner and Proust and Henry Roth or dead God James Purdy. Samuel R. Delany is another one. Virginia Woolf when the planets align properly. I imagine most writers have hieratic authors they turn to for inspiration and renewal.

Who is the person you would most like to be trapped in a lift with? or a spaceship?

Michael Cunningham: at least I'd be fascinated by his conversation till the air ran out.

Who is the person you would most DISlike to be trapped in a lift with? Or a spaceship?

Orson Scott Card: the air couldn't run out fast enough.

What would you pack for space? (Is there a food, beverage, book, teddy bear, etc that you couldn't do without?)

Okay, the space thing is turning into an obsession. Seriously, you should talk to somebody about this. And can I bring both coffee and bourbon? I'd hate to be forced to make a choice.

What is the most important thing you would like to get/achieve from your work?


What is the special satisfaction of your work?

There's nothing quite like the thrill when readers "get" it.

submitted by Robert Dunbar

23 July 2014

For other answers to The Usual Questions Click here

Just the facts:
Born: A continuing process.
Resides: An old house in a semi-wild suburb in Pennsylvania (with hot and cold running varmints).
The Pines
The Shore
Martyrs & Monsters
Shadows (Editor)
Dark Forest (Editor)

Web site:
You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. (No wonder I never get any work done.) Plus I run a book discussion group on Goodreads called Literary Darkness. Drop by.


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