For this week’s author interview, I’m pleased to present Larry Hinkle. Larry is a talented speculative fiction writer hailing from Colorado. Like many of the writers previously featured on this blog, Larry and I met through Sanitarium Magazine where we’re both slushpile readers. Below, we discuss the perils of works in progress and how the editing process never really ends.
A few icebreakers to start: when did you first decide to become a writer, and who are some of your favorite authors?
I’ve only been writing fiction for a couple years, but I’ve been writing ads (I’m a copywriter by trade) for over 20 years now.
I wanted to be a writer when I was younger, and took a couple classes in college, but the feedback was so soul-crushing it convinced me I wasn’t good enough, which is how I ended up in advertising. Now, instead of writing stories that scare people into peeing their pants, I write ads that scare people into buying adult diapers lest they be caught peeing their pants.
Reading On Writing by Stephen King gave me the courage to try writing stories again. I’m never going to make a living at it, but it helps me avoid more dangerous vices like exercise or meditation.
My favorite author is early Stephen King (he’s still a great writer, just not that scary anymore). His son, Joe Hill, has a great collection of short stories, and his last book N0S4A2, reminded me of his dad’s early work. David Wellington is really good. David Wong (editor of Cracked.com) has a couple books that are hilariously scary fun. Same with Jeff Strand.
Tell me a little about your writing process. When do you find time, do you edit as you go, and how long do you typically spend on revisions?
I do most of my writing late at night, after my wife’s gone to bed and before the Lunesta kicks in. Sometimes when I get stuck on writing an ad during the workday, I’ll write a piece of flash or work on a chapter just to get my mind off advertising.
I’m constantly editing. (In fact, I’ve edited these answers at least nine times now.) I’ll give stories to friends to read for me, and by the time they send it back, I’ve already rewritten it another two or three times. Personally, I don’t think a story is ever finished; you just find a point where you’re happy enough with it to let it go. But when it comes back with a rejection slip, that’s also another chance to tighten it up and make it better.
Your published fiction belongs primarily to the speculative genre. Do you plan to branch out into other genres, or is speculative what you prefer to write?
Horror is definitely my favorite genre, although everything I write seems to have a little bit of humor thrown in. So I guess horror-humor is my favorite genre. Unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of outlets looking to publish such an unholy hybrid.
I used to be a staff writer for a couple of big entertainment websites doing recaps back when recaps were cool, and I mixed in humor and horror and literary/pop culture references whenever I could. I once did a recap of a Mad Men episode mashed up with Night of the Living Dead. Another favorite was WWE Raw mashed with West Side Story, which, now that I think about it, is a pretty frightening concept.
Out of your published pieces, do you have a personal favorite?
Probably “The Quantum Dead,” which used quantum physics as a backdrop to explain the zombie apocalypse. It was a good mix of horror and humor, with a nice twist at the end, which are great when they work, but not always required. (I’m looking at you, M. Night Shyamalan.)
My friends would probably pick “The Outpost,” which unfortunately has yet to find a home, so you’ll have to take their word for it. Or my word for it, I guess, since I’m the one saying it’s their favorite.
What projects are you currently working on?
Too many. I’m much better at starting stories than I am ending them. A few of the ones right now that don’t totally suck include stories about a guy who wakes up in a different version of himself every day; a company that helps customers prelive a memory (instead of reliving it); a GPS app that’s also a dimensional portal; a guy who uses his blind spot to make things disappear from reality; and a murderous garden gnome. Will any of them survive to see the light of day? Probably not.
Any links you’d like to share? Thank you to Larry Hinkle for being part of this week’s author interview series! Be sure to check out his stories in publications in My Favorite Apocalypse and in Another Dimension Magazine!