It’s either a really good time to be a fan of writer Larry Correia…or a really bad one. Not only has he just released Destroyer Of Worlds (hardcover, Kindle), the latest book in his Saga Of The Forgotten Warrior series, but the paperback version of his short story collection Target Rich Environment Volume 2 is coming out at the end of the month, the paperback of Monster Hunter Guardian, the latest in his Monster Hunter series, will be released November 24th, and a new novel, Gun Runner, is scheduled to come out in February of next year. And that’s not even counting the paperback version of the Saga Of The Forgotten Warrior novel House Of Assassins, which came out in March, or the paperback edition of Noir Fatale, a short story collection he co-edited with Kacey Ezell.
All of which is why it’s a really good time to do an email interview with him about Destroyer Of Worlds, Target Rich Environment Volume 2, and the rest of his new releases.
Let’s start with the Saga Of The Forgotten Warrior series. What are those books about, and what kind of world are they set in?
It’s an epic fantasy series set in a world where man is confined to a single continent. That’s because the ocean is basically hell, and filled with demons that were driven from the land. Now, man doesn’t go in the sea, and demons don’t trespass on land. The society is split into a very rigid caste system where everyone has a place. Religion has been illegal for centuries, and the people are ruled by an all-powerful code of law that governs everything instead.
When the story begins, the main character is an elite enforcer of the law. Ashok Vadal is the bearer of a magical super weapon, and things go completely out of control when he discovers he’s not really who he thinks he is. Ashok is forced into a vow to protect someone he thinks is a false prophet and leader of a rebellion, as the casteless rise up against the forces of the Law that is bent on exterminating them.
It’s a really fun series, lots of action, intrigue, a big cast of characters, and the cultural influences come from ancient India. Ashok is kind of a fantasy cross between George Washington and Judge Dredd. I have loved working on this series.
And then for people who have read the Saga Of The Forgotten Warrior novels, what is Destroyer Of Worlds about, and how does it connect, both narratively and chronologically, to the previous novel, House Of Assassins?
Son Of The Black Sword was the first book in the series. House Of Assassins was book two, and begins in the immediate aftermath, as Ashok has to pursue the illegal wizards who have kidnapped the woman he is sworn to protect. Destroyer Of Worlds is book three, and starts up a few months later.
When in the process of writing House Of Assassins and the first Saga Of The Forgotten Warrior novel, Son Of The Black Sword, did you come up with the plot for Destroyer Of Worlds?
I had the general outline for the whole series when I started book one. I’m an outliner. It’s not a super rigid outline, and it’s always open to adjustment as I come up with better ideas, but I like to at least know where I’m planning to go, and basically how I plan to get there.
Son Of The Black Sword and House Of Assassins were epic military fantasy tales. Is that how you’d describe Destroyer Of Worlds as well?
I think epic fantasy or military fantasy are good descriptors. I’ve also people refer to it as sword and sorcery, but I think genre labels get pretty nebulous and I’m not really sure where one ends and the other begins. I just have fun and tell the story I want to tell.
Are there any writers, or specific stories, that were a big influence on Destroyer Of Worlds but not on Son Of The Black Sword and House Of Assassins?
That’s a tough one because I love fantasy. As a kid, my first love was Westerns, but then I was given a copy of [Terry Brooks’] Sword Of Shanarra and never looked back. I read more fantasy than probably any other genre, but then my writing career started with urban fantasy, then I wrote thrillers, then alternate history fantasies, and now I’ve finally gotten around to working in one of my favorite genres.
As far as specific authors that influenced me, I already mentioned Terry Brooks, but growing up I loved Raymond Feist, Tracy Hickman, and Margaret Weiss, obviously, Bob Salvatore for action scenes, David Eddings, pretty much all the regular fantasy staples of that era. But probably the single biggest influence for this series was actually Robert E. Howard.
I can’t really say there was anything that influenced the earlier books of the series, but not this one, because in my head they are really one continuous story.
What about such non-literary influences as movies, TV shows, or video games; did any of them have an influence on Destroyer Of Worlds?
Now this is funny, because I have a very specific example of where this whole series came from. I write listening to musical soundtracks. Music with words is harder for me to write to, so I prefer instrumental stuff that evokes specific moods, so movie soundtracks are perfect.
So I was working on the novel Monster Hunter Alpha, and I was listening to the Inception soundtrack by Hans Zimmer. I had not even seen the movie yet, but I just love everything Hans Zimmer does. The song “Waiting For A Train” came on, and it was just so evocative that I started envisioning a scene that followed the beats of that particular. It hit me so hard that I stopped working on my novel and wrote that scene. It later turned into the party turned knife fight in Son Of The Black Sword.All of the world building grew off of what features my world needed to fit the culture in that one scene.
I guess I owe Hans Zimmer big time on this one.
Now, as we’ve been discussing, Son Of The Black Sword, House Of Assassins, and Destroyer Of Worlds are all part of the Saga Of The Forgotten Warrior series. Is this a set number of books, like a trilogy, or is it an ongoing series?
