For various reasons, this will be our last SFFWRTCHT Column entry here at Grasping For The Wind. I am grateful for the opportunity GFTW has given us to expand our audience and we will be continuing the series both with the live chats, every Wednesday and cleaned up column interviews on Tuesdays over at www.sfsignal.com starting in January. We wish John continued success and all the best.
Larry Correia grew up on a dairy farm in El Nido, California, drinking milk directly from the tank & reading any books he could. The New York Times bestselling author of the Monster Hunter International series, the Grimnoir Chronicles, and Dead Six, Correia developed a passion for Louis L’Amour, but then read Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks and discovered Feist and Eddings and knew he wanted to write fantasy. He began writing little stories in school notebooks and even illustrated them with dragons, swords and lots of explosions, because why not? He then went on to develop a fascination for guns, later attending Utah State University. For fun, he played RPGs and took karate. He then joined the Latter Day Saints and went to Alabama to ride a bike in a white shirt and black tie in the Southern Sun. This later became the setting for his hit Monster Hunter series. His later career as a CPA and gun dealer/instructor didn’t hurt. Discovering people liked his stories about monster hunters, he got disgusted with his rejection letters and decided to self-publish. He sold two thousand copies and earned a spot on the Entertainment Weekly Bestseller list. After a fan passed an early copy to a book store owner friend at Uncle Hugo’s, the owner introduced him to Baen Books, and all of a sudden, he had a publishing contract. He’s now a finance manager with a defense contractor in Utah, married to a girl who agreed to a 1st date at a shooting range. Larry Correia can be found as @monsterhunter45 on Twitter, via his website/blog at http://t.co/G8Ul8jtO or on Facebook.
Larry Correia: I read a ton as a kid. SF/F was my favorite. I was a pretty nerdy kid. Read Dune when I was eight.
SFFWRTCHT: You said that in your bio and your mom didn’t believe you so she quizzed you, right?
LC: Yep. I showed her.
SFFWRTCHT: Who are some of your favorite authors and books that inspire you?
LC: I think the best writer around right now is Dan Simmons. Hyperion is freaking brilliant. It is Canterbury tales in space with the most convoluted plot ever, and it rocks. Shout out to my buddy Dan Wells for his Serial Killer series. Excellent stuff. Sadly writing kills most of my reading time, so I don’t get to read as much as I used to.
SFFWRTCHT: When did you decide to become a storyteller and how did you get your start?
LC: I read a really bad #1 bestseller and decided I could do better. About ten years ago.
SFFWRTCHT: How did you get started learning your craft? Study in school? Learn as you go? Workshop?
LC: I learned as I went. Self-taught on writing. No writing in school. I hated English.
SFFWRTCHT: Which came first–plot or characters? Theme? World?
LC: In Monster Hunters International: World. Then characters.
LC: About six months. Fastest was three: Hard Magic. Longest was eight: Monster Hunters: Alpha.
SFFWRTCHT: Did you envision it as a series or did that come later?
LC: I wrote is as a standalone, but left open for series if I could sell it. Had series planned and hoped for best.
SFFWRTCHT: if you had it to do over, still go the self-publishing route?
LC: Yes. But I much prefer traditional. You only self-publish if you are a marketing beast.
SFFWRTCHT: The series, at least in book one, centers around Owen Zastava Pitt, an accountant whose werewolf boss tries to eat him. He’s later introduced to Monster Hunters International, after the leaders of this secret group admire his taking out the werewolf. How long did it take to write Monster Hunter International?
LC: About seven months. Then a year of editing because I didn’t know what I was doing.
SFFWRTCHT: Are you an outliner or pantser?
LC: Outliner. Usually about 5-10 pages for a novel, so pretty loose stuff. Very loose on shorts stories. Usually one page of notes. I am writing for someone else’s Intellectual Property right now (secret NDA stuff) but on that I have to outline more for continuity.
LC: A humor thread on a gun forum called “lines I’d like to hear in a horror movie some day.” It was about replacing the usual stupid teenagers with a bunch of gun nuts. Hiliarty ensued. It gave me the idea.
SFFWRTCHT: Did you use some of those lines then?
LC: I did. The opening quote from Dillis Freeman is the one that started it all. About the target rich environment.
SFFWRTCHT: The Owen character is physically similar to you and has similar interests. Short cut to writing the character?
LC: Yes and no. He has my sense of humor and the gun nuttery was mostly so he could actually survive the book. And he was an accountant because it was the most stereotypically boring job I could think of.
SFFWRTCHT: In MHI, Owen and the Hunters find themselves up against a powerful mystery man who’s trying to find an amulet and control time. In book two, the monsters have Owen on a hit list, putting his family and new fiancée, Julie, whose family owns MHI, in trouble. It sounds obvious but what the heck is a monster hunter? And does it pay well?
LC: They are contractors that take care of monster problems for fun and profit. Think X-Files meets The Expendables.
SFFWRTCHT: So, in a way, you also started with a built in fan base from the forum. How have they responded?
