Larry: I first got the writing urge as a child. Being a big comic book fan, I used to write and illustrate my own comic books (not very well!). I wish I still had some of those to look back on for a laugh but they’re long gone. I started writing seriously in 1982 after taking a couple of creative writing courses and since I love the SF and Fantasy genres, those were my own genres of choice in my writing. It was several years before I made my first short story sale. Since most of my work is set in contemporary society, technology does play a part – cell phones, computers, etc. There’s no getting around that but I do try to limit that as much as possible – there’s no wifi, phone coverage, things like that. I once read an author saying the hardest thing to do in writing these days was to get the phone away from the protagonist!
Demi: In selling short stories, have you had more success with marketing works you wrote ahead of time, or in writing fresh content to meet the needs of a specific publication?
Larry: Interesting question, I’d never really thought about that. I’d have to say it’s 50-50, both selling and not. I’ve had some good luck with older works which hadn’t sold up to the point where I’ve found a sympathetic market for them. Also, brand new works I’ve specifically written for a particular market have also done well – or not. I’ve also cheated a little and modified certain older works to meet specific market guidelines. So far, I’ve not sold any reprints of previous stories where the rights have reverted back to me. Reprints typically pay less per word than non-reprints but it’s something I’ve been trying to do just to spread the works around a little.
Demi: Are there any classes, books, resources, or organizations that have helped you further your writing goals?
Larry: Yes, the writing organization, Pennwriters, has been a valuable support group for me to belong to regarding online and non-online classes, workshops, conferences, and networking. The genre writing/critique groups I’ve belonged to over the years (the Pittsburgh SouthWrites, the Pittsburgh Worldwrights, and WorD, have also been great learning experiences with respect to improving my writing and critiquing skills, and what people may want or like to read. More recently, the Mindful Writers Group North and East, and the twice-yearly retreat they hold, have been very productive and energizing. Locus magazine is an important and very helpful resource as is the SFFWA (the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America) web site.
Demi: Do you have any advice for aspiring writers in the sci-fi/fantasy genre?
Larry: I think it’s valuable to be familiar with what’s popular or what the latest trend or tropes in those genres are. But it’s important, clichéd as it may sound, to also read any type of SF and Fantasy and any other genres as much as you can. And then put your own spin or style on any of those ideas you may want to write about. It’s kind of impossible to write something completely original but it’s certainly reasonable to tweak those tried-and-true ideas. Also, I feel it’s important to become involved with a local SF/Fantasy organization and attend a genre convention or two. They’re not only fun but interesting.
Demi: What’s on your writing desk right now?Larry: I’m currently (and feverishly) working on the 3rd novel in the Spirit Winds Quartet – Orcus Unchained. I hope to turn it in next week. This one picks up where Warriors of the Light left off and takes place in the U.S., Japan, and Venice, Italy.