Like the video games, to which there is no connection, Larry Correia’s Monster Hunter International novels have people, well, hunting monsters…just in a different place, and in different ways, and more for profit than survival. All of which comes up in the newest installment, Monster Hunter Bloodlines (hardcover). In the following email interview, Correia discusses both the series and this latest chapter, as well as two other newly released books that have his name on the cover.
Let’s start with some background: What is the Monster Hunter International series about, and when and where do these stories take place?
The Monster Hunter International is a fun, action adventure, fantasy series. The short pitch is that it’s The X-Files meets The Expendables. The series takes place in our world, only with the premise that monsters are real, and some people deal with monster problems for profit. The company that the series is about, M.H.I., is headquartered out of Alabama, but takes on monster related jobs around the world.
The first book, Monster Hunter International, came out in 2009, and there are now eight books in the regular series, as well as three spin offs — Monster Hunter Memoirs: Grunge, Monster Hunter Memoirs: Sinners, and Monster Hunter Memoirs: Saints, all co-written with John Ringo — and a collection of short fiction by other authors.
And just so everyone knows: these novels are not connected to, or inspired by, the Monster Hunter video games, correct?
No relation. I started working on the first M.H.I. novel back in 2007 before hardly anybody in America had heard of the Japanese game series. Other than the name I don’t think they have much in common.
Just out of curiosity, have you ever played the game? Or watched the movie?
Nope. I’m more of a World Of Tanks or Call Of Duty guy.
Cool. Moving on, what is the new book, Monster Hunter Bloodlines, about, and how does it connect, both narratively and chronologically, to the previous one, Monster Hunter Guardian?
Bloodlines takes place roughly a year after the events of Guardian. For the last few books the heroes have been dealing with the schemes of this really powerful evil bad guy. Now they’ve gotten word that an arcane super weapon — potentially capable of destroying this villain once and for all — has come up for bid on the underground supernatural black market, so they decide to steal it. Unfortunately, so do a few other groups, so stuff gets crazy.
This book is from the point of view of Owen Pitt, who is the main character of most of the M.H.I. novels, and it follows him trying to chase down the thief who stole the weapon, and then trying to stay ahead of the spectral bounty hunter that is sent to retrieve it and kill anyone that gets in its way.
Where did you get the idea for Monster Hunter Bloodlines, and how, if at all, did that idea evolve as you wrote it?
I’ve had an overall outline for the series since the beginning, but it has just kept growing because each time I come back and write another book I end up coming up with more ideas about these character’s adventures. Plus, this book introduces a character who was teased at the end of Monster Hunter Memoirs: Saints — Sonya, the daughter of Chad, he’s the main character of the Monster Hunter Memoirs series — and who fans have been really interested in meeting. Then once I start work on a book, they always evolve from the initial idea and outline, just because when you get deep into the project you always think of new, funnier ways to change things.
The previous installment, Monster Hunter Guardian, was co-written by Sarah A. Hoyt. But Monster Hunter Bloodlines is not. What was it about this story that made you think you didn’t need Sarah’s input this time around?
I brought Sarah on as a collaborator for Guardian because it was one of the novels written from the POV of a different character, Julie Shackleford, and I’d read some of Sarah’s other books that made me think she’d be able to do a really good voice for Julie. That worked out really well for that one. However, Guardian is back to the series’ main character, Owen, and he’s one that I always just write myself. Some of the M.H.I. novels are collaborations (Grunge, Sinners, Saints) and there’s another collaboration in the works (Fever) to be co-written with Jason Cordova.
The other Monster Hunter books were pulpy, action-packed urban fantasy tales. Is Monster Hunter Bloodlinesone as well?
It is definitely in the same vein as the previous books in the series. I love big, explody, action fun. That doesn’t mean they can’t veer into other emotional territory (I’ve been known to make readers cry), but ultimately, M.H.I. is all good guys blowing up monsters.
Moving on to the ever-popular influence questions, are there any writers, or maybe specific stories, that had a big influence on Monster Hunter Bloodlines but not on any previous Monster Hunter novels or, for that matter, anything else you’ve written?
Not particularly. Bloodlines is kind of a natural outgrowth of the rest of the series. Ironically, I barely read any urban fantasy at all before I wrote this, so my biggest literary influences were just regular old epic fantasy and probably Louis L’amour Westerns. I like good versus evil and characters with a code of honor who try and fail and try again.
