Interview with Larry Correia

I first met Larry Correia at a science fiction convention in 2008, back before he was a New York Times best-selling author. It was even before Baen Books had published his first novel, although I think he had a contract by that point.  And he made my day by telling me that one of my stories (“Tabloid Reporter to the Stars”) was his favorite short story of all time.  So naturally, I now think of him as a man of impeccable good taste.

Here’s my interview with Larry:

1. Congratulations on the paperback release of Monster Hunter: Legion, the fourth novel in your bestselling Monster Hunter International series.  For the benefit of readers who have not yet read any of the books, can you give a quick summary of what the series is about?

The MHI series is about a company that specializes in taking care of professional monster problems. It is my love song to B movies. Think X-Files meets the Expendables. They are big fun, unabashed action adventure novels.

2. You’ve also got several books outside the Monster Hunter series.  Which would you recommend to people who want to sample what you write?

My Grimnoir Chronicles is an alternative history fantasy, sort of a 1930s super heroes diesel punk saga. The first novel is Hard Magic, and is about a hard boiled, war hero, ex-con turned private eye who joins a secret society to stop the Imperial Japanese from using a Tesla super weapon to take over the world.

Then I’ve got my military thrillers, the first of which is Dead Six. Its about a group of thieves versus a mercenary company in a 3rd world country that is going through a violent military coup. I cowrote this series with Mike Kupari, who is an EOD Technician, and he was actually in Afghanistan when the book came out.

By the end of the year, my 10th novel will be out, and the first one came out in 2008, so it has been very busy.

3. One of the important characters in the Monster Hunter novels is Mormon.  Are there other ways in which the books were influenced by your LDS faith?  Beyond that, what influence does your faith have on your writing in general?

I have tried to stick Mormons into every contemporary thing that I’ve written. Milo Anderson in the MHI series is probably the best known. He’s a quirky, eccentric, genius who is also a tough guy to have on your side in a fight. Milo’s got a big heart and he is absolutely devoted to his faith, his family, and his friends.

At one point in the series, it looks like a world shattering event is about to happen involving super monsters from another dimension, and Milo excuses himself because he has to call the General Authorities of his church to give them a heads up.

Not as obvious, but FBI agent Bob Lorenzo in Dead Six is LDS, and he’s sort of the paladin of that series, as he’s the one person who always puts principles first, even when it costs him and he has to do some extremely dangerous things. He also shoots a whole mess of bad guys, because hey, Mormons can throw down with the best of them.

And of course, in Grimnoir Chronicles, John Moses Browning is one of the pivotal supporting characters. Because Mormon gun-wizard? Why the heck not?

My faith plays a part in my writing, because it is part of who I am, and all writers are going to have parts of themselves show up in their characters. As a writer, grey areas can be fun, but I like having real good guys who actually stand for something, and I like having real evil. Some things just aren’t meant to be nebulous.

Other than that? I also swear too much, but don’t tell my Bishop.

4. Who are some of the authors who have influenced you the most?

I grew up on Louis L’Amour. I read all of them. Then I discovered sci-fi and fantasy and read everything I could get my hands on. I grew up on a farm, poor, in a small town. There wasn’t much else to do but read, and by the time I went to high school I’d read every single book in our small library.

Though if I had to pick one author that I geeked out and went all fan boy on when I met them in person, it has to be Tracy Hickman. I spent a lot of hours playing Dragonlance in highschool.

5. What sort of stories can we expect from you in the future?

I’m a workaholic nearly incapable of turning down job offers, so there’s a lot of stuff planned. Up next is the last book of the Grimnoir trilogy, Warbound, will be out in August, and the sequel to Dead Six, Swords of Exodus, will be out in September. Then I’ve started writing novels and novellas for Privateer Press for their Warmachine and Hordes universe. The first one is available on Amazon now, called Instruments of War, and the next one will be out later this year. We’ve not settled on the title for that one yet.

After that, the 5th MH novel, Monster Hunter Nemesis will be out in 2014. There are several more MH novels planned after that, as well as a few stand alones in the Grimnoir universe. Then I’m doing a steampunk collaboration with John Ringo. I’ve got one more D6 novel with Mike Kupari. Then I’ve got an epic fantasy trilogy coming out from Baen, but that one is still under wraps, as well as a sci-fi stand alone, and a couple of other projects I can’t talk about yet.

Overall, I’ve currently got 16 books under contract to be written, and a whole mess of short stories for various anthologies.

6. What advice do you have for would-be writers?

I always say that there are only two steps to becoming a professional author.

