Rich Larson dishes on in-the-works stories, teasing (to run the gamut) a Tomb Raider piece and a futuristic Beowulf. . . .
ANALOG EDITORS: How did “Razzibot” [on sale now in the current issue] germinate? Was there a spark of inspiration, or did it come to you slowly?
RICH LARSON: I was thinking about the hyper-self-awareness of Instagram and how the logical extreme of a selfie would be observing yourself in third person at all times. I talked those concepts over with my writer/lawyer friend Sandra while I was visiting her in Porto and ended up writing “Razzibot” a couple weeks later, using her hometown as its setting. She corrected all the small Portuguese details I’d butchered and told me I was welcome to come back for natas anytime.
AE: What made you think of Analog for this story?
RL: It’s about the societal ramifications of a realistic technology, which seemed up Analog’s alley. I also felt like it was similar, with its non-North American setting and its focus on prose, to “Sleep Factory,” my first Analog story.
AE: What is your history with Analog?
RL: I’m a relative newcomer. Prior to “Razzibot,” Analog published my bayou revenge novelette “The Old Man” and my remote labor tragedy “Sleep Factory.” Trevor has since purchased two more works for future publication: “Render Unto Caesar,” which is my translation of Eduardo Vaquerizo’s Spanish short story “Dad al cesar,” and “Smear Job,” which is a more targeted tale than the sort I usually write.
Prior to “Razzibot,” Analog published my bayou revenge novelette “The Old Man” and my remote labor tragedy “Sleep Factory.” Trevor has since purchased two more works for future publication: “Render Unto Caesar,” which is my translation of Eduardo Vaquerizo’s Spanish short story “Dad al cesar,” and “Smear Job,” which is a more targeted tale than the sort I usually write.
AE: How much or little do current events impact your writing?
RL: I find that if I try too hard to be current, publishing schedules inevitably collude to make the story come out just after everyone has moved on. So I draw inspiration from current events, and I watch technological and societal trends, but I don’t try to jump on hot button issues.
AE: Are there any themes that you find yourself returning to throughout your writing? If yes, what and why?
RL: Belonging and loneliness are big ones. “Razzibot” is very much about the intense longing to be loved or validated or just acknowledged that often drives us into the arms of social media. I think those themes are important to me because I grew up between cultures in Niger, Canada, and the U.S. and have struggled for most of my life to feel like I belong in any particular place.
AE: How did you break into writing?
RL: I’ve always liked telling stories, and there was a library short story contest I used to clean up on as a kid, but the big break was probably when I was nineteen and entered the now-defunct Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest. My high-school stab at writing a book, Devolution, ended up being a finalist. That was when I realized people were willing to publish my writing, and pay me for it. I’ve sold over a hundred stories since, most of them SF.
AE: What other projects are you currently working on?
RL: My debut novel Annex is coming out this July from Orbit Books, so I’m working on the sequel to that—it’s going horribly so far. As usual, I also have about a dozen inchoate short stories on the go. They include an ice planet Beowulf retelling, a smoggy dystopian romance, Tomb Raider in space, and a pharmaceutical time-travel story.
AE: What SFnal prediction would you like to see come true?
RL: I’d like to pay for stuff and travel places with just biometrics or a chip in my arm.
AE: What are you reading right now?
RL: I’m working my way through the French translation of Clem Martini’s YA book The Mob.
AE: Do you have any advice for up-and-coming writers?
RL: Read a lot, write a lot, develop a thick skin for the inevitable barrage of early rejections. Dissect your favorite works and figure out why they work. Make use of your own life experiences in your writing. Stay on the grind.
AE: How can our readers follow you and your writing?
RL: If you want more stories, check out the mostly up-to-date Free Reads section of richwlarson.tumblr.com. If you want to also support my work, and get deeper into what I do, hit up patreon.com/richlarson.
Rich Larson was born in Galmi, Niger, has studied in Rhode Island and worked in southern Spain, and now lives in Ottawa, Canada. His short fiction appears in numerous Year’s Best anthologies and has been translated into Chinese, Vietnamese, Polish, Czech, French, and Italian. He was the most prolific author of short science fiction in 2015, 2016, and possibly 2017 as well. His debut novel, Annex, comes out in July 2018, and his debut collection, Tomorrow Factory, follows in October 2018.