Robert Stava is a writer who now lives in the Hudson Valley just north of NYC, not far from that half-imaginary village he sets so many of his stories in, Wyvern Falls. Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, he grew up in the Finger Lakes region of New York State and after going to college for Fine Arts wound up making his career in advertising at Y&R and J. Walter Thompson in NYC. He went on to become a multimedia Art Director and later as Creative Director ran the 3d Media Group at Arup, an international design and engineering company before catapulting into the wild world of writing horror fiction.
“Horror is a great medium. You get to sneak in all sorts fun stuff like satire, black comedy, some good history and folklore while having carte blanch to kill off people indiscriminately! But seriously, what I really enjoy is getting in there, into the story, and finding out what the hell is going on. I tend to have a very ad hoc approach, usually starting with a title and a few rough ideas and letting it run off from there, researching and improvising as the story reveals itself. In fact a lot of the time I don’t feel that I’m writing as much as transcribing. And though not a big Robert Frost fan, I’m a firm believer in his tenet ‘No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader’.”
However his first attempt to write a story at age seven ended in disaster.
“I had just visited the U.S.S. Constitution with my family and was all fired up to write a seafaring epic but couldn’t get past the first sentence. I had no clue what to write about.” It wasn’t until half a lifetime of experience, one non-fiction book on WWII (Combat Recon, Schiffer Publishing, 2007) and a move up into the region not far from the home of one of his earliest inspirations, Washington Irving, that the creative taps opened full up.
“I’ve always had an overactive imagination, creating imaginary worlds and characters in my head, but I think I needed a sobering injection of life to make it come together. Or maybe there really is something to the ‘witching atmosphere’ up here along the river that Irving talked about. It was strange; few weeks after we moved up here I just started writing every day and haven’t stopped since.”
Also a singer/guitar player, parallel to his design career Robert had his own band ‘The Jag’ on the NY alternative rock scene for eight years and was convinced he was on his way to be a Famous Rock Star. While that didn’t quite pan out he did manage to perform at many of the classic venues like CBGB’s, Arlene Grocery, Brownie’s, Kenny’s Castaway’s, The Bitter End and even Max’s Kansas City during its brief revival in the later 90’s.
His checkered resume is what he now considers his best writing asset. “I’ve done everything from cleaning old basement toilets in a drugstore to working on major infrastructure projects around the world. And a lot in between. All that gets leveraged into the stories.”
For a list of “odd but true” trivia on Robert Stava’s background, click here.