LC: Awesome! They are why my self-published version took off, and they are still a huge, great fan base. Most other writers I know are jealous of my fan base. They are hard core, loyal, and absolutely great.
SFFWRTCHT: Ever get tired of people asking you how to write guns into their SFF? If not, what exactly do hollow points do?
SFFWRTCHT: What monster lore did you use to base your various vamps, werewolfs, zombies, etc. on?
LC: All of it. Some movies, some folklore, some just made up. Whatever catches my fancy. The cool part is I can pick and choose from so many to fit whatever I want to accomplish in the story.
SFFWRTCHT: You continue with the same characters in the first two books. Is Owen at the center in all or do others take center?
LC: MHA was about Earl Harbinger. MHL is back to Owen. MHN will be about Franks. Every other book is OZP and advances the main arc.
SFFWRTCHT: In Monster Hunters: Legion, international hunters gather in Las Vegas for a conf, when a creature from a WWII weapons experiment wakes up and goes on a rampage across the desert. A wager between rival companies turns into a race to see who can bag the creature. How big of an influence were RPGs on your monster pantheon?
LC: Huge! I have an MHI RPG I funded via Kickstarter. It’s done with Hero Games Champion system. http://t.co/xqWoxRry
SFFWRTCHT: You use a great deal of humor. Is that a natural part of your personality coming out?
LC: I love having humor. The more dangerous your job the better your humor has to be. MHI has such a dangerous job that they have to have a dark sense of humor to survive. You either laugh or cry, and it’s hard to work if you are crying.
SFFWRTCHT: Btw, I just read the orc wedding. Hits Owen on head GROK! “I do.” Hits Julie on head. GROK! “I do.” Hilarious yet in the midst of very dark foreboding in the storyline. Well done.
LC: I love that scene.
LC: Long weekends. Marathon Saturdays. Maybe an hour or two on weeknights. I still manage to do two books a year and still have my day job, though I’ve gone part time. I will be full time writer next year. Can’t keep doing both though I love working for the military.
SFFWRTCHT: Do you have any writing rituals or tools? Scrivener? Word? Something else? Do you write to music or in silence?
LC: Just Word. Nothing fancy. I do write to music and have several thousand songs ready to go. Different characters and scenes will often get their own theme songs.
SFFWRTCHT: There are four MH books. How many are planned? Or do you just write them as ideas come to you? There’s a main plotline.
LC: There are at least 4-5 more planned, though I do have the overall story arc plotted out.
LC: I wanted to write an epic fantasy. Brainstorming, son was reading Noir Spiderman. So I wrote epic fantasy set in the 1930s.
SFFWRTCHT: Hard Magic and Spellbound are out so far. Are there more entries planned in that series? And what was the genesis of that idea? I am a huge noir fan myself.
LC: I am working on Warbound now. which ends the trilogy, though there are two planned standalones in the same world. I love the time period and I’m a history nut. Grimnoir enabled me to combine two loves.
LC: I do, but they are darker than MHI. They are set during the depression and times were harsh. Though there are some really funny bits and some light-hearted characters there, too.
SFFWRTCHT: And you also have Dead Six, which seems perhaps Gulf War inspired?
LC: It is the first of a trilogy. Mike Kupari had just got back from being a contractor in the Middle East. We originally wrote D6 as an online serial. Later got it published. Sold two more.
SFFWRTCHT: What’s the best and worst writing advice you’ve ever gotten?
LC: There are two steps to being a pro writer. 1. Get good enough people will give you money. 2. Find the people that will give you money.
SFFWRTCHT: Is this good advice or bad advice?
LC: Good. Simplistic but ultimately true. That is all there is to it.
SFFWRTCHT: So more Grimnoir, four or five more Monster Hunters, and two more after Dead Six. What future projects are you working on that we can look forward to?
LC: I have eighteen novels under contract across five series. It is crazy.
Bryan Thomas Schmidt is the editor of Blue Shift Magazine and an author and editor of adult and children’s speculative fiction. His debut novel, The Worker Prince (2011) received Honorable Mention on Barnes & Noble Book Club’s Year’s Best Science Fiction Releases for 2011. A sequel The Returning followed in 2012 and The Exoduswill appear in 2013, completing the space opera Saga Of Davi Rhii. His first children’s books, 102 More Hilarious Dinosaur Jokes For Kids (ebook only) and Abraham Lincoln: Dinosaur Hunter- Land Of Legends(forthcoming) from Delabarre Publishing. His short stories have appeared in magazines, anthologies and online. He edited the anthology Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6 (2012) and is working on Beyond The Sun for Fairwood Press (July 2013), headlined by Robert Silverberg, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Mike Resnick and Nancy Kress, and Raygun Chronicles: Space Opera For a New Age for Every Day Publishing (November 2013). He hosts #sffwrtcht (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writer’s Chat) Wednesdays at 9 pm ET on Twitter and is an affiliate member of the SFWA.