What about non-literary influences; was Monster Hunter Bloodlines influenced by any movies, TV shows, or games?
Probably just about every B grade monster flick in existence. M.H.I. was inspired by monster movies, and a whole bunch of gun nuts on the internet making jokes about how the average horror movie would be over in five minutes if it starred our people. Which led to me asking, what would happen if you took a bunch of heavily armed, well trained, professionals and stuck them into horror movie situations? The logical answer was, they’d probably make pretty good money at it.
Now, along with Monster Hunter Bloodlines, you’re also a contributor to a new anthology called World Breakers. Which, oddly enough, also came out this week [and thus has its own interview you can read here]. What is that collection about?
That was a fun one. World Breakers is an anthology about sci-fi super tanks, kind of a Bolo theme, but in a bunch of different settings. My story is “A Tank Named Bob,” which is set in the same universe as Gun Runner, my novel with John Brown, and Lost Planet Homicide (coming soon from Audible). It’s about this poor tank officer, who gets blown up on the first day of a planetary invasion, who wakes up as a brain in a jar, inside that world’s most advanced battle tank. It’s kind of poignant, yet I also get to blow a lot of stuff up.
Are you aware, by the way, that there was a series of games called Lost Planet that were also put out by Capcom, the company who make the Monster Hunter games?
Man, I’m really on a roll!
Lost Planet Homicide is a novella that’s coming out exclusive from Audible; it’s basically a space gritty cop show.
Nice. Anyway, going back to World Breakers, who came up with the idea for your story, “A Tank Named Bob”?
That one was all me. Usually for anthologies like this the editor reaches out, tells you the theme, and asks if you are interested in coming up with something that fits it. I really enjoy writing short fiction. I believe I’ve published about sixty short stories so far.
Your publisher, Baen, also recently issued the mass market paperback edition of Destroyer Of Worlds. People can go back and read the interview we did when the original hardcover edition came out, but just real quick, what is that book about, what is its series, Saga Of The Forgotten Warrior, about, and when and where do those books take place?
The Saga Of The Forgotten Warrior — Son Of The Black Sword, House Of Assassins, Destroyer Of Worlds, and two more planned — is an epic fantasy series set in a world called Lok. It’s a land that’s ruled by an all-encompassing law, which has outlawed religion, and which enforces a brutal caste system. The main character is an enforcer of this law, who discovers that he’s been lied to his whole life, and then from there things spiral out of control. There’s lots of combat, rebellion, intrigue, and adventure. I love writing this series.
As you said, Destroyer Of Worlds, like the other books in the Saga Of The Forgotten Warrior series, is an epic fantasy tale. Which is different from the Monster Hunter International series. How do you think working in overlapping genres impacts what you do?
I started out with M.H.I., and it is my first love, but I really enjoy bouncing between genres and writing entirely different kinds of books in each series. That way I never get bored or stagnant. I’ve also written thrillers (the Dead Six series), alternate history (the Grimnoir Chronicles), and sci-fi (Gun Runner). Basically every book I write I learn new tricks, it’s good practice, and then when I switch back to a different genre, I’m excited to get back to it. Staying enthusiastic is one reason that I’ve managed to keep up consistent production, and I’m pretty prolific.
Now, the movie based on the Monster Hunter games came out last December. Do you think your Monster Hunterbooks could work as a movie? Or, for that matter, as the basis of a TV show or game?
I’ve actually optioned the rights for an M.H.I. TV show to a production company (Entertainment One) and it’s been sitting in development for a while. I’d love to have any of my books made into a TV show, movie, or game. I’m not picky either. None of those are my area of expertise and I recognize that they would have to be changed to fit that new medium. Absolute worst case scenario when somebody makes a movie that’s not authentic to the book, all the fans still tell everybody “the book was better” and it helps your book sales.
Finally, if someone’s enjoyed Monster Hunter Bloodlines and the other Monster Hunter novels, which of your other series would you suggest they dive into next and why that one?
If they like epic fantasy, swords and sorcery, check out Son Of The Black Sword. If they want 1930s hardboiled super heroes,Hard Magic. If they want sci-fi space ships and giant fighting robots? Gun Runner. Contemporary thriller? Dead Six.
That’s the nice thing about jumping around genres too, I’m more likely to have something else that readers are into.