Depends on who I'm talking to. Sometimes "horror" can be a bad word, at least if you don't know you're into that particular genre, so I hedge my bets and call it "dark fiction", but if you want to be really specific, my first novel, Losing Touch, is magical realism; my second, The Blackening of Flesh, is paranormal; and my a lot of my short stories are science-fiction, although I haven't written much short fiction recently. Actually, I hadn't written much of anything of the past two years or so until I started my new work-in-progress in September. It's a magical-realism novel, if you're keeping score.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I read The Hobbit when I was ten and decided that I wanted to build a playground just like Tolkien had. I spent the next 15 years or so tinkering with a high fantasy novel that I ultimately finished and stuck in the bottom of the proverbial trunk. It was cool to finish it, but it's really not very good. It did teach me how not to write, though. I spent so much energy trying to be the "next Tolkien", I wasn't being a very good "first me". Some good ideas in that one, and if I ever get the itch, I might just re-write it, but the plot arc is so strained and the voice is so stilted--it sounds like kids pretending to be adults. Most of the notes are in the right place, but they're way off key.
What do you consider the most influential book you've ever read?
The Hobbit inspired me, but The Stand showed me how to write my contemporaries speak and think. I spent my formative years equating formal, early 20th century King's English with how books should read that when I discovered The Stand, it was a bit of a shock. I couldn't believe that characters could swear and have sex (gasp!) and the book could still have the same weight as a high fantasy novel like The Lord of the Rings, or a pillar of American literature like The Great Gatsby. I mean, I guess Myrtle is going at it with what's his name, but it's pretty buried. King wouldn't pull any punches if he were writing, and that's how I like to think I write. Honestly. Unvarnished. King did that for me. Others followed, but without King, I'd still be trying to be the next Tolkien, at least on some level.
What other authors are you friends with, and how have they helped you become a better writer?
I struggled over this answer a lot. A LOT longer than I should have, and I guess I can't think of an answer that doesn't upset somebody. I have a lot of friends in the horror writing business. More than others and less than some. And each one of them, either online or in-person, has impacted me in some way. But if I make a list, I'll either name too many people (making me a name-dropper) or too few (making me a self-centered S.O.B.). Note: I'm not saying it's an impossible one to answer for other people. It's just impossible for me.
What’s the best way you've found to market your books?
I'm not very good at marketing my books. I'm pretty bad at it, actually. I guess the most fun way is to sell them at festivals and conventions. I've had a lot of fun at library events the last year or two. The crowds are many times smaller, yes, but you know that each and every one of those people is there looking for something to read.
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
I write about the things I know, which keeps most of my stories either in the mundane, or the fantastic. I don't write a lot about cops. Or Catholic priests exorcising demons. I'm not Catholic. I don't carry a badge. And if I tried to write like I was either of those things, well, I don't have a lot of confidence that I'd pull it off. So I stick to worlds without rules, or the kind of life I don't have to research too much. I can be a customer at a bakery, and I might even walk through the kitchen, but I couldn't write about being a baker. I don't have the feel for it. Of course, I'm only a Google search away when I'm in the middle of things and I can't remember what the arm of a sundial is called. (It's a gnomon.)
Any last thoughts for our readers?
You can't actually achieve success. All you can do is chase it. But hell, the thrill's in the chase, anyway...
- www.exlibrislarsen.com (website)
- @exlibrislarsen (Twitter)
- I'm on Facebook in a couple of places...
- Losing Touch: https://www.amazon.com/Losing-Touch-Christian-Larsen/dp/0615813062
- The Blackening of Flesh: https://www.amazon.com/Blackening-Flesh-Christian-Larsen/dp/0692624570