Let’s start with an introduction: Who is Rich Larson?
I’m just a boy, standing in front of a girl–
No, wait. I’m the author of over a hundred short stories, most of them speculative fiction sold to magazines like Asimov’s, Analog, Clarkesworld, F&SF, Lightspeed and Tor.com. My work has been translated into Chinese, Vietnamese, Polish, Czech, French and Italian. I was born in Galmi, Niger, to an American father and a Canadian mother. I like to travel and am obsessed by languages.
Your debut novel, Annex, will be published by Orbit. It looks really interesting: How would you introduce it to a potential reader? Is it part of a series?
Annex is about kids fighting aliens — think Animorphs, but darker. It has complex characters but also terrific action set pieces. It’s the first book of The Violet Wars trilogy.
What inspired you to write the novel and series? And where do you draw your inspiration from in general?
The novel was originally a short story called “Mother Mother” that went unpublished due to having too much backstory packed into it. I unfurled that into a full novel a couple summers ago. It’s kind of a tribute to a lot of the books I loved as a kid. Along with the Animorphs analog, it has a lot of The Thief Lord and Shade’s Children in it. Also some Half-Life 2, the videogame. Some Coraline. Even some A Series of Unfortunate Events.
In general, I take inspiration from books I read when I was a kid (I read loads as a kid, but it dropped off dramatically around high school age) but also movies, television, games, articles, and my own life.
How were you introduced to genre fiction?
I found Gregory Benford’s Sailing Bright Eternity in a very dusty library at an SIM compound in Niger.
How do you like being a writer and working within the publishing industry?
I like writing. I don’t know if I like “being a writer.” I mostly try to keep my head down and produce the kind of stories I enjoy reading. I have been lucky enough to work with a lot of skilled and perceptive editors throughout my career, some of whom have become friends as well.
Do you have any specific working, writing, researching practices?
Lately if I want to get good writing done, I have to wake up stupid early, like 5:30 or 6:00 a.m.
When did you realize you wanted to be an author, and what was your first foray into writing? Do you still look back on it fondly?
I used to write short stories in order to win cash prizes from a local library’s writing contest. I didn’t think about being an author until I was nineteen and ended up a finalist for the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. I’m not sure what my first foray into writing was, but I wrote a story about bats and Project X-Ray when I was very young — it was a big ripoff of Sunwing by Kenneth Oppel — and my mom still hasn’t let me forget it. It was very maudlin. She cried.
What’s your opinion of the genre today, and where do you see your work fitting into it?
Unfortunately I’m not very well-read within the genre or even outside it. I take a lot of inspiration from my life, television shows, or nonfiction articles. For now, there seems to be a spot for my work, and I’m happy to keep filling it.
Do you have any other projects in the pipeline, and what are you working on at the moment?
I’m working away on book two of The Violet Wars trilogy, and I have a whole bunch of unfinished short stories I want to get back to.
What are you reading at the moment (fiction, non-fiction)?
I’m reading a side-by-side Spanish to Italian translation of a bunch of Pablo Neruda’s poetry.
If you could recommend only one novel to someone, what would it be?
I would recommend Feed by M.T. Anderson. For me, it was absolutely huge.
What’s something readers might be surprised to learn about you?
I love dancing kizomba as much as if not more than I love writing.
What are you most looking forward to in the next twelve months?
That’s a long way to look ahead. Annex is coming out in July, and I’ll be going to WorldCon and later CanCon to promote both that and my debut fiction collection, Tomorrow Factory, which comes out in October from Talos Press. It will be neat to see books all of my own in bookstores. I look forward to finishing the sequel before deadline, and cranking out some short stories. I’m getting the travel bug out of my system right now — I’m currently in Italy as a Guest of Honor at DeepCon, and will later spend time with friends in Spain and Portugal — but I also look forward to seeing where life takes me next.
Thanks for the great questions! And if anyone who liked the answers wants to find free stories/support my work, they can hit up my patreon.