Q&A with Rich Larson

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.


Rich Larson was born in Galmi, Niger, has studied in Rhode Island and worked in the south of Spain, and now lives in Ottawa, Canada. His work has appeared in numerous Year’s Best anthologies and been translated into Chinese, Vietnamese, Polish, Czech, French or Italian. His debut novel, Annex, came out from Orbit Books in July 2018, and his debut collection, Tomorrow Factory, followed in October 2018 from Talos Press. He enjoys traveling, learning languages, playing soccer, watching basketball, shooting pool, and dancing kizomba.

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