  1. Practice until you are good enough that people will give you money for your stuff.
  2. Find the people who will give you money for your stuff.

That might sound silly, but it is really true. Regardless of the specifics of how you get there, that’s really all there is to it. Way too many aspiring authors try to skip one step or the other.

Be prolific. The book isn’t going to write itself. Put your butt in the seat, hands on the keyboard, and WORK. It won’t ever become your career if you can’t treat it like you would treat any other real job.

Too many authors try to make what we do sound all mystical and important, so they talk about their muse, like writing is magic. It’s not. It is a job that you can get better at with practice and effort. It is like any other job. But too many aspiring authors have bought into this mystical stuff, and since they are waiting for magical perfection that doesn’t exist, then they get frustrated and beat themselves up. It is supposed to be frustrating. Just sit down and keep writing.

And on that note, there’s no such thing as writer’s block. Writer’s block is a filthy lie. An accountant can’t say I don’t feel like doing this spreadsheet because I’ve got accountant’s block, and you sure hope that your doctor doesn’t say I’m just not feeling like doing this operation because I’m not feeling it. I’ve got doctor’s block. That’s nonsense. Writer’s block is just you being lazy, bored with what you’re working on, or wanting to go and play some video games. Either push through, work on something more interesting, or give up and go play some Halo. Don’t try to make it mystical.

7. What question should I have asked you, but didn’t, and what is your answer?

Ham… Ham is always the answer.

About Eric James Stone

A Nebula Award winner, Hugo Award nominee, and winner in the Writers of the Future Contest, Eric James Stone has had stories published in Year’s Best SF 15, Analog, Nature, and Kevin J. Anderson’s Blood Lite anthologies of humorous horror, among other venues. One of Eric’s earliest memories is of seeing an Apollo moon-shot launch on television. That might explain his fascination with space travel. His father’s collection of old science fiction ensured that Eric grew up on a full diet of Asimov, Heinlein and Clarke. While getting his political science degree at Brigham Young University, Eric took creative writing classes. He wrote several short stories, and even submitted one for publication, but after it was rejected he gave up on creative writing for a decade. During those years Eric graduated from Baylor Law School, worked on a congressional campaign, and took a job in Washington, DC, with one of those special interest groups politicians always complain that other politicians are influenced by. He quit the political scene in 1999 to work as a web developer in Utah. In 2002 he started writing fiction again, and in 2003 he attended Orson Scott Card’s Literary Boot Camp. In 2007 Eric got laid off from his day job just in time to go to the Odyssey Writing Workshop. He has since found a new web development job. In 2009 Eric became an assistant editor for Intergalactic Medicine Show. Eric lives in Eagle Mountain, Utah.
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17 Responses to Interview with Larry Correia

  1. Wm says:

    I really enjoy the Browning character in Grimnoir Chronicles.

  2. I don’t always agree with Larry, but the next to the last section of this interview is 150% correct.

  3. Amber Argyle says:

    Good job guys! Totally helped while I struggle through this writer’s block. *snort*

    • Jonathan Langford says:

      Sometimes there seems to be a bit of “I don’t have this problem, therefore it doesn’t exist” in statements like these…

      • Or I’m right and writer’s block really isn’t a real thing, and believing in it is simply setting yourself up for failure.

        I experience the same emotions and frustration as everyone else. Sometimes you’re stuck. Sometimes you don’t know what to do. Sometimes you are out of ideas or bored. Awesome. That’s normal… So how about keep working and go write something else that you DO want to work on. There. Done.

        And as long as you keep writing, and producing, then it will become easier and easier, until when you come to those difficult parts you know what to do, because you’ve worked through it.

        You are still productive, and another aspiring writer hasn’t been sucked in by the mystical muse nonsense that pro writers use to make themselves sound superior. Yay! Everybody wins.

        Or you could believe in writer’s block, because writing is simply the hardest job ever, and when you eventually (like all writers) suffer a coronary from too much junk food and sitting at a desk all day, just pray that you don’t get a doctor with heart surgeon block. :)

        • Jonathan Langford says:

          One thing that seems evident to me, as a result of reading and listening to a lot of writers talking about their writing process, is that the writing process is different for different writers. That being the case, when some writers say they’ve experienced writer’s block, I feel inclined to take them at their word — just as I take you at your word in explaining that for your writing process, writer’s block isn’t something that occurs.

          That being said, I think that a lot of people, when they talk about writer’s block, talk about it in terms of a particular project that isn’t working right. Calling it “writer’s block” may help such writers to walk away from the project and come back to it later.

