Meet Clarissa Cottrill, the 29-year-old maestro of horror hailing from the hills of West Virginia. A lover of animals, mental health advocate, and an aging millennial navigating the labyrinth of life, Clarissa is a fascinating blend of darkness and creativity.
In this exclusive interview, we unravel the layers of Clarissa’s personality, exploring her hobbies from reading to researching random topics that strike her fancy. As an avid coffee enthusiast and a die-hard fan of ‘Spooky Season’ (aka Autumn), Clarissa’s love for horror is deeply ingrained in her veins.
A self-proclaimed cinema nerd with a top 10 list of favorite movies, including the timeless Mystic River, Clarissa shares insights into her creative process. From “all vibes, no plot” beginnings to refining the cluttered and unkempt paths of her stories, she crafts narratives that mirror her love for unsanitized honesty.
For aspiring creators, Clarissa’s advice is to embrace authenticity, reminding them that they are their own brand. Navigating creative slumps, handling criticism, and addressing the challenges of the modern writer-influencer-social-media-professional, Clarissa provides a peek into her world.
Join us in this journey through the shadows as we uncover the mind behind the horror tales, explore the bizarre “what-if” questions that birth her ideas, and delve into the unsanitized honesty that defines Clarissa Cottrill’s craft.
TW: What are your hobbies?
CC: Reading, watching movies, traveling, and researching random topics when they strike my interest.
TW: Do you prefer tea or coffee?
CC: Coffee for sure.
TW: What is your favorite season?
CC: Autumn, aka Spooky Season. I mean, I’m a horror writer, come on.
TW: What is your favorite movie?
CC: My favorite of all time is Mystic River, and I actually keep a top 10 list (including honorable mentions) that I update regularly. I’m kind of a cinema nerd.
TW: What is your favorite genre to read?
TW: Hoodie or sweater?
TW: How do you approach the creative process, from idea generation to finished product?
CC: I tend to embody the “all vibes, no plot” idea early in the process. Usually my stories start from a random scene that comes to me, a spark of inspiration through consuming other art, or I ask myself some bizarre “what-if” question. I tend to hyper focus on that one nugget and carve out a path that frankly is cluttered and unkempt. I trudge forward, try to outline some general direction, and then make the rest up as I go along. Then I refine through a drafting process and hope I’ve done that initial spark of creativity
TW: What advice would you give to aspiring creators in your field who are just starting out?
CC: Don’t be intimidated by making a ‘brand.’ Yes, you need one but you can be your brand. It’s all about creating content, finding hooks, and being true to yourself.
TW: How do you handle creative slumps?
CC: I consume things that inspire me. Read books, watch movies and shows, listen to great songs, even listen to interviews from other creatives. Anything to stoke that fire.
TW: How do you handle criticism or negative feedback on your work, and what steps do you take to improve?
CC I’m a pessimist, so I give myself more negative feedback than anyone else. I sort of prepare for the worst, try to take my time in absorbing the feedback so I can try to not take it personally. And sometimes I take it personally, wallow a little, and then get over it and get back to work.
TW: What do you see as the biggest challenge facing those in your craft today, and how do you think it can be addressed?
CC: It feels like you can’t just be a writer anymore. You have to be an influencer and a social media professional, and it’s exhausting and daunting. Personally I always wanted to be a recluse writer in a tower somewhere but that’s not possible these days. I am a writer but I’m also a podcaster and producer, and maintaining both presences is difficult and time-consuming. But I feel as though I need both, not only as a creative outlet, but to leverage for my success in both areas. As far as addressing, having a community around you and help is great. Consuming resources to help make the social media push more accessible is helpful, and reaching out to delegate if you can can ease the strain. Also ‘making content’ that feels transparent and true to you and your craft makes it seem less daunting in my opinion.
TW: How do you come up with ideas?
CC: Being a writer, especially a horror writer, is just a series of asking yourself the most bizarre “what if” questions. When those strange intrusive thoughts come, I try to harness them and see what I can do. Also, I’m a big fan of metaphor in writing so using creative tools and symbols to represent serious issues like mental illness, abuse, misogyny, and poverty.
TW: What do you think is the most important aspect of your craft?
CC: Unsanitized honesty. Yes, I’m making up stories for a living but if I’m going to tackle the heavy and dark subjects — I’m not going to cut corners or wash away the hard stuff.
TW: What does the future hold for you?
CC: I wish I knew! Right now, finishing my next projects and continue my podcast!
TW: Where can my readers find you?
CC: Instagram @clarissa_explains_nothing. My podcast, 30 Dirty & Dying is available on all major podcast platforms. You can follow us on IG and Tiktok @30dirtyanddying
TW: Anything else you would like to say?
CC: Thank you! I hope you enjoy Café Vengeance!