Interview with Howard Odentz, author of What We Kill
17 Oct 2017
What can you tell us about your new release, What We Kill?
What We Kill is a psychological thriller wrapped up inside a coming-of-age tale. Without giving away too much, the story centers around four seventeen-year-old friends who wake in the woods at the edge of their town without any memory of how they got there. As they grapple to deal with their own bizarre circumstances, they realize something bigger and darker is happening not just to them, but their community, as well. It has been described as “A simmering psychological thriller, bolstered by a dynamic narrative voice and a few unexpected twists.” –Kirkus Reviews. Yeah. I’ll agree with that.
What or who inspired you to become an author?
I think we all express ourselves in different ways. Some paint, others play music or sculpt. For me, the inspiration to write as a means of expression has always been innate. Originally, I wrote musical comedies, but I was still missing something. When I finally sat down and wrote my first novel, I realized authoring books as a way of finding meaning in the world was perfect for me.
Since then, I haven’t looked back.
What’s on your top 5 list for best books you’ve ever read?
I’ve been asked this a lot and my answers might be surprising. First, I love all things Harry Potter, so I guess that’s more than five books.
Tolkien’s ‘The Hobbit’ will always hold a special place in my heart, because I think I read it in something like first grade.
I felt the novel ‘ Intervention’, by Julian May was amazingly profound and beautiful. I found myself buying up copies and giving them out to friends.
Stephen King and Peter Straub’s collaboration, ‘The Talisman’ was another important one for me, as was King’s ‘The Stand’ and his epic Gunslinger series.
I know that’s way more than five, none of which are exactly in my genre, so I’d also like to throw in Golding’s ‘Lord of the Flies’. The psychological terror of that book is something that I’ve never quite been able to shake.
Who is your favorite character from literature?
Gosh, there are so many. If I go with the first few that come to mind, I have to say I like psychologically interesting characters like the psychic rabbit, Fiver, from Richard Adams’ ‘Watership Down’, or Golding’s Piggy from ‘Lord of the Flies’.
What’s a typical day like for you?
This question made me laugh. I don’t think I’ve never had a ‘typical’ day in my life. That being said, I’m very routine oriented, so I always make sure to carve out one hour right after a large cup of coffee, to do my writing for the day. The rest of the time I often feel like I wander the house like a cat. In truth, I’m a ‘To Do’ list kind of guy. I follow whatever chores I’ve written down for myself and stop when I’m done.
If you could have dinner with anyone, alive or dead, who would you choose and why?
I think I’d love to enjoy a meal with my dad, who passed away almost 7 years ago. I’d ask him what he would do differently if he could do it all over again. It’s not like we didn’t have a good relationship. We were always in each other’s lives. It’s just that I would have liked to have known the real him instead of him as a father. I bet he’d have some great stories to tell.
What scene in What We Kill was your favorite to write?
That’s a hard one. All I am willing to say is that there is a pivotal scene in the book that I knew was coming but didn’t know exactly when or how. As any author will tell you, characters sometimes tell their own stories through our fingers. I didn’t know this scene was happening until my characters played it out for me. When I finished writing it, I think I was both exhausted and exhilarated, and maybe a little bit teary eyed.
Do you have a motto, quote or philosophy you live by?
In writing, NO APOLOGIES. Write what you write, and change it later if change is needed. In real life, CAREFUL, OR YOU’LL END UP IN MY NOVEL.
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