          I don’t think the comparison to heart surgery really holds water. For one thing, surgeons don’t invent a totally new product each time they perform surgergy. Surgeons aren’t lauded on the originality of their work. Surgeries aren’t put out there on the block for people to buy this one or that one, depending on how much they like the individual characteristics of the performance.

          It’s true that if you want to make a living from creative writing, you need to find a way to perform consistently. It’s also true that most of the successful “full-time” creative writers I know flesh out their portfolio with other (often related) gigs, such as judging writing contests, editing anthologies, and teaching.

          And then there are those writers like Tolkien, who never did work as a full-time writer. From what I’ve read of his writing process, I doubt that he ever could have been a full-time creative writer.

          • If you think other careers such as medicine, engineering, business, accounting, or teaching, can’t be just as creative as writing, you are totally incorrect. What? You don’t think they get frustrated, bored of a project, want to be doing something else? Of course. But the difference is if they don’t push through they get fired. :)

            Writers aren’t special snowflakes. We are just pepole and this is our job. If you treat it like a career, then it will become a career. If you treat it like a hobby, then it will remain a hobby.

            Second. None of us are J.R.R. Tolkein and he also wrote his stuff before either of us were born. There are plenty of writers today who are primarily college lecturers who write a book once in a while.

            The writing business has changed a smidgen. If you want to be a full time writer, you need to produce actual books, and do so in a timely manner. (provided your last name isn’t Martin) And that’s nifty and all about part time hobbyists who write a book here and there for kicks, but my advice stands to anybody who actually wants to write as a career, believing in writer’s block is an artificial stumbling block that you are putting in your own way.

            I don’t want to be a college lecturer. I don’t want to be a teacher. I don’t want to grade papers or edit anthologies, or whatever. I want to be a writer, that means I need to be a professional and write. If you would rather be a writer than writer/supplamental job, then be a writer.

            • JL said: “I don’t think the comparison to heart surgery really holds water. For one thing, surgeons don’t invent a totally new product each time they perform surgery. Surgeons aren’t lauded on the originality of their work. Surgeries aren’t put out there on the block for people to buy this one or that one, depending on how much they like the individual characteristics of the performance.”

              Sorry, but you’re wrong. This doesn’t mean anything to the particulars of the conversation, but surgeons ARE lauded on the “new” ways they approach each surgery. Especially heart surgeons. It is rare to find textbook examples of heart defects; each project they approach has to be met with an open and flexible mind. There is no one-size-fits all surgery.

              Surgeons are applauded for their originality (maybe innovation is a better word).

              And YES– when my daughter needed heart surgery, you can bet we shopped around to find the best surgeon we could find. I think this is a fairly common thing to do when one is given time and has the resources to be selective.

              • Jonathan Langford says:

                By now, we’re certainly beating a dead horse. However, for the point I was making, there’s an important difference between shopping for a surgeon (or an author) and shopping for a surgery (or a book).

                In writing fiction, we get judged on a product, not a performance. That’s why it’s less critical for us to be able to perform on demand, and why I think the comparison to surgery isn’t terribly helpful in discussing writer’s block.

  4. Jonathan Langford says:

    There’s a reason why a lot of writers — including some of the greats — have talked about the muse in writing. Presumably, that reason is because for them, it described something important about the way their own writing process worked.

    • I never said muse didn’t exist. I said writing block was a myth. :)

      Some writers say they’ve got muse. Others don’t. But even the ones that do have enough control over it that they can still work and produce because writing is their job.

      Now when I hear pro writers talk about their muse, it is either legit and honest, or it is BS and they are trying to make what they do sound more magical and special. Everybody wants their profession to sound important.

      The problem is 95% of the time when I see somebody using the term, it isn’t a pro. It is an aspiring author. And it is usually when they are complaining that they don’t have their muse, and thus, can’t produce. That’s bunk. That’s a cop out. And in those cases they’ve bought a bill of goods, and it is harmful to their potential. Because most of us just work and grind, and don’t have magical bursts of heavenly inspiration, then they get frustrated and they quit.

      Just sit in the chair, put your hands on the keyboard and work. You’ll either feel magical or you won’t but either way, if you want it to be your job. You work.

      • Jonathan Langford says:

        Agreed. And in fact I don’t personally find the concept of a muse terribly useful, although I do think there are some elements of the dynamic that generates stories in the mind of most writers that are less conscious than others. I just want to be careful about not too quickly dismissing a framework that many writers do seem to have found useful.

