Today we will interview one of the authors from our anthologies STILL STANDING and TALES OF THE SIBLINGS NOT-SO-GRIM. Larry Fort is the author of the short science fiction stories “We Called It Azimov” and “Eigenlicht.” Welcome, Larry.
HH: What inspired you to become a writer?
Larry: Ever since I was young, I was writing. You can easily ask anyone in my family and they would agree. Mainly, I wrote a lot for my grandfather. He read everything I wrote as a small child and it really was his engagement with what I wrote that really gave me the support I needed to pursue this creative avenue. I remember him telling me when I was young, “Wow, you write just like a real author.” Of course, there is the other aspect of writing. I find inspiration in simply telling the tale. If people in your life commit heinous acts, they should be immortalized as such in your writing: the law of karma. Simply put, the pen being mightier than the sword is the absolute best way to ‘write’ the wrongs. Writing as a form of societal critique, as a form of humor, and as a form of beauty all drive me to some degree. It would be wonderful for all those things to merge together in a piece or two, now wouldn’t it?
HH: Tell us about your works. What do you write?
Larry: Being that this short story is my first publication, I cannot really comment on my ‘works.’ I have published psychological research, and plan on publishing more down the line, so perhaps it can be considered non-fiction (I suppose that really depends on your attitude towards the social sciences, doesn’t it?). I enjoy science fiction because it feels like a natural bridge between art and science, but a nice satirical commentary on modern life feels like it would be something for me to aspire to. Maybe one day.
HH: What is your favorite story that you have written so far?
Larry: ‘We Called it Azimov,’ is my favorite so far simply because it is polished. I have other projects, but they’ve yet to go through the ringer. Azimov works for me because it brings with it a very damning condemnation of the direction of science and academia. It is very much about the purists versus the businessmen.
HH: Are any of your characters or settings based on real people or places?
Larry: Perhaps too much. I find that there are plenty of real life villains that walk the streets in our everyday lives, just begging to be plastered on the page or wrapped up in the written word. Though I try to combine villainous aspects of various people into a more dynamic amalgam, sometimes it can nearly be a carbon copy. Now in terms of beauty, that is a separate issue. There are plenty of beautiful people, beautiful not just in the physical sense but in the mental and emotional sense, these people must be represented somehow in the written word. I find that these people are the ones I must write about because life is too short to really capture the depth and complexity of such wonder, and sometimes it’s just too hard to say. Chomsky once said that language is an infinite workspace made from finite parts, and I take that poetically in a sense, that certain people exist to test the aesthetic boundaries of language. You will find this person in ‘Azimov,’ as well as the villain who desperately needed to be knocked down a peg or two.
HH: Who are some of your favorite authors?
Larry: Oscar Wilde is without a doubt my favorite author. Not only was he courageous, but he made a living simply by being himself, which is never easy to do, and seems to be getting harder all the time with the advent of social media. Say what you will about Wilde, he was never fake. From that, he was able to make me laugh, cry, and swoon in wonder at tales and poems of loss, love, and societal critique. A.E. Housman tends to be one of my favorite poets as he had an impeccable sense of rhythm and style, while his works were terse, they were always poignant and evocative. Another man with a tragic tale, Housman was the embodiment of unrequited love, another tortured genius like Wilde. Recently, I have been enjoying the works of Herman Hesse who seemed quite spiritual for a German. He had a way of conveying Eastern philosophy in a way that was easily digestible for the Western cultures, and even more, he fit the zeitgeist like a glove. His works were in no way confined to his era, evidenced by mention of him here. Often, after reading Hesse, I find myself more enlightened than before, a rarity nowadays.
HH: Give us your top ten favorite reads.
Larry: 1. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
2. De Profundis by Oscar Wilde
3. Maurice by E.M. Forster
4. Ghost in the Machine by Arthur Koestler
5. The Emperor’s New Mind by Sir Roger Penrose
6. Siddhartha by Herman Hesse
7. The Sellout by Paul Beatty
8. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
9. House of Leaves by Mark Danielewksi
10. The Collected Works of A.E. Housman
HH: Do you have any writing rituals? Somewhere you have to go to write or music you must hear to get inspired?
Larry: Usually, I will stick to the bath or a café to do my writing. The bath is slightly more dangerous, and will probably be the way I die, but it is entirely comforting and calm. I will listen to classical music or instrumental soundtracks to write certain scenes if I am trying to create a particular mood. I recall with ‘Azimov,’ listening to a track from Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (OMD) from their 1983 album ‘Dazzle Ships,’ which had the same name. It was a combination of various synth sounds that really fit the mood I was going for in regard to a certain scene.
HH: What is your favorite thing to snack on or drink while you are reading or writing?
Larry: Tea. There is simply nothing better when trying to write. Chamomile has the tendency to make me tired, but half-conscious writing tends to be the best for generating ideas, it just makes editing ten times harder. I stay away from black teas if possible, being American it’s hard to trust the British. There was a reason we dumped all their tea, after all. Eastern teas are the better product when attempting to alter one’s consciousness, specifically when aiming for some sort of clairvoyance. There was a Chinese green tea a mentor of mine once gave me that was absolutely fantastic.
HH: Do you have any furry companions who try to “assist” you with your writing?
Larry: It would be much more interesting if I did. Often, I hear various animals making a plethora of cacophonic screeches that I try desperately to filter out. I quite enjoy the company of an animal; however, it just depends on my mood.
HH: What goals have you set for yourself as far as your writing or publishing?
Larry: I plan on publishing a novel some time shortly. Afterwards, maybe continuing with the Azimov short stories, maybe a novel or two continuing the narrative or exploring other characters if it is popular enough. I do want to publish a novel, but not at the expense of publishing research. Luckily, I struck a good balance between the two.
HH: What advice do you have for other writers just starting off or still deciding if they want to publish their work?
Larry: Write, read, and be open to criticism. Often times, the most poetic things happen to us and it is hard to actually realize it in the moment. Write down everything phenomenologically potent and use it later to construct a narrative. Journal as much as you can, especially dreams, and you will find inspiration to sit down and write. Always be reading so you can internalize some subtler techniques of the craft, and not just the classics, it is very important to engage with modern literature as well. Not just for its survival, but so you can properly contribute to your zeitgeist. Being open to criticism is the most important, submission rejections will happen often, but that is the battle you must fight. It is as important to the process as getting accepted. Furthermore, do not see editing as a combative process, often editing is the best process because you have people engaged with your work to ensure it is at its best polish. No one writes a single draft novel, be open and be creative.
HH: What are you working on right now?
Larry: Currently, I am wrapping up a novel called ‘The Café Terrace’ which explores the pitfalls and drags of modern life, specifically in the big cities. It centers around unrequited love as a catalyst for making huge changes in one’s life, work related, relationship related, or otherwise. It is satirical, cynical, a tad romantic, and somewhat interesting given its modern political subplot. I hope it has a chance for consideration, as I would love to share the tale. I am also wrapping up my Master’s degree in Experimental Psychology and doing research, but that is not as interesting as the former, I’m sure.
HH: Where can we find your published works?
Larry: You can find a research article I published on the behavioral adaptations of coenobita clypeatus in response to varying wavelengths of light if you type my name and ‘coenobita clypeatus,’ into Google Scholar but it would not be interesting to most people. Hopefully, there will be links for literature soon.
Thanks so much for stopping by and answering our questions, Larry!
Find more about Larry Fort on the Meet Our Authors page of the website.