When I originally pitched this idea to my publisher I thought it was going to be a trilogy. She bought the pitch and loved Son Of The Black Sword. When she asked me what I envisioned for the rest of the story arc, I explained, and she laughed and told me there was no way I was going to fit that into three books. Halfway through book 2 I realized she was right, and now my outline has been broken into 5 books in the series total. But that could change as things develop, because sometimes you just come up with really fun ideas for new things to add as you go.
So do you know what the other books might be called and when they might be out?
I have the next two parts tentatively titled Tower Of Silence and Graveyard Of Demons. However, those are just my working titles, not anything official. For me, titles often change as the book gets written and I find something that fits better.
Now, along with Destroyer Of Worlds, Baen recently published the paperback version of House Of Assassins. Is there anything about the paperback edition of House Of Assassins that’s different from the original hardcover edition?
None that I’m aware of, unless it was minor copy editing stuff.
Baen are also putting out your short story collection Target Rich Environment Volume 2 at the end of this month. Is there a theme to that collection?
I can’t really say there’s an overall theme for my short fiction collection, because it is really diverse. I love writing short fiction, and I’ve written shorts for all of my universes, in other people’s worlds — including Aliens, Predator, Warmachine, Joe Ledger, Freehold, V-Wars, and Aetaltis — as well as stand-alone stories and ones in multiple genres, including horror and comedy. So it is all over the place.
Do any of the stories in Target Rich Environment Volume 2 connect to any of your novels?
Oh heck yeah. For example, “The Testimony Of The Traitor Ratul” tells the life story of one of the pivotal backstory characters in Son of the Black Sword, while “Tokyo Raider” is set in my Grimnoir Chronicles alternate history fantasy series, and takes place about twenty years after the novel Warbound.
It’s been my experience that short stories are a good way to get to know a writer. Do you think Target Rich Environment Volume 2 would be a good place for someone unfamiliar with your oeuvre?
I think it’s a great selection of my work because it really is a sampler of a bunch of the different genres I like to work in. I’m really proud of it.
Baen are also releasing the paperback edition of your novel Monster Hunter Guardian on November 24th. First off, what is the Monster Hunter series about, and when and where is it set?
Monster Hunter is my most popular series, and it’s got a really big following. It’s urban fantasy, action adventure, killing monsters for fun and profit, pulpy fun. It’s set in modern days, and follows a company called Monster Hunter International, who specializes in solving people’s monster problems and collecting bounties on the forces of evil. Think of every horror movie trope you’ve ever seen, and then solving that through superior firepower. I’ve seen critics describe it as X-Files meets the Expendables. It’s a blast.
And then what is Monster Hunter Guardian about, and how does it connect, narratively and chronologically, to the previous book, 2017’s Monster Hunter Siege, as well as to 2018’s Monster Hunter Memoirs: Saints, which is the third book in a spin-off series you write with John Ringo?
Guardian takes place at the same time as Siege. They actually overlap in the timeline. Siege is about the main point of view character of the series, Owen Z. Pitt, and a giant group of monster hunters going on an expedition to northern Russia to take on an ancient chaos god who is plotting to destroy the world. Guardian is the story of Julie Shackleford, who is one of the major characters in the series, and Owen’s wife. Their son is kidnapped by a horrific supernatural hitman, and she has to pursue him in this wild chase across Europe to get her kid back. The pacing is like an urban fantasy version of the movie Taken.
Saints is in the same universe, but it is set back in the 1980s. I did three collaborations with John Ringo in that setting, but from a different point of view character who is gone by the time the regular series starts.
Unlike the other books in the main Monster Hunter series, you co-wrote Monster Hunter Guardian with Sarah A. Hoyt. Why did you decide to do this, and with her instead of John Ringo or someone else?
I approached Sarah because this was the first Monster Hunter book in the main series where the main point of view character wasn’t just a woman, but also a new mother, dealing with a danger to her child. I’m a pretty good writer, but I’m not a woman or a mother. And Sarah had a perspective that I didn’t. I had read one of Sarah’s novels years before where I absolutely loved the outlook and voice of the main character, and I thought that she felt like a really good fit to write Julie’s perspective. It worked out really well.
Will Sarah also be co-writing the next book in the Monster Hunter series, Monster Hunter Omega?
There’s a little confusion on that, because the next one is the series is actually Monster Hunter Bloodlines. Omega is the planned final book in the series, and I don’t know the date on that one yet. The next few Monster Hunter novels are solo novels with just me. I love collaborating though. I’m working on two other collaborations with other authors in different settings right now.
Also, as a gamer, I have to ask, how often do people ask if your Monster Hunter novels are based on the Monster Hunter video games? And do you get that more than people telling you the guy on the cover of Target Rich Environment Volume 2 looks like Kratos from the God Of War games?
I get that all the time. It drives the moderators on my facebook fan page nuts. I started working on the first Monster Hunter novel clear back in 2007. At the time most Americans hadn’t even heard of the Japanese game series. It wasn’t until I was several books into the series that the game blew up really big in the U.S. and I started confusing a lot of people.
