Rich Larson’s latest story “Smear Job” in our current issue [on sale now] is more of the ripped-from-the-headlines type than his usual work. He elaborates on its background, his other projects, and his procrastination problem below.
Analog Editor: What is the story behind this piece?
RL: “Smear Job” is about the fallibility of the American legal system, and how it damages young people’s lives.
AE: How did this story germinate? Was there a spark of inspiration, or did it come to you slowly?
RL: The story idea came to me whole after reading an article about the bizarre laws surrounding the sex offender registry in the United States.
AE: How did the title for this piece come to you?
RL: The title has two meanings. It refers to the smeared images the protagonist sees after his procedure, but also to the very real smear of a permanent record that follows people throughout their entire lives without specifying the severity of their crime or under what circumstances it was committed.
AE: What made you think of Analog for this story?
RL: It’s a near-future story that uses relatively realistic technology to look at society, not dissimilar to my prior Analog stories “Razzibot” and “Sleep Factory.”
AE: How much or little do current events impact your writing?
RL: “Smear Job” is one of very few stories I would consider targeted, in that it addresses a particular real-world issue. Usually current events inform my writing in less particular ways.
AE: How do you deal with writers’ block?
RL: I procrastinate, often by answering Q&As.
AE: What other projects are you currently working on?
RL: Right now I should be finishing Cypher, the sequel to my debut novel Annex. I’ve been a week away from the end for several weeks. When that’s done I hope to churn out about ten short stories before January 1st.
AE: What is the weirdest research rabbit-hole that working on a story has led you down?
RL: The top left of my screen holds a Wikipedia tab about love darts, which are the hormone-slicked chitinous arrows snails shoot into each other before copulation.
AE: What are you reading right now?
RL: I’m not a huge reader, but I just finished watching the fifth season of Bojack Horseman, which was phenomenal. I’m now re-watching the first season of Fargo. This ties into my procrastination thing from earlier.
AE: What careers have you had and how do they affect your writing?
RL: I’ve mostly worked in liquor stores, which has helped me become a cliché.
AE: How can our readers follow you and your writing?
RL: The best way is to subscribe to my Patreon page at patreon.com/richlarson, but it’s also possible to just scavenge free stories from richwlarson.tumblr.com.