  5. Jonathan Langford says:

    Follow-up to Larry’s reply:

    I’m not arguing that other jobs don’t have their creative elements. However, I think there is a different dynamic to jobs that require individual creation of something new (i.e., not as part of a work team) as a basic job responsibility: not just artistic creation (e.g., musical composition as well as writing), but also areas such as being a research mathematician.

    I think it would be interesting to know if some research has been done identifying common patterns in the creative process across such careers. I suspect that dry spells are a fairly common phenomenon, which I suspect is one of the reasons why many of those careers are set up to provide other auxiliary responsibilities (such as teaching) where the individual can be productive in other areas during those dry spells.

    Still, I agree with your basic principle: that in order to succeed as a writer, you need to learn to produce consistently–whatever that means in each person’s individual case, whether on a part-time or a full-time basis.

  6. Mark Penny says:

    I’m down on 6. Part 6, with the two rules. If you want to make money at it, write well enough to sell and find the people who want to buy what you write.

    The closest thing I experience to writer’s block is not knowing enough to proceed further. That’s when I do research or focus on other projects. So many projects to work on.

    Of course, I do wonder what it would be like to spend my entire work day just writing or preparing to write. I suspect I’d be productive most of the time, but would occasionally take a longish break. Although you never really get away from it, do you?

  7. Rachel Ann Nunes says:

    I’ve been saying for years that I don’t have time for writer’s block. I see writer’s block as an excuse not to write. It happens only when I don’t know where I want the story to go, I don’t have enough knowledge (research) to complete the scene, I’d feel pressure to be doing something else, or when the upcoming scene is going to take a lot of effort. That’s why people say to brainstorm to kick writer’s block. If I don’t feel that urge to write, it’s ALWAYS, ALWAYS because I need to figure out plot and glue myself to the chair, not because I’m blocked as writer. In my early writing days, I’d think about my plot as I went to sleep and I would always be ready to go in the morning. Now with seven children, I fall into bed exhausted and I have more episodes of what some might call writer’s block. I didn’t call it that, though, because I recognized immediately what the problem was. To fix it all I have to do is sit down and think (brainstorm–I never do it on paper) or research (if I’m lacking information). As long as I’ve had enough sleep, the problem is readily solved. So while I can’t speak for other authors, I personally have to agree with Larry. For me writer’s block doesn’t exist. It is a luxury available only to people who don’t make a living with their writing. As for the muse . . . well, sometimes I do feel as if I’m just the typist and I’m receiving the words outside myself, but the work I’ve put out on the days where I’m slogging out one slow sentence at a time have been every bit as productive. So again I think it all goes back to how much mental brainstorming you’ve done and how prepared you are as an author to sit yourself down and finish the book.

  8. This installment of Monster Hunters International carries on the tradition of hard hitting action I’ve come to expect from Mr. Correa. While this is the fourth Monster Hunter book (the third with Pitt as the main character), the story stands well on its own. After the first in the series, this is my favorite.A mysterious individual sponsors a convention for monster hunters from around the world. While the convention is underway a huge threat appears that threatens get everyone killed. There are a couple of sub-plots or at least partial ones involving the inevitable conflicts that arise from putting a bunch of violent, competitive and aggressive people in the same location. Those are amusing but the action centers around the mysterious threat that the government is willing to pay $10,000,000 to have eliminated. Figuring out what this threat is as it continually ratchets up the intensity of monster attacks, which keeps the tension at a high level. Some double dealing and back stabbing at the government level add the the story. It’s actually the best plot of the series. Our hero, Owen Z. Pitt (Z) shows the first signs of maturity in the series. He actually makes the effort to think things through and act responsibly. For a hero that, we’re told, is very bright, he has acted very stupidly in past books. In the last installment, I got to the point where I was about to quit the book because of his immaturity and rock-headedness. No, he hasn’t turned into somebody else, but he has grown up a little. I appreciate that he tries to act more responsibly, with mixed results. He’s not very good at it yet, but at least he tires. I respect this Z more than the one in Monster Hunter Vendetta. That makes the story richer. There’s always been enough action and incredible monsters to move things along. Oh, and the big threat that threads through the series keeps building.

  9. Wow, I thought it was quite funny the Milo was LDS, I just wasn’t sure if Larry was. Pretty cool info, who says LDS can’t be gunslingers. I think it was the Brownings or another famous gun makers were LDS too. Sorry, I’m not too sharp on firearms; I’ve been wanting too get more involved. After reading the books and I feel more inclined, LOL.

    Aloha!

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