Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to host Larry Correia on our Author Spotlight Blog this week! A bestselling fantasy author best known for his Monster Hunter International series and the Grimnoir Chronicles, Larry will be visiting our store on Friday, October 30, from 7:00 – 9:00 PM to celebrate his latest release, Son of the Black Sword, the first book in the Saga of the Forgotten Warrior, a ground-breaking new series in epic fantasy. He’ll be signing copies of the new book, as well as prior titles, as well as reading and chatting with fans. Here is a chance to get to know him a little before the event!
For readers unfamiliar with your work, how would you describe what you write? What can readers expect from Son of the Black Sword?
I’m best known for writing big action, adventure novels.
Son of the Black Sword tells the story of Ashok, who is a sort of wandering magical law enforcement agent, in a land with a strict caste system, where the law has replaced religion, and the ocean is filled with demons. When Ashok finds out that things aren’t as they seem, he tries to make it right, and the results are war, rebellion, and possibly redemption.
You do a lot of research for your all your work. What was some of the specific research that went into Son of the Black Sword, and what is your favorite research story for this book?
The continent of Lok is loosely based on India, Southeast Asia, and East Africa, so I used a lot of mythologies, history, and culture for inspiration. I love research though, so that’s always a lot of fun.
How did your research vary for this book, if at all, from other books you have written?
With all of my other books being urban fantasy or modern thrillers, most of my action sequences involve firearms. This required me to learn a lot about more melee combat, specifically sword fighting. Luckily, my publisher Toni Weisskopf is the widow of Hank Reinhardt, who was one of the leading experts on the topic, so she was able to point me in the right direction and correct my mistakes.
What was the inspiration for Son of the Black Sword? What were the steps you took to bring it from initial inspiration to the finished book?
Back in 2010 I was listening to the Inception soundtrack while writing (I hadn’t even watched the movie yet) and the song “Waiting for a Train” by Hans Zimmer came on. It was so evocative, that I immediately took a break from the book I was working on to sketch out a scene that would eventually turn into Bidaya’s party scene in Son of the Black Sword. I brainstormed out the world and details of the story over the next few years, but that song was what sparked the whole thing.
What made you want to write an epic fantasy novel?
I’ve loved epic fantasy since I was a kid. My introduction to the genre was Terry Brooks’ Sword of Shannara, and I read everything I could get my hands on after that. The original idea for my Grimnoir Chronicles started out as an epic fantasy, but turned into alternate history. Basically, I write whatever genre sounds fun.
What was the biggest challenge in writing and putting out Son of the Black Sword? How did you overcome that challenge?
I’m one of those writers who just kind of steadily grinds along. This is my full time job, and I’m simultaneously writing in three different series, so the hardest part about writing a novel now is finding the time to fit them into the schedule against every other competing idea I’m excited about.
What character did you love or hate the most while writing? And why?
The main character Ashok is an interesting character to write. He’s dedicated to duty, and strict in his belief and interpretation of the law, and having someone like that as the protagonist can be a challenge. I don’t want to give away any spoilers as to why he is the way he is, but a big part of the series is about him learning to be a human being. Basically, this first book is the origin story of someone who is a cross between George Washington and the Punisher.
Honestly, I love writing all of the cast, and I’m really looking forward to telling their stories over the rest of the series.
What is your favorite part of being a writer? Of the whole writing and publishing process? What do you think has been your greatest lesson in the journey thus far?
I just love telling stories. I was doing this for free for fun before, but by some miracle I ended up being able to make a good living at doing something I love. That’s pretty awesome.
You used to work as an accountant. How has that experience affected your career as a writer and making writing your business? What advice could you offer writers based on being an accountant?
My background has helped my career immensely, not on the creative side, but on the work ethic and business side. I’ve run a few businesses now, and I treat my writing like any other business. Lots of authors get all hung up on the artsy, creative side of the process, but then they fail in the get work done and get paid side. You’ve got to balance the two.
And, have any accounting adventures wheedled their way into your fictional realms?