On the bright side however, I’ve also gained quite a few fans who bought my books on accident.
And getting Kratos to pose for the cover of Target Rich Environment Volume 2…?
I think that was the cover artist, Kurt Miller, having some fun. It’s actually a pretty goofy story. My publisher, Baen, has a tradition of making the authors look like something from their universes on the covers of their short fiction collections. David Drake was a Roman senator, Eric Flint was a wizard, etc. So when they did me, the first volume they made me look like a bad ass action hero from Monster Hunter.
But this cover was because I was at a book signing in Dallas, Texas. Somebody in the audience had brought a giant stuffed manatee for me to pose with for a picture. Wendell T. Manatee is a major character in my Tom Stranger, Interdimensional Insurance Agent comedy series. So held up the manatee in a very dynamic pose, and my wife jumped out of the audience and threw herself at my feet and held onto my leg like a Frank Franzetta or Boris Vallejo painting.
That pic went viral…which is why Target Rich Environment Volume 2 has the Vallejo style cover with me and my wife. That is actually what we look like. Me they had to make way more buffed. My wife Kurt actually didn’t have to change anything, but she’s actually a jock. And if you look at the back cover there’s a giant floating manatee.
Now, along with Target Rich Environment Volume 2 and Monster Hunter Guardian, Baen also recently issued the short story collection called Noir Fatale, which you co-edited with Kacey Ezell. Does that collection have a theme to it?
Noir Fatale is awesome. It was Kacey’s idea to do a collection of noir sci-fi and fantasy stories, and our theme was the femme fatale. It worked out extremely well. We got stories from some fantastic authors, including big names like Laurell K. Hamilton and David Weber, but we also got a bunch of up and coming new authors in there as well. The stories ranged from epic fantasy heists, to urban fantasy hardboiled mysteries, a love story on the moon, a murder mystery on an orbital, to one in a D&D setting if Raymond Chandler was the dungeon master.
My favorite however was a story by my daughter Hinkley Correia, called “Kuro,” about a family of Japanese ghost hunting detectives. She’s a new author, but it was actually the highest reviewed story in the whole collection, beating out the likes of me, Laurell, and David. Since then Hinkley has stories coming out in three or four different anthologies, and she’s working on a novel in the “Kuro” setting. I’m a proud dad.
That’s cool. So, is there any difference between this new paperback version of Noir Fatale and the original hardcover that came out a year ago?
I believe the only changes between the versions are some minor copy edit type changes.
As if all that wasn’t enough, you also have a new novel coming out next February called Gun Runner, which you’re co-writing with John D. Brown. So, what is Gun Runner about, and what kind of book is it, genre-wise?
I’ve written quite a bit of sci-fi short fiction, but Gun Runner is my first sci-fi novel. The origin is actually really neat because it came about during a con. You know those panels where a bunch of authors plot a novel in an hour based upon ideas from the audience? Well, this was one of those, only it was just John and I, and rather than having the ideas be really weird and scattered — because the audience always thinks they are super funny and try to play stump the author — we got all the ideas from a single person. And to keep it fun, that person was my 11-year-old son.
Because at the time I had only done fantasy and thrillers, and John had only written epic fantasies and thrillers, we decided to plot a sci-fi. Being an 11-year-old boy, all the ideas my son tossed out were big crazy things like giant fighting robots, huge kaiju monsters, space battles, space pirates, war, murder, explosions, and so on. He even drew the battle mechs.
Then, in front of 200 people for two hours, John and I took every plot point my son threw out, and we ran with it. We came up with a group of characters, and then a collection of scenes. We managed to brainstorm an entire coherent plot… And unlike most con panel plots, when we got done, both of us looked at each other and went “yeah, I could actually write this book.”
And we have! Of course it evolved a lot from that con panel. I think it came out really good. I’m actually working on the final editing pass for it this week. And of course, my son’s mech designs are all in the book.
First your daughter, now your son. Do I even want to ask when your dog’s first novel is coming out? No, don’t answer that, I feel lazy enough as it is. Instead, let’s end this with some recommendations. If someone enjoys Destroyer Of Worlds and the other Saga Of The Forgotten Warrior books, what similar fantasy of novel of someone else’s would you suggest they read next and why that?
Unfortunately, I am one of the absolute worst people to ask about what else people should read, because I write so much, my own reading time suffers. I love to read, but writing all day kills my reader brain. My Too-Be-Read pile is about six feet tall and growing.
I can’t really think of any modern thing that is very similar to Saga Of The Forgotten Warrior, though I really enjoy Mark Lawrence’s fantasy.
And if they like Monster Hunter Guardian or Target Rich Environment Volume 2…?
Similar to Monster Hunter, the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher are simply awesome and a lot of fun.
As for short story collections, I love Baen’s anthologies, because their editors are really good at picking stories that fit a particular theme. I had to recommend one, my all-time favorite would be Onward, Drake! It is all stories from a bunch of authors who were influenced by David Drake, writing our best David Drake inspired stories. I’m a fan.