I have had some accounting adventures end up in my writing, mostly because I thought it was really funny in the Monster Hunter series to have the main character, chosen one, bad ass monster killer be a former accountant.
Similarly, you’ve also run a gun store. While your firearms experience is obvious in your books, has any of your Real Life adventures running the store front worked their way into your writing?
Ideas are everywhere, and one nice thing about working in the gun business was that I met lots of really interesting people who make great fictional characters. Getting to know real warriors helps me write a fictional warrior culture. Getting lots of hands-on experience helps me write believable action scenes.
And on the business end (no pun intended), how has having to run a store affected how you run your business as a full-time author?
It has been a huge help. One reason I’m fairly prolific is that I had to learn early on how to balance my life and maximize my productivity in the time I had available.
What question do you wish interviewers would ask you, and what would the answer be?
Hmmm… No idea. I get asked all sorts of weird stuff.
You give a lot of great advice to aspiring writers on your blog, and a lot of writers ask you for advice. What is the biggest thing you wish writers would ask, but don’t, and what would that answer be?
The broad question all of us get is some variation of “How do I become a professional author?” and then there are a million smaller questions, but the answer to all of them boil down to two things.
- Get good enough people will give you money for your stuff.
- Find the people who will give you money for your stuff.
How you accomplish those two things is irrelevant, but you need to do them both. You need to learn to write well. That’s complicated, challenging, it takes time, and lots and lots of practice. Then once you’re good at writing entertaining stories, then you need to figure out how you’re going to make a living off of them, but luckily there are now lots of ways to accomplish that.
It isn’t so much that people ask the wrong questions, but rather they try to skip steps. They’re out there trying to sell writing that isn’t that good yet, or they’re writing well but failing to get it in front of an audience.
What else can we expect from you in the near future?
I am super busy. I wrote three novels this year. The last novel of the Dead Six trilogy will be out in summer. I have another Privateer Press novel coming out next year too. There are two more novels in the Saga of the Forgotten Warrior after Son of the Black Sword, (House of Assassins and Destroyer of Worlds), there are more Monster Hunter novels, and spin off novels set in the Monster Hunter universe written by other authors including John Ringo and Sarah Hoyt, a Monster Hunter anthology, and another Grimnoir trilogy set in the 1950s. I’ve also got several stand-alone novels under contract, and I just signed a contract for a collection of my short stories.
What does your writing space look like?
I’ve got a really big office. One desk is for writing. The rest of the space is for gaming and mini painting. Did I mention I love my job?
While you’re writing, do you prefer music, silence, other? Please elaborate!
Music. I have a soundtrack to everything I write. Most of my main characters end up with theme songs assigned to them. It helps me get into the right zone. It is wildly variable, depending on the type of scene I’m working on, from instrumental to heavy metal… Okay, lots of heavy metal, but that isn’t really a surprise if you’ve read my books.
Do you have any favorite foods or drinks that must be in the vicinity (or must be avoided) while you’re writing or editing a piece of work?
The single most important thing to have around while writing and editing is a steady supply of Coke Zero. I don’t snack much when writing, because I tend to be in the zone. However, editing feels like work, and thus demands potato chips.
What do you consider the most challenging part of the writing process? And how do you overcome that?
First off, I think writer’s block is a myth. That’s usually just our subconscious telling us we wrote something stupid and now we’re stuck, or we’re just being lazy, or we’re bored. But I wasn’t allowed to accountant’s block in my last job; I’d get fired. So when I’m bored or stuck, I switch over to a different project, or I skip ahead to work on the next scene I’m excited about. I can always go back to the hard parts later.
Once I figured that out, life got a lot better. Right now my biggest challenge is too many projects, too little time.
Where can people find your work? (Besides ABSW ;)–though they should totally check here first!)
Available wherever books are sold. 🙂
How can we follow your work, share your awesomeness, or otherwise stalk you in a totally non-creepy way?
My blog is monsterhunternation.com, or they can follow me on Facebook, or Twitter @monsterhunter45
Thank you very much for the great interview, Larry! We look forward to having you at Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester at 7:00 PM on Friday, October 30th. A most awesome Halloween treat!